MISHAWAKA—From national titles to minor improvements, the athletic department saw a wide spread of successes this fall. Young programs saw major improvements, and storied programs saw their history get even deeper.
“First of all, competitively I thought it has been a really good semester,” Bethel Athletic Director, Tony Natali, said. “Our volleyball team did great; they were the only team to beat Marian. Men’s Soccer won the regular season and postseason tournaments in the Crossroads League. Women’s Soccer made tremendous improvement this year. Our cross-country teams went to NAIA Nationals and had good showings. All fall sports have had good showings.”
The biggest accomplishment that the fall sports teams had was a women’s golf national title in the NCCAA National Championships. The title is the first in their program’s history. Included in that performance is an individual national championship that came in the form of Jessica Shurety. She finished the tournament with a score of nine-over.
“That was awesome for them,” Natali said. “It’s the first time they’ve won one. Coach Hess has done an amazing job and has for many years. So, for him to step into that role late this year and still win a national championship is huge for them.”
Next up for accomplishments for the athletic program was a regular season and postseason title for men’s soccer in the Crossroads League. Coach Thiago Pinto’s team went 16-5-2, which included a five-game winning streak to start their Crossroads League campaign. They defeated Spring Arbor, Marian and Indiana Wesleyan to win the postseason tournament.
“It’s not easy to win both of those,” said Natali. “To do so is really impressive, and our conference is always very strong. The regular season actually, in my opinion, is harder to win because that’s a long season.”
The next sport that has started to bring home some hardware in its young program is the esports team. This semester, the Overwatch team was able to bring home the program’s first conference title in the Great Lakes Esports Conference (GLEC).
“That’s a new team for us,” Natali said. “It’s only a couple of years old. Coach Dan Wort has done a fantastic job for us. We’re excited about where we are headed in that direction, and to win a conference championship already is exciting.”
Another area that saw improvements is the cross-country teams. Over the course of the season, the teams continuously got quicker. The men were able to qualify for the NCCAA National Tournament and finished second in the meet. Senior Trevor Miller finished in the top ten individually, and was able to set his personal record (PR), as well as be named an NCCAA All-American. As for the women, they also qualified for the NCCAA National Tournament and were able to finish third. Just like Trevor Miller for the men, junior Megan Cooper finished in the top ten individually, set her PR and was named a NCCAA All-American.
“I think they got better through the course of the year,” Natali said. “They are both very young, but the fact that the men could finish runner-up showed tremendous amounts of improvement throughout the year. The women also finished third, and that’s a great accomplishment.”
Lastly, women’s volleyball went 29-11 and qualified for both the NAIA and NCCAA National Tournaments. The team was able to win a game at the NCCAA National Tournament against Warner University in straight sets. Even though it was not the finish to the season that they might have hoped for, they were still able to continue to build off last season’s NCCAA National Championship run.
For more information on Bethel Athletics visit www.bupilots.com.