Tennis rackets up for wins in conference

The tennis teams begin the meat of their conference play to close out the month. Hoping to recover from a few tough losses to strong non-conference and early conference play, the Crusaders hope to finish strong. “We’ve had the toughest non-conference schedule,” freshman sports management major Josh Pownall said. “We’ve been competing very well. It has taken some very strong opponents to have beaten us.” The men’s team lost the overall match  Friday against Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The match went 8-1. On Saturday the Cru also played Schreiner University and dominated the Mountaineers with a 9-0 victory. The team remains optimistic that these few losses will not keep them out of the conference tournament. “We are entering the ‘hot spot’ of our schedule,” Pownall said. “We have a bunch of must-win matches in the next two or three weeks. We really need to win these upcoming matches, and I think our team can pull them out.” One of the biggest challenges facing both the men’s and women’s tennis teams is inexperience. “I’ve had trouble adapting to the collegiate level,” Pownall said. “I feel like everything is there for me to win, but I haven’t been able to put it together consistently. I feel like our team has the same problem as well.” As for the women’s tennis team, the Lady Cru have been more successful so far than the men’s team. However, they still have their work cut out for them this season. “I think the team has done pretty well so far,” sophomore exercise and sport science major Rebecca Everett said. “Our team has definitely improved since the beginning of the season. We hope to win conference this year, and I am confident that we can do it.” Everett also commented on the mental aspect of the game of tennis. “Tennis is a very mentally challenging game,” she said. “I tend to get down on myself too much when I am losing. Staying mentally tough is a big part in winning a match, and that is something that I work on everyday, and I feel that I am improving. The same goes for the team as well.” While the tennis players face tough mental challenges on the courts, they also face problems in the classroom as they juggle homework, practice and games. “Being an athlete and a student can be hard at times,” Everett said. “You don’t have as much time for school work like others do, but I feel that I manage my school work better knowing that I have to get things done because my time is so limited.” Although the season is not over, the men and...

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Basketball teams wrap-up season with semi-final finish in tournament
Mar10

Basketball teams wrap-up season with semi-final finish in tournament

The Men After a rocky start at the beginning of the season, the men’s basketball players pulled themselves together as a team and came away with a dominating finale. Because of this, the Cru secured a spot in the ASC tournament held in Dallas. After winning it’s first game against LeTourneau University, the team made it to the semi-final round against U.T. Dallas. The first half was close, but the Cru managed to get a lead. At half-time the gap between the two teams was 34-25 with the Cru ahead. Nearing the end of the second half though, the Cru lost their rhythm. The Comets put in their star three-point shooter, and from there the Cru couldn’t shoot the number of points needed. Head Coach Ken Deweese is always happy when his team does well and sets their minds to winning and doing their best. “I am very proud of these guys.  We had an extremely difficult and frustrating early season but they stayed strong in their conviction that we could play and that we would play well,” he said. Deweese gives most of the credit to the team and the dedication from each player. He is also appreciative to the fans who are always at home games and the ones that even make the drive to away games. “Our fans are outstanding,” he said. “They are basketball smart, they are rowdy, they are respectful to the other team and most of all, they are very loyal to UMHB. We absolutely love our fans.” One key player this season was guard Matt Caskey, who is a senior and played his last game of college level basketball in the semi-final round. “(It) was a combination of disbelief, sadness, anger and thankfulness,” he said. “After I got over the initial shock, I just thought about everything I’ve been through and how thankful to the Lord I am.” The men’s basketball team will lose 10 seniors. The Women The Lady Cru also made it to the ASC tournament but lost in the semi-final round. The women played against arch rivals Hardin-Simmons University, leaving the conference with a score of 64-48. After trailing most of the first half, the women took the lead at the beginning of the second. But HSU battled back and won the game through a series of freethrows. Many Crusader fans hit the road and traveled to several of the games. Sophomore Nursing major Ashley Hibbard was among the fans who drove to some of the various away games like the season opener at Southwestern University and one of the games against Schreiner University. “I love supporting the basketball...

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Tennis transforms Cowboy to Crusader
Mar10

Tennis transforms Cowboy to Crusader

By Garret Pekar After defeating every opponent that had enough nerve to stand across the net from him on the ping-pong table in the recreational gym, Ramon Aguirre told the UMHB students that he played ping-pong against some of the best players in Texas in the past. “Coming to UMHB was the right move,” he said. “I like the atmosphere here a lot better.” Aguirre is a transfer student from Hardin-Simmons University, and he just started his first semester as a Crusader in the spring. He is currently a junior majoring in business finance and a member of the UMHB tennis team. Aguirre said that playing ping-pong helps him on the tennis court, too. “The strategies in both games are mostly the same. Ping-pong helps with the touch you need to hit drop shots on the tennis court, and it teaches you patience mentally, which is a big part of being a great tennis player.” Aguirre played on the tennis team at HSU. He only started playing ping-pong in his freshman year of college. “A friend on the tennis team introduced me to it,” he said. “We’d stay up for hours and play.” He quickly became the number one player on HSU’s ping-pong club team, which went to two major tournaments during the year. Aguirre played some of the best players in Texas, even from large schools like Texas A&M and the University of Texas. “The other schools have some really amazing players. I couldn’t believe how seriously they took ping-pong,” Aguirre said. The whole club team was supplied with high-quality ping-pong balls for playing in the tournament, and the hosts paid for the cost of their trip. Aguirre also played in recreational tournaments on campus while at HSU. Many students played in the ping-pong tournaments, including beginners, and prizes were offered for the winners. “There needs to be a ping-pong tournament here,” Aguirre said. Aguirre has been playing tennis since the eighth grade. He grew up in Abilene where he played tennis for Abilene High School. Coming from the HSU tennis team, Aguirre said he was welcomed with open arms to the UMHB tennis team. “We’re happy to have the help, and take it away from someone else,” said senior tennis teammate, Casey Wharton. Aguirre was also eager for the meeting of the two teams during the season. “My partner and I won our doubles match against Hardin-Simmons,” he said. Aguirre’s teammates have given him the nickname “the machine from Abilene.” He has worked many different jobs during high school and college. He said that working all the time was very difficult, and it took up a lot...

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Golfers enter spring on the upswing
Mar10

Golfers enter spring on the upswing

The Men The men’s golf team members tucked an important win under their belts at the UMHB Spring Invitational, the first tournament of the 2009 season. The first place prize was an especially exciting one for men’s golf coach, Aaron Rodeffer, because it was his initial win as a college coach. “The most special moment … was (when) it was coming down to the wire, and the score cards were coming in. I thought we had shot ourselves out of it,” Rodeffer said. “As I was taking up the score cards to the sports information director, Jon Wallin, … he said, ‘Congratulations on your first win.’ I didn’t think we’d won it.” The men beat their top competitors, finishing two shots under Baylor University and five under McMurry University on the Cru home course at Wildflower Country Club in Temple. Freshman Mike McQuaid played consistent despite the windy conditions. He shot 79 Monday and 80 Tuesday, putting his name eleventh on the top 20 players leader board. “(On) our team, it’s so hard to qualify top five … and so just to have my score counted both days, it meant a lot,” McQuaid said. “Then to win was even better. Just to have a hand in helping our team win was a great feeling.” Head Coach Rodeffer was impressed. “For a freshman coming in to realize they could potentially contribute to the top five and make a difference is a great opportunity for them, but the fact that they’re able to do it says a lot about them,” he said. Senior Davis Dewald also made it to the leader board. He finished third by individual score with a 154 two-day total. Junior math major Joel Kelley didn’t play as well as he’d hoped due to illness, but knows there’s more that can keep players from the game. Kelley said, “You have to maintain some sort of decency on the course. More importantly than the rules, we represent UMHB, our coach, our families and ourselves, so given all that, we have to maintain a level of decency that’s high and just displays … our character.” On the course, emotions run high and frustrations can distract a player’s focus. “Golf is certainly a sport that plays with your emotions,” Kelley said. “It’s like women.” The Cru men were snowed out of the Callaway Collegiate Invitational Golf Tournament in Georgia, but are playing a tournament in Concan, Texas, through March 9-10. The Women Coach Darla Kirby, who led the women’s team to win the national tournament in 2000 and four national runner-up finishes since was a little disappointed. The women’s team finished...

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Softball returns with high hopes
Feb24

Softball returns with high hopes

While other athletic programs are coming to the end of their season, Cru softball is just getting started. After a successful 2008 season, the ladies look to once again be a dominate force. The team was 35-11 overall last season and perfect in the American Southwest Conference with a record of 24-0. They set a school record for single-season wins, competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships for the first time and were crowned the ASC West Division champs. Senior left outfielder Joanna Johnson said, “I think I speak for the team when I say that last season was unreal. I don’t think any of us knew what we were capable of.” They are led by head coach Kasey Blomquist who is entering her seventh season with the program. She is a product of UMHB and coached at Killeen High School before taking her place at the university level.  She is helped by coach Denise Lira, who has been the assistant coach for four seasons and is also a UMHB alum. After such a memorable year, the team has high hopes for the approaching season. “Because of last year, the bar is set super high for us,” Johnson said. “This team is completely different from last year’s team, but we work hard, and we have returners who know what it feels like to go above and beyond.” She reflects on the accomplishments of last season.”Being on that team and going that far is something that every single person will always remember.” Although the team has lost some experience with the graduation of six seniors, they have nine players returning to carry the torch. “We had a good nucleus come back from last year’s team,” Blomquist said, “and we have good recruits who will fill in where the holes are.” The squad has made 11 new additions to their roster, including Kirstie Curry, Sabrina Garcia and Caitlin Wells. Wells is a freshman center fielder from Spring, Texas, who is learning what is means to play at the college level. “We are a hard-working, dedicated team,” she said. “The coaches push us to our full potential and then expect a little more. We are getting better each day and have high expectations.” Blomquist believes pitching and defense wins games, so they have been concentrating on those things in preseason. However, with the speed of a few newcomers, the ladies will also serve as an offensive threat for other teams. “I look for great things out of this team,” Blomquist said. “We are very talented and athletic. We just have to put it all together.” The Cru kicked off their season...

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Baseball team hits the field, prepares to swing into action
Feb24

Baseball team hits the field, prepares to swing into action

he Crusader baseball team is known for doing well in it’s seasons, and this one should be no different. Head coach Micah Wells, who has been with the team for eight seasons, believes the team will do great. “We are 4-6 so far, and it’s been a learning process,” Wells said. “We are continuing to grow and build as a team. The goal to this point is to be prepared to win when we enter West Division play.” With several players returning to the field from last season, they are in a good position to accomplish the goal of winning their division. Sophomore exercise sports science major Ryan Swindell plays second base for the Cru. He is a new addition, but already feels the team has great potential. “We don’t care how we win, just as long as we get the job done,” he said. “As long as we keep sticking to our goal, I see no obstacle holding us back from a national title.” One of the outfielders is sophomore computer graphics major Alfredo Melendez. He believes that the main thing the team has to improve on is getting stronger “The only thing I think the team needs to work on is improving and getting better every day so we are competing to the best of out ability,” he said. On and off the field the team needs encouragement and humor according to Melendez, which is the unique quality he contributes to the Cru. “One thing I bring to the team is a lot of speed on the base path and in the outfield,” he said. “I also try to lighten the mood of the team and get things going with a little joking around.” Well’s concern is how the team meshes. Players have been practicing and training since the beginning of the semester, but with the loss of some key seniors, rebuilding is essential to their overall success. “You have to get to know each other as individuals, but you also have to get to know each other as players,” Wells said. “We are still playing with the line-up and figuring out what the best combination of guys is.” The Crusader’s hope is to surpass last year’s 28 wins. The baseball  team’s next game is against LeTourneau University Feb. 27 and 28 at...

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