Tennis players wrap up fall season with strong showing
Oct14

Tennis players wrap up fall season with strong showing

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s and women’s tennis teams wrapped up their fall season after competing in the American Southwest Conference Individual Tournament Sept. 9-11 and the Intercollegate Tennis Aassociation Southwest Regional Tournament Sept. 24-27. Both tournaments were on the road with the ASC Individual Tournament being hosted by Hardin-Simmons and McMurry University. The ITA Regional tournaments were hosted by Trinity University (men) and Southwestern University (women). For the men, the Cru have three returners including: Scott Wilding, Brendan Thompson and Bright Ihezue. The team also has four freshman, who look to help make an impact this season. Freshman nursing major Julian Dunmore has already learned about the difference of high school versus college tennis. “In high school, a player could get away with playing a not-up-to-par match and still win because that kid just simply wasn’t good at tennis,” he said. “In college, everybody is recruited to play for these teams, meaning that they are at the very least, solid players. No more easy match wins, 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time.” The Cru started the season well, with Wilding and Thompson both making it to the finals of the Flight No.1 and Flight No.2 Singles draws of the ASC Individual Tournament. Wilding fell to Concordia University in a tough three-setter. Sophomore pre-med major Brendan Thompson won a thrilling third set to capture his singles flight title. “Winning my flight was a big stepping stone for building my confidence. I also think it was good for the team because I was able to show the new freshman how to persevere when losing a close first set and how to win an incredible match,” Thompson said. “I’m excited to see how much growth our team is going to have from match to match as we continue through the season. Because once we all have the lineups set up and everyone is in the daily grind, I think we’re going to show the ASC just how mature and talented our young team is.” The Lady Cru have five returners and welcomed three freshman to the squad this year. The ladies picked up multiple wins in both of the fall tournaments. Freshman business major Hope Nash has already enjoyed being a part of the team. “My teammates are really nice and fun to be around. It’s always good to be surrounded by people who have the same passion for tennis as me,” she said. “Also, I enjoy traveling with the team because that allows us all to bond and make special memories with each other as well as make friendships that will last a lifetime.” The Cru and...

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Men’s volleyball prepares to face tough competition
Oct14

Men’s volleyball prepares to face tough competition

The UMHB men’s volleyball team was established in 2013 under the leadership of now President Aaron Jackson. The team is a made of up a group of ambitious young men, who strive to be leaders on and off of the court. The club spends time practicing and building a bond that will help them compete effectively as participants in the National Collegiate Volleyball Foundation. Over the past few years the team has grown tremendously with a total of 18 players and talk of establishing a JV team. This year alone, there are six freshman on the team. Freshman communications major Chaz Upton plays outside hitter. He has only played for a little over a month, but said his teammates created an inviting atmosphere. “The team has welcomed and encouraged me from the beginning, and with each practice everyone tends to loosen up a little more,” Upton said. He also explained that the teams preseason record of 2-5-1 may seem low but a lot of players are young and new to the level of competition. The regular season will officially begin in Spring and the team promises the wait will be worth it due to hard work and the help of newly recruited coach, Ryan Webb. The former USA Volleyball player brings his experience and skill into his coaching and has created excitement among the players. Senior right side hitter Deshone Jones is especially excited by Webb’s coaching style. “Coach Webb challenges us physically, mentally, and even spiritually,” Jones said. “He encourages us to accept our mistakes but to always become better at the end of the day.” Competing at the Division I level helps challenge the guys to reach new heights and be the best of the best. By surrounding themselves with the hardest hitting and top scoring players, they are forcing themselves to become better and compete harder in the face of opposition. The toughest competitors this season will be Texas A&M and Baylor according to Jones. The team has greatly improved since the first game, and although they still have some growing and learning to do, the UMHB men’s volleyball team is well on their way. The team will continue preseason play Oct. 17 at the UNT Mean Green Classic and Oct. 18 at Saint Edwards in...

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Sports Spotlight

Junior nursing major Scott Wilding was always a determined athlete. Even though he was born in Japan, Wilding enjoyed playing American sports like football and basketball. But his true passion was tennis. Before going into his 9th-grade year, Wilding decided that he wanted to focus on becoming a tennis player. “Tennis is my favorite sport because of the energy that it brings when I am on the court. I love the feeling of hitting a winner in a big match and turning to my teammates to hear them cheer me on,” he said. Wilding is currently the team captain for the UMHB tennis squad and has played a key role every season. Last season, he helped lead the Cru to the American Southwest Conference Tournament Championship match for the first time in the school’s history. Wilding and the squad also helped UMHB capture the ASC-West Division Team Title. He was awarded ASC-West Division Player of the Week twice and was named to the ASC-West First Team for doubles and Second Team for singles. He was also named to the All-Tournament team. He earned multiple wins last year, including a victory over a Division I opponent. His freshman season, he led the Cru to the postseason and was named ASC Freshman of the Year and earned All-Conference honors. Although Wilding has received many personal accolades, he enjoys being part of a team. “My favorite thing about tennis is the team atmosphere. Specifically, when you’re all on court and all cheering for each other after each point. It really makes a difference in a match,” he said. Outside of tennis, if Scott isn’t studying, he enjoys playing golf, basketball and hanging out with his friends. He is also involved with Young Life, where he serves as a leader for Temple High School. Upon graduating, Wilding hopes to pursue a career in nursing. “After I graduate, I would like to be a nurse anesthetist. A nurse anesthetist works under the anesthesiologist. I think it would be really cool to be able to put people out for surgeries,” he said. But before he graduates, Wilding wants to earn All-American honors and lead the Cru to their first ASC Championship. “I think it would be awesome if I could leave a legacy of winning the first ASC Championship,” he said. “We came really close last year, so I think we can make another run for...

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Young players step into big roles
Oct06

Young players step into big roles

As the Crusader offense continues to improve, the defense already looks to be in championship form after putting in another dominating performance Sept. 19 with a 43-10 victory over Wisconsin-La Crosse at Crusader Stadium. UMHB didn’t find the endzone until early in the second quarter when junior quarterback Blake Jackson took it himself for a 16-yard scoring run to put the Cru up 10-3. That would open the floodgates. Duane Thompson sprinted for a 31-yard touchdown to cap off an 80-yard drive. On the next drive, Michael Carpenter scored from two yards out to extend the lead to 24-3. A Jacob O’Neill field goal made it 27-3 at halftime. Senior quarterback Zach Anderson scored on a three-yard run on the first drive of the second half. Malcolm Miller then added a two-yard score to make it 40-3. UWL got in the endzone with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback John Tackett hit junior receiver Joel Oxton for a 25-yard touchdown. The only scoring in the fourth quarter would be a 23-yard field goal from John Mowery to give the Cru the decisive 43-10 victory. The defense held UWL to just 75 rushing yards on 37 attempts. On the season, the Cru has held opposing rushers to just 1.6 yards-per-carry. Junior linebacker Matt Cody said the players do a good job of sticking to their individual assignments, which makes them more productive as a unit. “The big reason we have such a great run defense is our unselfishness,” Cody said. “In our defense everyone has a specific job and task they have to perform every play. Even if that means not making the tackle. We have 11 guys that are working together to be the best defense in the nation.” The team leads the American Southwest Conference in points allowed at 8.3 and is second in yards allowed at 189 per game. The Cru have had to rely on several young players on both sides of the ball this season, but sophomore safety Reggie Wilson said the players know their roles and aren’t afraid of the situation. “Our coaching staff does a really great job recruiting talented athletes which helps the older guys to be confident with the youth on the field,” Wilson said. “The older guys also make sure the younger guys know what’s going on, so they will be able to play fast and make plays.” The team may be inexperienced, but Cody doesn’t think youth will stop them from accomplishing their goals. “We are a young team but that takes nothing away from the success of the team,” he said. “In fact these young...

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Cru volleyball starts season strong in UMHB Invitational
Sep16

Cru volleyball starts season strong in UMHB Invitational

Young, powerful and determined. This is what sticks out when the 2015 Women’s Volleyball team comes to mind. Do not let this young team be underestimated. They went 3-1 at the 2015 UMHB Invitational. This team has proven that it can hold its own. Last year, the team was ranked 27th by the American Volleyball Coaches Association with a record of 25-6. But this year, the team hopes to go the distance. While Head Coach Rob Frost would not mind making it to the championship tournament, he said the main focus is making sure his team can work together and adjust to a college-level playing field. “I like what we are doing but it’s going to take some time. So we may be .500 this year,” Frost said. “We want to get to the national tournament, one way or another. So if it takes us a season to develop, it’s fine. There are no expectations other than to continue to grow and get better.” Frost said the biggest challenge the team faces is bringing the freshmen up to the speed of a college-paced game. While seniors Shelby Prather and Cheyenne Dowdey also agree the team is young, they recognize the strengths that the freshmen are bringing to the court. Dowdey believes the team has already improved from last season. “I think we are taller as a team and we jump higher as a team,” she said. “With our scrimmages I noticed we are blocking better, we are faster, we are hitting over and around people a lot better than we ever have.” Prather said that even though the team is inexperienced, the new players have stepped right in and are contributing. “Our girls are really focused. Our freshmen are ready to step up and play,” she said. “They know they are coming into a winning program and so I think they are going to do everything they can to help us win.” This team is bringing more power and higher jumps, and is determined not to go down without a fight. On Sept. 4, the Cru hosted the 2015 UMHB Invitational. The Cru Women’s Volleyball team went 3-1 in this tournament. Coach Frost, Dowdey and Prather all felt comfortable going into this tournament because the team has been able to keep up with Division II teams in scrimmage matches. The team is also feeling confident because of the work they’ve put in at the gym during the offseason. They may be young, but according to Prather, the goal is still the same. She said, “Overall I just want to win, win conference and go far and finish my senior...

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Sports Spotlight
Sep16

Sports Spotlight

Ben Hammonds is a senior business administration major from Flower Mound, Texas. Growing up, Hammonds participated in many sports, but favored baseball and soccer. Once he moved from St. Louis to Dallas, he decided to pursue his love for soccer. Hammonds is currently the team captain for the UMHB Men’s soccer team and plays the position of center forward. He has contributed to the team each season. His freshman year, he scored two goals. As a sophomore, he added another goal and earned All-ASC Honorable Mention. For his junior campaign, he was named to the All-ASC Second Team for scoring four more goals. This season, Hammonds and the Cru have begun this year with a road trip to the West Coast. Hammonds enjoys the freedom of the game. “My favorite thing about soccer is the freedom of it. Aside from free kicks there are no set plays, no timeouts or stoppages. Just 45-minute halves where players are free to do what they want to beat the opponent. I love my team. My favorite thing about the team is that we are truly brothers,” he said. Outside of soccer, Ben enjoys hanging out with his friends, taking in the Austin music scene and participating in student government. He is a representative for UMHB’s NCAA Student Athletic Advisory Committee and was once a member of the school’s Student Government Association (SGA) where he served as the athletics representative. Hammonds also enjoys watching soccer matches when he’s not playing in them. His favorite team is Chelsea FC, which competes in the Premier League. His favorite player is Frank Lampard, who is currently a member of the New York City FC. Because Hammonds has big aspirations for his career, he knew UMHB would be the right fit. “I had a few other offers from similar schools, but UMHB stood out to me. Coach Bankhead was a major factor in my decision. It was clear he cared about his players deeply and they respected him as well. I also had great interactions with the players on my visits and when I watched them play. UMHB is also beautiful. It was a really easy decision in the end,” he said. “One of the best decisions I have ever made.” Once Ben graduates this December, he plans to pursue a job in college athletics. However, he has not given up the option of playing professionally or being a member of a folk rock band. But before he graduates, Hammonds will be focusing on making an impact on his squad this season. “As a senior I hope to lead this year’s team to accomplish something special as...

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