By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Family, whether it’s immediate or extended members, means everything to Dylan Nikirk. So when older brother Dalton started playing baseball for Trine University, there’s no question where the second sibling was going.
Nikirk, one of the top offensive threats for Bedford North Lawrence in 2022, officially decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps, signing with the Thunder on Thursday afternoon. After playing a key role for the Stars as they won a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title, he’ll join a successful NCAA Div. III program that has gone 49-19 over the last seven years under head coach Troy Abbs.
While the older brother blazed the trail to Angola, a 200-plus mile trek to the far northeast corner of the state, Nikirk is his own man, different in many ways. He wore many hats with the Stars, as a slot receiver, running back, kick returner and defensive back during his four-year career. Undersized but never undervalued, he is eager to play at the next level.
“Ever since my freshman year, I’ve always wanted to play football in college,” said Nikirk, who has made double-digit trips to the campus to watch baseball games and meet members of the football roster. “Ever since Dalton committed, it’s been like home to me. It just feels right. Trine has always been my top option.”
NIkirk was BNL’s leading receiver last season with 30 catches for 482 yards (with three touchdowns), he added 269 rushing yards, and he also served as BNL’s top kick returning threat. That’s the spot the Thunder coaching staff envisions Nikirk making an impact.
“They’re usually really good every year,” Nikirk said. “I’m pretty excited.”
Nikirk was named to the All-HHC team as BNL went 6-5 overall and won a sectional game. BNL coach Derrick Barker appreciated the tenacity displayed by his 5-10, 170-pound weapon. He took big hits and always bounced back for more.
“Toughness,” Barker said. “That’s what he brought for us, that dependability and football IQ. He has multiple things he can do to help a team.
“Seeing him go on to a college program is great for us. It’s something that should be the ultimate goal of the program, to help kids that want to play college football – or go to college, or enter the work force, whatever they want to do, help them get there. It’s cool to be a small piece of that.”
Trine, a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, went 7-3 last year.