Pigskin potential
Sep17

Pigskin potential

By Garret Smith Cru football has packed way more than its share of records and history into the first 12 years of what is a relatively young football program. It was started at the university in 1997. Then, in 2002 UMHB matched Hardin-Simmons’ skill level, winning the ASC and birthing a rivalry. In 2004, UMHB football made its first televised appearance in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va., after upsetting the powerhouse of Division III football, the Mount Union Purple Raiders. Last year, the Crusaders bounced back from numerous injuries to advance to the national semifinals, the biggest sporting event ever to be held at UMHB. But that was only the beginning. The 2009 football season has the potential to be the biggest season in school history, and possibly conference history, starting with game one. With its win over Southern Nazarene Sept. 12, in Bethany, Okla., Crusader football clenched its 100th program victory. It was also Coach Pete Fredenburg’s 100th win at UMHB, as he is the only head coach the program has had. The game stirred up state rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma once again. Last year, The Cru won the contest 30 to 7. The next two games will be experimental, as UMHB will face two programs that have undergone coaching changes for this season. The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs have never been much of a threat to UMHB, and it would take more than a coaching change for them to become one. McMurry, on the other hand, is hoping to knock off the kings of the ASC, UMHB and Hardin-Simmons University. While new head coach Hal Mumme is optimistic about his air- raid style offense (a style that has given UMHB trouble in post-conference play), his career record and reputation as a program killer do not appear promising to McMurry. But then again, when you’re at the bottom of the barrel, what’s to lose? Losing games is a tradition McMurry will probably keep this year. Other games on the schedule will also bring some historical tension. Mississippi College has become a recent thorn in the side of the Cru football team, and they have been known to complain often about the UMHB Couch Cru. However, after two years of embarrassing losses to the Cru, the Choctaw fans should blow their noses, wipe their tears and focus on their team’s mistakes, not the other team’s “mean fans.” UMHB will travel to Brownwood to face usual pushover, Howard Payne. However, those who forget history are destined to repeat it, and UMHB’s last conference loss was dealt by Howard Payne in Brownwood in 2005. UMHB also seeks to...

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Men’s soccer team tames Trinity Tigers
Sep17

Men’s soccer team tames Trinity Tigers

Imagine if you will a soccer team at the collegiate level that is renowned for its excellence. Their squad is always nationally ranked and they recruit some of the best players in the country. This school is Trinity University located in San Antonio, and there has never been a team in the American Southwest Conference to beat them. On September 1 UMHB traveled to San Antonio to take on the Trinity Tigers. In the past, the Cru has not been exceptionally successful. They have never won a conference championship or a national title. But that night, something was different. When they got to the school, they went about everything just as they would at any other game. They changed in the locker room together, went through their pregame meeting and headed out to the field as a team to warm up. Normally when faced with an opponent that shares the accolades of Trinity, nerves are an issue. Instead, there was calmness about the team. After the warm up, team members circled to say a prayer as they always do before they take to the field. But just before they bowed their heads, Coach Brad Bankhead looked around the circle with a smile and said, “Go out there and have fun for 90 minutes. For 90 minutes, just have fun.” Junior midfielder Bo Baker immediately stepped up and gave thanks for allowing the young men to play the game they had all come to love. Then, it was game time. From the start, both teams went toe to toe, matching each other’s skill and desire to win. But in the in the eighth minute, junior midfielder Daniel Gable would cross the ball into the Tigers’ box where it would find senior Daniel Green. Fighting off a defender, Green managed to get his head on it and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. The Cru bench erupted with joy as they took a 1-0 lead. However, there was still plenty of time left in the half, and Trinity was not going to roll over and easily concede a win. At halftime, the score remained 1-0. Although they felt good about the 45 minutes, Bankhead explained to them that they would have to match their performance in the second half to win the game. When Trinity kicked off the second half, they had fire in their eyes and scoring on their mind. It was an onslaught of attacks, and UMHB defended with their lives. But a ray of hope came in the 78th minute. Sophomore outside midfielder Kyle Dikey beat his defender on the sideline...

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Crusader duo ace the tennis courts
Apr21

Crusader duo ace the tennis courts

In athletics, it’s always interesting to see siblings competing alongside and against each other. One sister duo that comes to mind is Venus and Serena Williams. Both of them are highly ranked tennis players who find themselves facing off for intense matches. However, sibling competition is even more entertaining when they’re twins. UMHB has its fair share of them involved in athletics. Kaylan and Kelsey Gangle both play for the volleyball team, Jude and Julius Austin competed on the soccer team and Kirsten and Kristen Leverett have won conference championship rings with the football team. This past fall, the university welcomed another set of twins to the Cru family. Megan and Mallory Aarhus are freshman cell biology majors who play on the tennis team. They were recruited out of Georgetown, Texas, but they’re originally from Baton Rouge, La. They moved to the lone star state during their sophomore year of high school. Mallory said, “The pastor of our church started a new church here. They’re friends of the family so we’ve helped them with it.” In high school, Megan had a record of 48-3 and received the Golden Eagle Award while Mallory won district her senior year and was voted MVP. The twins showed interest in both Tarleton State and Howard Payne University, but decided UMHB was the best fit. “It was close to home and close to family,” Mallory said. Coach James Cohagan believes they are talented and have only scratched the surface of their potential. In just their first college season, they have already done impressive things. “Megan has won player of the week individually,” he said, “and they have won player of the week as a couple.” Cohagan now has no problem distinguishing who is who, but admits to being confused at first. ”In the very beginning, it was a little difficult because I learned their names backwards,” he said,” but they are two unique individuals and very easy to tell apart.” They actually come from a family of tennis players, which explains their endowment. Mallory said, “My mom played in college, and my dad just picked it up.” Megan, who is older by a minute and a half, describes her sister as being strong as a player and having a good serve. “As a person, Mallory is caring in a way that is very frank and honest,” she said. Cohagan said, “Mallory is creative, spontaneous and willing to try most anything. She is a free spirit. Megan is a little more reserved and plays the big sister role.” They get along on and off the court and have blended well with the rest of the...

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Softball slow start; hitting harder to have a successful rest of season
Mar31

Softball slow start; hitting harder to have a successful rest of season

  The Lady Crusader softball team kicked off its season with a rough start. Now, mid-way through, they are looking to turn the season around. The team has played several preseason games, participated in a couple of tournaments and started its ASC conference play. Junior first base, Courtney Johnston said, “I think this season has started off a little bumpy, but we are still learning to play with each other. Each day we grow and become closer as a team.” The Cru is 7-13 overall and 0-4 in conference play, losing two double headers to Howard Payne University. At the LeTourneau Tournament in February, the team went 2-2 for the weekend, beating Nebraska University, Wesleyan University, and Southwestern University and dropping games to U.T. Tyler and East Texas Baptist. The women then participated in the ASC First Pitch Tournament going 3 for 1 overall, capturing victories over U.T. Dallas, University of the Ozarks and LeTourneau. The team’s only loss in the tournament was to the Mississippi College Choctaws.   This past weekend in Louisiana the Cru lost two close games to nationally- ranked DePauw University. The team also suffered from two devastating losses against ASC East Division Louisiana College on Saturday. Head Coach Kasey Blomquist said the team is striving to be able to play in the championship game of the post-season tournament. “As a whole, we are disappointed with the start, but we are working hard and turning things around. We have been practicing extremely hard this week, and the pitchers have been working hard to cut down on walks.” Although the season started off rough, the ladies are not giving up making it to the playoffs. Johnston believes the team has what it takes. “It will be harder than we would like, but I think it’ll give us more drive to get the job done,” she said. The women also celebrated the recognition of teammate Erica Salazar as ASC West Division Hitter of the Week for games played during the week of March 2. “Erica went 6 for 11, which gave her a batting average of .545,” Blomquist said. The second base junior had two walks, a double, a home run and 3 RBI’s at the ASC First Pitch Tournament. “Becoming hitter of the week never once crossed my mind I’ve just made sure to work hard during practice and continued to correct the little things I was doing wrong, and it definitely paid off,” Salazar said. The Lady Crusaders will continue their conference play Friday night at 5 p.m. in Kerrville, Texas with double headers against Schreiner University, which is 3-1 in ASC West Division. The team...

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Baseball swings towards first
Mar31

Baseball swings towards first

After almost two months of play, CRU baseball is tied for first place in the ASC West. Led by head Coach Micah Wells, the team has a good blend of rookies and seasoned players. Even with the loss of a few starters, Sophomroe Chris Joshlin and Sophomore Ryan Swindell, they progressively move forward. “I’m extremely pleased at where we are,” Wells said. “We’ve had some injuries, but we’ve had guys that have stepped right up into those spots.” The freshmen have come through in a big way and have made a positive impact. Junior first baseman Doak Flemming said, “Josh Frederick, Seth Lynn, Ethan Henderson and Sam VanHoozer contribute to our success in ways that we were not anticipating.” Junior right fielder Joseph Villegas said, “We have quite a few new faces. I can remember when we had almost six freshmen in the line-up one game. But I think the mix of rookies and veterans make for good chemistry.” Unlike other programs, baseball teams play a three game series. They usually play one game on Friday that goes for nine innings and a double header on Saturday. This can be both a gift and a curse. If they lose the first game on Saturday, they don’t have time to sulk. Instead, they have to bounce back and redeem themselves 20 minutes later with the second game. Team unity has been important this year, and according to Wells, it’s the team’s greatest asset. “Some days we gotta go out and win it with defense, and some days we gotta score runs. But their ability to pull together and do whatever they have to do to win a baseball game is their greatest strength.” The team will play close to 40 games this season, 21 of which will be in conference. They share a similar goal of making the play-offs and winning a conference championship with 14 other teams. So instead of focusing on wins and losses, Wells takes a different approach. “Our goal is just to be the best team we can be,’’ he said. “I challenge our guys to come out every day and perform at the top of their ability.” If they continue to concentrate on that, the rest will follow. The Cru’s pitching has been top notch this season, as well as team defense. These two things have improved greatly from last year. Pitcher Jared Hopper, who performed well as a freshman, has taken his game to the next level as a sophomore. “He’s made a dramatic improvement,” Wells said. “With a year under his belt, he is stronger and more prepared.” Then there is freshmen Sam...

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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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