Sports

Seasons in review: PLNU Sea Lions

Baseball

PLNU baseball has had a successful season thus far in PacWest play beating out Holy Names and Academy of Art. They currently stand at third place in one of the most competitive conferences on the West Coast region. Standouts this season have been pitcher Kevin Lillicrop, first baseman Ryan Garcia, pitcher Coleman Huntley III, right fielder Devin Carter and shortstop Tyler Baker. After notching a school-best 17 game winning streak, their 31-14 record is the best since the 2009 season where they went 45-13 and advanced to the NAIA World Series before losing to Lubbock Christian University, 8-11 in the finals.

The Sea Lions are coached by Joe Schaefer and assisted by Justin James, Ben Rosenthal and Jason Molina. Their season is sets to conclude on May 2 at home against Dixie State University.

Men’s soccer

This season men’s soccer welcomed a total of eight new players to the roster. First year players Avrin Yakou, Chris Tellez, Alec Afarian, Mitch Wheelon, Andy Ritchie, Eduardo Gallardo, Trenton Rainone, Chandler Kirby and Sam Falkenberg joined the team as it headed into its first year as a fully recognized NCAA Division II program. The team was led by Matt Rose, who scored a team high five goals on the season and was eventually recruited to play for a minor league team for the Portland Timbers. Head Coach Phil Wolf saw this season as especially telling for the team as he evaluated the way the new formation affected the team’s ability to play at that level. Wolf believes the new players have added some needed athleticism to the team dynamic and have accounted for much of their success this season.

The men’s team traveled to Hawaii this year to play four teams, including rival and fellow DII member BYU Hawaii. They say success in their season after returning from Hawaii to win their next five games as they closed out the year. The Sea Lions finished out the season with a 6-10-2 record.

Men’s basketball

After a successful season in the NCCAA, the men’s basketball team began its first official season as an NCAA DII team. The Sea Lions’ success last year continued into their season this year as they finished the season with 21-8 record after making it to the first round of the PacWest Tournament and ceding a lost to BYU Hawaii,, 49-74.

New additions to the team this year include Randall Jackson, James Walters, Emerson Castaneda, Gerard Rivers, Joe Elmquist, Aaron Roedl and Zach Burnham. The team will graduate seniors Hayden Lescault, Marek Klassen and Junior Morgan at the end of this season.

The defending NCCAA National Champions are coached by Head Coach Bill Carr, Assistant Coaches Jordan Courneya, Wil Bush, and Devin Ginty, and assisted by students Ben Maiava and Spencer Schulze.

Men’s tennis

PLNU men’s tennis welcomed six new players, Grant Alston, Jack Alston, CJ Erion, Blake Smith, Andre Staab and James Tenbroeck, to the team this year as well as a new coaching staff. Former Assistant Coach, Curt Wheeler, stepped in as head coach for both tennis teams this season. He is assisted by Matthew Mims. The squad was led by transfer Andre Staab, who finished his first year at PLNU ranked in the top 25 nationally for Division II.

The Sea Lions had a patchy record attached to their season this year starting with losses in preseason and to PacWest conference teams like Holy Names and Azusa Pacific. They showed considerable success against teams outside of the conference, however, including wins against Pomona Pitzer, Concordia and San Diego Christian. They finished with a 12-11 record and finished fourth at the PacWest championship tournament.

Women’s basketball

PLNU’s women’s basketball squad proved they were a competitive addition to the NCAA DII field. The Sea Lions continued their impressive record during conference play into the PacWest Tournament, beating out BYU Hawaii and Cal Baptist and moving on to the NCAA DII National Tournament.

The Sea Lions traveled to Anchorage, Alaska over spring break where they beat the No. 1 seed Alaska Anchorage in the first round, 64-63. Though their season was to end just one game later with a loss to crosstown rivals Cal Baptist, the Sea Lions came out with a 20-12 overall record.

Additions to the team this year include Paola Roa, Jovanah Arrington, Yuendie Guridi, Amy Ogren, Alex Brunk, Roya Rustamazada, Alex Warren, Gretchen Hoffman, Riley Abraham and Amanda Cunningham. The Sea Lions are coached by Bill Westphal, assisted by Alan Nakamura, Colleen Planeta and Dwayne Cosby.

Women’s soccer

Though the women’s soccer team ended their regional playoff run with a loss to Cal Poly Pomona, they had a remarkable season. With a near perfect record (12-2-0, 11-0-0 PacWest), the PLNU women’s soccer team became the first PacWest conference champions in the history of the school. Multiple members were named as PacWest accolades, including Ariel Oriarte, Claire Matthews, Sami Swanson, Shelby Murphy, Morgan Pearce, Dottie Rhoten, and Tara Kracy.

The women’s team welcomed 10 new players this year while returning 13. Head Coach Tim Hall actively pursued athletes that will first and foremost be a good fit for the school academically and spiritually. Hall, who received the coach of the year award, places importance on well roundedness during his recruiting process and said he believes the new players this year created a different team personality as they moved the program forward into its first year as a NCAA Division II soccer team.

The women’s team found success through diversity and many girls this year have been asked to play multiple positions or different positions than those they originally came in with. Hall said this is partially by design and partially due to injuries the team sustained early in the year. The team is competing in a very strong conference this year with rivals Azusa Pacific and BYU Hawaii also moving into DII.

Cross country

PLNU’s women’s cross country team ended its first year as an NCAA DII team by placing eighth at the PacWest Conference Championships. The Sea Lions will graduate three seniors: Jennifer Beers, Caitlin Brandt and Jessica Lucas, after welcoming 11 freshmen at the start of the year. The team was led by freshman Alexandra Hernandez, who placed first for the team every race this season, including an eighth place finish out of 67 other runners at the Aztec Invitational on September 19.

Head Coach Jerry Arvin, assisted by Kristen MacMaster, will close the season with his team having placed in the top ten in all but one competition.

Women’s golf

PLNU women’s golf team welcomed two new players, Rima Antous and Haley Fuller, this year after graduating five last season.

Head Coach Jacqui McSorley, assisted by Art Wilmore, looked to build off of last season into a successful first year as NCAA DII athletes. The Sea Lions headed into the season strong placing in the top three out of their first nine competitions. The ladies finished their season well by placing fourth out of eight teams at the PacWest championship tournament.

Volleyball

The Sea Lions volleyball squad faced one of the most competitive conferences in Division II play. They faced stiff opposition after losing all four of their games at the GNAC/PacWest Crossover Challenge. However, they fought back to win 15 of the remaining 20 matches left in the season.

After finishing 19-9 overall and 16-4 in conference competition, the team was not able to qualify for the PacWest Championship tournament. A total of four players qualified for the All-PacWest team, however, including: Savannah Wedemeyer, Heather Leavitt, Alyssa Dwyer and Christin Fisher. Leavitt led the team offensively by averaging 3.79 kills per game to go along with 394 on the season.

This year marked the first season under Jonathan Scott as head coach of the volleyball program.

Women’s tennis

The PLNU women’s tennis team welcomed five new players, Hannah Chiu, Madeline Cunningham, Nikki Newell, Justine Phillips and Jen Weissmann, to the roster this season. Like the men’s tennis team, they are also under a new coaching staff. Curt Wheeler, former assistant coach for both teams, has come in as head coach this season to replace prior 30-year Head Coach Rich Hills. He is assisted by Matthew Mims.

The Sea Lions are working through a tough first year as an NCAA DII team. The five losses in early March put the Sea Lions behind in the running to move on to postseason. The ladies finished in fourth place at the PacWest championships. They closed out the season with a 11-13 record after beating rival Azusa Pacific University at the aforementioned tournament for the first time in school history. Led by freshman Newell at the number one spot, they will look to improve on this year’s experience as they move into next year with the young core group of players.

Track and field

PLNU women’s track and field is showing well in their first year as NCAA DII student-athletes. Graduating senior Emily Loogman began the season at the top of the PacWest in the 400-meter dash and has kept her spot in PLNU women’s track and field all-time list.

The women have run well in both home and away meets. They will graduate four seniors this year, Alexia Avila in sprints, Soliaana Faapouli (above) –who placed third place all-time in the discus on April 19 – in field events, Emily Loogman in sprints and Chloe Soremekun in jumps. The Sea Lions are coached by Jerry Arvin, who is assisted by Shane Peterson, Alisa Ward, Kristen MacMaster, Eddie Morrow and Lindsay Honea. Their regular season play concludes on May 9, however, if they qualify for the NCAA championships, they will compete on May 21 at Allendale, Michigan.

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