Cross Country Team Headed to Nationals
After another outstanding cross country season, the Cornerstone University men's and women's teams are on their way to the NAIA cross country national championship in Vancouver, Wash. Both teams will compete on Saturday, Nov. 17, against some of the top teams and individual runners in the country.
The national championship meet will feature 32 men's teams and 32 women's teams from across the country. In addition to the teams that are competing, 105 individual qualifiers are competing in the men's race and 109 in the women's race. The Cornerstone University women's cross country team received an automatic bid to the NAIA national championship meet by winning the WHAC championship, while the Cornerstone men's team received an at-large bid.
Julie Oosterhouse won the WHAC women's conference meet and was named WHAC Runner of the Year, only the fifth individual championship for a Cornerstone runner in school history. This also marked the first WHAC championship for the Cornerstone University women's cross country team.
The women's team enters Saturday's contest ranked seventh in the nation and look to be major contenders in the race. First Team All-Conference selections Julie Oosterhouse and Jill Louisignau (pictured) will lead the Cornerstone women's team during the NAIA National Championship. Head women's coach Rod Wortley was named the WHAC women's cross country Coach of the Year, the eighth time he has received this honor in cross country or indoor and outdoor track and field.
The Cornerstone men head into the national championship meet ranked 19th nationally and are led by WHAC All-Conference First Team selection Travis Mabe (pictured). The men finished the conference season with a second place finish in the WHAC conference meet.
Stability is the key to the Golden Eagles' success at the national level. Head men's cross country coach Nate Van Holten said, "My favorite thing about our team is that our coaching staff has been here the entire existence of the program, with all of us arriving in either 1996 or 1997-Rod [Wortley] as a coach and then me and Paul [Koutz] as athletes (before becoming coaches). We have seen all of the successes and failures and know how to navigate to where we want to get."
Finishing the 2012 cross country season at nationals will continue to bolster the national reputation of Cornerstone University's cross country programs. Live streaming of the NAIA National Championship Meet Awards Ceremony can be seen at NAIA.org for no charge.
Great Season for Men's Soccer
The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Tournament Championship match between Cornerstone University men's soccer and Aquinas College was played in front of an overflow crowd last Friday night (Nov. 9). It was the third meeting for the two teams this season (2012). On Sept. 4, the squads went into double overtime to decide the 1-0 win for Aquinas while Cornerstone took the 1-0 win on Sept. 26, which was also decided in the second overtime period.
The stage was set for the much-anticipated rematch for the conference championship. Aquinas struck first in the second minute to give the Saints an early lead. Cornerstone responded with an equalizer in the 12th minute of play when senior Brian Nimmo stuck the ball in the back of the net to even the score at one apiece. Aquinas scored again in the 32nd minute to give the Saints a 2-1 halftime lead. With 16 minutes to play in regulation, Nimmo notched his second goal of the game, tying it up at 2-2.
Neither team was able to score in overtime, forcing them to enter penalty kicks to decide the WHAC conference champion. Aquinas converted on five penalty kicks over Cornerstone's four, advancing the Saints to the NAIA National Tournament.
With the loss comes an abrupt end to one of the Golden Eagles' best seasons, having posted a 14-3-2 overall record. The Golden Eagles finished with a 10-1 conference record, earning a WHAC conference championship on the way to a runner-up finish in the WHAC tournament.
Isaac Grotenhuis, Jake Stanko, Matt Osorio, Trevor Hunt, and Kyle Breckan were named first team All-Conference in the WHAC. Breckan was also named to the Champions of Character Team and Defensive Player of the Year. Head coach Mark Bell was named WHAC Coach of the Year after one of the best seasons in the history of Cornerstone University men's soccer. This is the fifth time that Coach Bell has been named the WHAC Coach of the Year.
Twelve seniors played their last collegiate game against Aquinas in the conference tournament championship game and will be sorely missed.
"[It will be difficult] to replace this kind of talent," said coach Bell. "For four years they battled to be the best team in the WHAC, and we pretty much built our program around these kids [during that time]. This has been a group that was defined by their servant leadership-from workouts to practices, to the classroom, these guys have been great examples of what it means to be a servant leader."
Coach Bell will have his hands full throughout the next few months recruiting a class to replace the quality seniors who are graduating.
Women's Soccer Finishes 2nd in WHAC
The Cornerstone University women's soccer team bowed out of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) tournament with a first-round loss to Aquinas, 4-2. After the 2011 season in which the women finished under .500, Coach Strawser's squad was not expected to contend for a WHAC title in 2012. That did not deter the women from posting a 14-4 record to tie with Indiana Tech for second place in the conference. Cornerstone finished the season with the second most wins in the history of the program.
The tournament loss marked the end of the collegiate careers of nine Golden Eagles: Kathy Butt, Kelley Ritsema, Riley Steen, Anna Stegink, Marissa Bliss, Jenna Wiersma, Nicole Ybema, Morgan Vance, and Paige Knott. They all left a mark on the program and were instrumental in making this a great season for the Golden Eagles.
Stegink and Amanda Van Laar were named to the WHAC All-Conference First Team, while Kelley Ritsema represented the Golden Eagles on the Champions of Character Team. Kathy Butt and Kate Wiegman each won the WHAC Defensive Player of the Week award at different points of the season.
Free Kicks with...Brian Wierenga
Cornerstone Athletics continues its men's soccer feature: "Free Kicks with..." During the season fans will have an opportunity to get to know the Golden Eagles better through a question-and-answer session. CU Athletics continues the series with senior midfielder Brian Wierenga.
The senior from Traverse City, Mich., brought depth and leadership to the midfielder position for head coach Mark Bell and the Golden Eagles in the 2012 campaign.
The best part about being on the CU Men's Soccer team is: My teammates
My most memorable sports moment is: Watching Italy win World Cup while I was on vacation there.
My hobbies include: Snorkeling and Wakeboarding
My favorite movie to watch on the bus to a game is: Space Jam
My favorite soccer player is: Rudd Van Nistelrooy
I would have liked to have witnessed: Sermon on the Mount
My favorite post-game treat is: Ice Cream
Three people I would love to have dinner with are: James Harden, Nick Lidstrom, Jesus
My favorite pro sports team is: Detroit Red Wings
The best book I have ever read is: THREE by Ted Dekker
In 10 years I see myself: Owning a gym with my brother
Thrilling Season Comes to a Close
The Cornerstone University volleyball team finished its season on Nov. 10 at the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Championship hosted by Madonna University. Cornerstone's squad entered the tournament seeded fourth and faced fifth-seed University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) in the conference quarterfinal on Nov. 9. The Golden Eagles were able to pull out a 3-2 win during the thrilling match, with Cornerstone posting 72 kills and serving up seven aces. Kim Weaver led the Golden Eagles with 14 kills, 44 assists, and 15 digs.
With the win, Cornerstone advanced to the conference tournament semifinals to face top-seeded Madonna (ranked No. 16 nationally). Cornerstone was unable to handle the strong play by Madonna and fell 3-0 to the Crusaders.
The Golden Eagles end their season with a 25-10 overall record and an 8-3 conference record.
Sophomore outside hitter Cailie Johnson represents the Golden Eagles on the WHAC All-Conference first team, while junior right side hitter Becky Albrecht, outside hitter Abby Miedema, and junior setter Kim Weaver drew All-Conference Honorable Mention. Additionally, Miedema was named the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Libero of the Year. Freshman outside hitter Chelsea Lake represents the Golden Eagles on the WHAC All-Freshman team.
Senior outside hitter Megan April, senior defensive specialist Larissa Deshetsky, Miedema, and senior middle hitter Kate Zwier (pictured) were tabbed to the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference All-Academic Team. Zwier also was honored on the Champions of Character Team.
The Golden Eagles will graduate four seniors this year, but will return a very talented group of young players next fall. Head Coach Ryan Campbell is hard at work to bring in more talented young women to continue building the tradition of Cornerstone Volleyball.
New Team Making Progress
After a long absence, baseball made its return to Cornerstone University this fall. A six-week fall season began with a three-day team-building retreat at Camp Harvest in Newaygo, Mich., and ended with a Blue-Gold scrimmage on Oct. 17. During that time 41 players and four coaches came together to become the newest athletic program at Cornerstone.
Thirty-three recruits joined the roster this season. Officially the team will be split into a varsity roster of 25-28 players and a junior varsity roster of 13-16 players.
The Golden Eagles played four practice games over the course of the fall and faired quite well against quality competition. Games were held against Taylor University, Kalamazoo College, Davenport University, and Spring Arbor University. Both the offense and defense had success at times, but consistency will be the key heading in to the spring.
The offense was led by Tyler Krahn (Abbotsford, British Columbia), Zack Harbison (Zeeland, Mich.), Cullen Montgomery (Coral Springs, Fla.), and Nick Covello (Skillman, NJ). Coach Mitroff has many interesting decisions to make in regards to his lineup during the spring with some very talented hitters.
The pitching staff had a very successful fall, including a no-hitter against Kalamazoo College. The staff was led by Jonathan Knapp (Davison, Mich.), Brandon Willard (Sylvan Lake, Mich.), Luke Heller (Whitewater, Wis.), and Daniel Marlow (Terra Haute, Ind.).
While the Golden Eagles sport an extremely young roster, they hope to be competitive immediately in a very tough Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). During the fall season the team was able to get a little taste of the high level of competition they will compete with in the spring.
The spring season starts with practices in January and the first games in Memphis, Tenn., the third weekend of February. The team will head to Lakeland, Fla., over spring break to play ten games in ten days before returning to Grand Rapids. WHAC conference play will begin mid-March and continue through the end of the school year.
Coach Mitroff is very excited about the progress of the players, saying, "We are working very hard to be competitive in our first year. We know that being a first-year program can bring a lot of adversity, but we are preparing on and off the field to overcome our anticipated hurdles. We plan on fielding a team that will make the Cornerstone University community proud this spring."