Wilkes University Athletics kicked off their fall sports season on Sept. 1. They also welcomed a class of 84 freshman recruits to campus for the 2017 fall semester (as of a 9/9 roster update).
Crunching the numbers, football naturally leads the total number of freshmen on their roster at 42. What might come as a surprise is the percentage of freshmen on their entire roster. Forty six percent of their entire roster consists of first year student-athletes. Comparing to the rest of the fall athletic programs, they only trail behind men’s tennis (52 percent). Women’s golf is the only fall athletic team without a freshman listed on its roster.
The remaining freshmen percentage of total roster numbers are as follows: men’s soccer (33 percent), men’s cross country (33 percent), field hockey (32 percent), women’s volleyball (29 percent), women’s cross country (22 percent), women’s tennis (20 percent), men’s golf (14 percent), women’s soccer (13 percent) and women’s golf (0 percent).
Looking across the programs, some freshmen will find it easier to find a starting job on their particular team. According to data and recent history, the toughest starting job to land is in the women’s soccer program. After their run ended in the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom tournament last season, Coach Sumoski and his Lady Colonels are destined for a hungry return with a talented roster of 31 players this season.
Some freshmen have already begun their contributions. Lady Colonel soccer player Catherine Gregoire wasted no time netting her first career goal in her first career game against Penn State Berks on Sept. 1. On the men’s side, Lucas Snedeker tallied an assist with Danny McGinley and Jeffrey Eager-Heffner finding the back of the net in their first few games as Colonels, McGinley once and Eager-Heffner twice. Field hockey turf monsters Zoe Stepanski and Ali Dunn have also made notable contributions on the score sheet. Stepanski has one goal and one assist and Dunn has one goal and two assists.
These freshmen have hit the ground running in an attempt to gain or keep a starting position. Although team camp can give a head coach an idea of what an athlete is capable of, there is no substitue for game conditions during the course of a season. Anyone can make a wide open shot during practice.
Men’s soccer, field hockey, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer will look to utilize the incoming class’s skills to qualify for a MAC Freedom tournament bid while Colonel Football will compete with the Class of 2021 in a combined MAC schedule.
Men’s and women’s tennis will look to hone their recruits’ skills prior to beginning their traditional MAC Freedom schedule in the spring. Men’s and women’s cross country will utilize their young student-athletes in a series on invitationals before competing in the MAC Championships in October. Lastly, men’s golf will play six matches and one invitational before testing their team at the MAC Freedom Championships in April.
Here’s to the next four years for these up-and-comers and as the saying from The Hunger Games goes, “Let the games begins” and “May the odds be ever in your favor.”