Western Nebraska Community College’s Merle Wiehl became only the third player in college history to be named an NJCAA First Team All-American when the all-American lists were released on Monday.
Wiehl, who holds the WNCC season and career scoring records, was one of 10 players to make the First team. Wiehl said it is a great honor, but she couldn’t have done it without her teammates.
“It obviously feels really great to be named all-American and leave WNCC like that,” the 6-foot-1 wing player said. “But that would have not been possible without my teammates. We played together so well and have such great connections that allowed me to get better as a player and they found me on the court perfectly, so my personal success is more a team thing that we did this year.”
Wiehl helped the Cougars to a 29-4 record and a Region IX championship along with a national tournament berth for a third straight season. Wiehl averaged 22.9 points a game this season and pulled down 4.6 rebounds. She leaves here as the season point leader after scoring 756 points this past season. She also holds the career scoring record of 1,313 points, which she broke in a game against Casper in January. The career record was held by Penny Mallet set in 1983.
Wiehl sored in double figures in all 33 games this season and has scored in double figures in 55 straight games dating back to last season. She made 121 3-pointers this season and finished her career with 160 treys. Wiehl leaves as the career 3-point scorer with 480 points from beyond the arc, topping the mark set by Lyndie Puckett in 2013-15 of 354 points.
Wiehl said entering her sophomore season, she had no idea what kind of season she was going to have at the beginning.
“With only two players returning from last year, I did not know how this season would be at all coming back, but quickly in practice everyone saw the high ceiling this team has and the individual talent we had this year,” she said. “We practiced hard and made steps in the right direction each practice and game. And I think because of the competition we had each day it made, not only the team, but each individual more successful.”
Now, Wiehl has her name among two other Cougar players as a NJCAA First Team All-American. Earning that honor from the early 2000s were Shana Coleman in 2002-03 and Tatiana Conceicao in 2003-04.
Other First Team members this season include Holly Forbes of Mineral Area CC, Gabbie Green of South Plains, Tiyah Johnson of Shelton State, Victoria Johnson of Hinds, Natasha Mack of Angelina, Bethy Mununga of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Juliunn Redmond of Florida Southwestern State, and Silvia Veloso of Seward County.
Notables on the second team included one player each from the national championship teams New Mexico Junior College and Gulf Coast Community College in Thamires Andrade of NMJC and Ayanna Clark of GCCC.
The third team had two players who played against WNCC this season in Kiara Dallmarin of Iowa Western and Dejahlae Roebuck of Hutchinson.
One other Region IX player earned all-American status and that was Casper College’s Lucie Hoskova as an honorable mention selection. The complete list is on the NJCAA website.
With the season finished, Wiehl is in the process of finding a school to continue her playing. She said it isn’t that hard of a process. She already took one visit and has a couple more to take.
“Recruiting is going good, I am currently going on some visits to see different schools and programs and will make the decision after those visits,” she said. “I don’t see it as a hard decision to make, I am just thankful to have these great options and I know I will find a good school.”
The hardest thing for her, though, is leaving WNCC with all the friends she had made and the accomplishments she has garnered.
“It is tough to try to sum that [memories of being at WNCC] up in a short answer because there is so much I take,” she said. “It is a huge life-learning step for me to come to a different country and learn how to live by myself. On a basketball side, I had two awesome years and it was the most fun playing I ever had! And maybe the best thing I take out of here is the friendships I made over the time that will last forever.”