Whitworth rolls over non-conference opponents

Pirates defeat Montana Tech, UCSC to enter NWC play with a three-game win streak

The Pirates finished the week with two strong wins, one last Wednesday against Montana Tech in Butte, Montana, and the second last Saturday against UC Santa Cruz in the Fieldhouse.

On Wednesday, the Pirates shot just over 60 percent from the field and 59 percent from beyond the arc while rolling to a 90-75 win over the Orediggers.

Freshman guard George Valle led Whitworth with a career-high 23 points.  Junior guard Dustin McConnell also dished out a career-high seven assists while starting at point guard for injured senior Wade Gebbers.

“While playing without Wade, we needed to make sure we continued to play the way we play,” Whitworth head coach Matt Logie said. “We ended up executing the basic elements of our offense really well.”

Preparation and execution were keys to the win.

“We spent all week preparing for the Montana Tech defense,” Valle said. “We shot the ball well due to ball movement, and passed up good shots for great shots.”

As the Pirates hit 16-27 3-point attempts, as junior guard Colton McCargar and senior forward Mack Larkin hit half of those with four apiece.  McCargar and Larkin each had 12 points and Larkin led the Pirates with six rebounds.

“Shots were just going in for us,” Logie said.  “A guy would take a good shot and I’d be thinking, ‘That was a good shot, it should go in,’ and then it would.”

Adam Greger ended up with 17 points to lead Montana Tech, with teammate Travis Peevey finishing with 16 points.  Bryan Bock also contributed 12 points and six rebounds for the Orediggers.

The goals the Whitworth men’s team have for themselves this season are high, one of which is to make a playoff run in March.

“We not only want to win conference but go to the national tournament and play well also,” Valle said.

That goal will likely be attainable for the Pirates this season as they have gone to the NCAA tournament the last six seasons.  This includes an Elite Eight showing and three Sweet Sixteen appearances.

As they approached Saturday night’s game against UCSC, the focus was on improving on their mistakes from Wednesday.

“We had a great offensive night on Wednesday, but we still gave up 75 points,” Logie said.  “We really want to improve some of that defensive intensity.”

Later in the week, the Pirates jumped on the opportunity to improve their defense against UCSC as Whitworth clinched a 61-48 win at the Fieldhouse with 875 people in attendance to advance to 3-1 in the regular season.

Valle led the way again for the Pirates with 17 points and five rebounds.  In addition, McCargar had an eight-point, nine-rebound game along with McConnell’s six points, five rebounds and six assists to cap off a strong showing despite lacking captain Gebbers for a second consecutive game.

“They played pretty well,” McCargar said.  “It was tough to get going and we didn’t end up shooting the ball very well.”

Despite Whitworth’s early slump and UCSC keeping it close well into the first half, the Banana Slugs, who only shot 36.4 percent from the field, ended up at 23.8 percent from the 3-point line and only 33.3 percent from foul shots, shooting 3-9 from the line.

“We definitely hit our goal of better defense this time around,” Logie said.  “We wanted to hold them under 38 percent shooting for the game and we pulled that off.”

Sophomore Adam Wilks had six points and seven rebounds in only 10 minutes of play, but his spark off the bench in the first half provided a key boost that helped allow Whitworth to retain its 31-23 lead over UCSC at the end of the first period.

“It’s an awesome feeling to play like this,” Wilks said.  “Our shots weren’t falling as well tonight, but we put our trust in our defense and it carried us through.”

As the Pirates shift their focus to next week’s games against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, their focus will not let up.

“[Pacific Lutheran] is a well-coached team and they play hard,” Logie said.  “It’ll be a hard fought battle next Friday.”

As the Pirates begin conference play, their goals for the season will be tested.

“As part of this program, we expect to win,” Logie said.  “These guys are self-motivated; us coaches just have to find the right buttons to push.”

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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

 

Bucs battle tough competition at Husky Invitational

Men’s relay performances highlight three-day meet in Federal Way, Wash. Last weekend Whitworth men’s swim team competed at the 64th annual Husky Invitational in Federal Way, Wash. against 13 collegiate teams and several club teams. Whitworth faced stiff competition from teams including Grand Canyon University and University of British Columbia.

Whitworth’s relay teams posted season-best times in each race of the weekend.

“We hold ourselves to a high standard and to be a part of that you have to learn that when you get up on the blocks it’s not just about you anymore,” freshman Kyle Wicks said. “When you get up for a relay, everyone just performs that much better because they know their teammates are relying on them.”

The Bucs’ best finish in a relay was tenth-place in the 200 medley with Wicks, junior Aaron Vaccaro, and sophomores Wes Tatum and Callum MacKintosh swimming a time of 1:35.64.

Vaccaro, Wicks, Tatum and MacKintosh also finished 16th in the 400 medley with a time of 3:33.35.

Sophomore Jason Lemley joined Vaccaro, Wicks and MacKintosh in the 200 freestyle to post a 1:26.87 time and finish 12th right behind Whitman (1:26.79).

“We’ve got a pretty cohesive group and because of our depth we have a lot of options for the relays,” Vaccaro said. “We’ve been exercising a lot of different options and I think we’ve been finding some combinations that really work.”

The Pirates’ success continued on Saturday and Sunday in the 400 and 800 freestyle relays. Juniors Mitchell Beck, Luke Welle and Matt Brody, along with senior Nathan Ranno, finished 11th in the 800 free with a time of 7:02.85. Whitworth took 18th in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:14.01 from Vaccaro, Ranno, and juniors Andrew Sumnicht and Matthew Dangleis.

Whitworth qualified for three final swims on Saturday night. In the 100 butterfly, Vaccaro placed 24th in the C-final with 51.34 and Tatum finished 26th in the D-final with a time of 51.98. Vaccaro also qualified for the 100 backstroke and took 29th with a 53.23 finish, a lifetime-best by a couple seconds.

“We had probably 90 percent season-bests and a good number of lifetime-bests and we’re still kind of in training mode,” head coach Steve Schadt said. “I feel like our team raised their game and really went after it.”

Other season-bests included Beck’s 4:47.03 finish in the 500 freestyle and Sumnicht’s 1:58.47 finish in the 200 individual medley.

The Pirates also raced against Northwest Conference members Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, who they will swim against later this season.

“There’s a lot of good competition and it’s going to come down to the wire,” Wicks said. “It’s a lot of fun because it pushes you to your limits.”

The team is already thinking of how this big meet is preparing them for the rest of the season and Schadt is confident that the fierce competition will help push the Pirates to perform well at the national level.

“The times that we swam really sets us up well, and once we’re really on top of our game in conference we should definitely win,” Vaccaro said.

Whitworth’s next meet will be Jan. 12 against Seattle University.

Megan John Staff Writer

Contact Megan John at mjohn16@my.whitworth.edu.

Pirate men fall in home opener

The 11th-ranked University of St. Thomas Tommies pulled out a win over 14th-ranked Whitworth University last Saturday to win 70-65 despite a late rally from Whitworth.  The Pirates were down by as much as 14 at several points during the game, but battled back to cut the deficit to three twice during the final minute of play.

Senior Wade Gebbers led Whitworth with a game-high 23 points, and junior Dustin McConnell finished with 10.  Free throws were a weak point for Whitworth down the stretch, shooting only 15-23 from the line (65%), while the Tommies finished 21-25 from the line (84%).

This is the first home game opener the Pirates have lost since 1978 when they fell to Gonzaga University.  Whitworth will host Mary Hardin-Baylor at the Fieldhouse on November 23 at 3pm where the Pirates will look for their first win of the season.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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

Men’s swimming competes at Northwest Invitational

Whitworth men’s swimming took second in the Northwest Invitational against Whitman University, Pacific University and the College of Idaho.

Sophomore Jason Lemley, freshman Kyle Wicks, junior Aaron Vaccaro and sophomore Callum MacKintosh finished first in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:37.97 to begin the meet on Nov. 17.

Vaccaro also finished first in the 100 backstroke with a time of 53.86.

The Pirates’ biggest competition of the day was Whitman, who finished first in the other 12 races. Whitworth stayed close behind with several second-place finishes, including a tight freestyle race that ended with a second-place finish for Vaccaro at 22.33 and third place finish for MacKintosh at 22.40.

Whitman had a final score of 210, followed by Whitworth with 182 points, Pacific with 113 points and College of Idaho with 56.

Whitworth’s next meet will be on Nov. 30 at the Husky Invitational in Federal Way, Washington.

Megan John Staff Writer

Contact Megan John at mjohn16@my.whitworth.edu.

Whitworth men’s basketball gets first win

The Whitworth men’s basketball team picked up its  first win of the season last Friday against Mary Hardin Baylor.  After hanging on to a 26-24 lead at the half, the Pirates pulled ahead by 10 to make it 62-52 with 3:23 left in the game, and never looked back.  While Crusaders made a few runs towards the end, Whitworth never let them get closer than five as they finished with the final score  70-61. Junior Dustin McConnell was the leading scorer for Whitworth, putting up a career-high 18 points, including a number of pivotal free throws down the stretch.  Junior Colton McCargar also had a crucial outing hitting a number of 3-pointers to finish with 13.  Senior Mack Larkin and freshman George Valle had strong performances as well, both finishing with 12.

Whitworth improved its free throw performance after, shooting 15-23 against St. Thomas and 11-16 against Idaho State.  Free throws were not a problem for the Pirates this time around, shooting 13-15 from the line.

The Whitworth men will play Montana Tech on November 28th in its first road game of the regular season.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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

The Division III Balance: A look at the role of athletics at the DIII level

As you turn on your TV to watch LSU play Alabama for a Saturday football game, or tune into March Madness to watch powerhouse basketball schools such as North Carolina, Duke and Kansas, you may be wondering how Whitworth’s Division III programs fit into the grand scheme.  There are an incredible array of differences between sports programs at larger schools compared to smaller ones, and perhaps the most important one is concerned with what the players do outside of those sports.

One of the stark differences between the larger programs of Division I and II versus Division III, is that Division III programs are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships to their athletes. While they are able to offer academic scholarships, the lack of a monetary influence to participate in college level athletics attracts a very different kind of athlete to the institution and proposes an entirely different living environment.

“A D3 institution, like Whitworth, offers a balance between athletic and academic life,” Whitworth Athletic Director Aaron Leetch said.  “It’s not to say that D1 institutions don’t necessarily have good academics, but athletes are typically living their sport.”

At both levels, the desire to compete and succeed is obvious.

“There’s no difference in the athletes themselves,” Leetch said.  “We still have competitive athletes that want to win and we recruit athletes that want to win.  There’s no difference in the idea that they work just as hard [as those from D1 programs].”

Even for someone who has experienced the Division I atmosphere, it is apparent just how different the lives of the students are and the role that coaches play in them compared to the Division III level.

“My job as a coach here at Whitworth at this D3 level is a lot about being a mentor for the next 40 years of their life rather than the next four,” Whitworth head men’s basketball coach Matt Logie said.

Logie previously served at Lehigh University as associate head coach in the NCAA Division I Patriot League before becoming head coach at Whitworth.

“The student absolutely comes first here and we are never [as faculty] going to steer them away from that,” Logie said.

Additionally, this attitude governs the lives of Division III athletes themselves.  Senior Wade Gebbers, who plays guard for the Whitworth basketball team, knows that well.

He emphasizes that going to Whitworth is more than just about playing basketball, even though the fact that Whitworth has the best game crowds for Division III Gebbers has ever seen makes playing basketball a great thing to do.

“Coaches always make sure that the emphasis is on the grades,” Gebbers said.  “I wanted to come here in the first place partially because the players were good off the court as well.”

Athletes at Whitworth know as well as any other Division III school athletes, that you can’t afford to only be an athlete at a place like this.

“Professors are very concerned with your academic life,” senior women’s golfer and basketball player Emily Guthrie said.  “The athletes are also expected to handle a bigger academic workload in Division III than in Division  I.”

However, that mentality transcends the mere idea of the classroom itself.

Sophomore baseball player Carson Blumenthal discussed his experience with the Division III style learning environment.

“Here at Whitworth, there is the opportunity to have a working relationship with your professors,” Blumenthal said.  “We’re held to a high standard here and to come here is really a life decision.”

The idea of the student-athlete gets emphasized so much in sports in the lives of young people, but only at Division III college institutions is it so integral and so profoundly part of their mission.

“We tend to refer to it as students who participate in inter-collegiate athletics,” Leetch said.  “We have students who come here who just happen to play sports.”

This environment completely changes the recruiting process when compared to a Division I school.  Whitworth baseball coach and former player Dan Ramsay says he enjoys the fact that he’s able to sell a quality education to athletes.

“We don’t make a distinction between the student-athlete and the student,” Ramsay said.  The financial investment is for your education, while playing baseball is a privilege.”

Understanding the dynamic between student and athlete is a concept that is a key point of emphasis.

“The big challenge is educating people on what Division III is and what it means,” Ramsay said.

As athletic director, Leetch says that he knows that what really sets Division III apart is rooted in the mindset of every coach and player at Whitworth.

“No one is ever conflicted day-to-day about doing the right thing,” Leetch said.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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

 

Cross country men conclude season in Oregon

MacMurray leads Whitworth to ninth-place finish at NCAA West Regionals

The men’s cross country team finished their season at the Northwest Conference Regionals Nov. 10 in ninth place out of the 17 qualifying teams.

Freshman Chris MacMurray finished in first place for the Pirates  and 35th overall with a time of 25:43.

“I don’t think I could’ve ended the season on a higher note,” MacMurray said.

MacMurray qualified for the NWC all-region team based on his race finish. Sophomore Taylor Steele finished with a time of 25:50, sophomore Matt Edwards with a time of 26:03 and junior Andrew Ryder with a time of 26:12. All three finished in the top 50 of the meet.

MacMurray said that after the race head coach Toby Schwarz told the team that they should count it as a win.

The Pirates will lose senior team captain Tim Hill, who finished with a time of 28:26. Hill was battling an ankle injury during Saturday’s race. The team is losing a leader and a great example in Hill, MacMurray said.

“Tim was my first captain and he was a great captain,” MacMurray said. “To love running you have to have a great love for the sport.”

MacMurray said that Hill’s passion for running was an inspiration to the team.

Hill thought the team did well at last Saturday’s race.

“I think overall the team did really well. We didn’t make nationals like we were hoping to but we had a lot of personal records for a lot of guys on the team,” Hill said. “It was just a tough field and we competed really well.”

Sophomore Colton Berry was happy with the team’s performance. He finished with a time of 27:02 .

“As a team, most of us got personal records,” Berry said. “We really wanted to go to Nationals, but it was a really tough race.”

The Bucs faced teams they ran against throughout the season, including Willamette University, Lewis & Clark College and Pacific University, as well as teams they hadn’t faced such as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer and La Verne. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was the overall winner of the meet.

The Bucs worked on their race plan and got better as a team throughout the season. Their strategy was generally to run as a pack and the Bucs were able to improve in general this season, Hill said.

“I think we did well — not as well as we would have liked — because it was kind of a growing year for the team,” Hill said.

Hill was team captain this season and he mentioned the commitment of the team members to both the program and the team.

“[My favorite part was] getting a chance to work with all these guys,” Hill said.

Hill also has high hopes for the Pirate’s chances next year.

“I think we have a lot of hope for next year there’s a lot of talent on the team and we’re just going keep getting better,” Hill said.

Berry said the Bucs should have a solid team next year. He  plans to run track in the spring and come back for next season.  The Pirates are losing a  handful of seniors, but hope to come back next year and compete.

“We’re a really young team. I think we can be successful; we just have to put in the work,” Berry said.

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

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

Campus Connection: Michael Taylor

Former Division III Player of Year continues basketball career in Germany

2011 Whitworth graduate Michael Taylor has taken the success of his basketball career and carried it with him to Oldenburg, Germany, where he now plays professionally.

The summer after his graduation, Taylor moved to Germany with his wife Taylor Taylor, also a Whitworth graduate, and played on a team from Oldenburg in the Regionalliga league. After winning the league his team was moved up to the second Bundesliga league in the ProB division, which Taylor said is the minor leagues of basketball in Europe.

Taylor had a strong connection to Whitworth before he attended the school. He started going to open gyms at Whitworth in eighth grade and was there almost every year of high school. He also had cousins attending Whitworth when he transferred from University of Montana in 2010.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to get to play with him competitively again so when he decided to transfer it was very exciting for me just knowing that I was going to be able to play one more season with him,” Taylor’s cousin and current senior basketball player Wade Gebbers said.

In his senior year, Taylor helped lead Whitworth to the conference title as well as an appearance in the Elite Eight. Taylor was also named Division III Men’s Player of the Year in 2011.

“Anytime you can play with somebody like that it makes everybody else on the team better,” Gebbers said. “He showed me things that helped me improve and he helped everybody else on the team improve.”

In Taylor’s senior year, a coach from Oldenburg saw him play and spoke to Jim Hayford, who was the head men’s basketball coach at Whitworth in 2011 and is now the head men’s basketball coach at Eastern Washington University, about using his connections to help Taylor play overseas.  A few months later he was on his way to Europe.

“I can remember when he was a junior higher and he would come up and play with our guys at summer camps,” Hayford said. “You could just tell he was going to be really really good.”

When Michael first got to Germany he had to quickly adjust to the style of play in his new league and to the rule changes, such as a quicker shot clock, a bigger key and the three-point line that is farther back.

“It’s very physical in that there’s a lot of fouls but there’s so many that a lot don’t get called so you have to really learn to play through things both on offense and defense,” Taylor said. “Coach Hayford scheduled really good non-conference games, and Whitworth plays in a really good conference  so you’re competing at a high level every night so it’s very similar in that sense.”

Michael and Taylor also had big adjustments to make just in their lifestyle.

“We’re just stuck right in the middle and we’re really close to the city center, but we lucked out in the fact that it has a really small town feel — people ride bikes everywhere and they’re really nice and they understand that this is a new place for us and they’re very accommodating,” Taylor said.

With practice at night and games once a week, the Taylors spend a lot of time with each other watching English television on Hulu and Netflix and going on walks during the day, recently with their new puppy Bogart, an English cream golden retriever.

“I got to spend the day and evening with him and Taylor and saw the home they had made for themselves in Germany and they were just thriving as I knew they would,” Hayford said.

Taylor also spends time with his team’s youth league, which he said is similar to high school basketball, watching them practice and talking to the kids in English about college and where he’s from.

“At Whitworth they take importance on communicating with people and creating contacts and just talking to the person next to you — you get to know who they are or where they went or where they’re from and that’s exactly what you have to do here,” Taylor said.

Taylor stays in contact with his old coaches and family in the United States, but Taylor said he and his wife have stayed busy and made connections with a lot of people in their new home already despite a small language barrier.

“He’s just the perfect example of what a great Whitworth student is and a great example of what a Whitworth person is and a great example of Whitworth athletes,” Hayford said. “He sets the bar high in every area.”

Megan John Staff Writer

Contact Megan John at mjohn16@my.whitworth.edu.

Whitworth women take third at NWC Fall Classic

The Whitworth women’s golf team concluded its fall season this past weekend at the NWC Fall Classic at the Tri-Mountain Golf Course.  After tying with Linfield after the first day of competition, the Pirates separated themselves from the Wilcats by 22 strokes to take over sole possession of third place after day two.

Head coach Katie Fuqua said that she is satisfied with the results the team got this weekend.  “After poor conditions on the first day, we were able to rebound for a much better second day.”.

Senior Emily Guthrie capped off a strong season to finish first for the Pirates and second overall shooting 80, 73.  Freshman Chelsea Bayley came in second and tied for fourteenth overall after shooting 91, 84.  Freshman Yvonne LaCoursiere was third for the Pirates shooting 95, 84.  Junior Ashley Danforth shot 91, 99 and came in fourth for the Pirates.  Freshman Cindy Tapia rounded out the scoring for the women shooting 102, 94.

Whitman finished second in team scores, edging out Whitworth by 11 strokes to finish with 681, while George Fox took home the team title with a team score of 629.

As the day of the tournament came, it was not only the other teams on the minds of the women.

“When it was raining the first day, it was much more mentally challenging to stay focused,” Guthrie said.  “When it didn’t rain as much the second day, everybody had a much better mindset.”

With freshmen making up a significant portion of the women’s roster this season, they shouldered a lot of responsibility.

“They’re really good at playing a full 18,” Danforth said.  “They always kept a good attitude out there.”

Despite the challenges facing them this season, the Pirates hold their heads high.

“It was nice to see everyone improve over the course of the season,” Guthrie said.  “Classics are really fun to play in.”

As the women approached the tournament, with all the tough competition looming over their heads, it was important for them to stay focused.

“Attitude played a pretty big role this weekend,” Danforth said.  “We stayed positive, as we were determined to give it all we had.”

Coach Fuqua agreed that positivity played a huge role.

“Our resilient play was testament to our attitude through both days,” Fuqua said.

The fact that it was the end of the season fueled them even more.

“It was the last tournament of the year and we wanted to show (teams in our conference) what we had,” Guthrie said.

With such a long season behind them, there is a lot to consider for next season.

“We worked hard right to the end,” Fuqua said.  “We need to work on our short game in the off-season, so it won’t be a problem for us next season.”

The players are keen on their weaknesses and plan to do whatever they can to improve them in the off-season.

“We’ll keep practicing when we can,” Guthrie said.  “Whether it’s putting around the house, the dorm, in the snow or wherever, we’ll do what we need to do so we can improve.”

The Whitworth women’s golf team will continue competition in the spring.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

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

Men's cross country struggles at NWC championships

The men’s cross country team had a challenging race at the NWC championships last Saturday, hosted by Pacific University, and hopes to be more successful at the upcoming regional meet.

“It was pretty bad to be honest. As a team we didn’t really race that well. And I probably had the worst race of my life individually,” freshman Colton Berry said.

Berry usually finishes near the top for the Whitworth team, but he finished 7th for the team and 42nd overall. The Bucs finished in 4th place behind Willamette, Lewis & Clark and the University of Puget Sound.

The Bucs are ranked 8th going into the regionals race but have had high finishes all season.

“I definitely would say that [this race] wasn’t  a very good indication of what we’re capable of or how we’ve been racing all season,” Berry said.

Team captain, senior Tim Hill, blames the unsuccessful race on the team not sticking to the race strategy.

“We did really poorly this last weekend. We normally have a race strategy,” Hill said.”The race strategy that we normally have is running together as a pack and we didn’t do that at all so it kind of ended up hurting us a lot.”

He still has hope for the regionals race as the Pirates train to head to the NCAA Division III West Regionals, hosted by Willamette on Nov. 10.

“Hopefully we can figure out what we did wrong and improve on that and show the rest of the conference and region that conference was a fluke and we’re going to be a team contending for a top spot,” Hill said.

 According to head coach Toby Schwarz, the Pirates didn’t run to the  highest level of their capability.

“We didn’t get out very fast and that kind of hurt us because we spent the rest of the race trying to get back into the race and that made it tough,” Schwarz said. “One of the strengths of our team this year has been running as a group and we didn’t run as a group, we pretty much ran as a bunch of individuals out there, so that kind of hurt us.”

The Pirates have a little down time before the  next race. Currently ranked 8th, the goal is a top five finish.

“My hope is that it’s going to be a lot better. Hopefully we can show how good of a team we actually are,” Schwarz said. “As long as they stay healthy and train hard in the next couple of weeks and then execute on that day we should be able to do that.”

Korey Hope Staff Writer

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