Impressive career ends for Himmelberg

Sunday, June 1, 2008
TOBY CARRIG ~ tcarrig@semissourian.com Notre Dame players Dylan Drury, Wesley Glaus and Tanner Hiett prepared to have a photo taken with their matching hairstyles while waiting to see if their third-place game at the state tournament would be played Saturday.

SPRINGFIELD -- Notre Dame ace Mark Himmelberg watched his high school sports career end Saturday in a rainout.

Notre Dame and Boonville's Class 3 third-place game was canceled after a delay of more than two hours. Both teams were awarded a share of third.

For Himmelberg, it marked the end of a career that has allowed him to compete in five final fours.

"It's kind of sad to see it end, but I've got to realize that I was very fortunate and very lucky to make it to the final four once," Himmelberg said. "And to make it five times, I would have never believed it if you would have told me my freshman year I would go to five state tournaments. It's just been a dream come true. It's been awesome."

Himmelberg finished his high school career with five state medals, including three golds. He won two state titles with the soccer team and one state title with the basketball team, in addition to a second-place finish with the basketball program. And now he can add a third-place finish with the baseball team to his resume.

Himmelberg said the third place in baseball means a lot to him. He has a great passion for baseball, the only sport of the three he has decided to pursue after high school.

"I think baseball is my best sport," Himmelberg said. "It's a decision I made for myself last summer that baseball was what I felt like I would fit in best in college and I would be the most successful in. It's just something I've kind of had my heart set on for the last year, year and a half. So I'm pretty sure baseball is what I want to do."

Himmelberg entered the state tournament with a 7-3 record, 2.02 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 52 innings.

He started his team's semifinal loss against St. Dominic. He was taken out after 3 1/3 innings, having allowed six runs on eight hits.

He will play for Talley Haines' select team this summer. Haines is a former Central baseball standout pitcher who played minor league baseball.

Himmelberg said he would like to walk onto a Division I baseball team next season, especially Southeast Missouri State. He hopes to gain more exposure this summer.

"My dream is really to have a good summer this year, and hopefully be able to make the team at SEMO next year," he said. "But if I get a good deal that I can't pass up, I'll go with that. ... I would like to know as soon as possible. I would like to be set."

While Himmelberg said he is enrolled and has his tuition paid at Southeast Missouri State, he has spoken with Division III Maryville University about the possibility of playing baseball. He added that the Rockhurst University coach said he would give him a call some time this week.

"I'm open to anything," said Himmelberg, who added that he wants to pitch, but if he attends a smaller school, he also might have to be a position player.

Himmelberg said he really enjoyed his last year of baseball at Notre Dame because the team reached its potential.

"I knew there was a lot of potential on this team because the sophomores this year had a great year as freshmen on the JV [last year], and there was talent on the varsity last year. We just never threw it together," Himmelberg said. "I figured it could have easily been a year like last year where we had a lot of potential but just had an average season or it could have been a great season. And it ended up being a great season."

Bulldogs coach Jeff Graviett said Himmelberg was a leader by example for some of the younger pitchers, saying he showed them they could throw the fastball with success.

"If every kid was like Mark Himmelberg, it would just be a lot better world," Graviett said. "He's a great kid, a very intelligent kid. A tremendous athlete."

Senior Logan Glueck also said Himmelberg helped the young pitchers develop.

"He was a good example -- a vocal leader and actions," Glueck said. "He showed [sophomore pitcher] Colton [Young] how to control and how to lead it, so Colton will be fine."

Himmelberg always will look back on his high school career with pride.

"I've just been blessed to have the opportunities to be on great teams and be along for the ride," he said. "All five trips were a lot of fun. They are always something I'll remember."

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