Western Nebraska Community College’s all-time career and season scoring leader Merle Wiehl made it official signing to take her scoring talents to the Division I level after inking with Santa Clara University on Monday.
Wiehl said she is excited to move on to the Division I level.
“I choice Santa Clara because it was the best fit overall and their basketball style is what I like to do., and I really like the people there and it is a good academic school. That made the choice easy.” Wiehl said. “It was always my dream in the first place to go to the next level and get a degree after two years here. I am really excited.”
For Wiehl, she embraced the recruiting process as she had four-year coaches making trips to Scottsbluff to watch her play almost every game.
“I had a lot of fun [with the recruiting process] going to other schools and stuff,” she said. “I really enjoyed it but at some point I was glad it was over because I just wanted to make a decision.”
Wiehl averaged nearly 24 points a game last season in helping the Cougars to a Region IX tournament title. She t the all-time season and career scoring leader scoring 756 her sophomore season and broke the 35-year-old career scoring record held by Penny Mallett in 1983 in a game against Casper College in January. She finished her career with 1,313 points.
Wiehl shot 54 percent from the field last season with 121 made 3-pointers. She connected on 45.1 percent of her shots beyond the arc. She also scored in double figures in every game this season.
Wiehl was also named a first-team NJCAA all-American and was selected captain of the Omaha World Herald All-Nebraska JUCO team for a second straight year.
Wiehl said while the records and honors are nice, it is not about scoring; it is about life experiences.
“I was never thinking about that seriously,” Wiehl said. “I just tried to play good basketball. I just had a lot of fun the last two years. Obviously, it is great but I really don’t care about it. It is not something I will remember, it is more like the experiences here and the teammates I had. Stuff like that.”
When she takes off to Santa Clara next year, they are looking at her to be the same kind of player that she was at WNCC.
“They want me in a similar position that I was here,” she said. “I am glad I get to compete for a chance to be on the floor there. That is what I am going to do and I want to help the team out to win.”
One of the reasons the excelled at WNCC is not only because of her teammates, but coach Chad Gibney.
“I really enjoyed that [having Coach Gibney],” she said. “We have a great relationship and he helped me a lot on and off the court. He is a big part of me going to the next level for sure.”
Her talented teammates also helped her on and off the court, too.
While she had fun playing here and fun with the recruiting process, the hardest part will be leaving Scottsbluff and WNCC.
“It definitely will be hard to leave,” she said. “I really will miss this place. I met some great people here that I will definitely miss.”