Cavalier student-athletes “protect the shield” in their final year transitioning to NCAA Division II
The 2016-17 year in Concordia Athletics was an exciting one – starting with women’s soccer just missing out on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) post-season tournament, continuing with the men’s basketball team making the post-season tournament and McKenzie Warren’s record-breaking year in track and field, and ending with the Cavaliers being approved in July for full NCAA Division II membership.
Fall Sports Season
Concordia women’s soccer team finished the 2016 season with a 10-4-3 overall record including a 5-4-3 record in the GNAC. The Cavaliers, under the direction of head coach Grant Landy, just missed making the GNAC post-season tournament. They had six All-GNAC selections including two First Team honorees in Olivia Brock and Ana Delgadillo. Also named to the All-GNAC Team were Second Team selections Bobbie Eckler and Gabrielle Ewing, while Martha Heaps and Shannon McMahon received Honorable Mention. Four Cavaliers were also named to the All-Region Team, led by Second Team member Ana Delgadillo. Landy also recorded his 350th win on the sidelines in Concordia’s 3-0 win at Northwest Nazarene on October 13.
The Cavalier men’s soccer team went 4-10-3 with a 1-9-2 record in GNAC matches. Concordia, under the guidance of head coach Dan Birkey, was led by their two All-GNAC selections Matt Paine and Erick Urzua. Paine was a First Team selection with his team high of eight goals while Urzua was a Second Team selection with his six goals.
Concordia’s volleyball team recorded its ninth straight winning season this past fall with a 15-13 overall record. The Cavaliers, under the tutelage of head coach Melanie Hambelton, finished 11-9 in the GNAC, which put them in sixth place. Three players were named to the All-GNAC team led by First Team selection Lindsey Dorsey. For the second consecutive season, a Cavalier player – Michelle Brown – received GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors. Brown, along with Colby Barnette, were named to the Honorable Mention Team.
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
The Cavalier cross country teams participated in five meets during their fall season, including the GNAC Championships in Bellingham, Washington, where the men finished in ninth place while the women placed tenth. Judd Lewis paced the men with his 27th place time of 26:19.90 in the 8K race, while Megan Fristoe led the women with her 52nd place time of 24:13.10 in the 6K race.
Winter Sports Season
Concordia men’s basketball team finished the 2016-17 regular season on high note, winning five of their last six games including their final four games. As a result, the team received a bid to the GNAC Basketball Championships in just their second season as a member of the GNAC. In the conference championships, the Cavaliers lost their quarterfinal game at Saint Martin’s by a score of 78-73, ending their season. Three players earned All-GNAC honors, including Second Team selection Drew Martin. Latrell Wilson and Christopher Edward were selected to the Honorable Mention Team. Head coach Brad Barbarick also won his 350th game on the sidelines at LCEF Court in the Cavaliers’ 79-77 win over Montana State Billings. Concordia finished with a 14-14 overall record and a 10-10 GNAC record, which tied them for fourth place.
The Cavalier women’s basketball team just missed out on receiving a bid to the GNAC Basketball Championships this past winter. Concordia, under the guidance of head coach Sean Kelly, went 12-16 including a record of 9-11 in the GNAC – finishing in a three-way tie for sixth place. Danielle Hartzog was selected to the All-GNAC Team, the first Cavalier to earn this honor.
Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track & Field
It was a record-breaking indoor season for the Concordia men’s and women’s track and field teams in January and February. Both teams finished in fifth place at the GNAC Championships in Nampa, Idaho, with six student-athletes earning All-GNAC honors. McKenzie Warren led the way by capturing the weight throw and shot put titles. Sam Nichols captured the men’s shot put title. Adam Brown was named the GNAC Indoor Freshman Male Athlete of the Year. Warren also broke the 14-year old NCAA Division II shot put record with a throw of 17.62m (57-9.75) and was named the USTFCCCA Indoor West Region Female Athlete of the Year. In addition, Warren placed sixth at the USTAF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, NM. Also earning All-GNAC honors were Caleb Bridge, Katrina Linenko, and Christina MacDonald.
Spring Sports Season
Under the guidance of head coach Rob Vance, the Concordia baseball team went 15-35 this season including 13-27 in the GNAC. The Cavaliers captured their first GNAC series, taking five out of eight games from Saint Martin’s – including three out of four from the Saints in Lacey. Mitch Bevacqua and Eddie Vasquez were selected to the All-GNAC Team.
For the second consecutive year, the Concordia men’s golf team (under the guidance of head coach Adrian Burtner) finished in second place at the GNAC Championships. This year, the Cavaliers were one stroke out of capturing the school’s first GNAC Championship. Three golfers were selected to the All-GNAC Team: Ryan Melnychuk, Dylan Cramer and Jarred Gomez. Melnychuk and Cramer were named to the First Team while Gomez was a Second Team selection. Gomez also was named to the GNAC All-Academic Team.
The Cavaliers, also under the tutelage of head coach Adrian Burtner, tied for third at the GNAC Championships with Montana State Billings. Shantel Antonio was named the GNAC Newcomer of the Year while Cammie Decker was selected as the GNAC co-Freshman of the Year. Decker was also selected to the First Team All-GNAC while Antonio earned Second Team All-GNAC honors. Madison Welch and Kelsey Whiles each were named to the GNAC All-Academic Team.
In their first year under the direction of head coach Shelley Whitaker, the Cavaliers finished with a 19-28 overall record and an 11-17 GNAC record. Meghan Luebbert was named to the First Team All-GNAC while two other Cavaliers – Taylor Bussey and Mckenzie Smith – were selected to the Honorable Mention Team. Luebbert was also named to the NFCA All-American Second Team and became the first Cavalier to earn Division II All-American status. And she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-American® First Team.
Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field
Just like she did during the indoor season, McKenzie Warren highlighted the outdoor season for the Cavaliers. During the GNAC conference championships, Warren was named the GNAC Championship Female Athlete of the Meet. She captured the discus, shot put, and hammer titles at the championships while breaking meet records in all three events. Joining Warren in earning All-GNAC honors were Caleb Bridge (first place in discus, first place in shot put), Tori Johnson (first place in high jump), Jakob Chamberlin (second place in discus), Christina MacDonald (second place in shot put), Tasha Willing (third place in shot put, third place in hammer) and Carlos Ortiz (third place in 100m). At the GNAC Championships, the men placed third and the women finished in sixth place. Warren also was named the USTFCCCA West Region Outdoor Female Athlete of the Year, while Bridge was named the GNAC Freshman of the Year.
Concordia Names Interim Director of Athletics
Lauren Eads was named Concordia University’s Interim Director of Athletics. “Lauren’s experience working in intercollegiate athletics coupled with her personal athletics’ experience makes her the perfect candidate for the Interim Director of Athletics for our university,” said Concordia’s Chief Academic Officer Joe Mannion, EdD. “No doubt her excellent accomplishments serving as Associate Athletic Director this past year and her familiarity with and respect for the coaches and athletics staff will help make the transition into this new role a smooth one.”
Most recently, Eads was on staff at Concordia University for the past academic year. She came to Concordia from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, where she was the Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator. While in Nashville, Eads was responsible for the marketing, sponsorships, and game day promotions for all 17 NCAA Division I programs. Over her career, she has served as the primary administrator and has directed conference championships for a number of sports, including basketball, softball, and volleyball.
The first thing I recognized when I came to our campus 12 months ago was the special community of people that is Concordia University and, more specifically, the department of athletics,” said Eads. “I am honored to accept the opportunity to lead this outstanding department as we march forward toward full NCAA Division II membership.”
Prior to her stint at Belmont, Eads was the Assistant Director of Marketing at Saint Leo University in Florida and Director of Sports Administration for the Missouri Valley Conference.
“I have the utmost respect for President Chuck Schlimpert and Chief Academic Officer Joe Mannion, and I’m very grateful for their confidence in my ability to lead the department and be a role model for our student-athletes,” added Eads. “I am energized to work with our coaches and staff in this expanded role. We will be constant in our efforts to provide a top-notch experience for our student-athletes as we work to reach department and university goals. There are great things happening at Concordia University.”
Eads takes over for Brian Jamros, who announced his resignation in June as he was named the Director of Athletics at The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.
Approval into NCAA Division II Membership
The 2016-17 Academic Year climaxed on July 13 with the call from the NCAA saying that the Cavaliers had been approved for full NCAA Division II membership.
During the past two years, Concordia has been able to participate in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) post-season tournament with impressive results. In 2015-16, three Concordia teams in women’s soccer, men’s golf, and softball finished as runners-up in their conference debuts. This past academic year, men’s golf finished in second place while men’s basketball advanced to the quarterfinals and men’s outdoor track and field placed third.
“Concordia University is proud to be a full member of the NCAA Division II,” said Concordia University president Charles Schlimpert. “The dedication of our athletic staff, coaches, and student-athletes is evident both on and off the field as they embody servant leadership and a desire to make the world a better place.”
Concordia’s Interim Athletic Director Lauren Eads said the successful move to NCAA Division II status required the participation of the entire Concordia community. “The achievement of full NCAA Division II membership is shared across campus,” noted Eads. “The entire Concordia community has embraced the transition and participated fully in the membership process. Special recognition should be paid to our coaches and student-athletes for their sacrifices and dedication to the goal of becoming NCAA Division II members. This is not just a culmination of three years of hard work, but the start of a new era in Cavalier history. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to build upon the foundation of success established by our Cavalier alumni as we embark on this new journey.”