A busy weekend on the Wabash College campus will provide ample opportunity for fans to support the Little Giant swimming and basketball programs.
The Wabash swimming and diving program will celebrate the careers of seniors David Birrer, William Cheng, Adam Current, Evan Rhinesmith, Eric Vaughn, and Chad Woods prior to their final home meet 1 p.m., Saturday against Illinois Wesleyan University.
A group of alumni basketball players will provide plenty of entertainment Saturday afternoon before this year’s Little Giant team plays a key North Coast Athletic Conference home game at 3 p.m. against Kenyon College.
The swim meet will be the last appearance for those seniors in the Wabash pool. After Saturday's meet, the swim team's full attention turns to the Feb. 10-12 NCAC Championships.
"The team is currently in the middle of taper so some people are starting to get some spring back in their swimming while others are still feeling sluggish," Coach Steve Barnes said. "All of this is normal at this time of year, but I can tell the team has more energy. Going into the meet this weekend, we are looking to put up some of our best times of the season as well as fine tune our races. This is our last competition before the NCAC meet, so we need to make sure to work on the small details like breakouts, breathing patterns, starts, and technique." (Senior Adam Current in photo)
Barnes said senior day is a time to celebrate this group's passion and resilency.
"All have done a fantastic job at juggling the tight rope walk of athletics and academics and they are a group that the college should highlight," Barnes said. " Last year Vaughn, Birrer, and Rhinesmith earned Scholar All-American honors, and this year Current should be added to the list. Woods maintains a 3.99 GPA and Cheng has seen a great improvement in his grades over the past 18 months. The seniors are natural born leaders that have been the pulse of the program for four years. They listen to others, help one another, and encourage while also leading by example."
Vaughn summed up the emotions that he and the other seniors have heading into Saturday's meet.
"Most of us have been swimming since we were five years old. Knowing that our careers as college swimmers are ending seems a bit strange. I've grown a lot as a person through the sport. I've learned to realize and assess what is important, how to establish priorities, how to achieve your goals, and how to overcome challenges and obstacles. I can never be grateful enough to this sport and the people I've met here through swimming and what they have done for me." (Senior Chad Wood in photo)
The annual Wabash basketball alumni game will begin at 1 p.m. at Chadwick Court. Former players of all ages will return to reminisce about their glory days in a Little Giant uniform in a sometimes spirited but always enjoyable affair for players and fans alike.
Currently over 13 former players, including several from the Little Giant teams from the 1997-2000 period will return to honor teammate Josh Estelle. Estelle, the all-time leading scorer for Wabash basketball, will be inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame at halftime. Estelle scored 2,065 points in his career while earning both All-America and Academic All-America honors. He helped Wabash to its best-ever four-year record (83 wins, 26 losses), was a four-year, First Team All-Conference selection in three different leagues, and was named the 2000 NCAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.
After the alumni game, the Wabash varsity squad will try to rebound from an 11-point road loss Wednesday night at Ohio Wesleyan. The Little Giants will face a Kenyon College that is still smarting from a 103-67 loss to Wooster in its last contest.
Wabash and Kenyon met in a thriller earlier this season that was decided in the final seconds. The Lords took a 60-59 lead with four seconds remaining on a Marcus Healey 3-point basket. Wabash junior Derek Bailey became the hero for the Little Giants a moment later when his long-range jumper at the buzzer produced a 62-60 victory.
Kenyon enters Saturday’s game with an 8-11 record and is 4-6 in NCAC games.
Admission to all the weekend events is free of charge.
Fans can pick up the latest Wabash gear to show their support by stopping at the bookstore from noon until 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The Wabash teams are partnering to help the Montgomery County FISH food pantry restock its shelves. Fans attending either the swim meet or basketball games are asked to bring non-perishable food items — particularly cereal, soup, macaroni & cheese, pasta, spaghetti sauce, packaged dinners, and cans of tomatoes — for area families in need of these items from the FISH program. Collection boxes will be placed in front of the entrance to Chadwick Court.