Where Does Heath Melugin Rank in Springfield Soccer History?

I don’t know where I’ll rank in headline writing when my story is written, but I’ve got a three topics I want to cover today. Recruiting, Heath and finally, his final regular season home game scheduled for this Sunday. If you want to understand the first two, you owe it to yourself to attend the “Legacy Game” between Missouri State and SIUE at 6:00 pm Sunday.

Heath can thank this post on my otherwise dormant site to a current Kickapoo player with dreams of D1 stardom. His Mom was kind enough to purchase some photos from the Glendale derby game when I was in Springfield a month ago and I shared some comments on her son’s strong performance that evening. That begat a recruiting email exchange. When she brought up the families D1 aspirations, I shared my opinion that I thought her son might be better served considering D2 or D3. The conversation ended at that point, I haven’t heard back from them.

I understand that folks don’t want to hear my frank assessment but I do want their child to have a positive college experience and pursuing a Division 1 dream requires not only talent but good grades and hard work, both on and off the pitch. The same holds true for D2, D3 and NAIA programs but I see more players leave D1 programs, thus interrupting their college experience, arguably the best time you will have in your life. Take a look at the list of College Players I maintained for several years and you’ll get an idea.

When I look at the players who grew up in this region and went on to college play, two played four years of Division 1 soccer and had significant careers. Nick Dryden, West Plains/Missouri State and Heath Melugin, Kickapoo/Missouri State.

Nick Dryden (West Plains) played at Missouri State from 2006 – 2009, starting 61 of 80 games during his four years with his sophomore (18 of 20) and junior (22 of 22) accounting for the most significant contributions. Playing as a defender, he scored 4 goals and had 1 assist during that period.

Here is Heath’s bio from the Missouri State Bears site:
At Missouri State: Melugin, who was selected to the 2011 preseason All-MVC team with teammate Gerard Barbero, will look to add to his productive career and be a major contributor to the Bears’ offense this season.

2010: Melugin was the front runner of a Bears offense that was very productive in 2010. Melugin earned his third letter with team starting in 17 of the teams 18 matches and led the team in several categories such as goals, points, shots and shots on goal. Against Southern Methodist (9/1), Melugin tallied his first goal of the season off a Gerard Barbero assist. He then came back three games later and added his second goal of the season against IUPUI. The scoring didn’t stop coming from Melugin, he added another goal against Louisville (9/18). His fourth goal came on the road against conference opponent Eastern Illinois. Melugin helped secure the win against conference rival Evansville with fifth goal of the season. He turned around six days later and added his sixth goal of the season against Memphis (10/26). That was the second time during the season that Melugin recorded a goal in consecutive games. His only assist of the season came against Bradley (10/30) to Gerard Barbero. Heath added his seventh and final goal of the season against Evansville in the MVC conference tournament (11/10). For his achievements on the field, Melugin received second team All-MVC Team, MVC All-Tournament Team, and second team NSCAA All-Midwest Region Team. As successful as Melugin was on the field he was far more successful off the field. He received the MVC State Farm Good Neighbor Award, first team MVC Scholar-Athlete Team, Prairie Farms/MissouriValley Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Week (10/27), second team CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-American, and first team CoSIDA/ESPN Academic All-District VII for his work in the classroom and in the Springfield community.

2009: Melugin earned his second letter after scoring a team-high six goals while starting 18 of 19 matches played. His 31 shots taken and 13 shots on goal each ranked second on the team. In the Bears’ match against UMKC (9/5), Melugin scored the game-winning goal in a 3-1 Missouri State victory. He registered his second career multi-goal match scoring twice, including the game-winner, and adding an assist in a 4-0 win over Centenary (La.) (9/16). He recorded an unassisted goal against Bradley (10/24). He tallied another unassisted goal in the 74th minute of the MVC Tournament semifinal against Evansville (11/13) to tie the match and send it into overtime. He was named to the MVC All-Tournament team for his effort. He netted to Bears’ only goal in the NCAA Tournament loss at Saint Louis (11/19). Off the field, Melugin was named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete and the COSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VII first teams for his success in the classroom.

2008: Melugin made the most of his first season on campus as he finished tied for second on the team in total points (8) while contributing 15 starts and appearing in all 22 of the Bears’ games. He found the net three times, including two game winners, while compiling 25 shots on the season. His first collegiate goal and game-winner came against Howard (10/3), and against Central Arkansas (10/8) he knocked in two goals, including the game winner. Melugin added two assists against Drake (10/11) and Eastern Illinois (11/12). He ended the season with 10 straight starts, including all of the Bears’ conference games in the regular season and the MVC Tournament. Melugin was honored for his outstanding performance by being named to the MVC all-freshmen team.

Background: Melugin finished his prep career at Springfield Kickapoo first in career points and assists, season points and assists, and second in career goals with 115 and goals in a season with 55 in 2007. As team captain his senior year, Melugin was named first-team all-district, all-conference, all-Ozarks, all-region, all-Midwest and all-state. He was also named district and regional MVP as he helped his team through district, conference, sectional, and quarterfinals to a third place finish. As a junior, Melugin suffered a season-ending injury at the mid-point of the season, but still managed to collect first-team all-district, all-conference, all-Ozarks, all-region and second-team all-state honors. Melugin was also a four-year member of the Missouri and Region II Olympic Development Program teams. He traveled with the Region II team to Los Angeles and Costa Rica.

Personal: Heath Philip Melugin is the son of Phil and Kimberly Melugin. He was born Jan. 9, 1990, in Wichita, Kan. He is majoring in cell and molecular biology at MSU. Melugin, who has a 3.97 cumulative GPA in cell and molecular biology, was recently accepted to the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

Heath Melugin at Missouri State
Year MP-MS Sh G A Pts. GW
2008 22-15 25 3 2 8 2
2009 19-18 31 6 1 13 2
2010 18-17 48 7 1 15 2
Career 59-50 104 16 4 36 6

Other recent players include

Devon Newport (Glendale) started strong at St Louis University, earning regular starts and playing time at outside midfield as a freshman and moving into an attacking midfielder role his sophomore year when he finished as one of the leading scorers for the Billikens. He played in one exhibition game for the Billikens this year and then transferred to SIUE where he is on the roster but ineligible to play. He should play a key role for the Cougars his final two years where his former Club coach, Jeremy Alumbaugh, is an assistant on the Cougars staff.

Graham Basecke (Glendale) was Newports Club teammate on two state championship teams as well as anchoring the Falcon’s defense when they finished 2nd at State three years ago. He began his career at Indiana where he red-shirted, transferred to SLU and has since left the team.

Ryan Moses (Kickapoo) was one of four Springfield SC teammates (with Newport and Basecke) who began at SLU and transferred to Missouri State this season where he has played in half of the games, starting one.

Tommy Tombridge (Kickapoo) is the fourth SSC player from the two-time State Championship squad to go D1, signing with Northwestern. As a goalkeeper, he was waiting for the established starter the last two years. This, his junior season, he has played in 3 games, starting 1 as a freshman has taken the starting position.

Max Duncan (Joplin) started 9 games and played in 16 of the 18 games the Drake Bulldogs played in 2010 as a freshman. He made the MVC All-Freshman team as well. He is no longer listed on the roster and I have heard from sources that he is once again living in Joplin and working for the family business.

Parker Maher (Joplin), who has started 7 of the 13 games Missouri State had played when I began this piece, is one of 11 players who also have over 700 minutes played this season. Maher, and his twin brother, both graduated a year early from Joplin and Parker has the tools to become one of the best if he can stay healthy.

Tyler Williams (Kickapoo) was recruited to Southern Methodist where he was rostered as a freshman but did not play to my knowledge. He is now pursuing a photography career.

There are other players who have made a significant impact at their school by finding a good fit. The photo at the top, from 2006 features Tyler Williams (1st from left), along with Melugin (2nd) and John Duncan (4th) with his brother Max (6th) following a District game at Joplin that year. John Duncan played in the NCAA Tourney twice with the WashU Bears and earned kudos from his coach as well as a great degree.

Patrick Carver (Parkview) went on to achieve All-American status two years while playing at Emory.

So what do you think? Where does Heath fit and what are your recruiting plans?

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3 comments

  1. Ole, For the past 6-8 years he would be ranked up there with all of them. However, your knowledge of the history of Springfield soccer is not very good. I could write pages on numerous players that people, who can remember, could argue for years on who was the best and not come up with a solidified answer. I’m happy for Heath and his success but don’t throw him under the bus because you want to stir the pot with an article! If you want to know more about the history of Springfield soccer, and all the great players who have come through this great town(city), instead of guessing why don’t you ask the people that have been around for 30+ years and see what they say.

  2. Throw him under the bus? I thought I offered some insight into where he fits in the seven year time span I covered the beautiful game in Springfield. I hoped the article might also offer an opportunity for others to share their thoughts on folks I missed. As noted, I also wanted to make the point that what he has achieved is very difficult. Players need to attend the game on Sunday to see the technical skills he possesses, along with his teammates, that are necessary to succeed at the D1 level.

    As to covering the history of the game, check out http://sgfsoccer.com/category/history/ for the stories I’ve tagged that were historical moments in the game, and the people that came before them, during the seven years of hard work I put into this site.

    Rather than bitching why don’t you offer something positive to the discussion by presenting a story on the players that didn’t have the opportunity to be recognized the way you would like them to be. Your friend Buddy has written for this site, I’m sure he’d be happy to help you put something together to enhance this conversation.

  3. Thanks Ole for chronicalling Heath’s accomplishments over the past several years. I suspect most of us who have ever played a season of indoor soccer probably have thought at times we were the best player or, in the least, our parents did. Fortunately our community has produced many terrific soccer players who have had many levels of impact on the game throughout their careers. Ultimately soccer is amenable to objective measurement which is how history for any given sport or player is usually established and assessed.

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