Tag Archive | "wildcats"

Volleyball takes down rival Taylor

There’s no such thing as an easy win when Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University play each other.

This proved true Friday night in Luckey Arena, as the IWU Lady Wildcats volleyball team defeated Taylor three games to one in a hard-fought match from both teams.

Head Coach Candace Moats said matches between IWU and Taylor always have an extra intensity to them.

“It’s always a battle,” Moats said. “I always look forward to this match because the reality of it is is that I know the best game’s going to come out for both teams.”

The Wildcats’ student section battled the sizable Taylor crowd all night, providing an electric atmosphere for the teams. Coach Moats said the team fed off of the crowd’s energy.

“The crowd was our 7th man,” Moats said. “We asked them to come out and to bring that Wildcat pride, and they did not disappoint me.”

Opposite hitter Alijah Mulitauopele (sr) appreciated the support.

“I think … our fans are great,” said Mulitauopele. “We knew it was going to be loud in here, so we were just ready to play as a team.”

The teams battled back and forth the first two games, but the Lady Wildcats prevailed by scores of 25-19 and 25-23.

Down two games to none, Taylor came back with an impressive showing in the third game. The Trojans opened the game on an 8-0 run and controlled the pace en route to a 25-21 win.

Thirteen ties and fourteen lead changes occurred in the fourth game, but the Wildcats prevailed by a final score of 25-23 to take the match.

“I think we matured tonight,” said Moats. “We’re starting to believe in that confidence, we’re starting to believe in each other, we’re starting to bond together, and that’s what’s bringing us to this level.”

“I think that we know how we can play now as a team with that intensity,” said Mulitauopele. “We should just keep doing that and keep playing with high energy.”

Coach Moats said a win against a big rival like Taylor builds momentum for the rest of the season.

“This moment tonight is what brought us together,” said Moats. “Now that’s going to carry us to go into some other matches.”

The Wildcats play home again Saturday against Mt. Vernon.

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Cross country teams open season on new home course

The Indiana Wesleyan University men’s and women’s cross country teams will begin their season Friday, Sept. 12 on their newly-renovated home course.

The IWU Twilight Classic marks the first collegiate meet held on the new and improved course, which began renovations in 2012.

Head Coach John Foss, Cross Country and Track Director of Operations Eric Jackson and Athletic Director Mark DeMichael collaborated to turn the idea of a new course into a reality.

The renovated course has permanent mile and kilometer markers.

The renovated course has permanent mile and kilometer markers.

Jackson said he tried to design the course with spectators in mind.

“I think the biggest thing in cross country is keeping your spectators involved,” said Jackson. “I think they can see them four to five times in a 5K race, which is really good for cross country.”

Coach Foss said there was nothing particularly bad about the old course, but the new course addresses some minor problems. Narrow spots have been widened, and the course no longer crosses Wildcat Drive.

Flags line the new start and finish lines, mile and kilometer markers are posted throughout the course, and more than 100 trees have been planted on the course.

“Coach Jackson has just done an excellent job in building it up and making it look like a high-level course,” said John Wilson (jr). “It looks very professionally done which is really cool.”

The wider course allows IWU to host more teams at junior high, high school and collegiate meets. Jackson said more than 2,000 high school runners competed in last week’s Marion Invitational, nearly double the amount of runners compared to last year’s meet.

The course has remained very flat, which in turn makes it very fast.

“We don’t have so much to work with here in Indiana, so you can’t complain too much,” said Jordan Dekker (so). “I like that it’s fast.”

The women's cross country team practices on the new course Tuesday Sept. 9.

The women’s cross country team practices on the new course Tuesday Sept. 9.

“Speed is good, especially nowadays,” said Coach Foss. “A lot of times national rankings are determined on times.”

Both Coach Foss and Dekker think running the course everyday at practice will give the teams an edge Friday night.

“The more you run you just are familiar with your surroundings,” said Dekker. “It just seems to go faster, which is obviously an advantage.”

“I wish we ran on it more,” said Coach Foss. “We would like to see [the Twilight Classic] get up to 12 or 15 [teams], it’d definitely be an advantage.”

A good showing at the Twilight Classic can give the teams momentum heading into the rest of the season. Coach Foss has set a very clear season goal for both teams: winning the Crossroads League.

“That’ll be very difficult because Taylor University would be the favorite on both sides,” said Coach Foss. “We’d be next in line so upsetting them and winning the league would be a goal.”

Winning the Crossroads League secures an automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament. Both teams have set the goal of finishing in the Top 15 at Nationals, and Coach Foss thinks they can accomplish it.

“I’m really excited just to see what they can do,” said Coach Foss. “I think the doors are wide open as to what they can accomplish.”


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The rivalry: IWU tops Taylor in all but one sport

IWU vs Taylor graphic

Not much changes in the 12 miles between the staked-off sections of Upland and Marion, Ind. The scenery seems the same, many faces will be familiar in both locations and each is sometimes defined by the academic institution residing there.

But the contrasts between those two colleges are as stark as their red and purple colors.

Those differences may be harder to spot in their evangelical mission statements, but when it comes to athletics, Indiana Wesleyan and Taylor universities have no intentions of turning the other cheek.

“Obviously you hate to lose, but especially to Taylor, it’s just way worse,” said IWU tennis player Kyle Johnson (jr). “Especially going to Taylor. I hate going to Upland.”

That disdain extends from the players’ bench to the coaches’ desks.

“Nobody can wear purple on Taylor day,” said volleyball coach Candace Moats. “Even in the [athletic] office, if you have purple on during someone going and playing Taylor, you get razzed for it. We’re all aware of when the Taylor matches happen for each sport.”

This particular rivalry is not only good for some highly competitive matches, but program unity as well.

“Everybody joins together. At that time, we’re not an individual team, when anyone has a Taylor game, it’s like everybody’s got the mindset, ‘We are going to go beat Taylor, even though it might just be volleyball.’” Moats added. “It’s a cohesive thing that draws us all together and makes us a united force.”

That united IWU force enjoys a current streak of success against its county rival. Since the start of the 2007 academic year, the Wildcats are 94-55-1 in head-to-head sporting events against the Trojans, including streaks of 11-0 by the women’s tennis team, 7-1 in women’s soccer and 13-2 from the women’s basketball team. The men’s cross country team leads the way on men’s side with a 6-1 mark since 2007. Of these sports, the Trojans only hold the advantage in baseball during that span.

But what makes these two schools such bitter rivals?

“Being close to them; there’s just something about them, maybe it’s the purple or something,” Johnson said.

“When you look at the two institutions that are so like-minded; we’re in the same league,” Moats said. “It’s ‘who owns Grant County?’”

Others, like IWU men’s basketball coach Greg Tonagel, say much of the intensity is situational.

“I think it has more to do with where they’re at in the league,” Tonagel said after the Wildcats’ most recent win over Taylor Jan. 14. “It’s so early in the league right now, it’s still intense, but I think if both teams are at the top or both teams are in the middle it probably means a little bit more.”

Either way, it’s hard for the Wildcats to escape the feeling of a larger target on their backs when they play the school just up Route 15.

“I feel like everybody when we play them brings their a-game,” Johnson said. “It’s that way across the conference, everybody wants to beat us, especially Taylor really enjoys beating us, but hopefully we enjoy beating them more.”

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IWU resurfaces outdoor track after 19 years

Just three days after the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes Track and Field Championships in May, a road grader invaded campus and tore up the surface of Indiana Wesleyan University’s outdoor track, according to Track and Field Assistant Coach Eric Jackson.

The new track, which Beynon Sports Surfaces is currently installing, is in the final stages of construction.

According to Athletic Director Mark DeMichael, the old Mondo track was in operation for 19 years since its previous resurfacing, having lasted about seven years past its life expectancy.

“We took such good care of [the old track] over the years,” Jackson said. “Our facilities guys were amazing at how well it was maintained.”

Though Mondo and Beynon are both rubberized tracks, the method in which they’re made is different. For the 1994 resurfacing of the track, Mondo applied the surface in large carpet-like rolls, about 13 millimeters thick, atop a flat asphalt base, Jackson explained.

This process, however, allowed rainwater to seep in through the seams of the alternating red and gray rolls, corroding the asphalt underneath. Every fall Mondo would return and fill the seams that had split apart.

The new track by Beynon Sports Surfaces will eliminate this problem. Unlike Mondo, Beynon comes in, pours a liquid surface onto the asphalt, and shovels the rubber granules onto the surface, according to Jackson.

DeMichael explained that a major motivation in choosing Beynon to resurface the track was that the University of Oregon, the location of the past two Olympic trial venues and the premier track facility in the country, recently resurfaced their track with the same company.

“It’s really safe for the athletes,” DeMichael said. “It’s soft enough that it’s safe on the legs, but it’s also [firm] enough that it’s pretty fast, which is the perfect thing for what the athletes are looking for.”

Like the old version, the new track will represent school colors. The entire surface will be red, with the exception of gray relay exchange zones. Instead of the standard brick red, however, IWU invested in a customized hobart finish, which will make the track bright red. Beynon ran UV tests on the finish to ensure it wouldn’t fade pink, Director of Facilities Services Don Rowley said.

“It’ll be a unique look. You don’t see this very often,” DeMichael said. “Most tracks are just one color… [Ours] will really pop.”

The purpose of this finish is to not only freshen the color but also “encapsulate” the track. According to Jackson, it will hold the rubber granules in place so that they don’t flake off and clog the drainage systems.

Beynon is currently in the final stages of construction. Though there have been delays from rain, Jackson said, there is no rush to finish the project.

“We’d rather have them be deliberate and do it right. Don’t rush through it and make any mistakes,” DeMichael said. “You don’t do this very often, so when [you] do do it, you want to make sure they do it right.”

Jackson said there is no immediate reason to rush the project. Though fall track starts this week, the first indoor meet is not until Dec. 1. Most runners are using the weight room to prepare for this season. If they need the indoor track facility, that is open as well.

If weather holds, the outdoor track should be finished within the next two weeks.

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