Archive | Men’s Athletics

Split season brings challenges for golf and tennis teams

Soccer is a fall sport and basketball is played in the winter. But when do sports like tennis and golf play their seasons? The answer is both fall and spring.

The women's golf team has a split season: playing half their schedule in the fall and half in spring.

The women’s golf team has a split season: playing half their schedule in the fall and half in spring.

The men’s and women’s golf and tennis teams at Indiana Wesleyan University have split seasons: playing half of the season in the fall and half in spring.

Unpredictable Indiana weather is the main reason for the split season, according to Men’s Golf Head Coach Austin Conroy. There simply isn’t enough good weather in either individual season to play a full schedule.

Conroy said a split season is necessary at the collegiate level.

“If we just did a spring season, then you know, that’s what high school sports do,” Conroy said. “We’re a college program.”

Conroy said there are lots of events in the fall that help improve the team’s NAIA national ranking in the spring, when they play their league season and the NAIA national tournament is held.

Women’s tennis Head Coach Eddy Shigley said he “loves” the fall season.

“The weather’s awesome and [players] get to play all summer and they come ready,” Shigley said. “They come prepared, they come tennis-ready.”

The Crossroads League is the only NAIA conference to play its tennis conference schedule in the fall. Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams won the league championship, earning an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament next May in Mobile, Ala.

Men’s tennis player Kyle Johnson (sr) said it’s tough to have such a long wait between qualifying and playing in NAIA Nationals.

“You have to wait six months before [you] can play which is kind of unfortunate when you’re coming off such a high,” Johnson said.

Coach Conroy also said it’s hard to maintain the momentum from the fall into the spring season, about a four-month layoff. He sees the fall and spring as two different seasons.

Johnson said team chemistry is also a disadvantage to the split-season format.

“We try to keep in contact with each other and camaraderie going but at the same time we aren’t with each other as much,” Johnson said.

Kyle Johnson (sr) said it's hard to keep momentum going during a 4 month break in the season.

Kyle Johnson (sr) said it’s hard to keep momentum going with a 4 month break in the season.

Both Coach Conroy and Coach Shigley said their teams stay together through offseason workouts, study tables and devotional times.

“I think it’s really important for us to have shared spiritual experiences that aren’t just in season,” Shigley said.

Another problem with the split-season format is practice times during the winter months. The tennis teams are able to practice in the Troyer Fieldhouse, but spring teams like baseball, softball and track and field have priority. The golf teams are not so lucky, as they cannot practice in the fieldhouse.

The tennis teams finished up their fall seasons at the Crossroads League championship on October 4. The golf teams wrapped up their fall seasons this week at the NCCAA National Championship tournament in Panama City Beach, Fla. Spring seasons begin in the middle of March.

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Repeat championship not the goal for men’s basketball

Fifty-four hundred.

That’s how many possessions the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s basketball team will have to play before it can repeat as NAIA Division II National Champions, Head Coach Greg Tonagel estimates.

Coach Tonagel said the team will take the season one possession at a time.

Coach Tonagel said the team will take the season one possession at a time.

“Our whole focus right now is about the process of becoming a championship team,” Tonagel said. “It’s not about getting a championship, it’s about becoming a championship team, and you only do that possession by possession.”

Although the Wildcats are ranked the preseason No. 1 team in NAIA Division II, they realize it’s too early to be thinking about winning a game that’s almost five months away. Center Aaron Murray (jr) said the team is concentrated more on the short-term.

“We’d all love to repeat [as national champions], but right now, the focus is on the first game,” Murray said. “Later on in the season, we’ll focus on the tournament.”

The team’s desire for constant improvement has even trickled down to the freshmen, including guard Michael Winowiecki.

“The team is very focused, very centered. We definitely work hard and the coaches are looking for [hard work] out of us every day,” Winowiecki said. “I’ve always been a hard worker, but it’s cool joining a group that’s striving toward it every day.”

The Wildcats lost some important leaders from their championship squad. Jordan Weidner (alumnus ’14) and RJ Mahurin (alumnus ’14), the team’s two leading scorers in 2013-14, both graduated, as did Garvin Haughey (alumnus ’14), the “greatest leader to ever wear a Wildcat uniform,” according to Tonagel.

But what they may lack in star power, the Wildcats will try to make up for in depth. Tonagel said this year’s team is the deepest he’s ever had and will result in a fluctuating starting lineup.

“I think we’ll spread [the scoring out] more,” Tonagel said. “Last year, we had two big scorers, but this year I think we’ll have five guys who will average similar points per game.”

Murray added the offense will include more screens on the ball for a variety of players to create open looks.

The Wildcats' depth will be a key to success this season.

The Wildcats’ depth will be a key to success this season.

“A ball screen just opens things up so much,” Murray said. “The emphasis of our offense this year is to move the ball so lots of different people can score.”

The Wildcats added five new players to their team this year, including freshmen Jacob Johnson, Ben Carlson and Winowiecki.

However, Tonagel said the college basketball experience transfers Jonny Marlin (jr) and forward Josh Mawhorr (jr) have will give them a leg up in terms of playing time. Marlin comes from Indiana University, while Mawhorr arrives from fellow NAIA Division II school Saint Xavier University (Ill.).

Murray thinks both transfers will make a big impact for the Wildcats.

“Jonny just gets assists for everybody and makes everybody around him better, but he’s also a solid defender and a solid scorer,” Murray said. “And Josh is a big [man] who can shoot, so he can go to work inside and just bully you because he’s so big, but he can also step outside to shoot or drive.”

Will the team’s success this season be defined by its ability or inability to win another championship? Tonagel says it won’t. Rather, it will be defined by the Wildcats’ ability to embrace the team’s trademark “I Am Third” mindset.

“We didn’t set out to win the national championship last year, our whole goal was be third,” Tonagel said. “If we’re putting God first and others second, and we’re keeping score that way, we can [be successful] in a lot of different ways.”

The Wildcats begin their season this weekend with a pair of home games in the Caleb Dimmich Memorial Tournament. They will play 8 p.m. Friday against Oklahoma Wesleyan University and 3 p.m. Saturday against Purdue University North Central.

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Second half surge pushes men’s soccer past St. Francis

Three second-half goals lifted the No. 11 Indiana Wesleyan University men’s soccer team as the Wildcats defeated the St. Francis Cougars by a final score of 4-1 Wednesday, Oct. 15.

The Cougars came in having lost five games in a row, but Interim Head Coach Joe Schulman said he still expected a tough game.

“Being at the top of the conference, everyone is kind of gunning for you and the fact that we’re ranked nationally just accentuates that,” Schulman said. “We definitely expected a battle.”

Corey Lopez (jr) works against a Cougar defender. (photo by Lauren Dafoe)

Corey Lopez (jr) works against a Cougar defender. (photo by Lauren Dafoe)

Wildcat Field was slippery and wet for the contest after a few days of heavy rain. Tyrone Martin (sr) said the less-than-ideal conditions forced the Wildcats to stay disciplined.

“[The conditions] caused us to focus a lot more, concentrate a lot more and just be ready,” Martin said

The Wildcats started the first half lethargically, but took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a goal by Derek Williams (fr) with four minutes to go in the half. Keaton Albert (jr) got the ball past two defenders in the corner to set up Williams’ first collegiate goal.

After a passionate speech from Dylan Bronkema (sr), it was all Wildcats in the second half. The team came out of halftime with much more energy and effort.

“This team’s pretty mature,” Schulman said. “We were able to rally at halftime and really bring significant effort into the second half.”

But the Cougars would not go quietly, tying the game at 1 on a goal from Alexis Ferreira da Silva (jr) that slipped right through goalkeeper Josh Goepper’s (jr) hands. Ferreira da Silva drew boos from the Wildcat faithful after a flashy celebration, sliding through the grass and posing in front of the bleachers.

Taylor Lehman (jr) scored the third goal of the night for the Wildcats. (photo by Lauren Dafoe)

Taylor Lehman (jr) scored the third goal of the night for the Wildcats. (photo by Lauren Dafoe)

Martin answered for the Wildcats about 10 minutes later, putting the Wildcats up 2-1. Corey Lopez (jr) weaved the ball through three Cougars defenders to assist Martin on the goal. Four minutes later, Taylor Lehman (jr) headed a pass from Evan Young (so) into the back of the net for the Wildcats’ third goal.

Things heated up when Goepper and Cougar defenseman Alex Fletcher (sr) got tangled up in front of the net and began to shove each other. Fletcher was given a yellow card.

Seth Kintigh (jr) helped the Wildcats pour it on late with a goal assisted by Young, and the Wildcats cruised to a 4-1 victory.

The Wildcats won their 11th straight game and remain in first place in the Crossroads League, with an undefeated league record of 6-0 and overall record of 12-1. Their next game is Saturday, Oct. 18 at home against Huntington University.

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Men’s soccer defeats rival Taylor

The Indiana Wesleyan University men’s soccer team can take pride in the fact that they defeated their biggest rival tonight, Taylor University, with a 3-2 victory.

Assistant Coach Joe Shulman said the Wildcats expected a hard-fought battle.

Tyrone Martin (sr) scored the first of three goals for the Wildcats tonight.

Tyrone Martin (sr, right) assisted Keaton Albert (jr, left) for the first of three goals for the Wildcats tonight.

“[The team] knows that Taylor is always going to be a war and they come at us with guns blazing, so to speak, and tonight was no exception,” said Shulman. “There is such a rivalry in the county between IWU and Taylor, but it’s always great to get a win over Taylor.”

The game started slow with a long scoreless stretch until Tyrone Martin (sr) assisted Keaton Albert (jr) for the first goal of the evening.

“We had possession of the ball and Tyrone got freed up in the middle,” Keaton said. “He took a couple touches, went right up behind the defenders and slipped it behind. I had one touch that took it to the back post.”

By the end of the first half, IWU had attempted seven shots (with one finding the back of the net) while Taylor had attempted zero shots.

Taylor came out with energy to start the second half. Lewis Nisbet scored, tying the game at 1.

Martin answered by sneaking the ball through the Taylor goalkeeper’s legs. IWU fans gasped and jumped out of their seats with a roar. With 15 minutes left in the game, Taylor Lehman (jr) scored the Wildcats’ final goal, giving IWU a 3-1 lead over the Trojans.

“It felt really good to get a goal tonight,” Lehman said. “I’ve been working really hard at practice all week and to put one away was really great.”

Sam Kane (sr) battles against a Taylor player for the ball.

Sam Kane (sr) battles against a Taylor player for the ball.

IWU goalie Josh Goepper (jr) had several impressive saves throughout the night, but Sam Hardy (fr) scored a goal for the Trojans with seven minutes left in the game, leaving IWU fans fearful.

The Wildcats held on through the final minutes and ended the night with a victory over their cross-county rivals.

The team improves to 10-1 overall and 4-0 in the Crossroads League. They next play Saturday, Oct. 11 at Goshen College.

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