Alex Hall's NH College Notebook: Farmington's Jennelle Thompson adjusting to college
IT DID NOT take Jennelle Thompson long to realize the differences between high school and collegiate-level volleyball. In her first match with St. Joseph's College of Standish, Maine, it took the Monks five sets to down Maine Maritime Academy, 3-2, on Sept. 2.
“Our first game was really intense,” Thompson said. “It was five matches and it was 15-13 in the final set so that was a big eye-opener of how intense it is and how important every play is.”
Thompson, a freshman libero from Farmington, said the college level is a lot more fast-paced than high school and it's important to be on your feet. Though it took some time, she now feels up to speed with the demands of the college game. Something that helped Thompson gain that comfort was how welcoming her teammates were.
“I think that if they weren't as welcoming, it would've been a lot harder to transition and play with new people,” said Thompson.
The Farmington High School graduate said she still has plenty to learn this year and one teammate who she has picked up a lot from already is senior captain Felicia Wachowiak.
Wachowiak, a middle blocker from Milton, broke the Monks' career kills record in the team's 3-0 triumph over Husson University on Tuesday. She had 1,113 kills all-time heading into St. Joseph's game at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Friday.
“She's good at not bragging about herself and boasting,” Thompson said of Wachowiak. “She's really humble and that helps because she is so good. And when someone is so good but can act like that, I can look up to that in a lot of different ways.”
Thompson was named both the GNAC and ECAC rookie of the week while Wachowiak earned the GNAC and ECAC offensive player of the week last week. Thompson had recorded a team-high 295 digs prior to Friday's contest.
“I always just try to do my best,” Thompson said. “I don't try to go and count how many digs I get. I try to play and play for each point but it means a lot that I have gotten so many.”
With the help of Thompson and Wachowiak, the Monks owned a 15-0 overall record and were 3-0 in Great Northeast Athletic Conference play heading into Friday. Other than Maine Maritime, only the University of Southern Maine had taken the Monks to five sets heading into Friday. Last season, the Monks went 9-22 overall. They were predicted to finish ninth in the conference this year in the preseason coaches' poll. St. Joseph's success through the first half of the season has caught many by surprise, including Thompson.
“It definitely is a big deal because I wasn't expecting to come on and just start playing and be successful my first year,” she said. “It's really fun and I love being a part of it.”
Based on how the Monks have played through the first half, Thompson said she thinks the team can go as far as it thinks it can this year.
“We're definitely not going to give up,” she said. “You have to stay on top of the defense and always be ready for unexpected things. And if one thing goes wrong, you have to push through to the next point.”
Thompson is only halfway through her freshman year but she already sounds like a veteran on a team that has become a surprising powerhouse in the GNAC.
Colby-Sawyer College defensive specialist Lexi Strong was named the North Atlantic Conference defensive player of the week last week. The sophomore from Somersworth led the Chargers with 73 digs and six service aces alongside nine assists in an 0-4 week for the team.
Men's cross country
Gordon College freshman Damon Kilgore won the Pop Crowell Invitational Tuesday with his time of 27 minutes, 52 seconds on Gordon's eight-kilometer course. Kilgore, of Londonderry, helped the Fighting Scots take third at the meet.
Women's cross country
NHTI's Claire Bilik finished 46th in the five-kilometer Pop Crowell Invitational Sept. 26 with a time of 23 minutes, 47 seconds. Bilik, of Milford, was named the Yankee Small College Conference player of the week for her performance at the invitational.
The Little East Conference selected Keene State College forward Promise Kpee as the league's player of the week last week. The sophomore from Manchester recorded seven goals in a 1-1 week for the Owls. His five goals in Keene State's 13-2 victory over Green Mountain College broke the Owls' single-game record.
Colby-Sawyer's Sierra Schuster was chosen as the NAC rookie of the week last week. The freshman from Hopkinton recorded the program's second hat trick in its history Sept. 23 in the Chargers' 7-0 triumph over Daniel Webster College.
SNHU freshman Maddie Holt scored her first collegiate goal Tuesday in the Penmen's 8-1 home loss to Stonehill College. Holt, of Seabrook, collected her own rebound and scored with 14:12 left to play to cut Stonehill's lead to 6-1.
Franklin Pierce University kicker Kyle Salucco was selected as the Collegiate Sprint Football League special teams player of the week, the league announced Tuesday. Salucco, a sophomore from Exeter, made field goals of 38, 30 and 20 yards in the Ravens' 36-15 loss to Cornell Sept. 26.
SNHU was ranked second in last week's Northeast-10 Conference coaches' poll. Le Moyne College topped the poll while Franklin Pierce and Assumption College came in fourth and fifth, respectively.
NHTI golfer Alec Cassidy was named the YSCC player of the week last week for his fifth-place finish in the University of Maine at Augusta National Qualifier. Cassidy, of Lancaster, posted a score of 87 and the Lynx took second place.
Raymond's Danyel McNicholas was chosen as the YSCC player of the week after going 2-for-3 in two victories for NHTI last week. She tallied four runs, one RBI and three steals over the two contests.
Alex Hall compiles the college notebook for the New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @AlexKHall.