Winter sports season’s practices and seasons begin, with many new faces and eager veteran athletes
By PETER MELLING
After three months of touchdowns, laps, goals and spikes, it’s time for some baskets and relays. The men’s and women’s basketball and swimming teams have begun practice for the upcoming winter season. All of these teams have been fruitful in their recruiting, with a strong influx of first-year athletes. How will the veterans adapt to these new faces, and can the teams continue to improve over last season?
The youth movement continues to grow with the swim team. After bringing in nine athletes in last year’s recruiting class, 13 new swimmers (eight women and five men) will join the squad and help to build up the team’s strong young core. These new faces bring their extensive experience and raw talent to a quickly-developing team with strong potential, greatly expanding the team’s potential both in this season and in future campaigns. The schedule has also changed this season, as it is spread out across November and January, with no events in December and the Northwest Conference Championship meet from Feb. 12 to 14.
“This group brings experience in a wide range of races, as well as a lot of success as high school students and athletes. They’re going to surprise some people. As coaches, we are excited to work with these new Pioneers. They have big things ahead of them in college and I’m ready to do all I can to help them succeed here,” said Head Coach Chris Fantz, on the new athletes.
The first regular season meet for Swimming will be a home meet on Nov. 6 against Pacific Lutheran, at 6 p.m.
The men’s squad is looking to return to the NWC Championship Game and improve on their 16-11 record. Intent on not losing pace from last year’s campaign (and having only lost two seniors), six first-year players will bolster the team’s ranks. These players come from all over the country, from places like Kailua, Hawaii, Richmond, Calif. and Springfield, Ga. Their additions will strengthen a team with two members of the NWC All-Conference Second-Team (Jason Luhnow ’16 and Carl Appleton ’16) and set the squad up for future successes.
“This group brings an awful amount of wins and championships to our program. With this playmaking group added to the established leadership on the team, we will be ready to compete for a NWC championship,” said Head Coach Dinari Foreman, when asked about what this latest recruiting class will do for the program.
The first game for men’s basketball will be an exhibition game against Portland State on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m., and the first official home game will be against Valley Forge on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m.
The rebuilding project continues with the women’s basketball team. Following an 8-17 season last year, the squad hopes to continue their improvement with the addition of five first-year players and one transfer student. When asked about each new athlete brings to the table, Head Coach Asha Jordan highlighted how each player would directly improve the various facets of the team’s game (i.e. perimeter defense, rebounding, passing and tempo). Along with their 13 returning players (including NWC All-Conference Second-Team member Ayisat Afolabi ’17), Jordan hopes to build up the team’s young core and diversify their offensive and defensive options.
“The mixture of the newcomers and the returners will allow us more depth and flexibility offensively and defensively. We don’t want to be a one dimensional team that relies heavily on one or two players. We want to share the load offensively and will look to our defense to control tempo,” said Jordan, in an interview with LCPioneers.com.
The first game for women’s basketball will be at home against New Hope Christian on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.