Park Notebook: Rotich, Brown earn track and field All-American honors

Nicholas Rotich capped off the school year with an All-American honor for Park at the 2018 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Rotich, a junior from Eldoret, Kenya, finished in sixth place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, posting a time of 9 minutes, 19.47 second to claim his second All-America award in his first season in Parkville. He was also named an All-American during the cross country season, posting a 15th place finish at the national championship event in Vancouver, Wash.

The distance standout posted the third-fastest time in school history to earn his national recognition, less than three seconds off his personal best time set earlier this season. He also owns the sixth-best time in the 1,500-meter and No. 3 time in the half marathon.

Photo courtesy of Park Athletics Park’s Nicholas Rotich, left, took sixth place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships to earn All-American honors. The junior was one of two to earn that honor for the Pirates.

Photo courtesy of Park Athletics
Park’s Nicholas Rotich, left, took sixth place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships to earn All-American honors. The junior was one of two to earn that honor for the Pirates.

Aaliyah Brown wrapped up a memorable collegiate career at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships by earning All-America recognition for the fourth time.

The senior from St. Louis landed a season-best throw of 44-10 in the shot put on her first throw of the final round to claim seventh place. She opened the event by posting 44-8 1/2, besting her previous season-best of 43-9 3/4 at the Emporia State Relays on March 31. In total, five of her six throws would have logged as season-best marks and give her the top three throws all-time in Park history.

Earlier in the competition, All-American Jerosan Fletcher completed her competitive career with the Pirates, taking part in the long jump. The senior from St. Petersburg, Fla. was unable to qualify for the finals with a jump of 17-5 1/2, but also leaves her name in the Park record books with two of the top three marks in the long jump, as well as top-10 tallies in the 200-meter and 400.

Junior Odail Todd, from Hanover, Jamaica, was injured and unable to compete in the championship.

Buntenbach competes at national tourney

Wes Buntenbach held his last round together after a rough first hole finishing with a final-round 74 at the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship played at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois.

Buntenbach began the day with a double bogey on the longest hole on the course, No. 10, a 581-yard par-5. He followed it with four-straight pars, a birdie at 15, and another at 17 to finish his first nine holes in 37.

Two bogeys on the back nine kept Buntenbach from making the cut, as he finished at 10-over par. 

“There were some nerves, and I saw it show up in the short game, but Wes carried himself in a very respectable way all week, even when things weren’t going his way,” Park coach Tony Blake said. “He’s got an incredible chance next year as a senior to get back to this tournament and to play really well.”

The junior from Kleeme, Iowa shot 72-77-74-223 in the Pirates’ first appearance at any golf national championship in 10 years, and the first for a men’s player since the 1982 season.


As Park University continues to roll out the Class of 2018 for the Park Athletics Wall of Honor, attention turned to the Pirates’ first-ever appearance in an NAIA championship event, 1962, when Sinan Kunt led the men’s soccer team to a national semifinal appearance in Richmond, Indiana.

Now Dr. Sinan Koont, he was part of a 1962 soccer team that was 7-2 on the year, representing Area 1 in the NAIA National Championship, held at Earlham College. Kunt was one of three Pirates named members of the 1962 NAIA National Championship All-Tournament Team, along with Desire Assa and Bill Higginbotham.

According to the 1962-63 Park College Narva, “The 1962 Park soccer team had one of its most successful seasons. Park had a 7 win, 2 loss record and was selected to represent Area 1 in the NAIA Soccer Tournament at Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. Park took third place in the tournament and positions on the All Tournament were awarded to Sinan Kunt and Desire Assa, with honorable mention to Bill Higginbotham. High scorer this year was senior Mel Blades who broke the school record by scoring 12 goals. Team captain was Hal Henderson, a junior, coaches were Ara Zakaryan and Ed Nelson, student manager was Joel Givertz and student trainer, Dave Bromberg.”

His prolific soccer career was just the beginning for Dr. Koont, who went on to complete a 1972 Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a 1987 Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Professor Emeritus Koont spent parts of three decades at Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as Professor of Economics.

66 earn Academic
selection from amc

Park University’s spring sports produced 66 All-Academic selections in the American Midwest Conference in 2018, including 20 from the men’s track and field program.

Park’s women’s track and field and softball tied for second, each with 13, while baseball had nine academic all-conference honorees, men’s golf had four, and all seven rostered women’s golfers earned the award.

To be considered for academic all-conference awards in the AMC, student-athletes must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and be in their second semester at their current institution while finishing the season with the school’s varsity program.

Baseball (9): Andrew Dougan, Austin Giannola, Connor Simpson, Connor Whitney, Damian Vela, Daniel Dolphus, Drake Marker, Tim Schaareman, Zach Ray.

Softball (13): Bailey Guiles, Breanna Trout, Courtney Seymour, Jessica Stupar, Katie Carr, Kaylin Brooks, Kendal Cox, Lexie Duncan, Madison Klein, Mallory Hughson, Olivia Atkinson, Shelby Bendure, Sydney Phillips.

Men’s Golf (4): Ryan Tattan, Yannick Koehnen, Wes Buntenbach, Zach Spencer.

Women’s Golf (7): Lauren Birkeness, Allie Storm, Leeah Shipley, Genevieve Stelmacovich, Rachel Hoffman, Morgan Farnan, Lexi Grego.

Men’s Outdoor Track and Field (20): Brendan Briody, Christian Murrell, Christian Skinner, Daniel Davidson, Hillary Kiptoo, Jacob Watson, Javari Cameron, Joshua Goodloe,  Marckson Francois, Marquel Harris, Nicholas Rotich, Peerless Simpson, Preston Guzman, Ryan Zitter, Sebastian Keditukei, Skyler Stuke, Tavin Severino, Teriq Fowler, William Henry, Zachary Graham.

Women’s Outdoor Track and Field (13): Aaliyah Brown, Anna Zirpolo, Areka Hanson, Brittany Frazier, Brooke Kelly, Esther Loukawila, Jerosan Fletcher, Kaitlyn McNeely, Marina Rios, Michaela Lemons, Michaela Voss, Morgan Lindgren, Vibian Chemeli.

Carr named to
all-region team

Park softball player Katie Carr was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association NAIA All-Region second team.

The first baseman started in all 41 games that she appeared in for the Pirates this season. At the plate, she had a batting average of .369, which was the highest batting average on the team this season. Staying at the plate, Carr had 141 at-bats, scored 32 runs, 52 hits, hit 14 doubles, hit two triples, hit five home runs, and had 41 RBI’s. In the field, she had 302 putouts, seven assists, was involved in 10 double plays, and had a fielding percentage of .990.

 Carr finished her career at Park in the field with 945 putouts, 25 assists, and a fielding percentage of .989. At the plate, she had 407 at-bats, 131 hits, scored 80 runs, hit 30 doubles, hit three triples, hit seven home runs, had 87 RBI’s, and had a career batting average of .322.


Park University put five student-athletes — three men and two women — on the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete teams for track and field.

Jerosan Fletcher and Morgan Lindgren represented the women’s roster, while Javari Cameron, William Henry, and Ryan Zitter are the Pirates’ men’s honorees. In all, 427 women were honored with the award, and 305 men’s track and field student-athletes from across the NAIA were honored.

The NAIA’s highest honor, the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete team is comprised of student-athletes who maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and have achieved junior academic status.

Three  named
to Academic
All-District team

Park University senior shortstop Tim Schaareman was named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District Baseball Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America), while volleyball player Victor Neves and women’s golfer Genevieve Stelmacovich was named to the Academic All-District At-Large team.

Schaareman hit .406 for the Pirates as a senior, completing an iron man-like career where he played and started in all 137 games for Park University from 2016 to 2018. In that span, he hit .349 over 519 career at bats, smacking a school-record 37 doubles while adding 10 triples and six home runs, driving in 89 runs in his three seasons at short.

Off the field, Schaareman carries a 3.72 grade point average, majoring in criminal justice, and the Honselersdijk, Netherlands native will graduate from Park University Saturday.

Neves finished his senior season with 131 kills, hitting .247, and dug up 101 balls for the Pirates. He finished his career at Park with appearing in 348 sets and played in a total of 105 matches. Neves closed out his career with 513 kills, hitting .239, 43 assists, 50 service aces, 93 total blocks, and dug up 543 balls in the Pirates’ uniform.

Over his time at Park, he received CoSIDA Academic All-American First-Team in 2017 and landed on the CoSIDA Academic All-District team in 2017. Neves was also named to Daktronics-NAIA Men’s Volleyball Scholar-Athlete team in 2017 and 2018. He was also part of the 2017 NAIA National Championship team for the Pirates.

Off the court, Neves has carried a 4.00-grade point average, a double major in business marketing and business management, and the Curitiba, Brazil, native graduated from Park University on Saturday, May 12.

Stelmacovich finished her senior season averaging 89.9 strokes. In the Pirates’ uniform, she averaged 89.6 strokes in her career. Stelmacovich competed in a total of 34 events and played in a total of 65.5 rounds in her golf career.

Over her time at Park, Stelmacovich received American Midwest Conference Academic All-Conference all four years. She was also named to the Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Golf Scholar-Athlete team in 2017.

Off the course, Stelmacovich has carried a 4.12-grade point average, a chemistry major with a minor in mathematics, and the Holland Landing, Ontario, native graduated from Park University on Saturday, May 12.

HOFFMAN, SHIPLEY honored by amc

Park University landed two golfers on the honorable mention when the 2018 American Midwest Conference postseason awards were announced last month.

Rachel Hoffman, a senior from Belton, and Leeah Shipley, a junior from Smithville, were both named to the honorable mention recognition.

Shipley also was named to the AMC Women’s Golf Champions of Character Team.