Fresh from the Court: Men's Basketball Update
After a rough 0-4 start to the season, the Golden Eagles have improved to a 13-9 record (7-3, second in the WHAC) after winning four of their last five games. Cornerstone is not ranked nationally, but did receive votes in the most recent NAIA coaches' poll. Three players have been named WHAC Player of the Week this season: sophomore Wes Hudson, and senior captains Justin Yoder and Ronald Bates.
Hudson is leading the team in scoring with 17.6 ppg, shooting 49 percent. Both Yoder and Bates follow closely behind with 15.8 and 14 ppg, respectively; Bates holds a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio and is grabbing 2 steals per game, and Yoder joined the 1,000 point club in the 74-71 victory over Aquinas. Hudson also scored a career-high 29 points against Concordia and Yoder put up a career-high 30 points against WHAC newcomer Lourdes College. Sophomore forward Jake Plite is pulling down 6.2 boards per game, with senior Dan Possehl adding another six per game. Possehl has also recorded two double-doubles this season, most recently in the Golden Eagles' 84-68 loss to #3 Davenport.
Junior forward Derek Kingshott has shown himself a capable player, averaging 6.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg and recording a double-double against Indiana Wesleyan. He has also helped to motivate his teammates with his solid defense and his powerful dunks.
The Golden Eagles next play a rematch against Madonna at home Wed., Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. The last time these two teams met, Madonna walked away with the win, 74-69.
Fresh from the Court: Women's Basketball Update
Coming off of three straight conference losses, Cornerstone's women's basketball team improved to 13-9 (6-4 in the WHAC) after a 71-68 comeback win against the University of Northwestern Ohio. The Golden Eagles are now in a three-way tie for third place in the conference.
Although she's without her sister Robyn (red shirting due to a tear in her hip muscle), senior Melissa Veltkamp leads the team in scoring with 16.7 ppg, including a career-high 32 points against Madonna back in December. She and fellow senior Sam Flietstra have both recorded five double-doubles this season, including Veltkamp's 18 point, 11 assist game.
Flietstra and Veltkamp also lead the team in rebounds, with 7.9 and 7.2 rpg, respectively. Both have been selected as WHAC Player of the Week this season, as has newcomer and rising star Katelyn Cousins.
After transferring from Davenport ahead of this season, Cousins is averaging 8.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg and put up a season-high 25 points as she led her team to the win over Olivet College.
On Wed., Jan. 25, the Lady Golden Eagles travel to face Madonna, hoping to repeat their 87-56 victory from December.
Right On Track: CU Track and Field Update
The Cornerstone University track and field team is in the midst of its indoor season and has performed at an extremely high level. Outstanding individual performances have highlighted this season, with personal records set and national qualifying times achieved.
Head coach Rod Wortley has both the men's and women's teams firing on all cylinders.
In a recent meet at Grand Valley State University, the women's track and field team set nine personal best performances, including two NAIA automatic qualifying marks, three freshman records and a school record.
Two of the top women's performers are Brittany Green and Lindsay Lipa. Both athletes are freshman long jumpers who are training for the pentathlon this spring. Green is currently ranked #4 on the NAIA list while Lipa is ranked #6.
Green, an all-state long jumper from Ohio, set a Cornerstone University freshman record of 17' 4.25" in December at Saginaw Valley State University. She reset the record at Grand Valley State University.
Lipa, an all-state long jumper from Michigan, broke Brittany's long jump record at Grand Valley and held the record for twenty minutes before Green took it back. It should be interesting to see the numbers that Lipa and Green put up over their careers as two elite and nationally ranked long jumpers get to push each other every single day.
The men's track and field program has also experienced a great deal of success recently.
Junior Zach Yeo is currently #2 on the NAIA indoor track and field performance list for the 600 meters and ranked #6 on the NAIA list for the 800 meters. Zach was a finalist at the 2011 NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships. As a freshman, he was the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Indoor Athlete of the Meet. In December, Yeo won the 800 meters at Saginaw Valley in an NAIA provisional Qualifying time.
Coach Wortley said, "Zach is one of our hardest workers and he continues to lead the team in practice and competition. He has big goals and I'm excited to see him pursue them this season."
Junior Bryant Langdon is currently #9 on the NAIA indoor track and field list in the 35-pound weight throw. Bryant was a walk-on two years ago with no track and field experience. Over the last year he has been incredibly focused on becoming competitive at the national level in the weight throw. Langdon opened the season with an NAIA provisional mark at Saginaw Valley in December, and he has a chance to contend for the WHAC title in the event this season.
Coach Wortley said, "The progress Bryant has made in the past year is nothing short of remarkable. He's proven again that limits are mostly self-imposed. Two years ago, few people would have imagined him being this caliber of thrower."
It will be exciting to see what both the men and women of the Cornerstone University track and field teams will do throughout the rest of this season.
"If You Build It, They Will Come."
After a thirteen-year hiatus, baseball is back at Cornerstone. Dr. Joe Stowell announced in October that Jack and Mary De Witt had made a generous donation to the university and part of that money was going to be spent on restarting the baseball program at Cornerstone.
A hiring committee was formed and, after a nationwide search, David Mitroff was named the head baseball coach. He spent a few weeks getting a staff in place, and since then it has been work, work, and more work.
The 2012-13 school year will hold the first season of the new program, and the baseball coaching staff is scouring every available source to unearth outstanding young men to make up the team. Players have already signed from as far away as South Florida and British Columbia, Canada.
"We would love to bring in players from all over the United States and even outside of our country," Coach Mitroff said. "While we love West Michigan, we would like our team to look like the world so that we can truly have a global impact."
Tyler Krahn, from British Columbia, Canada, was the first signing of Coach Mitroff's team. The staff saw Tyler playing in a tournament in Florida and, after speaking to him and his father, knew that Tyler would be a perfect fit at Cornerstone University.
And Tyler's signing was just the beginning.
After Tyler, Coach Mitroff signed: Harry Karlsen from Pompano Beach, Florida; Ryan Harris from Crystal Lake, Illinois; Bryce Baker from Wyoming, Michigan; and Zach Bohl from Hudsonville, Michigan.
There are plenty more on the way. Coach Mitroff plans on bringing in twenty-five to thirty players to combine with five to ten walk-ons who are already on campus.
While recruiting an entire team in just one year seems like an arduous task, Coach Mitroff is unfazed.
"The unique atmosphere here at Cornerstone combined with the amazing baseball facilities that are being built sell themselves. When our recruits visit here, they get to feel first-hand that Cornerstone is a place where they can grow closer to the Lord and be a part of something special."
This spring semester, the baseball staff will spend the majority of its time recruiting and coaching the ten walk-ons.
"We have been tremendously blessed and are working hard in order to be good stewards of what we have been provided with," Coach Mitroff said. "I am confident that my staff and I will bring in the right young men to Cornerstone University to build the foundation for a successful baseball program."
"Time Well Spent is Worth the Effort"
by Caleb Drenth
For most students, coaches and administrators at Cornerstone, winter break is a time for relaxation and rest.
The operative word here is "most".
The end of the semester marked the beginning of the most active time of the year for CU facilities director and assistant athletic director Layne Kreh, because he spent most of his time putting the final touches on the 16th annual Cornerstone University High School Holiday Basketball Tournament.
From Dec. 19 through Dec. 30, twelve boys' and eight girls' high school basketball teams were on campus taking part in the largest holiday event in the state.
"The holiday tournament is like my baby," Kreh said. "The event began as a fund-raiser for the women's softball team, helping them raise funds to finance their spring trip to Tucson. So they help work the event as volunteers, and are a huge help."
Five years ago the tournament featured boys' teams alone. It was Kreh's idea to include girls' teams, doubling the length of the competition...and his work load.
"It was just a matter of making sure we had our ducks in a row," Kreh said. "We had had good success with the boys and thought it only right that we give girls a spotlight as well. We have great high school programs in West Michigan, and we are happy to give them a stage and a special event."
With high school teams coming from all around West Michigan, the competition was intense. But it being Christmas, it was also the season for good sportsmanship.
"It's kind of weird, there is nothing going on around campus," Kreh said. "But over the holiday tournament weeks, the gym is always packed.
"This is a great event. It's good for the kids, because it gives them something to shoot for, a way to make the holidays a special time. But for us here at Cornerstone, it is an even better time, because it gives us the opportunity to host thousands of kids and their parents, many who have never been on campus before.
"So we make this a special event. The players all get t-shirts; we have nice trophies for the teams, plaques for members of the championship teams. And we always keep a hospitality room open to host coaches and scouts, give them a place to get away from the crowds and talk."
What separates the Cornerstone event from most others across the state is that the competition involves freshman, JV and varsity competition. The freshmen play in the morning, JV in the afternoon and the varsity at night.
"It takes a lot of work, but it is always a win for us because the kids have a great time and we have a chance to show off our campus."
This year's girls' brackets included teams from Forest Hills Northern, Forest Hills Central, Forest Hills Eastern, Jenison, Greenville, East Kentwood, Zeeland East and Grand Rapids Christian.
Caledonia, Northview, Zeeland West and Forest Hills Northern were in the boys' Silver Division.
In the boys' Blue Division, Tri-Unity Christian, Wyoming Park, Grand Rapids Christian and Hudsonville were featured. Greenville, Byron Center, Forest Hills Central and Forest Hills Eastern rounded out the Gold Division.
To Kreh, time well spent is worth the effort.
"Next year's tournament is already in place," he laughed. "You can never start your preparations too early."