Summer 2016: Athletics
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MNU softball qualified for the conference tournament and finished 25-18. Alexis Pacheco (first team All-Heart, Gold Glove), Macie Jones (first team All-Heart, Gold Glove) and Megan Deiter (second team All-Heart) earned all-conference nods. And Pacheco (twice), Deiter and Taylor Pearcy were named Conference Player/Pitcher of the Week during the season.
MNU men's basketball added another remarkable season to Coach Rocky Lamar's legacy. The Hall of Fame coach notched win 700 in the final regular-season game of the year, and clinched his 13th conference title on the same day. The Pioneers carried that momentum all the way to their seventh Fab Four appearance at the national tournament. Coach Lamar was named Heart Coach of the Year, and Nick Syrie (first team All-Heart, third team All-America) & Justin Randall (first team All-Heart, HM All-America) earned individual honors.
Pioneer baseball achieved its best record (42-15) and earned its highest ranking in program history (#9). Reaching the championship round of the conference tournament they just missed out on a berth to nationals. Jordan Eckley (first team, Player of the Year, first team All-America), Jason Jones (first team), Robert Berning (first team), Phil Graham (first team) and Blake Robberson (second team) were named All-Conference. And Eckley (3 times), Logan Tills, Kelvin Perez, Robberson (twice), Graham (3 times) and Emilion Gonzales were named Heart Player/Pitcher of the Week during the season.
Track & Field
Ten members of the men’s and women’s Track & Field teams competed in the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama. After a five-year hiatus, this is a remarkable result for Coach Nate Wiens’(’01) teams in their first returning season. Michael Lewis, Devan Sawyerr and Isaac Zitterkopf placed in the top ten in their respective events.
Record Year for Pioneers
By Kevin Steele, athletic director
MNU Athletics celebrated a banner year with athletes, coaches, trainers, strength coaches and administrators once again proving that they are the cream of the crop in the NAIA Division I in every season. In addition to winning three Heart of America Athletic Conference titles, the Pioneers competed in seven national championships.
Kicking, Spiking and Running Through the Fall:
• The revived MNU Cross Country team placed runners in the NAIA National Championships in its first year returning to competition.
• Pioneer volleyball finished No. 9 in the NAIA National Championship.
• Pioneer Men’s Soccer finished No. 2 in the nation, in an overtime 1-0 game.
Hurdling, Shooting and Guarding Through the Winter:
• Indoor track and field placed athletes in the NAIA National Championships in its first year returning as a program.
• Pioneer men’s basketball reached the Final Four in the NAIA National Championship, where they eventually lost to Georgetown University (KY). During this amazing run, Coach Rocky Lamar recorded his 700th career win.
• Coach Jon Lewis and the women’s basketball team soared to heights never experienced in MNU history by qualifying for the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament. Defeating rival Baker University for the fourth time during the season and post-season, they won the NAIA Division I Women’s National Basketball Championship, 49-35. Coach Lewis was named the NAIA Div. I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year.
Going the Distance Through the Spring:
• Outdoor track and field placed 10 athletes (four women and six men) in the NAIA National Championships in its first year returning as a program.