Siena Heights University will induct four athletes and one team into its Athletic Hall of Fame. The 2017 class includes Amanda Haines, Rebecca Meier, Jessica Nietrzeba, Laura Panozzo and the 1989 baseball team.
Haines vaulted her way into Saints history with two national titles in the pole vault. The first occurred in the 2005 outdoor season with a vault of 12 feet-11.5 inches. She followed that crown with another championship in 2006 indoor with a vault of 12-5.5. In her short two-and-a-half-year career at Siena Heights, she was an All-American four times, and was twice named a NAIA Scholar Athlete. Haines also competed at the U.S. Track and Field Championships during her time at Siena Heights.
Meier was one of the best defenders in Saints women's soccer history. She was named the 2003 WHAC Player of the Year, and was an integral part of the 2002 team that qualified for the NAIA national tournament. She was named as an honorable mention All-American in 2003 and was on several all-conference teams. During her playing career, the Saints allowed only 53 goals with a .50 goals against average. The Saints recorded 54 shutouts and during Meier's career the Saints went 68-17-4 overall and 34-5-1 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference.
Nietrzeba made her mark at the plate with the Saints softball team, ending her career with 15 home runs to place her first all-time. The catcher also ended her career second in doubles with 36, third in RBI with 101 and third in batting average at .356. Nietrzeba was named to the All-WHAC first team three times from 2004-06. She also is in the top 10 for single-season home runs, doubles and RBI. She ended her career in sixth in hits, sixth in runs scored and seventh in walks.
Panozzo rewrote the record books for the women's basketball program during her career. The forward ended her career first in career points (1,812), points per game (15.1), field goals made (1,603), rebounds (1099), second in free throws made (354) and attempted (556), second in blocks (103), and fifth in steals (204). Panozzo also recorded several season scoring, scoring average, rebounding and blocked shots records for the Saints. She was named an honorable mention All-American in both 2006 and 2007, making her the first two-time All-American in program history. She was also named a Kodak Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American in 2007.
The 1989 baseball team recorded the program's first NAIA District 23 title during the 1989 season. Siena Heights defeated Aquinas 8-5 in the championship game. The Saints lost to eventual national champion St. Francis (Ill.) in extra innings in the regional semifinals to complete one of the most successful seasons in school history. Led by head coach Gordie Theisen, the Saints finished second all-time in wins (31). That team featured SHU Hall-of-Famers Al Stobinski (pitcher), Dennis Szczechowski (pitcher), Adam Benschoter (catcher/infield) and Dave Bonino (first baseman).
The induction ceremony and banquet will be Oct. 13 in Benincasa Hall during 2017 Homecoming Weekend. This will mark the first time the ceremony will be conducted on a Friday night.