Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Chibron Tomeo

Senior captain Chibron Tomeo found a new family at Whitworth having transferred after his sophomore year at Spokane Community College. At age 26, Tomeo became a part of the track and field team as a pole vaulter where he continued his career after a four-year break from school and competitive sports.

Tomeo originates from Spokane but grew up in Glenwood, Wash., which is about 300 miles south of Whitworth. He went to kindergarten through 10th grade at Glenwood and then moved back to transfer to Mead High School in Spokane, Wash. for his junior year of high school.

“In Glenwood, there are a lot of really good pole vaulters,” Tomeo said. “My coach wanted me to try it and I just fell in love with [the event]. I continued vaulting in high school for all four years.”

Tomeo decided to take a break from school after graduated from Mead in 2005 to solely focus on work. He worked for Neighborhood Fence during his time away from school and built fences for a living.

“I knew I didn’t want to build fences for the rest of my life,” Tomeo said. “My mom and my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, encouraged me to go back to school. They thought I was beating myself up working as hard as I did. Although I didn’t mind working, going back to school was a great decision.”

During his time off, Tomeo took part in city basketball and flag football leagues.

After returning from a break from school, Tomeo went on to set school records.

 

 

“I stayed in decent shape but not in good enough shape for track,” Tomeo said.

Tomeo returned to school in 2009 at Spokane Community College where he took part in the track and field program offered there. His high school coach, Gary Baskett, was the one who encouraged and inspired him to go to Whitworth.

“He always came up and talked to me about going to Whitworth,” Tomeo said. “He was at almost every meet and told me that Whitworth is where I should be.”

In high school, Tomeo was also a sprinter. He ran the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 4x400 relay, and pole vaulted. He decided to focus on pole vaulting after struggling with consistent hamstring injuries.

He contacted head track and field coach Toby Schwarz and talked to him about making the decision to come to Whitworth. He attended his first team meeting in the fall of 2011 and confirmed his transfer.

“The coaches are great and everyone was super supportive,” Tomeo said. “It felt like family on the track team and that made it an easy decision. It was a lot of fun getting to know everybody.”

Those words were echoed by Schwarz.

“He’s a perfect fit for our team,” Schwarz said. “He’s a captain this year and being a captain after only being here for two years; it shows how [perfect] of a fit this really is. He is very relational, he’s very respectful with coaches and very interested in his teammates. He watches people do other events, he’s concerned about injuries; that’s why he’s such a great captain. He’s not an ‘I’ person he’s an ‘others’ person.”

Tomeo was concerned with how he would fit in being an older student-athlete who is married with a child, but Schwarz was not.

“You look at him and he doesn’t look any different and he acts like a typical student. He looks like a mature leader, but not an older student,” Schwarz said. “But that’s ‘Bron’, you wouldn’t know he’s one of the top competitors in the nation.”

Senior Shannon Winant was one of the first men on the track team to get to know Tomeo and he agrees. There are no negative thoughts on the team for Tomeo being a college athlete with a wife and child according to Winant.

“People just respect him more; he knows more about life,” Winant said. “He’s an amazing dad and husband and he’s just really humble. Everyone loves his entire family and when they see him interact with his wife and kid, everybody falls in love with him.”

As a captain, Winant explains him to be their silent leader.

“He’s not a vocal leader but he’s very approachable,” Winant said. “Everybody looks up to him and respects him; some people call him dad. He has a lot of wisdom and knowledge that not a lot of people have. He already has such a great personality so as soon as we saw him pole vault we were sold. He’s a huge part of our team.”

Tomeo contributed to the team right away already being a two-time conference champion. He recently broke the school record in the pole vault after clearing 16-1 3/4 at the 2013 Northwest Conference Championships. He currently ranks third at the Division III national level.

Tomeo clears 16-3 3/4 to become the NWC Men's Pole Vault champion and #3 in the NCAA Division III rankings

“Last year was his first year at nationals because it was his first opportunity,” Schwarz said. “He finished 10th and has the potential to be in the top eight this year.”

A goal for Tomeo at nationals is to be an All-American, help score points for the team, and break into the top three, if not win it Schwarz said.

Other than his goals in track and field, Tomeo dreams of future things. Tomeo originally studied occupational therapy when he transferred to Whitworth but changed his major in the fall of 2012 to elementary education. He hopes to teach fourth grade and also coach pole vaulting at his alma mater, Mead High School.

“I’m already talking to Mead coaches about positions there,” Tomeo said. “They want me to start working there next year.”

Winant believes this is what he’s meant to do.

“Seeing him interact with his little boy is proof enough that he’ll be an amazing teacher,” Winant said. “Whenever he talks about it he has a huge smile on his face; he’s very passionate and he really wants to be a great teacher just like he is a great dad and a great husband.”

Tiara Pajimola

Staff Writer

Contact Tiara Pajimola at tpajimola16@my.whitworth.edu

Spotted from the crow's nest: Dustin and KC McConnell

“Determination” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.” In the case of brother-sister duo, Dustin and KC McConnell, women’s basketball coach Helen Higgs and men’s tennis coach Mike Shanks, as well as teammate Drew Adams, said the McConnells are the living definition of determination and work ethic. Dustin, a junior, is a starter on the men’s basketball team and was named First Team All-Northwest Conference. Dustin plays tennis at No. 5 singles.

KC, a freshman this year, made a name for herself by playing in all 28 basketball games last season, as well as playing No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles for tennis. KC earned honorable mention for the All-NWC team after this basketball season.

Dustin and KC grew up in Clarkston, Wash., and have been playing sports for as long as they can remember. The McConnells’ parents are physical education teachers in Clarkston. Sports became a central activity around which many family outings revolved, Dustin said.

Greg Moser | Photographer Freshman KC McConnell is a member of the Whitworth women's basketball and women's tennis teams.

“We used to go hit as a family so I’ve had a racket in my hand for quite a while,” KC said. “We’ve always done a million sports; basketball and tennis just kind of stuck.”

When KC began looking at various universities, ultimately her decision was made independently of Dustin, he said.

“I wasn’t going to try to influence her one way or the other,” Dustin said. “I knew how I felt about Whitworth and felt like it would’ve been a great fit for her as well. I wanted it to be her decision.”

The challenge of balancing two collegiate sports is inevitable, but the way the two sports complement each other provides knowledge and skills beyond what one game can teach, both McConnells said.

“Basketball is such a team-oriented sport,” Dustin said. “Tennis has a little more of an individual aspect. I kind of like that, how they complement each other and can help you in both situations.”

Playing two sports keeps things interesting and varied, KC said.

While both McConnells have been successful in basketball and tennis this year, they said there is no competition between them. The siblings are simply proud of each other’s accomplishments, they said.

“She’s done an unbelievable job,” Dustin said. “I think it just has to do with her unbelievable work ethic. She is definitely very deserving of all the success she’s had and I think she’ll continue to do very well.”

Greg Moser | Photographer Junior Dustin McConnell is a member of the Whitworth men's basketball and men's tennis teams.

The good example that Dustin has always set for KC challenges her to get better and better, she said.

“It doesn’t really surprise me that he’s done that well because I see how hard he works,” KC said. “He deserves every bit of it. I’ve never seen somebody work that hard.”

The work ethic that Dustin and KC spoke of about each other was echoed and expanded upon by coaches as well as a teammate and friend. Since coaches are unable to officially orchestrate conditioning workouts, KC has taken it upon herself to make them happen, women’s head basketball coach Helen Higgs said.

“She’s a leader,” Higgs said. “They call her ‘Captain Conditioning’. She’s very focused, very driven.”

Although the extended basketball season interfered with the tennis season and took away from Dustin’s time on the team, his work ethic quickly became obvious, Shanks said.

“He beats some of the guys that have been playing longer just because of his determination,” Shanks said. “His speed around the court and his good determination is what makes [his opponents] press harder than they normally would and then make mistakes.”

Drew Adams, a freshman who also plays both basketball and tennis, grew up in Clarkston and has known the McConnells since birth, he said.

“[The McConnells] are always working,” Adams said. “They’re both really humble; they don’t try to bring themselves any attention which is really cool for how good of athletes they are.”

While both sports’ seasons have come to an end, the McConnells will spend the off-season staying in shape and preparing for next year’s seasons.

Miranda Cloyd

Staff Writer

Contact Miranda Cloyd at mcloyd16@my.whitworth.edu

Spotted from the crow's nest: Kerry Wright

Freshman transfer Kerry Wright is the No. 1 thrower in the nation for Division III javelin after a rocky start to the beginning of her college career. She had the dream of Division I track and field her whole life, but that dream changed after one semester at Portland State University. Wright has been a part of track and field since the  second-grade. In elementary school, Wright joined the Westside Track Club in Portland, Ore., where she was born and raised. In her early years, Wright did a little bit of everything — competing in sprints, high jump, long jump and shot put. In middle school, Wright began participating in the javelin. Wright continued to throw the javelin at Sunset High School in Portland, Ore. along with shot put and discus.

High school was when Wright fell in love with javelin, she said. Wright attributes Dani Maier, her high school javelin coach, as the reason for her success with javelin.

“She built me up and she was able to give me the best opportunity,” Wright said. “I was determined to be the best athlete I could be and she was willing to put in that time to help me reach that point. She gave me so much confidence and she taught me so much.”

Wright improved by about 20 feet per year throughout high school, starting at a mark of about 80 feet as a freshman and improving to 140-3 by her senior year. She qualified for state in 2012 as a senior at Sunset and placed fifth.

Juliana Zajicek | Photographer Freshman Kerry Wright has found a home with the javelin event at Whitworth after transferring from Portland State University. Juliana Zajicek | Photographer

Wright was accepted into Portland State University and made the team for track and field.

“We had four hour practices, six days a week,” Wright said. “I had the dream of Division I but I realized that I wanted more out of the college experience besides track and it consumed my life [at that level]. I wasn’t able to do anything with friends and it just didn’t feel like the right fit. I knew that kind of program wasn’t what I wanted.”

From her experience during that semester, Wright knew she wanted a change. She contacted Whitworth’s head track and field coach Toby Schwarz and visited the school. She watched practice and met the team, and when everything was sorted out and situated, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“Academically, spiritually, athletically... in every aspect, Whitworth felt like family,” Wright said. “Whitworth opened my eyes to knowing what I wanted out of college and this school encompassed that change.”

Within the first couple days of the new semester, Wright immediately began practice at full force, and just like that, she was part of the family.

“I can’t describe it,” Wright said. “Toby is that one person who will always be there for you no matter what. All the coaches, everyone is just there for you and always there for you to talk to. My teammates made me feel at home and I felt like I was part of the team. They welcomed me like I’d been there the whole year.”

Head coach Toby Schwarz knew that this was the kind of acceptance she would feel coming to Whitworth.

“Whitworth is just that way,” Schwarz said. “For her, I could tell she felt very guarded from what she experienced in the fall. Coming from that it seemed that this was too good to be true, but she had faith and she trusted and it turned into the perfect situation.”

Senior Carter Comito is a fellow thrower and he couldn’t agree more.

“She is a very friendly and outgoing person,” Comito said. “She works hard and was part of the team right away. She belongs here.”

Wright is now focusing solely on javelin at Whitworth and already holds the school record of 149 feet, which is the top mark in the nation.

“I never could have imagined this as a freshman,” Wright said. “It’s a lot of hard work and I’ve put in so much time but there is still a lot that can be fixed and perfected. I’m not at my peak yet I hope, so staying humble and competing for the glory of God is my main focus. If everything else falls into place, that’s just the icing on the cake.”

Despite her No. 1 ranking, Schwarz sees much more in Wright’s future.

“She’s in a position to be a four-time national champion and honestly I can see her throwing about 20 feet further,” Schwarz said.

As far as academics, Wright thinks school is going well.

“The professors here are very personable, they always ask me about track,” Wright said.

Athletically and academically, Whitworth ended up being a good balance for Wright.

“I know that I’m learning a lot more here and it’s going to pay off in the end,” Wright said.

 

Tiara Pajimola Staff Writer
Contact Tiara Pajimola at tpajimola16@my.whitworth.edu

Spotted from the crow's nest: Jessi Steele

From playing tennis as a 6-year-old girl with her dad and older brother to playing on Division I and Division III collegiate teams, senior Jessi Steele has been immersed in the world of tennis for a long time. Steele grew up playing tennis but did not start playing competitively until six years ago. At University High School in Spokane Valley, Steele began her competitive career in tennis. After graduating in 2009, Steele went on to play Division I collegiate tennis for Eastern Washington University. The difference between playing at University and EWU was significant, Steele said.

“It was a big change,” Steele said. “Practice was a lot harder and more demanding. It was a lot bigger time commitment.”

Steele transferred to Whitworth in 2011. That decision was made due to various factors, primarily academic program availability. Steele is pursuing a degree in health science, which EWU offers as a minor but not a major.

In addition to the academic advantages Whitworth offered, Steele said she chose Whitworth due to the “faith-based” environment it offers.

“You just walk onto campus and there’s this certain feeling that you get,” Steele said. “The first time I came here when I was looking at it, I was like, ‘I could see myself here.’”

Senior Jessi Steele has found a home playing tennis at Whitworth after transferring from Eastern Washington. Beth Crabtree | Photographer

Upon transferring to Whitworth and joining the tennis team, Steele immediately noticed the difference in her love for her teammates.

“We can do anything together and have fun,” Steele said. “It’s fun to be able to have Bible study groups. It’s good to get to know them on a little bit deeper level.”

Steele has assisted the team in reaching its current Northwest Conference standing of 5-4 and sixth place. In addition to the team as a whole, Steele also stands at 5-4 as an individual in the NWC. Steele’s experience playing at the Division I level has given her a valuable perspective as she now plays Division III tennis.

“It’s a little bit more laid back,” Steele said. “I’m definitely the most vocal on the team because of that [Division I] experience. I’m always yelling at myself.”

Through her years of experience, Steele has discovered herself to be a lover of competition.

“I’m a naturally competitive person and an aggressive player,” Steele said. “When I have the opportunity to hit a powerful shot I’m going to take it.”

Not only does Steele love competition, she also appreciates a strong challenge. She would much rather play against an opponent who is better than she is over  someone she could easily beat, Steele said.

“The hard-hitters, I love playing those,” Steele said. “Everyone on the team knows that if I have to play someone who just gets the ball back that’s my weakness.”

Steele’s teammate, senior Annika Westre, said in addition to her competitive nature, Steele is extremely reliable.

“She’s very steady,” Westre said. “She has a really hard serve and moves along the baseline well.”

Steele joked that her biggest contribution to the team is the baked goods she often brings to practices and matches.

“I make cookies and scones,” Steele said. “I really love baking so I take the opportunity to have people to bake for.”

Sophomore Caylee Lamm, Steele’s teammate, would argue that Steele’s greatest contribution is the integrity with which she plays.

“She brings character on the court,” Lamm said. “Every practice she’s working hard. If she’s frustrated, you can always tell she’s leaving it all out on the court.”

As Steele prepares to graduate this spring, she hopes to pass some wisdom on to her teammates who will return next fall.

“The real passion for the game,” Steele said. “Being able to really get into the game and cheer loud for your teammates.”

Jo Ann Wagstaff, Steele’s head coach, sees Steele as an invaluable asset to the team. She said Steele will be greatly missed.

“It’s been so great to have her,” Wagstaff said. “She’s one of those people who will think of things when I forget. She’s always doing things without being asked. We won’t be able to replace her.”

Though this season marks the end of Steele’s career in collegiate tennis, she has high hopes for the upcoming years. Steele plans to attend nursing school. If she has the chance, Steele  said she will jump at the opportunity to help coach high school or college tennis.

Miranda Cloyd Staff Writer Contact Miranda Cloyd at mcloyd16@my.whitworth.edu

Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Tyler Pfeffer

It wouldn’t be a rare sight to see junior outfielder Tyler Pfeffer lacing base hits into the outfield for the Pirates, or down at the Warehouse Athletic Facility in Spokane working on his game. Pfeffer recently made Whitworth history after being named a First Team All-American last season by d3baseball.com and a Second Team All-American by the American Baseball Coach’s Association. Pfeffer was named a preseason All-American by d3baseball.com this year. Being named Whitworth’s first All-American baseball player since Dick Washburn in 1965 is a result of a life spent playing baseball.

Pfeffer first picked up a baseball around the age of 4 and has loved the game ever since.

“I would play catch with my mom and grandpa out in my yard, and that’s just kind of what got me going,”  Pfeffer said. “My mom and I used to live in an apartment complex next to a baseball field and we would go out and hit everyday regardless of the weather.”

Junior outfielder Tyler Pfeffer was named Whitworth’s first All-American baseball player since 1965 and helped lead the Pirates to an appearance in the NCAA Division III World Series last May. Greg Moser | Photographer

Pfeffer’s mother was a huge influence in his life, always taking the time to play baseball with him in his younger years.

Since starting to play baseball at a young age, Pfeffer has played a variety of positions on the field, from catcher to shortstop and now in the outfield for Whitworth.

During high school, Pfeffer received Second Team All-Greater Spokane League his junior year and First Team All-Greater Spokane League, along with Second Team All-State his senior year.

Whitworth was Pfeffer’s only choice for college, and was an easy decision, because he admired the academic excellence, is able to stay close to home, and he was pursued by Whitworth’s head baseball coach, Dan Ramsay.

Pfeffer was originally spotted by Ramsay during his junior year playing for Shadle Park High School in Spokane. His presence and comfort at the plate while hitting caused Ramsay to notice Pfeffer’s potential.

“It’s awesome because all of my family and friends can still watch me play without the hassle of traveling, which is a huge reason why I decided to stay here,” Pfeffer said.

Pfeffer plays left field for the Pirates and is an exceptional hitter, say both Ramsay and teammate junior infielder Gerhard Muelheims.

“He can flat out hit,” Ramsay said. “He has an uncanny ability to hit and more so than a lot of kids. He is really good at making adjustments in game while hitting, and he can make adjustments mid-at bat, which a lot of guys don’t have the ability to do.”

It is clear that Pfeffer has shown dedication to the game from the beginning, and he continues to demonstrate this through his accomplishments in baseball today, and through his success as a player receiving multiple awards. In the 2012 season, Pfeffer led Whitworth in multiple statistical categories including a .379 batting average, 61 RBIs, 51 runs and 12 home runs.

“Tyler spends multiple hours in the Warehouse [Athletic Facility] making himself better to improve the team,” Ramsay said.

Pfeffer tries to go hit in the Warehouse every day in the winter, but tends to stay around campus once the baseball season starts to roll around.

Not only does Pfeffer display an exceptional physical ability to play the game of baseball, but Pfeffer is a strong mental player as well.

“His mental game is really good. He has the ability to bounce back, and if he has a game where he fails a little bit, he is one of the few guys that is to bounce back the next game and you can’t even tell he played poorly or had a failure in the previous game,” Ramsay said.

Pfeffer noted the team camaraderie he is a part of playing for the Bucs.

“We’re all brothers and always have each others’ back, and if someone on the team is in trouble someone will always be there to help them,” Pfeffer said. “We’re a very tight-knit group.”

Pfeffer said going to the World Series is his favorite memory of baseball so far during his Whitworth baseball career.

“Going to the World Series was unreal,” Pfeffer said.

After college, Pfeffer plans to go into law enforcement and is currently a health science major. As for baseball, Pfeffer has big plans for himself and hopes to play professional baseball. He continues to work out every day and does whatever he can to get scouts looking his way.

“Ideally I would like to play pro baseball, but if that doesn’t work out for me then I plan to go into law enforcement,” Pfeffer said.

However, for the time being, Pfeffer will dedicate his time to improving his game and playing in a Pirate uniform.

“He is very dedicated to his hitting and puts in a lot of time at the cages,” Muelheims said. “He’s a hard worker.”

Sasha Siclait Staff Writer Contact Sasha Siclait at ssiclait16@my.whitworth.edu

Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Wade Gebbers, men's basketball

He may be fairly quiet and reserved, but as captain of the Whitworth men’s basketball team, senior Wade Gebbers may be one of the most respected people on the Whitworth campus. He is, as head men’s basketball coach Matt Logie put it, “our old wily vet on the team.”  And while he has become a role model for his teammates, has maintained strong academics, and begins to start a family of his own, he maintains a maturity beyond his years.

The Gebbers name has a legacy of its own.  It’s hard to be exposed to basketball circles in Washington without hearing the Gebbers name mentioned.  In his sophomore year at Whitworth, Wade was starting alongside his brother, Clay Gebbers, and his cousin Michael Taylor, who went on to become the NCAA Division III National Player of the Year.

“I come from a pretty small town,” Gebbers said.  “Even though we come from a pretty humble family, [Brewster] is now referred to sometimes as ‘Gebbers nation.’”

Now a senior, Gebbers has taken more of a leadership role.

“I used to be more of a distributor, and I still try to do that as a point guard,” Gebbers said. “But I have more responsibility now to make myself and the team better.”

His teammates, however, admire him for his character.

“He leads by example,” junior guard Dustin McConnell said.  “He doesn’t just talk a lot.”

“When we’re on the court, it’s his leadership that gets to you,” freshman guard George Valle said.  “He’ll look you in the eyes during a timeout and say, ‘We need you to score here,’ and you’ll really want to do it.’”

Gebbers’ passion for helping his teammates is almost equalled to his competitive attitude.

“I want to win,” Gebbers said. “But my main focus is to win while doing the right things, like helping my teammates out.”

Logie can tell that much is obvious.

“He’s got that sense for the moment; he’s not afraid of big shots, while he’s also as selfless a player as I’ve ever seen,” Logie said. “It’s a difficult balance.”

While his personality is obvious to those who have known him for so long, the first impressions some of his teammates have of him are a different story.

“There was this game against George Fox,” McConnell said. “And all of a sudden, he just went off for like 20 points in the second half.  That was the first time I thought that, ‘Geez, this guy is good.’”

Valle said his first impression came on his recruiting visit, early last year.

“I was there for a visit and Logie was introducing me to the team right before an open gym practice.  Wade is standing to Logie’s right, but as Logie goes around the circle, he forgets to give Wade an introduction.  He’s sitting there with his glasses on, all quiet and reserved, looking kind of nerdy,” Valle said.

This was only the beginning though, as Valle soon found out. “I’m thinking, ‘Who is this guy?’” Valle said.  “He must be some kind of joke if the coach forgets to introduce him.  I got matched up with him right off and I thought the guys were matching me up with one of the weaker players on the team, being nice to the recruit.  Next thing I know, he’s just lighting me up from all over the place.”

Gebbers might lead one of the most unconventional lives of any athlete at Whitworth.  After getting married in August of this past year, Gebbers is expecting a baby girl in February.

Although his somewhat unorthodox college life is different in comparison to those on the team, Gebbers says that it’s nothing new.

“I’ve never had the same routine as other guys, especially now,” Gebbers said.  “We’ll be in the locker room and guys will be talking about their weekends and what movie they’re going to see that night.  When they end up asking me what my plans are for the evening, I end up telling them that I’m hanging out with my wife and she’s making dinner.  They tell me I’m an old man,” Gebbers said, laughing.

While his early life decisions may fill up his busy life even more, his teammates know that he made them on his own terms.

“He was ready to make that choice to start a family, and I really admire him for that,” McConnell said.

At the same time, Gebbers said that he still wants to be competitive in basketball and pass some of his lessons on to the next generation of Pirate basketball players.

“Above winning, above highlights, what has been most satisfying to me is being a team player,” Gebbers said.  “I want them to enjoy this experience while they have it and understand how special it is to be here.  We’re doing this for each other.”

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Spotted from the crow's nest: Elisabeth Spencer, women’s cross country

The Whitworth women’s cross country team, led by one of its top performers, junior Elisabeth Spencer, are poised for a run at the Northwest Conference championship. Although projected to finish fourth, Spencer, with her uncanny positivity and loving attitude, may have something to say about the projected finish. “She is extremely positive,” head coach Toby Schwarz said. “She brings that along with her competitiveness to her teammates.”

Spencer attended high school in Tacoma, Wash., starting cross country her sophomore year. She knew she wanted a small and friendly community for college, which is why she loved Whitworth.

Elisabeth Spencer 10-11 022-2
Elisabeth Spencer 10-11 022-2

“You’re going to see a lot of your friends everyday,” Spencer said. “I love being able to see people I know all the time.”

As for cross country, Spencer has a passion for running. Not only does she enjoy running in races, but also running outside of the sport. It’s the best way to experience new places, she said. Add a little bit of competition into the mix, and the result: cross country.

The competitive aspect, however, came later for Spencer. Schwarz said she did not have the same aggressive attitude that she has this year during her freshman year. She still brought her loving attitude and excitement to practice and races, but did not own the same drive to win that she has today.

“The one thing I notice the most is her excitement and positivity, no matter the circumstances,” sophomore and teammate Christina Anderson said. “She is also growing into a great competitor.”

According to Anderson, Spencer is important to the team not only because of points, but also because of her attitude. She is constantly bringing other people up and showing the enthusiasm that many of her teammates may lack at times. And now, complementing her positive attitude is a new sense of competitiveness.

“This year she has been competitive at practice, she has been competitive at meets, attitude wise, and because of that she has been running up to her ability,” Schwarz said.

Schwarz and Anderson both had many positive things to say about Spencer. They mostly revolved around her compassion and caring mentality, but also her new sense of competitiveness.

“I came into this year with a lot more confidence,” Spencer said. “And that allowed me to do better, which allowed competing to be more fun.”

What will Spencer get out of her experience at Whitworth? Not only does Schwarz help the team with running, but also in becoming more well-rounded people. The topic could be anything from spiritual to academic, and Spencer still finds Schwarz a helpful mentor, allowing her to not only take away a great running experience from collegiate cross country, but also many lessons in different aspects of life.

Korey HopeStaff Writer

Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu.

The Crow's Nest: Oliver and Lyle Rudnicki, men’s golf

As Whitworth prepares for a run at the conference championship, it will need help from a large freshmen group, including freshmentwins Lyle and Oliver Rudnicki. Looking back on their journey, the twin brothers have gone through quite a bit to get here. Born in England, the brothers ended up moving to Redmond, Wash., with their family and attended Redmond High School soon after.

After playing for nine years, it was important to the twins to be in a smaller, more intimate class setting for college.  Head coach Warren Friedrichs introduced that environment to them with Whitworth.

“They didn’t express a need to stay together when going to college,” Friedrichs said.  “They’re not rooming together and they have very different academic interests.”

Despite this, Lyle and Oliver both liked the hospitality of the student body and the way they fit in on the team.  Their competitive nature was only heightened by this experience.

“We’ve always been competitive with each other,” Lyle said.  “When you have a twin brother, you’re competitive in everything, and I mean everything.”

When the men’s season began, not even Lyle and Oliver knew what kind of impact they would have on the team.  Over the last two tournaments, the twins splashed onto the scene.  Lyle had a first-place finish at the Whitman Invitational on Oct. 1.  After beating his brother in the previous tournament, Oliver also had a noteworthy finish at the Whitman invitational, finishing 10th overall.

“They have very different personalities,” Friedrichs said.  “Oliver is more quiet, while Lyle is more of a carefree kid.”

The significant personality differences have even generated a nickname for Lyle.

“Yeah, coach calls Lyle “cas” because he’s so casual and relaxed when he plays out there,” Oliver said.  “Me, I like being serious when I play; it helps me stay focused.”

However, Friedrichs is not the only one to notice the contrasting personalities.

“Lyle will hit a bad hole and laugh it off, but they both play very relaxed out there in their own way,” junior golfer Jesse Salzwedel said.

Being relaxed has granted the brothers the ability to stay mentally positive during matches.

Despite their outstanding game mentality, it is their work ethic in practice that gets Coach Friedrichs’ attention.

“I was impressed initially, and still am, in the fact that they both spend so much time working on every facet of their game,” Friedrichs said.

That work ethic is something the twins have carried with them for a long time.

“You can’t get better until you make your weaknesses your strengths,” Oliver said.

As the Pirates progress through the season with aspirations for postseason play, the Rudnicki twins hope to be a part of it as best they can.

“They care a lot about what they do and they really want to contribute to our success,” Salzwedel said.

The freshmen brothers will look to continue their strong play and help Whitworth as the season goes on.

“We really just want to do what we can for our teammates,” Lyle said.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Mackenzie Grow, women's soccer

Senior midfielder Mackenzie Grow is a leader who has left a legacy that will be felt far into the future of Whitworth soccer. “Her character on and off the field serves as a fantastic example to future members of the team of what it means to be a Whitworth women’s soccer player,” head coach Jael Hagerott said.

Grow has played soccer for Whitworth all four years and is now team captain. Grow started playing soccer when she was five years old. She played for one season and then quit.

“My parents put me into it, but I hated it at first,” Grow said.

She made the choice to play again a year later when all her friends decided to play. Once she started to play again, she never looked back. Mackenzie was a seven-year participant of the Spokane Soccer Academy. She also spent two years as a Spokane Soccer Academy Junior Coach.

Grow went to Lewis & Clark High School in Spokane. She was a two-time All-Greater Spokane League honoree during her  junior and senior seasons.

As a freshman, Grow started 19 out of the team’s 20 matches. She has scored 8 times in her 4 years at Whitworth.

“What sets Mackenzie apart from the average soccer player are her technical skills,” fellow senior captain, defender Kelsey Griswold said.

Grow is well known for her foot skills. She loves the creativity that comes with being a soccer player.

“Soccer has given me a lot of patience,” Grow said.

Grow has been an example to everyone on the team both on and off the soccer field. On the field, she is known for her composure.

“She is a calming influence,” Griswold said. “She’s been a huge impact. She’s played every second since freshman year. She’s an amazing player in the center. She calms the whole game down and controls the game.”

Grow has had a tremendous influence on her teammates. Last year, Grow and her teammates faced the Lewis & Clark Pioneers at home. It was a close, hard-fought match that ended regulation in a 2-2 tie.

Grow took matters into her own hands and in a mere 52 seconds the fight was over.

“Kenz took the ball, dribbled up and scored,” Coach Hagerott said.

Grow recounted it as one of her favorite soccer memories.

Griswold says that Grow is a strong leader on and off the field.

“She’s very involved in getting people to church and carpooling and getting girls involved with team building stuff, Griswold said. “This year we’re doing a Bible study and she’s very big on getting the girls there and getting them involved.”

As captain, Grow has shown leadership skills.

“On the field, Kenz leads by example, in how she works, and in her vocal leadership, she guides people to their position,” Hagerott said. “She has a good game awareness and she’s a composed player.”

“The game can get pretty hectic sometimes and the center mids are what control the game, the speed of how it goes and where the ball goes,” Griswold said. “They distribute everything. And if you’re not calm, everyone else is very hectic, so she has that presence that calms us all down.”

“My favorite part about playing soccer is being part of a team and having team chemistry,” Grow said.

She has no immediate plans to play soccer competitively after college; however as the team competes for a conference title this season, Grow has left a legacy to be proud of.

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

Contact Whitney Carter at wcarter16@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Bryan Peterson, football

A few years ago, Whitworth quarterback Bryan Peterson never pictured himself as a college football player. After a phenomenal athletic career in both football and baseball at West Valley High (Spokane), it was the latter sport that he chose to pursue. While driving home from a high school graduation rehearsal in 2008, Peterson received word that the Boston Red Sox had offered him a contract to play for them at the minor league level.

“At that point I had a baseball scholarship to play in college, but I was really excited to go to the pros,” Peterson said. “It had been my dream since I was young.”

Peterson spent the next three years as an outfielder for the Red Sox, playing in various states and countries at the AA level. In spring 2011, his gut began to tell him he would be released and he knew it was time to pursue an education. Football was not necessarily on his radar, but his passing arm was still there.

“Even the years I wasn’t playing football, I would play catch with [family and friends],” Peterson said. “I’d throw to them not really thinking I’d be playing college football.”

Peterson had a strong freshman season for the Bucs in 2011, stepping up as full-time quarterback midseason. He passed for over 1,400 yards over the season, completing 122 out of 193 passes, and earned all-Northwest Conference honorable mention.

Whitworth wide receiver Austin Ehlo credits Peterson as the reason he came to Whitworth. Ehlo and Peterson trained together before becoming Pirates and that friendship and bond has translated into dynamic chemistry on the field.

Peterson is not only a great player, but also a leader for the Bucs on and off the field.

“He’s a leader,” Ehlo said. “He’s the team leader and he’ll step up to the plate and take on whatever is in front of him. He’s always positive and he’s always happy. It doesn’t matter if we’re down. He just always has that ‘go get ‘em’ attitude.”

Peterson said it’s just his passion for the game of football and for life that inspires him.

“I want to be doing things that I enjoy doing,” Peterson said. “I’m going to attempt to be the best I can be just because I enjoy doing it.”

In the opening two games for the Bucs this season, Peterson completed 16 of 24 passes and threw for 239 yards, including two touchdowns passes.

Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu