Archive for the ‘Lancer Athletic Blog’ Category

Top 10 Stories of 2010

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The 2010 athletic year was certainly one to remember. As we reflect on the past year for the Lancers, here is our list of the Top 10 Stories…

10. Women’s Basketball Receives Votes for First Time
As a result of the Lady Lancers incredible start to the season (10-3), they received national recognition this winter — the first time Grace has been ranked by the NAIA in the history of the program. In the NCCAA Division One, Grace is currently ranked No. 6. Hayley Cashier has led Grace’s revival with 12.1 ppg and 8.7 rpg.

9. Baseball Ties Record for Wins
After years of futility for Grace’s baseball team, the Lancers began to turn things around. Grace used an eight-game winning streak to tie the program record of 21 wins in a season, which was set by the 1972 team. The Lancers would have broken the record were it not for two gut-wrenching losses in the season-ending NCCAA Regionals.

8. Bruce Grimm Jr. Signing
Possibly the most anticipated and talked about rumor of the year came to fruition on March 31 when Bruce Grimm Jr. officially signed to play basketball for Grace. Grimm, who played and started games for NCAA Division I East Tennessee State, was the Indiana Mr. Basketball Runner-up in 2009. Grimm may arguably be the biggest D-One transfer to Grace since Scott Blum came from Valparaiso University in the early 1990s. Read Grimm’s story here.

7. Briscoe Named MCC Athletic Director of the Year
Chad Briscoe won a well-deserved honor after the Mid-Central College Conference named him Athletic Director of the Year in July. Briscoe has brought both the men’s and women’s NCCAA National Tournaments to the Orthopaedic Capital Center, arranged Grace’s first Big Ten basketball matchup, and has increased athletic aid by 25 percent during his tenure.

6. Volleyball Turnaround, Third-Place Finish in MCC
After finishing eight in the MCC one year ago, Grace completed its remarkable turnaround with a third-place finish in the conference. It was Grace’s best conference performance since their second-place finish in 2001, head coach Andria Harshman’s senior year at Grace. The Lady Lancers hosted a first-round conference tournament game for the first time in half a decade, when they swept Goshen.

5. NCCAA National Championships to Grace
After successfully hosting the NCCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships for two years, the NCCAA awarded both the men’s and women’s national championships to the Orthopaedic Capital Center for 2012-2014. Sixteen of the nation’s top men’s and women’s teams will play at the OCC during the four-day event.

4. Bethel Drought Ends for Men’s Basketball
After losing eight games in a row to the School from Up North, Grace snapped their four-year drought against the Pilots on Dec. 1 with an 84-76 win. The victory prompted students to rush the court, fans to cry with joy, and one sportswriter to produce a soulful poem to commemorate the event.

3. Jessica Stolle Finishes Her Assault on the Record Books
Senior Jessica Stolle completed the best tennis career in Grace’s history with a 48-8 overall record at No. 1 singles, where she played every match during her career. She posted the only undefeated season at No. 1 singles as a freshman and nearly equaled the feat in 2010 when she finished her senior campaign 11-1. Stolle holds the program records for most career singles wins, most single season wins, and most total wins among others.

2. Barefooted Wegert Qualifies for NAIA Nationals, Breaks MCC Record for 800m
In one calendar year, MariJean Wegert accomplished feats that no other Lady Lancer runner had achieved. In the spring, she used her trademark barefeet to set an MCC record in the 800m, where she won first place. In the fall, she completed her cross country career by representing Grace in the NAIA National Invitational with a 60th-place finish out of 331 runners.

1. Huntington Game, Kastner Remembered
During Mallori Kastner’s memorial service at Grace, her father Rob Kastner gave an emotional charge to the volleyball team to crush Huntington the following match, but also to remember that it’s just a game. The Lady Lancers, playing in front of a frenzied orange-clad crowd, routed Huntington in straight sets. The crowd of an estimated 1,000 was the most-attended volleyball match in Grace’s history. Midway through the match, Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” was played, and the whole crowd sang along in a memorable moment.

Head coach Andria Harshman had this to say after the match: “In times of trials, we are going to still persevere. Trials and tribulations build character. I believe that tonight this team gave those in this lost and hurting world hope — hope that we too shall share one day in the eternity that God has promised us. God is still going to be honored with this circumstance and through this team this season even though we are mourning the loss of a loved one.”

Honorable Mentions: Men’s Basketball Plays at Conseco Fieldhouse,
Three NAIA All-Americans Reunite from Men’s Soccer

Dear Bethel, A Poem of Thanks

Friday, December 3rd, 2010
By Stephen Copeland, Sounding Board Staff Writer

Dear Bethel,
To you, I say thank you
for the lessons you’ve taught.
Though Grace gave me knowledge,
it was my heart you sought.
To you, I say thank you
for humiliation
Whether your eight straight wins,
or your rude invasion
when you flooded our floor
back in 2007
chanting ‘This is our house’
in arrogant fashion.
Or the conference title
game just two months after—
Lost by 27—
We heard Lightfoot’s laughter.
To you, I say thank you
for heartbreak and despair,
Last winter at Bethel—
Tyler Brown’s buzzer-beater,
Or November of ’08
when we lost in OT,
or their Christian College
Title (2006) that started their streak.

To you, oh blasted school
that gloats your tradition
I say thank you, Bethel,
for teaching me patience.
Four treacherous long years
and eight heart-aching games,
all the while knowing one
win would heal all the pain…
So on December first,
we rolled out of our beds.
Grace took the floor that night
and busted Bethel’s heads,
thus marking a new era
in case you’re unsure.
Take advice from your slogan,
Bethel: ‘Fear the future.’
So thanks for the hard lessons,
but those days won’t be missed.
Most of all, Bethel, thanks
for some senior year bliss.
Though trials may challenge
our inner strength and faith,
droughts can’t last forever.
Joy, soon, comes to replace.

This article was published in the December 3 Edition of Grace’s student newspaper, The Sounding Board.

One coaches reflection of the “Orange Out” game.

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

The following is an article written by Grace’s track and field/cross country coach Jeff Raymond after attending the “Orange Out” volleyball game vs. Huntington — the volleyball team’s first game since the tragic passing of freshman teammate Mallori Kastner:

During a break in the action near the end of the Grace College volleyball match on this evening, the song “Living on a Prayer” was blasting over the loudspeakers, causing many of the fans in attendance – and even a few players – to sing along. Little did Bon Jovi know when the band released the song in 1986 that the title would be so appropriate for the Lancer volleyball squad nearly 25 years later.

Grace's volleyball team played in front of an emotional orange-clad crown, in honor of Mallori Kastner

For the past week, living on a prayer was exactly what this team of young women had been doing. It was only last weekend that they received the news of the death of one of their teammates, Mallori Kastner. I’m sure there was shock, disbelief, sadness and many forms of the question, “Why?” There were more emotions than any group of 18-22 year olds normally experience. Athletes sometimes lose teammates to injuries or illness, but you’re not supposed to lose one to a freak accident that ends a life in its prime.

The days following the news were filled with visits to the funeral home, a funeral service and a memorial service on campus. Classes were missed. Games were canceled. There were more tears than practice time. Then came Friday and the chance to return to something approaching normal.

But the atmosphere was anything but normal as the team warmed up for its first match in over a week. For one, the normally red clad home crowd was coming in wearing orange, a tribute to Mallori and her favorite color. And the crowd, which would normally number maybe 150 on a Friday evening, kept coming and kept cheering. Many of the approximately 1,000 in attendance stood for the entire match. There were hundreds of students, plus administrators, faculty and staff.

Could this volleyball match really be honoring to Mallori and serve as a healing agent for this team and campus? Absolutely! Psychologists could probably provide all kinds of explanations for why a group of diverse people can come together to form a cohesive unit or why a campus or community can come together to support a team. On this night the explanation – at least for me – was very simple. It can be summed up in one word: Love.

Freshman - Mallori Kastner

Most of all it was love for Jesus Christ and the shared belief that in spite of all of life’s trials, He is the one avenue that leads to true comfort and hope. It was also the love that develops through shared experiences. In this instance it was love for a teammate, friend, classmate, or simply a person who happened to be a member of the Grace community.

There was a volleyball game played tonight, but I believe healing took place. Healing happened to a group of young women and a coaching staff that had been through a heart-wrenching week. The healing is certainly not complete and things won’t be back to normal anytime soon. There are sure to be more tears, more sadness and more swings in emotion. This team is learning, however, that God’s love will abound in much greater quantities than sadness.

Grace happened to win the match. In fact, the team played very well, despite the toll taken from the long week. The real winners, though, were the power of love, the power of community and, yes, the power of prayer.

Fall sports is upon us!

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Entering the 2010-11 athletic year has never been more exciting. There are so many storylines to follow, especially this fall.

Here’s a snippet of enticement about a select few of the fall teams.

Men’s Tennis – Entering the school year, this is the program with the absolute best shot of winning an MCC title. With the dynamic duo of sophomores Michael Blevins and Nikola Todorovic, teamed up with talented newcomers in Aaron Blevins, Jack Wang, and Michael Humphrey, this team has enough talent to advance to the NAIA Nationals — without a doubt. The best part is…they’re still very, very young. Scary thought for the rest of the conference.

Women’s Tennis – If nothing else, follow senior Jessica Stolle’s ride into the sunset in what is almost sure to be a Hall of Fame career. It is no coincidence that Grace has enjoyed its best years in program history with Stolle playing No. 1 singles the past three years. She has led the program to a remarkable turnaround and has one last year (with all the returners from 2009) left to continue her assault on the record books.

Junior Stephanie Lawson soars for a vicious kill attempt at the Orthopaedic Capital Center

Volleyball – For those who have been keeping tabs on head coach Andria Harshman’s crew this season, the Lady Lancers have quietly had an incredible start to the season. Three players (Stephanie Lawson, Rachel Bult, Enrica Verrett) have been named to All-Conference teams, and Grace grabbed its sixth win of the season on Aug. 28 — almost a full two months earlier than one year ago. And if you haven’t had a chance to watch 6’2 freshman Dana Johnston dominate in person, I truly pity you. Adding Johnston and fellow freshman Mallori Kastner to an already hard-hitting pair in Lawson and Enrica is a nightmare waiting to happen for opposing defenses.

Golf – Grace’s golf team is surprisingly deep this season. With Tad Nieter (injury) and Ben Reno (transfer) returning after one-year sabbaticals and joining with lone senior Stephen Copeland, the Lancers have a trio with potential to hit mid-70s consistently. And of course, freshman Caleb Rovenstine had Grace’s best score in their first outing at the Saint Francis Invitational with a round of 74, and fellow freshman Kal Denlinger fired a respectable 80 in his second round. Watch for this group to improve significantly as the year progresses.