2021 Pioneers Reach National Tournaments Plus Season Recaps
| by Carol Best firstname.lastname@example.org
Baseball - Head Coach Ryan Thompson won his 400th career game as the MNU baseball team ended the regular season on a 22-game winning streak and a #23 national ranking. Catcher Joshuan Sandoval broke the MNU-career and single-season home run records, and pitcher Jhon Vargas broke single-season wins record (12), plus the career (245) and single-season (137) strikeout records. The Pioneers are third in the country with a .367 team batting average and fifth with a .609 team slugging percentage. The team on-base plus slugging (OPS) was 1.065. Jhon Vargas, Joshuan Sandoval, Brycen Sherwood, Daunte Freeman, Kyle Waller, Adam Rellihan, Randy Fernandez, Austin Healy, and Ryan Leo were named All-Conference. The Pioneers earned a spot at nationals after a conference tournament runner-up finish.
In the five-team double elimination opening round, the Pioneers lost their first game but rebounded to win the next two launching back into contention. A stunning late loss prevented further advancement, but MNU enjoyed the best season in program history.
Softball - An up-and-down softball season saw fifth-year head Coach Rob Wade win his 100th game. The Pioneers finished 20-20. A nine-game win streak highlighted the early portion of the schedule, but key injuries derailed the promising season. Kaleigh Bayless earned a Conference Player of the Week honor, and the All-Conference honors will be announced at a later date.
Olympic Weightlifting - The first year of Olympic Weightlifting, coached by Strength Coach Whitney Rodden and McKenna Webster, graduate assistant, has been positive. Each competitor had new personal records at each meet. Bryson Wesley competed at the University Nationals Championship performing well by hitting all personal records and placing seventh overall for his weight class. The future is bright for the growth of this program as they have some talented athletes lined up to join them this fall.
Women’s Soccer - The Pioneer women’s soccer team finished fourth in the tough Heart of America Conference in Coach Bryce McClanahan’s second season. Savannah Bussmann (1st), Rachel Slack (2nd), Elvia Villagomez (2nd), Itziar Rodriguez (3rd), and Grace Stein (3rd) earned All-Conference.
Competitive Cheer - Second-year Head Cheerleading Coach Kalena Pana was named Heart of America Coach of the Year after her Pioneers finished second at the conference championships. Alisha Houser, Regan Martin, Riley Martin, Jonas Pippitt, and Chance Roberts earned All-Conference nods.
Volleyball - Due to COVID, Volleyball tournament games were held this spring. Coach Molly Karagyaurov’s second season as head coach saw the Pioneers reach nationals for the first time since 2016. Despite falling in the opening round, the season showed the team is headed in the right direction. Setter Kourtney Hansen was named 2nd team All-Conference. Outside Hitter Jennifer Roth and Middle Blocker Jacqueline Calvert were named 1st team All-Conference, AVCA All-Region, and NAIA All-America. Roth was named to the 3rd team and Calvert was Honorable Mention.
Men’s Soccer - MNU men’s soccer survived a tumultuous season and barely missed advancing to the final site at the national tournament. Despite several key injuries and departures, Coach Kevin Wardlaw’s 18th season ended with a double-overtime loss in the opening round. Mathieu Ecourtemer (1st – Co-Offensive Player of the Year), Fernando Churin (1st), Andrea Dorella (2nd), Nico Theberge (2nd), Philippe Chevalier (3rd), and Kevin Myftiu (3rd) were named All-Conference.
Men’s Basketball - The Pioneers recovered from a shaky start to finishwith a respectable winning record. Head Coach Rocky Lamar’s 36th season started with a 1-6 conference record before turning things around. Two, five-game winning streaks saw MNU go 10-3 down the stretch before falling in the conference tournament. Anthony Brown (1st) and Trey Brown (2nd) earned All-Conference nods.
Women’s Basketball - Head Coach Jon Lewis’s 2020-21 team won the conference title for the first time since 2015. The Pioneers advanced to the national tournament, ending the season after a dramatic overtime victory in the opening round. Coach Lewis was named Conference Coach of the Year. Makayla Gooch and Megan Scott were named 2nd team All-Conference. Mackenzie Loe was named 1st team All-Conference and NAIA 2nd team All-America.
Indoor Track & Field - Coach Nate Wiens’ Pioneers finished solid indoor seasons with a fifth-straight women’s conference championship. Anthony Yates was named Women’s Indoor Track & Field Conference Assistant Coach of the Year. Carly Lindenmeyer earned Athlete of the Meet at the Indoor Conference Championships after winning the high jump, long jump, and finishing second in the pentathlon. Other event champions included Kelly Brown (400 & 600), Jayden Hammond (pentathlon), and Bayley Welk (triple jump). Torrion Montgomery won the long jump for the fifth-place men’s squad.
Outdoor Track & Field - The Pioneer Track & Field Teams qualified 14 individuals for the national championships held in Gulf Shores, Alabama, May 25-28, after finishing third in the Heart Conference Championship meet. Named All-American at nationals were: Ardeen Walker (5th) high jump, Liz Krohn (8th) marathon, Tim Ballah (5th) long jump, Torrion Montgomery (6th) long jump and Freshman Gage Hiebert (8th) javelin.