Spotted from the crow's nest: Daniel Redfern, men's tennis

Senior tennis player Daniel Redfern has made the most of his two-year Pirate career. Since joining the program from Skagit Valley Community College in 2011, Redfern has had two All-Northwest Conference seasons.

“Daniel can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the conference,” head coach Mike Shanks said. “He has the best forehand in the conference and he’s amazingly quick. It’s been a pleasure to watch him perform.”

Redfern, a math major from Camano Island, Wash., was the Pirates’ No. 1 singles player the past two seasons and was also part of the No. 1 doubles team this year and part of last year. He has a combined 40=++ wins in these two seasons, his best season coming this year with 22 total wins.

“Daniel is a great teammate,” junior Cameron Williams said. “It’s awesome to see him raise his game to the next level.”

Before Whitworth, Redfern played two years at Skagit Valley Community College where he won the singles conference championship as a freshman and placed second as a sophomore.

“It really was fun,” Redfern said of his experience. “The competition wasn’t the greatest because there were only four teams in the conference and there was only really one guy that consistently challenged me, but I still learned a lot.”

After transferring to Whitworth, Redfern earned NWC Player of the Week honors three times and was also named first team All-NWC in 2011 and 2012. Of all of his great accomplishments and experiences at Whitworth, there were two moments Redfern will always remember.

“Personally my favorite moment was when we were in Dallas over Spring Break last year,” Redfern said. “I was losing badly in the first set of my match, but I came back and won the set. I lost in the second set and I started cramping, but both the men’s and the women’s teams were there watching and supporting me. They helped me persevere through the pain and I won the third set.”

That match was against LeToureau University in Sherman, Texas, where Whitworth won 7-2. Every set in Redfern’s match was decided by at least two games, the final score being 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 6-4. Redfern played his best tennis in that match, but his favorite team moment came when he didn’t have his best personal day.

“My favorite moment as a team was when we were playing at Linfield last year,” Redfern said. “We lost all of our doubles matches and I lost my singles match, meaning we had to win five straight singles matches for the victory. We had some guys pull out some close matches and we ended up winning 5-4, taking third in conference because of that.”

Even though his Pirate tennis career might be over, Redfern still plans to be a part of next year’s team. Redfern is a junior academically but has senior eligibility in tennis so he will return next season to be an assistant coach on the team while finishing his degree.

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Photographer: Linnea Goold

 

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Frank Lima, track and field

Junior Frank Lima, a health science major at Whitworth University, has been dominating on the Pirates’ track and field team this year.

Lima made it to Indoor Nationals for the first time this year, and went to the 2012 NWC Championships for the 110m hurdles, long jump, triple jump and high jump.

“He’s had a really good year [and] a pretty solid season,” head coach Toby Schwarz said. “He’s very technically sound [in his events], and he’s got a lot of explosiveness.”

On the first day of the 2012 NWC Championships, April 21, Lima won the high jump after clearing 6-8. He then took fourth in the triple jump the next day, reaching a distance of 44-2.5.

Lima said he decided to switch over to field events in high school.

“At first, I was actually a cross-country runner. I decided to try [track] in middle school,” he said. “My coach wanted me to only do long-distance running events at first, but I decided to spread out to other events. I mostly do field events now.”

Schwarz said he was surprised by Lima’s event scores when they first met.

“I first met him in the summer between his junior and senior year,” Schwarz said. “He’s not really intimidating, but I could tell he was athletic. He loved track and was committed to it.”

Lima said he was one of the few athletes in his high school that cared about track.

“In high school, I felt like I was competing by myself because people didn’t really care about track,” he said. “When I transitioned into college, I became a part of something bigger than myself. There’s great competition, great people and great atmosphere. It’s just really fun.”

Freshman Christina Dobbins, who competes in the high jump, 110m hurdles, and 400m hurdles, among other events, has known Lima since high school. They both competed on the track team together.

“He’s a really fun person, he’s friendly, and gets along with a lot of people,” Dobbins said. “He’s an amazingly high jumper, and technically he has great form.”

Schwarz said that when Lima first started competing on the Whitworth track and field team he faced some overwhelming challenges.

“It was difficult in the beginning, he didn’t really have a coach in high school,” Schwarz said. “And his height, he’s not a very tall guy and competes with guys taller. [But] he’s gotten stronger, gotten more confident and gotten faster, definitely gotten faster. He has a great relationship with me and Bob [Omlin, the vertical jump coach] now.”

Lima said it was a stroke of luck that caused him to hear about Whitworth in the first place.

“My family and I went on a college trip across the Northwest, and the receptionist at a hotel told us about this place called Whitworth that was really great, so we drove up. Toby sold it for us,” Lima said. “[Later] when I was staying as a pre-frosh with some of the track team, it seemed like they were really good people. The community and the team sold it for me.”

Lima said he enjoys playing Frisbee and doing martial arts in his free time. He said he hopes to go into physical therapy graduate school after he graduates from Whitworth.

“I want to work with people, and help them recuperate,” he said. “One thing for sure, is that I’ll still be competing in All-comer track meets in California [after graduation].”

 

Story by Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Photography by Dani Christianson

 

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Alli Marshall, women’s tennis

Senior tennis player Alli Marshall is on the verge of finishing a strong four year career at Whitworth. In her Whitworth career, Marshall has won three Northwest Conference Championships, been Second Team All-NWC once and First Team All-NWC twice. Currently, she is Whitworth’s No. 1 singles player and is part of the No. 1 doubles team.

Marshall has won at least 20 games in each of her four seasons on the team, the most coming in her freshman year when she won 29 games. Recently she won her 100th game as a Pirate after she and her doubles partner, senior Erica Bosman, beat George Fox’s No. 1 doubles team 8-4 last Saturday.

“She has been a really solid No. 1 for us,” head coach Jo Ann Wagstaff said. “She is a great example of a person that plays hard and never gives up on a point. She goes for every ball as hard as she can and it inspires the rest of the team to play hard.”

The senior from Salem, Ore., has been playing tennis since she was 8 years old and excelled at the sport at Sprague High School. Marshall wanted to continue playing tennis after high school, which led her to Whitworth. “I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go but my sister, who’s a year older, went here [Whitworth] so I came to check out the campus,” Marshall said. “I loved it.”

Throughout her four years Marshall has made a lot of memories.

“Every Spring Break trip we went on was amazing,” Marshall said. “All the girls get along so well. We won conference and went to nationals in California my freshman year. It was also really fun to win conference three years in a row, too, it was wonderful.”

Marshall works hard on and off the court as she is double majoring in journalism and mass communication and kinesiology. She is currently planning on taking a year off after school is over to prepare for her Graduate Record Exam for graduate school.

“Since her freshman year she has worked really hard on becoming a more consistent and powerful player, and it’s paid off,” Wagstaff said.

That hard work has paid off on the court as Marshall currently leads the team in doubles wins and is third in the conference in singles win percentage as Whitworth’s No. 1 singles player.

“Her forehand is really great, definitely her best shot,” teammate Claire Hemming said.

Hemming, a fellow senior and roommate, had a lot of good things to say about Marshall when asked what she is like off the court.

“I have lived with Alli for a couple of years,” Hemming said. “She is very personable, always engaging people and making them feel good.”

Marshall is sitting at 21 wins so far this season and  said she hopes to continue her streak on April 21 when the tennis team takes on Whitman in the first round of the Northwest Conference Tournament. The team, and Marshall, are striving for their third tournament championship in three years.

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Photography by Greg Moser

 

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Jheri Gates, track and field

Sophomore Jheri Gates has competed at Whitworth for two years in track and field. She has been to nationals each year and earned an All-American title.

When asked to describe Gates in one word, head coach Toby Schwarz said she is unique.

“She’s very mature for her age — very responsible and mature,” Schwarz said. “The thing, as I got to know her more, is that she likes to be fun.”

Gates competes in high jump for Whitworth’s track and field team. She recently went to the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships in early March and placed 11th. She is a captain on the team this year.

Gates said she started competing in track as a freshman in high school.

“During high school I was primarily a basketball player,” Gates said. “My friend on the [basketball team and track] team told me track was a great way to stay in shape, so I tried it.”

Freshman Christina Dobbins, who competes in the high jump with Gates, said she met Gates when she came to visit last year.

“I actually stayed with her last year; she was a great host,” Dobbins said. “She made sure I got a feel for the track team and campus life. She’s really friendly.”

Schwarz said Gates had a few challenges to surpass when she first came to Whitworth.

“She had injuries in high school, [and] had to overcome these,” Schwarz said. “Coming to a college program is hard because you’re coming from the top [in high school] to the bottom. She also had not lifted weights in high school [and] had to learn to do that.”

Gates said weight lifting is her least favorite component in training for high jump.

“Except for my left leg [the leg she jumps off of] the rest of me is very weak, so weight lifting sucks,” Gates said. “I don’t have the particular body type to lift really.”

Dobbins said Gates is a positive example for the rest of her team, and tries to include everyone.

“During a hard workout she’s really encouraging,” Dobbins said. “She makes sure everyone stays motivated.”

Schwarz said the high jump is only one of two events in track and field that ends in failure; the athletes compete until they cannot clear another level.

“It’s a very mental event,” Schwarz said. “You’re out when you don’t clear a bar.”

Gates said the high jump had always been an individual thing for her.

“I jump for me, to do my best,” Gates said. “This year it’s been more of a team thing. I want to do well for the team conference score.”

Outside of track, Gates loves being outside and reading. She said the most important thing in her life is her faith and living it out in a way that others can be inspired by it.

Gates also said this will be her last year at Whitworth, as she is getting married this summer and moving to Kansas. She said she will miss her team.

“We’re just a very close team,” Gates said. “It’s going to be hard to leave all of these relationships.”

 

Story by Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Photography by Greg Moser

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Sami Parr, softball

Softball coach Cristal Brown said Sami Parr is the type of player you want on your side going into battle.

“She’s a hard worker, she’s determined, she’s competitive,” Brown said of the senior second baseman. “She has a never-say-die attitude.”

As a 4-year-old, Parr begged her parents to put her on a  tee-ball team so she could keep up with her older brother who was a baseball player. As she put it, she fell in love with the game and has been playing ever since.

Now a senior leader on the Whitworth softball team, Parr acknowledges she didn’t necessarily see herself several years ago where she is today. Upon applying and being accepted to Whitworth on somewhat of a whim, she was offered the opportunity to play the game she loves.

“I just really liked the mission of the school; it really hit home for me,” Parr said. “The opportunity to get a great education and play the sport I love was an opportunity I couldn’t really pass up.”

Last year as a junior Parr was named to the honorable mention All-Northwest Conference squad. She led the Pirates in total runs scored on the season — an accomplishment she is on track to repeat this year. But Parr is recognized as a leader in more ways that just her play.

“She’s definitely a leader for us,” Brown said. “She’s not as vocal [and] you probably won’t hear Sami when you’re sitting in the stands, [but] the girls look to Sami because she leads by example. If you’re emulating Sami’s work ethic then you’re on the right track.”

Regardless of her individual achievements, Parr says one of her favorite things about playing softball is the teamwork.

“I love being a part of a team,” Parr said. “There’s really no other feeling like that. I love competing and being out on the dirt and leaving it all out there.”

Junior teammate Heather Hesselgesser reiterated Parr’s desire to be a team player.

“Sami leads by example; she is always giving her best effort and makes others want to do better,” Hesselgesser said. “She is a student of the game and understands the ins-and-outs better than any teammate I have ever had.”

After graduation, Parr plans to attend graduate school at Eastern Washington University to earn her doctorate in physical therapy. Until then, she wants to make the most of her final season. Contributing to wins is definitely an ambition, but Parr says her biggest goal right now is to make an impact on her team.

“I would just tell [younger players] to not have any regrets throughout their college career,” Parr said. “It’s going to be over before they know it. Put the extra hours in, don’t take anything for granted, try to make the most of it, practice hard every day.”

Those are the values that Parr has tried to build upon during her collegiate career.

“Sami has been a consistent and vital player every year here at Whitworth,” Hesselgesser said. “She is someone a coach would be proud to have representing their team.”

Brown would agree with that.

“Sami is a huge part of our team,” Brown said. “We’re going to miss her next year with her being a senior. She has the spirit you want to see in all of your athletes so it’s a joy to coach her.”

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

File photo by Chrissy Roach

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Landon Scott, men's baseball

Landon Scott, Whitworth baseball’s senior third baseman, is already having an All-Northwest Conference type of a season. Through 10 games, Scott is leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and hits, and he is leading Whitworth in several other categories as well. Scott is also in the top five in the Northwest Conference in batting average and RBIs.

“His numbers speak for themselves,” head coach Dan Ramsay said. “His career batting average is over .420 and you don’t see that number of batting average in baseball in a season, let alone a career.”

In fact, entering this past weekend, Scott’s career batting average sits at .427. He also has 188 hits, 31 doubles, four triples, 14 HRs, 97 RBIs, 118 runs scored and has 58 walks in his Pirate career.

Scott, an economics major from Kennewick, Wash., has played the game of baseball since the age of 4.

“I started playing tee ball when I was 4,” Scott said. “Since then it’s been every year, every summer that I have been playing.”

After Scott helped Kennewick High School win a state championship his senior season, he had a lot of options to continue his baseball career, ultimately choosing Whitworth for playing time among other reasons.

“I could have gone to WSU to be a preferred walk-on, but I wanted to go somewhere that was better academically,” Scott said. “I got financial aid from Whitworth and it was somewhere where I could start for four years.”

While at Whitworth, Scott has excelled not only on the field but has achieved success through his schoolwork and through student government.

“He’s one of those guys that has done a ton on the field and also in the classroom,” Ramsay said. “He was an All-District selection last year for his GPA. He has also been the intramural coordinator for Whitworth this year. He does a great job representing the baseball team as a whole.”

Scott’s four years playing baseball for the Bucs have been a roller coaster ride, from a team his freshman year that went 10-26 to a team that finished fifth in the NWC with a  20-20 record last season, to this year with a team that is currently third in the NWC.

“Starting off my freshman year the program was kind of down,” Scott said. “We had a good recruiting class the last couple of years and last year we got to .500. This year we have senior leadership with freshmen and sophomore talent. We’re 6-3-1 so far, should be 7-3, but overall it’s going to be a good season.”

Scott knows a thing or two about good seasons. He earned first team All-Northwest Conference his sophomore and junior seasons, and was named first team NCAA All-Region as a sophomore and second team All-Region his junior year.

“It’s been nice having his bat in the middle of the lineup,” Ramsay said.

Even more impressive than the numbers he puts up on the field is his leadership.

“He is a great teammate; he is there for everybody,” senior pitcher Nick Combo said. “The leadership he brings to the field, especially for the young guys, is great for our team.”

Coach Ramsay also said he thinks Scott’s leadership is having an impact on the team.

“He has become a team-first guy and buying into the team approach,” Ramsay said. “He will sacrifice an at-bat to move up the runners if he has to. He wants to win a championship, that’s what it all comes back to.”

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Photo by Greg Moser

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Lexi Belcher, women’s basketball

Whitworth senior Lexi Belcher is one of the top scorers on the women’s basketball team this season.

She grew up playing basketball, starting when she was in first grade playing off to the side while her dad coached her older sister’s team. Belcher said it was a family activity at first, and later turned it into a life-long passion.

Head coach Helen Higgs said Belcher has improved all around this year.

“She’s really teachable, [with] a really strong work ethic,” Higgs said. “She had a knee injury, [and] we never had her at 100 percent last year. So my hope was for her to have a year like this one.”

Belcher scored a career-high 33 points Feb. 10 against Linfield College, making 55 percent of her shots from the floor and 67 percent of her three-point attempts. She was also named Northwest Conference women’s bas- ketball Student-Athlete of the Week on Feb. 14.

Junior point guard Lauren Picha said Belcher is a good leader on the team.

“She leads by example,” Picha said. “[She] works hard in practice, and does what she can do.”

“The team calls her ‘Mema’; she’s kind of like a grand- ma figure,” Higgs said. “She goes hard, and [her team- mates] respect her work ethic.”

Belcher said her parents inspire her the most.

“They work hard at everything, which makes me want to work hard,” Belcher said.

Belcher went to Central Washington University, Yakima Valley Community College and Centrailia Community College before coming to Whitworth. She said both of her sisters lived in Spokane, and she heard Whitworth was a good school with a good basketball program.

“I love my professors and the fact that they all know my first name, and when I skip class,” Belcher said. “I love the city, [and] the climate with all of its different seasons.”

Belcher is graduating with a degree in business management, and she said she hopes to stay in Spokane, perhaps getting a job in human resources.

Belcher suffered from knee injuries off and on last year, which did not allow her much playing time.

“[Dealing with the injury] taught me to be mentally tough,” Belcher said. “To go out there and put it in the back of my head and know that it is only temporary.”

Belcher is one of two seniors on the team, and her hard work in practices and games inspires her teammates.

“She’s made me want to play my best each game,” Picha said.

Belcher said college basketball is more of a full-time commitment compared to playing in high school.

“High school is a lot less intense,” Belcher said. “[College basketball] is a job, but it is a fun job.”

Asked what she will miss most about playing basketball, Belcher said, “Definitely my teammates. They’re like my family, and it’s going to be hard not being around them every day.”

Her advice for her teammates: “Work hard every day. Don’t take it for granted, it goes by so fast. Enjoy every good and bad moment.”

Story by Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.

Photographer: Tanner Scholten

Men’s Swimming: Austin Vierra

 

Whitworth senior swimmer Austin Vierra has a background unparalleled by any of his swimming teammates.

“Part of what makes Austin unique and exceptional is his life experience,” swimming head coach Steve Schadt said. “He’s seen more and done more than your typical college student.”

Vierra learned to swim young.

“My mom was a big water skier so she said she didn’t want me to drown if I ever fell out of the boat,” Vierra said.

By the time he was 6, Vierra was swimming competitively and has done so year-round since he was 10.

“It’s been more than part of my life,” Vierra said. “It’s been a lot of what’s defined my existence.”

After two years at Denison University in Ohio, a NCAA Division III swimming powerhouse, Vierra said he needed a change. He admits Whitworth was not on his radar, but he praised Schadt and the Whitworth administration for accommodating him and making it possible for Vierra to join the Whitworth squad.

“Once I got here, the people at this school literally transformed my life,” Vierra said.

Already a two-time All-American, Vierra was a wel- come addition to the Whitworth team not only in the pool, but also as a leader.

“I really like his charisma,” teammate Nathan Ranno said. “He’s just able to be a leader and [an] influence on the team. It’s really easy to be his friend.”

Vierra was crowned Northwest Conference Champion last season in both the 500-yard freestyle and the mile freestyle races, earning his third trip to the NCAA national meet.

But for Vierra, being at Whitworth has been about more than just swimming.

“He’s a very good student,” Ranno said. “He’s really involved in academics. He’s [a student athlete who] takes both the student and the athlete part seriously.”

Vierra, an international business and economics double-major, has a passion for making a global difference.

“For me, the best part of being here at Whitworth has been this transformation about what I care about,” Vierra said.

Willing to set swimming aside for awhile, he traveled last summer to study in Hong Kong for six weeks before teaching English to students in the Fujian province for another six weeks.

“They changed me more than I changed them,” Vierra said. “They have so little and I have so much. They changed my outlook on how I can have an impact in the world by doing such small things.”

Consequently, Vierra said he desires to pursue a career in political risk in the developing world following college.

More imminently, Vierra wants to finish his swimming career strong. Following nationals this spring, Vierra plans to represent Whitworth in a U.S. swimming grand prix, in which his ultimate goal is making Olympic trials in the 400-meter freestyle.

Schadt is excited to see where the future takes Vierra.

“I’m really proud of him,” Schadt said. “He’s been a wonderful addition to our team. I’ve loved working with him. I’m excited to see what he does when he graduates.”

Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Huges at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Photographer: Greg Moser

Spotted from the Crow's Nest - Ronnie Thomas

One word describes Pirate junior runningback Ronnie Thomas – explosive. For example, Thomas had four plays of 10 yards or more in the Pirates 34-7 win vs. the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer on Sept. 10. Thomas rushed for 84 yards and one touchdown on the win.

On Oct. 22, Thomas had six plays over 10 yards in the Pirates 48-6 win vs. Pacific University. In that game, Thomas had 159 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

“Ronnie is an explosive runner,” head coach John Tully said. “He sees the field very well and always gets positive yards.”

Like on the first game of the season when Thomas broke a run for 53 yards against Chapman University on the third play of the game, and again in week four when Thomas rushed for a season-high 65-yard gain. Both rushes led to Pirate touchdowns.

The Pirate offensive linemen also tend to agree with their coach.

“He’s a very explosive runner and he can break off a big play when we need it,” senior starting offensive lineman Travis Todd said.

That explosiveness has shown on the field as Thomas has 21 plays that have gone for 10 or more positive yards and eight plays of 20 yards or more on the season.

“He looked very good coming in, a promising runner,” Tully said. “He continues to improve each week, he works hard in the weight room and does the little things to make this football team better.”

Thomas, a business major from Granite Bay, Calif., started playing football when he was 10 years old. He has been a runningback for his entire playing career and has seen a lot of success.

“We won our section championship in high school,” Thomas said.  “Then I ended up going to junior college at American River in Sacramento where we won our division and our bowl game.”

His previous success has helped him become the featured back for the Pirates’ offense and one of the top rushers in the Northwest Conference. He leads the NWC in rushing yards (735), rushing yards per game (91.6) and is second in rushing touchdowns (7). He also is second on the team in total yards per game (91.9), first in the Northwest Conference in rushes (134) and fourth in the Northwest conference in average yards per rush (6.0 – minimum of 20 rushing attempts).

Pressure situations are also a forte of Thomas’s. In last weekend’s game vs. Willamette University, Thomas touched the ball on five of the seven plays in the first overtime series, rushing for 16 yards and a score, helping the Pirates defeat the Bearcats 25-24. Thomas finished with 77 yards rushing, 7 yards receiving and one touchdown.

“The adrenaline rush and the pressure during the game [is my favorite part of football],” Thomas said. “There is so much to gain and so much to lose.”

Thomas’s passion for football is shown through his work ethic on the field, but when Thomas is not playing football, he still likes to stay active and work hard by running, lifting weights and working out. He also seems to have the type of personality that everyone likes.

“He is a really laid-back guy outside of football, a nice guy and a hard worker,” Todd said. “Ronnie is a very passionate player who just loves the sport of football.”

Thomas and the rest of the Pirate football team are playing their final home game of the season on Nov. 5 vs. fifth-ranked Linfield College.

 

By Nathan Webber

Photo by Tanner Scholten