Sports

PLNU’s Spring Sports Look To Build On Recent Successes

PLNU's athletic facilities. Photo courtesy of PLNU Athletics.

Women’s Golf

Last season, the PLNU women’s golf team finished fifth at the NCAA Super Regionals tournament — the team’s best finish in program history — just missing a finish in the top four that would’ve sent the team to the NCAA Championships.

This year’s squad began to mesh during the team’s fall season. The Sea Lions played in three tournaments, placing third, sixth and finishing with a win at the Westmont Invitational. The Sea Lions also had individual golfers reach the podium at two of the three tournaments.

“We are hoping to carry that winning momentum into the spring season,” said golfer Haley Wong, a fourth-year information systems major. 

This spring, the Sea Lions will compete in five tournaments before the PacWest Championships on April 15-17 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii.

“Our biggest goal is to win the PacWest Championships,” said Wong, “which will take us to regionals, and then hopefully nationals too.”

First local competition: CSUSM Fujikura Invitational, Monday and Tuesday, March 11-12 at Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista, California.

Baseball

In the past two seasons, PLNU’s baseball team has racked up accolades, including two PacWest titles, a West Region title and a national championship appearance. Fifth-year physics major and infielder Seth Ryberg said this year is all about going further than last season’s regional appearance.

“Our goal this season is nothing short of a national championship,” said Ryberg. 

Ryberg said the team’s returning players — like National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Preseason West Region honorees catcher Jake Entriken and infielder Scott Anderson — are leading the way to these goals.

“For a lot of guys, this is their last season in a PLNU baseball uniform,” said Ryberg. “Older guys have taught the ropes of the program to younger guys.”

NCBWA recently ranked the experienced squad No. 3 in its West Region Preseason poll and No. 21 in its Division II Preseason Top 25.

“You can’t go far into the postseason with only good pitching or a good offense, you need a collective unit that complements each other,” said Ryberg. “Our roster this year does just that, and we’re looking forward to proving it every weekend.”

First local competition: Due to the sinkhole along the outfield fence, check plnusealions.com for updates on when the first home game will be played.

Women’s Track & Field

PLNU’s track and field team ended last season with three athletes winning PacWest titles: Peyton Yoshida in the pole vault, Aubrie Nex in the 1500 meters and Anessa Chirgwin in the discus. 

Yoshida, a fourth-year applied health science major, said that this year the team hopes to build on that success and compete hard for the Sea Lions’ head coach Jerry Arvin’s farewell season.

“We’re looking forward to everyone doing their best, a lot of PRs and more people moving up the top 10 lists,” said Yoshida.

This year’s team is the largest that Arvin has coached at PLNU with over 60 athletes. Yoshida said the team is meshing well and is eager for competition.

“It’ll be really interesting when we go to our first meet, knowing we don’t all fit on one bus anymore,” said Yoshida, “but I think there’s a good connection between all the different events, so even though the dynamic is a little different, it’s still good.”

First local competition: Ross and Sharon Irwin Invitational, Saturday, March 16 at 9 a.m. at PLNU.

Women’s Tennis

The women’s tennis team is coming off its most successful season in program history. Last year, the Sea Lions placed third in the conference — their highest finish ever — and qualified for the NCAA regional meet for the second time in the history of the program. Regionals is where the Sea Lions’ season has ended the past two seasons, both times at the hands of Hawaii Pacific University.

“Our goal is just to do slightly better than we did last year, since we’ve qualified for regionals the past two years but haven’t won that regional match,” said fourth-year kinesiology major and tennis team member Thelma Sepulveda.

Sepulveda said that this year’s roster is full of new talent that should help the Sea Lions break the regional match barrier. The five new players and the three returners got the chance to bond at their fall tournament.

“Everyone did really well at the tournament,” said Sepulveda. “This year, our team is looking really strong. Team chemistry is really good.”

Sepulveda added that the team has been practicing more than in recent years, doing more mobility and strength work, and she hopes Sea Lion fans notice that when they’re on the court.

First local competition: Thursday, Feb. 1 at 2:30 p.m. at PLNU versus Cal State Fullerton.

Men’s Tennis

Like the women’s team, the men’s tennis team placed third in the conference last year, its best finish in program history. The Sea Lions also made their second appearance at the regional tournament — their first since 2018 — and got to host a regional match for the first time. But just like the ladies, their postseason run was also halted at the regional level by Hawaii Pacific.

This year’s roster boasts many of the faces from last year. Fourth-year player and business major Lukas Schuster said the team has a ton of experience which should bode well for what the team wants to accomplish.

“We know what to expect,” said Schuster, “and we definitely have the goal of making it to postseason competitions and playing regionals, which means finishing in the conference in the top four.”

This experience was on display at the team’s fall tournament: the ITA West Regional Championships. Alexander Leischner placed second in singles, qualifying for nationals, and Leischner and Nabeel Khan placed second in doubles, also qualifying for nationals.

“We’ve had a good start to the year,” said Schuster, “and now we’re super excited to kick off the season.”
First local competition: Saturday, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. at PLNU versus Azusa Pacific University.

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