Fan Favorite Hits 2,000 Points
Senior guard Rustin Dowd of Olathe, Kan., became the eighth Pioneer men's basketball player to reach the 2,000-point plateau when his 15-foot jumper sent the home crowd into a frenzy on Valentine's Day.
"I didn't really think about it going into my career," said Dowd. "I'd rather win games than score points. But it means a lot. I've enjoyed it here at MNU and it's been awesome."
The crowd was prepared for the milestone with students holding signs commemorating the accomplishment. Dowd has been a fan favorite since he arrived at MNU for the 2009-10 season.
Dowd said, "The crowd reaction means a lot. All four years they've been behind me. I have a bunch of buddies who go around school promoting the games, and I love it. We have great fans; the best in the HAAC, and I got goosebumps at their reaction. It was really fun."
With the post season conference tournament and a spot in the first round of the national tournament coming, Dowd has a chance to climb into seventh on the all-time scoring list for MNU.
MNU Receives Five-Star Champions of Character Designation
MNU has been selected a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution for 2011-12.
According to Chad Jenkins, MNU sports information director, MNU has achieved this distinction or its predecessor (the Champions of Character Institution award) for the last 10 years. The NAIA Champions of Character program is designed to create an environment in which every NAIA student-athlete, coach, official, and spectator is committed to the true spirit of competition through five tenets: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership.
Men’s Basketball Headed to Nationals
The men's basketball team qualified for the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City, Mo., March 13-19, with a third-place finish in the HAAC. The Pioneers made a run in the conference tournament by knocking off Baker with a Jacob French buzzer-beater, then beating Culver-Stockton on the road to advance to the final.
MNU couldn't knock off top-seed Evangel, but the Pioneers will represent the HAAC with a host bid to the National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., starting March 13. Rustin Dowd (1st), Jacob French (3rd), Luke Thomas (3rd), and Conner Langrehr (HM) were All-Conference honorees.
Women Earn Second-Straight HAAC Title: Advance to Nationals
MNU’s women's basketball team won the regular season and conference tournament titles for the second straight year, going 17-1 in conference play before sweeping through the HAAC tournament. MNU defeated Missouri Valley, Baker, and Central Methodist for the title. The Pioneers went 30-2 with 20 consecutive wins and are scheduled to play #9 William Woods in the NAIA National tournament in Frankfort, Ky., on March 13.
Kelsey Balcom was named HAAC Player of the Year. Daria Sprew (2nd), Rachel Boan (3rd), and Kendra Flemming (HM) joined her on the All-Conference team.
Baseball Builds Toward Challenging Schedule
Pioneer baseball has improved every season since Head Coach Ryan Thompson’s 2007 arrival. The momentum of the program has never been stronger, even though nine key players (5 all-conference) are gone from last-year's team. Thompson will rely on a veteran starting staff and a new offense.
"The 2013 schedule is the toughest we've put on paper," says Thompson. "We have several road contests with tough teams and the guys are excited to test themselves."
The Pioneers started the 2013 season with a 3-5 record.
Pioneer Softball Looking Good in 2013
Four all-conference honorees returned this season as MNU softball played at the Cowtown Classic in Ft. Worth, Texas, in February, going 4-3. The team fell to #2-ranked Lubbock Christian.
Last year the Pioneers were 20-18 before reaching the final site of the conference tournament. Second-year Head Coach Kelly Latendresse says the team has high expectations for 2013.
"I have been very impressed with how the team has come together to work toward their goal of making it to the national tournament in May,” Latendresse said. "The girls worked very hard in the fall and the winter to prepare to come out and be successful this season.”