Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

2014 PREVIEW: Grace Cross Country

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Pictured: Grace College 2014 cross country team

The theme for Grace’s cross country team in 2014 is sunathleo, which means “striving together.”

Head coach Jeff Raymond’s desire is that the Lancers’ striving together as a larger unit will result in improved times for each runner this fall. Sunathleo.

“I’m excited for the season because of the type of people we have on the team,” Raymond said. “It’s fun to work with them each day, and the team members genuinely enjoy being around each other. That type of team cohesion will lead to better results as we challenge each other.”

On the women’s side, the Lady Lancers return the majority of last year’s top-five runners. Senior Jenna McClellan, sophomore Katelyn McCullough and juniors Alexis Nelson, Megan Gast and Creigh Ogle were Grace’s top finishers in the 2013 Crossroads League Championships. McCullough finished in 20:04 as a freshman.

Three new Lady Lancers will be added to the roster in 2014. Emma Mitchell, McCallah Mast and Aletheia Burritt have potential to be in the top group as freshmen, according to Raymond.

The men’s team must replace last year’s leading runner Jonathan Rex (graduation). Junior Collin Chupp and sophomores Brandon Smith, Brendon Lengacher and Hunter Reed were consistently among Grace’s top-five runners in 2013 and hope to improve their times this fall.

Six new faces join the men’s squad in Tim Drew, Reid Fouty, Tyler Houvener, Nathan Lane, Dustin Wells and Austin Yoder. Raymond said several of the freshmen have looked strong in the preseason workouts.

“Right now we are not focused on team places or individual times. Our focus is on continually challenging ourselves to get better and not settle,” Raymond said. “If we are able to consistently push ourselves out of our comfort zones, I know we will be ready to perform well in the big meets at the end of the year.”

The Lancers open the season on Saturday at the Goshen Hokum Karem.

Grace Draws with No. 22 John Brown in 2nd OT

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Despite a 21-9 shot advantage, Grace’s women’s soccer team had to settle with a 1-1 tie against No. 22-ranked John Brown on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers (1-1-1) took a 1-0 lead into the final minutes, but John Brown found a late equalizer in the 80th minute to spoil Grace’s upset bid.

Grace held the Golden Eagles (1-0-1) to just two shot attempts in the opening period, but the Lady Lancers were unable to get on the scoreboard with nine shot attempts. Grace also held a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks before halftime.

In the 53rd minute, Mallory Rondeau opened the game’s scoring. Heather Martin sent a free kick into the penalty box, and Carianne Sobey’s headed pass found Rondeau for a sliding finish in front of the net.

Grace appeared on its way to an upset with a late lead, but John Brown had other ideas. The Golden Eagles (1-0-1) capitalized on a loose ball in the box to tie the game at the 79:13 mark.

John Brown denied Grace a potential late-game winner in regulation, but Meghan Wiles’s shot from close range was saved.

The best chances for either team in overtime came during the second extra session as two shots hit the crossbar. John Brown took the first attempt on a free kick that clanged off the bar, and Meghan Wiles looked to have the winner in response. Wiles’s long shot ricocheted off the crossbar and came dangerously close to bouncing down past the goal line.

The match ended with Grace taking 11 more shot attempts and seven more corner kicks (7-0) than John Brown. Wiles finished with five shots, and Holly Bennett had four attempts to lead Grace’s efforts.

The Lady Lancers continue action on Tuesday at Judson University. Grace’s next home match is on Sept. 20 against Westminster (Utah).

Lancers Rally in Second Half Against Moody Bible

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Grace’s men’s soccer team recovered from a one-goal deficit at halftime to defeat Moody Bible 2-1 at Miller Field on Saturday.

Kyle Hamlin tied the match in the 53rd minute, and Nikola Blazic converted a penalty kick to win the game 10 minutes later.

The Lancers (3-1) outshot the Archers (0-1) in the match 17-7, including a 9-2 advantage after halftime.

Grace nearly scored twice in the first half off set pieces from Danilo Carnelos and Justin Festa, but each time the Archers saved the ball off the goal line. Carnelos tried the bend a free kick into the net, and Festa’s header was also saved at the last moment.

The Archers opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Jacob Robbins finished off a rebound from close range.

The Lancers found the equalizer less than 10 minutes into the second half. Nikola Blazic played a through ball to Austin Altimus, and Altimus swung a ball in front of the net to Kyle Hamlin for a one-time finish at the 52:43 mark.

Gift Sibukome was tackled inside the penalty box less than 10 minutes later to earn a penalty kick. Nikola Blazic lined up for the kick and promptly slotted the ball inside the post at the 62:08 mark.

Neither team was able to produce a goal in the final 28 minutes as Grace’s strong possession kept the match in the Lancers’ favor.

Robbie Barnhill earned the win in goal for the Lancers, making one save in 90 minutes. Altimus led Grace with four shots, and Trent Smith had three shots with two on goal.

The Lancers continue play at Miller Field on Sept. 6 against Campbellsville, who is receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll.

Grace’s Perfect Start Continues

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Grace’s volleyball team continued its fast start to 2014, moving to 6-0 on the season with wins against Warner and Northwestern Ohio on Friday.

The Lady Lancers opened up the Embry-Riddle Labor Day Tournament with a five-set victory over Warner before beating UNOH in four sets.

“We are continuing to work on things in our lineup. I feel like we are getting better each time we play, which is encouraging,” said Grace head coach Andria Harshman. “We struggled this morning a bit after traveling, but we got our system going and eventually worked it out for the win. Ellie [Harp] was really dominant against UNOH to help us win the second game. That match was much more intense, and the girls responded well to the pressure.”

In the morning’s opening match, Grace won the first, third and fifth sets to take down Warner. The Lady Lancers had a shot to close the match in four sets, but Warner rallied with a 25-14 win. Grace recovered to pull out a 16-14 win, ending the match on a kill from Calah Kruse.

Kruse led Grace with a double-double of 16 kills and 19 digs, hitting at a .297 percentage for the match. Hannah Clemmons produced a match-high 23 digs, and Ellie Harp tallied 27 assists and seven kills.

Northwestern Ohio struck first in the second match of the day, claiming a 25-23 win in the opener. Grace tied the match with a seven-point win in the second.

The Racers were on the verge of tying the match with a 24-22 lead in the third set. But the Lady Lancers rallied to force extra points where Annie Salazar’s ace gave Grace the 27-25 win. Grace owned the fourth set by the score of 25-15.

Ellie Harp was unstoppable in all facets of the game. She pounded out nine kills on a .421 percentage, handed out 30 assists and served up 8 aces. Kruse just missed another double-double with nine kills and 25 digs, and Grace Woolsey added 9 kills, 4 block assists and 1 solo block.

The Lady Lancers put their six-match winning streak on the line again on Saturday in Florida. Grace will play Northwest at 11:30 a.m. and No. 14 Oklahoma Baptist at 7 p.m.

Hamlin’s Game Winner Tops John Brown

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Pictured is Justin Festa heading a ball for Grace on Thursday.

Kyle Hamlin provided the game’s only goal on Thursday as Grace’s men’s soccer team bested John Brown 1-0 at Miller Field.

Austin Altimus picked out a nifty pass in traffic to Hamlin on the left side of the box, and the junior striker took care of the rest, slotting the ball into the back of the net in the 56th minute.

The Lancers (2-1) had chances to add more goals, but only Hamlin’s strike beat the Golden Eagles’ defense. Altimus and Hamlin both had one-on-one opportunities with John Brown’s goalkeeper, but each time the Golden Eagles (0-1) kept Grace off the scoreboard.

Robbie Barnhill earned the win in goal for Grace. Ben Cahill, Justin Festa, Jon Sands and Danilo Carnelos anchored the backline, which registered its second shutout in three contests.

“This was a good early-season win for us tonight. We didn’t respond to the physicality of the match until the second half, and I thought the guys played stronger as the game went on,” said Grace head coach Matt Hotchkin. “Our outside backs [Carnelos and Sands] had excellent games and played with a lot of poise. It was also a big confidence builder for Hamlin to get that goal after some beautiful build-up.”

John Brown outshot Grace by one in each half and had a 14-12 advantage overall. The Lancers had five more corner kicks than the Golden Eagles (8-3). A total of 28 fouls were called with two yellow cards in the first half.

The Lancers return to Miller Field on Saturday to take on Moody Bible Institute at 1 p.m.

Lancers Open Season with Sweep of Huntington

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Grace’s men’s tennis team kicked off its Crossroads League title defense with a sweep of Huntington on Wednesday.

The Lancers, who won the last two regular-season CL championships, took five of the six singles’ matches in straight sets.

“It was a great way to start off the season. Everyone played solid from the top to the bottom of the lineup,” said Grace head coach Larry Schuh. “Even though both of our teams did not have a full lineup, I think we will be a very tough team to beat in conference this year.”

Daniel Sanchez and Jose Marvel earned a pair of points apiece at No. 1 and No. 2 singles respectively, and the duo teamed up to win 8-5 at No. 1 doubles.

Jacob Stump and Ethan Grove followed suit to win at No. 3 and No. 4 singles. They also joined forces at No. 2 doubles for an 8-6 victory.

Gabe Vervynckt won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 5 singles, and Ricardo Bedon did not drop a set at No. 6 singles. Vervynckt and David Driscoll staked an 8-1 victory at No. 3 doubles.

The Lancers open up their home court on Tuesday against St. Francis at 3 p.m.

Grace to Add Women’s Golf as Sport

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Pictured with the clubs are (Left) Chad Briscoe, Denny Duncan, Bill Katip, and Jim Swanson.

Grace College has announced the addition of a new sport beginning in the fall of 2015 – women’s golf. The Lancers, under athletic director Chad Briscoe, will offer 15 varsity intercollegiate sports with the inclusion of women’s golf next fall. The team will be coached by Denny Duncan.

“The excitement of adding another athletic program is great for our campus. I appreciate the support of Dr. Katip, Dr. Swanson and the board to continue growing the athletic department,” Briscoe said. “Denny is a natural fit not only from his tremendous golf knowledge and background, but also from his ability to recruit in the community and regionally. He is a true man of Christian character who we know will lead this team the right way to uphold the mission of Grace.”

Denny Duncan will serve as the team’s first head coach. Duncan has worked in education as an administrator or teacher for 34 years, including over 20 years in adjunct work for Grace. His daughter Elena was a four-year letter winner and NAIA National Qualifier for Malone University’s women’s golf team, currently working as an assistant golf pro at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with student-athletes who love competition and want to live in a way that honors Jesus Christ,” Duncan said. “I see the game of golf as a lifelong pursuit that mirrors our walk with Christ. I also know the industry of golf has many opportunities for young women, so I look forward to helping the ladies further their goals in golf.”

Women’s golf will begin full-fledged competition in the Crossroads League in its first season next fall. The Crossroads League is slated to feature all 10 institutions participating in 2015 for the first time. The winner of the league tournament is eligible to compete at NAIA Nationals each season.

“Adding women’s golf was one of the top priorities of our Lancer Task Force three years ago. It seems like a natural fit to our campus and to our community, especially since we live in a great golf community,” said Grace president Dr. Bill Katip. “Women’s golf is an extension of our athletic mission, and the program complements our women student-athletes on campus.”

Those interested in playing golf at Grace can contact Coach Duncan by email at or go to

Women’s Tennis Looks for Improvement in 2014

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Pictured: 2014 Grace women's tennis team

Grace’s women’s tennis has reason to be optimistic in 2014.

Although the Lady Lancers finished 3-8 last fall, Grace returns an experienced roster and added talented newcomers. Second-year head coach Scott Moore is confident the growing pains the team endured in 2013 will make for a stronger, hungrier squad this fall.

“Last year was a learning experience for both me and the girls, and I feel like we are miles ahead this year compared to last,” Moore said. “I have a competitive bunch of girls who are eager to get on the court and compete against other teams. Seeing their passion and excitement fires me up, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Kristin Cassidy returns as the most experienced senior on the court for Grace, boasting 14 wins over her collegiate career. Sarah Hinkel (11 career wins) and Jessica Lokotar join Cassidy as seniors on the squad.

Also returning for Grace is a strong sophomore class of Gabrielle Lawrence, Katie Etter, Mariah Zumbrun, Jayna Huber and Rachel Smith. The class combined to win 22 courts as freshmen, led by a team-high eight wins from Lawrence and six from Etter.

Newcomer Natalia Kurkova (Kyrgyzstan) joins the Lady Lancers as a junior this fall. She has tremendous potential in the Crossroads League and could be the team’s No. 1 singles and doubles player, according to Moore. Returners Julia Marsh and Lydia Marsh round out Grace’s junior class.

Caroline Cassidy, sister of Kristin, will be a freshman for Grace. She was a four-time All-Conference winner at Mississinewa High School and was the No. 1 singles and doubles player on a 19-2 squad in her final season.

“I expect our team to compete every match. We may not win every point, every set or every match, but if we focus on the process instead of the outcome, then we will be there in the end,” Moore said. “I expect the girls to carry themselves professionally and in a way that glorifies Christ.”

The Lady Lancers open the season on Thursday with a home match against Huntington at 4 p.m.

Late Strike from Sobey Seals Win in Season Opener

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Grace’s women’s soccer team outshot Calumet College of St. Joseph’s 18-3 on Saturday, but only one shot made the difference.

A hard blast from Carianne Sobey in the 84th minute gave Grace a 2-1 victory over the Crimson Wave (1-1) on Saturday night in the 2014 season opener for the Lady Lancers at Miller Field.

Grace had boundless scoring opportunities in the match, including a quick first goal from Grace’s Mallory Rondeau. The speedy forward latched onto a well-placed pass from Holly Bennett and beat the goalkeeper with a goal just 99 seconds into the match.

The ensuing 10 minutes featured a barrage on the Crimson Wave’s goal, but only Rondeau’s shot found the back of the net. Darcy Johnston nearly scored twice, and Bennett nearly added a goal of her own during the opening minutes of the match.

Grace held CCSJ to one shot before halftime and maintained control of possession throughout the first 45 minutes.

Early into the second period, Grace had back-to-back one-on-one situations with CCSJ’s goalkeeper but came up empty both times. Meredith Hollar had the first chance, but the Crimson Wave’s defense recovered in the final instance for force a wide shot. Rondeau then nearly scored again when her hard shot clanged off the crossbar.

The game winner came in the 84th minute from Sobey. After a nifty step on the ball to beat one defender, Sobey unleashed a hard attempt from near the endlne that won the match for Grace. The Lady Lancers continued to pressure for an insurance goal in the final minutes, but the Crimson Wave held firm to keep the score 2-1.

“The women put in a dominating team performance this evening. We met nearly all of our team objectives for this match to conclude our three weeks of training camp,” said Grace head coach Michael Voss. “Calumet was organized and had a good defensive strategy. Our women have become more and more unified each day. I really enjoy this team, and I am excited to see us develop as one systematic unit.”

The Lady Lancers had an 18-3 shot advantage and were called offside eight times in the match. Grace will refocus for next weekend’s home tournament which features No. 16 Olivet Nazarene on Friday night and No. 22 John Brown on Saturday.

Volleyball Improves to 4-0 With Perfect Tournament

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Grace’s volleyball team continued its undefeated start to 2014 with victories over Indiana Tech and St. Xavier on Saturday at the Wyndham Classic.

The Lady Lancers (4-0) pulled past the Warriors in extra sets and swept St. Xavier to close out the tournament.

Grace’s final match on Friday was a five-set win against IU-Kokomo, and the Lady Lancers followed suit with a five-setter against Indiana Tech on Saturday.

The Warriors (1-2) took advantage of a slow start by the Lady Lancers to win 25-15 in the opening set. Grace evened the match with a 25-20 win in the following set, thanks to five kills from Calah Kruse. Two aces from Laken Chaney sparked Grace early in the game.

Grace seemed on its way to a third-set victory with a 17-13 lead, but seven straight points from the Warriors swung the match back in Indiana Tech’s favor. The Warriors made several late plays to hold on for a two-point win.

The Lady Lancers’ offense was at its peak in the fourth set, ripping off 18 kills on a .316 percentage. Ellie Harp dished out 15 assists, and Grace Woolsey had six kills as Grace won 25-21 to force a fifth set.

The tiebreaker could not have started worse for Grace. The Warriors opened the game with a 5-0 lead, but Grace rallied with five straight points of its own to force a Cougars’ timeout. The score went back-and-forth down the stretch and was tied at 14-14. Woolsey then produced a solo block point, and Megan Johnson crushed the winning kill to move Grace to 3-0 on the young season.

Woolsey finished with 16 kills, 7 block assists and 1 solo block in the win, and Kruse poured in 17 kills, 12 digs and 2 aces. Harp handed out 50 assists to go along with 10 digs, and Hannah Clemmons led all players with 21 digs.

Johnson chipped in 11 kills on a .286 percentage with three block assists, and Tori Bontrager had seven kills on a .462 percentage with three block assists.

Grace made short work of St. Xavier in its second match of the day. Megan Johnson sparked the opening-set victory with five kills as Grace won 25-20.

After the first set, the Lady Lancers asserted their dominance. The Cougars (1-1) were held to just two kills in the second game, falling 25-8. Grace then went on to conclude the sweep with a 25-18 win, ending the tournament on a kill by freshman Kari Feddema.

Ellie Harp was named the Wyndham Classic Most Valuable Player, and Grace Woolsey also appeared on the All-Tournament Team.

Grace will play again next weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla., in part of the Embry-Riddle Tournament.