Mustangs take loss and earn win against Yellowjackets
By Delcie Sanache/Sports Editor/Jan. 26, 2023
The Mustangs played a fierce game of basketball on Jan. 11, with the men’s and women’s teams having very different outcomes—the men lost, the women won.
Mount Mercy played against Graceland University’s Yellowjackets, and the men’s team lost with a final score of 47-76. Contributing the most points was sophomore Ryan Bartley with 14, and sophomores Cole Hrubes and Rusmir Hamzic with 11 each. Also helping the team was junior Riley Pankey with eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
The women’s team earned another win, beating the Yellowjackets 76-55. Key players for the team were senior Sammy Mia with 26 points and five rebounds, freshman Sadie Struchen with 12 points, junior Madison Dreckman with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and junior Tatum Griffin with 10 points, four rebounds, and five assists.
Bartley scores 25 as men pull away
By Delcie Sanache/Sports Editor/Jan. 16, 2023
On Nov. 15, the men’s basketball team defeated the Cardinal Stritch Wolves in a non-conference game, 92-77. The two teams battled for the lead, staying separated by only a few points for almost the entire first half. This was until the Mustangs earned 14 points in the last five minutes. This gave them the lever-age they needed to hold their lead over the Wolves for the rest of the game, matching their 46 points in the second half.
Continuing to prove himself as a vital player for the Mustangs was Ryan Bartley, sophomore, who contributed 25 of the team’s final 92 points. Bartley added eight rebounds and four steals as well. Also putting points up on the board was Cole Hrubes, sophomore, with 13, Kenny Clay, senior, with 10, and Jakari Bradley, sophomore, and Cory Prather, sophomore, both with nine. Hrubes, Clay, and Rusmir Hamzic, sophomore, had six rebounds each.
Beating Viterbo gives women third home win
By Becky Lenton/Staff Writer/Jan. 16, 2023
The women’s varsity basketball team came out victorious against Viterbo, sealing their third straight win at home on Nov. 19.
The Mustangs secured an early lead in the game and held the V-Hawks to 7-0 until late in the first quarter. The V-Hawks made a comeback and were able to lead the Mustangs by one point by the end of the first quarter. The V-Hawks kept the game close from this point and only allowed 13 points for the Mustangs in the second quarter.
The basketball game remained close throughout the second half, until the Mustangs pulled a 12-point lead late in the third quarter. The game became close again late in the fourth quarter, leaving the Mustangs a three-point lead.
The Mustangs managed to pull off a 59-54 win with support from the home fans. After a strong start for the Mustangs, their narrow lead left supporters on the edge of their seats until Madison Dreckman, junior, sunk a free throw in the final seconds of the game, sealing the victory and wiping out any chance the visitors might have had.
The Mustangs shot 28.6 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from the three-point line. Dreckman led the Mustangs with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Annika Headington, sophomore, contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds and Sammy Mia, senior, led with five assists.
Women’s soccer team adapts to head coach change, injuries
By Delcie Sanache/Opinion Editor/Jan. 16, 2023
The women’s soccer team overcame many struggles and learned to adapt to change this season. Adapting to change will be a common theme going into the next season with the recent announcement that their head coach, Alen Kudumovic, will be leaving after this year. Kudumovic has been the women’s soccer head coach since 2019.
“One of the things we struggled with this sea-son was the number of injuries. But I think the team did well to work through these on a personal level and a team level. I think we did well to come together and step up into roles that may have been new to us. The way we adapted to the changes was key…this year’s senior class has been through the process of welcoming in a new coach, but for the rest this is something new. So, we still have challenges to come,” said Grace Byers, senior.
The team finished out the season with four wins, 10 losses, and one tie. Three of their wins and nine of their losses were conference matches. Byers reflected on the team’s achievements this season.
“Overall, our season went better than it did last year. Our ultimate goal was to make it to play-offs this year, but that did not happen. Despite not achieving that goal, we won three conference games. We continue to make small steps of improvement, which makes me excited for the future of this program,” she said.
Lauren Wagner, junior, saw vast improvement in her team as well. “Overall, I think our season was reflective of the hard work and team effort we have built. We are moving in the right direction, and our results prove that,” she said.
Despite the upcoming challenge the team is about to face, they continue to stay positive.
“We are excited to start a new journey of learning and growth,” said Wagner
Mustangs make quick work of Pride
By Tucker Cole/Staff Writer/Nov.10
The Mustangs had no problem handling the Pride. As they took 3 of the 5 sets in a sweeping fashion.
Mount Mercy came to the game with a record of (19-8), (11-7 in conference) and were clicking on all cylinders. Clarke, with a record of (4-22), (1-17 in conference), was not a match for the herd. The Mustangs played great team volleyball throughout the night.
Clarke had miscues all over the court and the herd saw the mistakes and took advantage of them. This win marks the 20th of the season for Mount Mercy, and they don’t look like they will be stopped anytime soon. #11 Maggie Peters and #6 Mackenzie Murphy kept the pressure on upfront all night, and it really made an impact on how the Pride had to play. Peters racked up 12 kills along with five blocks and four digs. Murphy led the herd with 13 kills, eight digs, and one block. Rylie Mussman had a vacuum cleaner type of night on the defensive side with a whopping 17 digs.
It felt as if the Mustangs couldn’t be stopped, whether it be defensively or offensively.The Mustangs look to be in good shape for the upcoming Heart of America conference championship, Nov 5. and Nov. 6. in Kansas City, Mo.
The Mustangs play MidAmerica Nazarene the first day of conference at 5 p.m. Looking at the past sets they have played against them, they seem to have it under control.
Playoffs are always the best time of the year and according to a Mount Mercy student, the student body is rooting for the Mustangs as they try to bring back some hardware.
Men’s and women’s basketball secures two wins at home
By Delcie Sanache/Sports Editor/Nov.10
The men’s basketball team set the tone for their season in their home-opener on Friday, Nov 4. Securing the lead in the first half, they didn’t ease up on the Waldorf Warriors for the entire game, winning 70-64.
After the first half, the Mustangs were in the lead by 12 points. When they came back for the second half, they could feel the Warriors fighting to keep up with them. Waldorf scored 41 points to Mount Mercy’s 35 in the last half. This is when sophomore Ryan Bartley contributed 14 of his 20 total points for the game.
Also contributing points were junior Anthony Horton, Jr. with 12, sophomore Rusmir Hamzic with 9, sophomore Cole Hrubes with 8, and senior Kenny Clay, junior Riley Pankey and senior Cody Westcott with 7 apiece. Horton put up 7 rebounds and 3 assists, and Clay gave 4 assists and 3 steals as well. Pankey and Westcott contributed 5 rebounds each.
The women’s basketball team played an impressive game on Friday as well, beating the Warriors 67-47 in their second win straight. They took an early lead in the 1st quarter and lengthened this lead by 13 points in the 2nd quarter.
The Mustangs took a small yet effective lead of 2 points in the 1st quarter, only to gain a significant 18 points, compared to the Waldorf’s 5, in the 2nd quarter. They held this lead until the end of the game. Mount Mercy’s win was shown in their free throw percentage of 66.7% and 53 rebounds.
Adding to the team’s 53 rebounds were sophomore Annika Headington with 11, junior Madison Dreckman with 9, senior Cristian Patron with 8, and junior Anais Bonnemaison with 6. Headington also contributed 17 points, along with 11 from Dreckman, and 9 from senior Sammy Mia. Freshman Sadie Struchen and senior Marissa Brantley both put 8 points on the scoreboard as well.
Great Grades: Women’s golfers get highest NAIA GPA
By Morgan Ingwersen/Assistant Editor/Sept. 28, 2022
The Mount Mercy women’s golf team received the 2021-22 Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-Scholar Team GPA award after having the highest grade-point average of all women’s golf teams within the NAIA.
“The Mustangs achieved an accumulative GPA of 3.799 and placed five members on the WGCA All-American Scholars list for the 2021-22 school year,” said Molly Altorfer, head coach of the women’s golf team.
“Having high expectations for our athletic teams not only pushes them to be better athletes, but it also pushes them to be better students. It was fascinating to see our girls be so driven on the course and in the classroom. I am proud to be their coach,” she said.
The five members of the All-American Scholars list included Natalea Cook, Breanna Felderman, Kaitlin Hotchkiss, Josie Tanner and Alison Robu, who were all honored in July by the WGCA.
“My teammates and I all went to class and prioritized being a student first and an athlete second,” stated Felderman. “When we had tournaments, we would all hang out and do homework after golf rounds, we helped each other study and were able to stay on top of all of our homework. We always strived to be the team at Mount Mercy with the highest GPA. It was with our hard work and dedication on and off the course that allowed us to receive this award.”
Robu stated her and her teammates put in extensive work in the classroom and on the course, and with that hard work they were able to achieve this amazing award.
“We value being students first, then athletes,” stated Robu.
According to Paul Gavin, athletic director at Mount Mercy, the overall athletic department cumulative GPA for the 2021-22 school year was around 3.3.
“This is the highest I can ever recall it being during my tenure at Mount Mercy University,” said Gavin. “I am very proud of our student-athletes to say the very least.”
Freshman Jordyn Lang said that coming into college with high standards set by the prior team helps to put her schoolwork in perspective for herself and teammates.
“It pushes me to be a better student in and outside of the classroom,” stated Lang. “I am proud to be a part of such a driven and hardworking group of women.”
Athletes aim to support each other
By Joselyn Hildebrand/Feature Editor/Sept.13, 2022
The annual All-Athletes meeting took place in Hennessey Rec Center on Aug. 23. The night began with a short prayer by the university’s new priest Rev. Greg Bahl and was accompanied by VP of Student Success, Nate Klein, who introduced all of the athletic teams and their coaches. Finally, the MMU spirit team performed a three-part dance and cheer to hype up all the athletes in the crowd.
“With nearly 600 student-athletes, I was excited to hear each team focused on supporting each other during competition,” Klein said.
With every team being introduced, the athletes cheered loudly for their coaches. There was astounding support from the bleachers when achievements were announced. Coaches pointed out their teams in the crowd, they stood up, and everyone rallied for them. It was an evening of passion for athletics and teammates.
“The energy is contagious, and it’s especially rewarding to know that our sports teams will be paired with one another to support each other at games and contests, and to participate alongside each other in service opportunities,” assistant athletic director and women’s golf head coach, Molly Altorfer said.
As Mount Mercy’s athletes get ready to be competitive in sport, they also stay devoted in classrooms and around campus. Mount Mercy had an outstanding 72 Heart Scholar-Athletes from the Heart of America Athletic Conference for the 2021-22 academic year. The women’s golf team was recognized for having the highest grade point average in all of NAIA women’s golf in 2021-2022 with a 3.799 GPA.
“It’s important that our teams know the support they have from throughout the university while thanking them for the impact they and the staff have on our greater Mount Mercy community,” Klein said.
With many athletic events starting already for some Mustangs, student-athletes become eager to meet new teammates and accomplish goals.
“I’m excited to improve my volleyball skills and make good connections,” Douglas Fofano, freshman finance major, said.
Women’s Lacrosse is newest MMU Team
By Matthew Murphy/Staff Writer/Sept. 11, 2022
Mount Mercy University recently announced it is adding a women’s lacrosse program.
The women’s lacrosse program that will be added to the 2022-2023 school year will be led by head coach Angelia Blythe. Blythe has plenty of coaching and playing experience as the co-founder of the varsity girls’ lacrosse team at Covenant High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is looking forward to starting a lacrosse team at Mount Mercy.
“I am very excited to get the program up and running,” Blythe said. “The biggest thing to emphasize on right now is that if there is any interest in playing lacrosse from the current Mount Mercy students or current high school students to please reach out to me.”
Blythe been planning clinics throughout the year so that she can start the recruiting process for the upcoming women’s lacrosse team. She is planning these clinics to educate the community about the sport of lacrosse.
The first clinic will be held on Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. on Hadzic Field. The clinics will be free and open to anyone interested in learning about the sport of lacrosse.
“I look forward to educating the Mount Mercy community about the sport and welcome any new players to the team, no experience necessary,” Blythe said.
In a statement from MMU, she also said: “Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in the Midwest and I’m excited to share my experience and passion for the sport. Mount Mercy has a strong reputation for developing successful student-athletes and I look forward to adding to that through the new lacrosse program.”
Skater from CR Among Olympic Athletes
By Jada Veasey/editor in chief/March 3, 2022
The 2022 Winter Olympic Games were full of dramatic highs and lows. The Games took place in Beijing, China, and looked a little different than past Winter Olympics due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those restrictions did not stop the two-week event from being packed with action.
The Games ran from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20 and featured 15 different sports in three categories: the ice sports, the alpine skiing and snowboarding disciplines, and the Nordic events. Eighty-four different countries participated in the 2022 Olympic Games.
The United States fared well in the overall medal count, securing eight gold medals, 10 silver medals, and seven bronze medals. This brought the overall medal count for Team USA to 25, meaning the United States ranked fifth overall for the most medals won. The number one country overall in both number of gold medals and number of medals overall was Norway, with 16 gold medals and 37 medals overall.
The United States did unusually well in figure skating at the 2022 Games. Team USA won a silver medal in the team figure skating event. The medal-winning team consisted of men’s skaters Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, women’s skater Karen Chen, pairs team Alexa Knierim and Brandon Fraizer, ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates, and ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue. The silver medal is an improvement of Team USA’s bronze medal in the team figure skating event in 2018.
The U.S. did well in the individual figure skating events, as well. Men’s skater Nathan Chen took home the gold in his discipline, redeeming himself after a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2018 Winter Games. Madison Hubbell and partner Zachary Donahue secured a bronze medal in ice dance.
A Cedar Rapids native and pairs skater also made history at the Games. Timothy LeDuc is the first ever publicly nonbinary athlete to compete at a Winter Olympic Games. LeDuc and partner Ashley Cain-Gribble finished in eighth place in the pairs event.
Other big wins for the U.S. included gold medals in the following events: women’s monobob, men’s freeski slopestyle, women’s snowboard cross, women’s 500m speedskating, women’s snowboard halfpipe, mixed team ariels and mixed team snowboard cross.
After two back-to-back Olympic years, due to the delay of the summer 2020 Games because of COVID-19, the world will have to wait the usual two years to see more Olympic excitement. The next Summer Games will occur in Paris in 2024.
Volleyball Player Juggles Nursing and Social Life
By Lavaris Duncan/sports editor/March 3, 2022
Being a nursing major while attempting to have a social life can be challenging. Adding playing volleyball on top of that makes the challenge even more difficult.
Senior Olivia Makinen has learned the importance of balancing certain factors in life. “College taught me how to balance class work, volleyball, a job, all while still having a social life because that is just as important. I learned how to better take responsibility through college and manage my skills.”
Makinen is a nursing major, with a minor in child and adolescent studies. Makinen came to Mount Mercy from Wisconsin. After college, Olivia wants to return home and start her journey as a labor and delivery nurse.
Mount Mercy has been important for Maniken in creating lifelong friendships and memories. Her Mount Mercy experience allowed Maniken to find a “forever friend” in fellow senior nursing major Tori Alexander. Maniken and Alexander did not know each other prior to attending Mount Mercy but, with the help of volleyball, rooming together, and their nursing courses, they became best friends.
“I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity for this lifelong friendship.” Maniken says her favorite thing about Mount Mercy has been “getting to meet new teammates each year of volleyball and seeing the growth and lasting friendships both on and off the court.”
Basketball Player Aspires to be a Nurse Practitioner
By Lavaris Duncan/sports editor/March 3, 2022
Addison Rath is currently in her senior year at Mount Mercy University. She is from a small town in Iowa, called Kalona. It is about 45 minutes away from Mount Mercy. Rath doesn’t feel like she is too far away from home. “It hasn’t been too bad, because I am still within the area of being able to go home, which I enjoy going home to get a break once in a while,” she said.
Rath is a nursing major. After she graduates in May, she plans to pursue emergency medicine and hopes to eventually further her nursing journey as a travel nurse. Rath hopes to obtain a Master of Science in nursing and or a Doctor of Nursing practice degree.
Rath has spent a lot of time reflecting on her college career at Mount Mercy. She said one of the biggest lessons she’s learned at Mount Mercy has been time management. “Being a nursing student and being a part of the Mount Mercy women’s basketball team can be a challenge. Both of these have consumed a large majority of my time. With time management, I was able to learn how to prioritize and organize my time between academics and athletics.”
Although basketball and nursing school has consumed the majority of Addison’s time, she explained that the people who make up Mount Mercy and the many friendships she’s gained have been her favorite parts of the university. “I have grown close to many of my teammates and students in the classroom while being at Mount Mercy.”
Juggling Several Sports
By Grace Ries/news editor/March 3, 2022
Practicing without a team seems unrealistic—but not for freshman Haley Hartshorne, a graphic design major, who participates on both the women’s track & field team and soccer team.
All of Hartshorne’s classes are during the afternoon and evening, which is the same time as her track practices.
“It has been challenging to practice on my own recently but going to soccer practice times in the mornings and doing my track workouts during that time has really kept me honest in getting my workouts in,” Hartshorne said, “especially since my soccer team is there and are just as supportive as my track team.”
The demanding work that Hartshorne has put in with the sprints crew and high jumps does not go unnoticed by her coaches.
“Haley is definitely filling some gaps on our team. We only have one other high jumper on the team, so having Haley has been and will continue to be a big contribution to the team,” Dan Rolling, women’s high jump coach, said. “At each meet she has placed high enough to score points, and at the conference meet that is what we would like to see.”
Being a multi-sport athlete with such an abnormal schedule has kept Hartshorne on her toes, but she enjoys every second of it.
“Being in multiple sports is definitely hard, I always feel like there is somewhere to be and something to do,” Hartshorne said. “Being a freshman, I do think it can be overwhelming at times, but I also believe that’s why it is the most rewarding. It is a lot of hard work but it’s paying off.”
With the dedication and time that Hartshorne has put in, Rolling recognizes her athletic potential as a high jumper and has big goals for her.
“My hope for Haley is that she will continue to chip away at technical aspects of her jumps, keep her composure throughout the process and trust the training,” Rolling said. “If she does that, I think she will put herself in a very competitive position for the conference meet.”
Hartshorne recently qualified for the Heart of America Indoor Track & Field Champions in Maryville, MO. She jumped her seasons best and tied at 12th place, alongside another Mount Mercy jumper, sophomore Tara Sampson, and a jumper from Graceland. The women’s team placed fifth overall out of 12 teams in Mount Mercy’s Conference.
‘Stangs Succumb to the Sting of the Bees
By Jada Veasey/editor in chief/Nov. 11, 2021
Though the Mount Mercy women’s basketball team fought hard in their matchup against St. Ambrose University on Nov. 6 in Hennessy Recreation Center, the Mustangs were ultimately unable to secure a win.
The Mustangs gave the St. Ambrose Bees a run for their money but fell behind from the very beginning. At the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs were down seven points with a score of 19-12. The end of the first half found the Mustangs still losing, this time by a bigger margin of ten points, with a score of 33-23.
After regrouping at halftime, the Mustangs looked like they may have a fighting chance. The halftime break clearly inspired the Mustangs, and they came out of the gate with an increased level of ferocity. The level of aggression and drive for both teams became clear in the second half as the Bees and the Mustangs both saw more offensive fouls in the third quarter. Suddenly the gameplay seemed like an intense game of cat and mouse, with turnovers occurring frequently. The end of the third quarter still saw the Bees on top with a score of 53-40.
The fourth quarter saw the Mustangs slide even further down the score board, and in the end, the Bees reigned victorious with a score of 76-59.
The game’s result came down the Bees outperforming the Mustangs offensively, performing well with both their outside jump shots and their work inside the paint. The Mustangs had to shake up their defensive strategy a couple times, switching it up between a man-to-man defense and a 1-2-2 zone as they hustled to keep up with the Bees. Though the Mustangs didn’t manage to win, the team’s potential is there.
Three Mustangs posted individual scores in the double digits. Sammy Mia, junior, Sassy Coleman, junior, and Madison Dreckman, sophomore, scored ten points apiece. Dreckman also led the Mustangs in total rebounds, with seven.
Dreckman, sophomore forward, kept her head up despite the Mustangs’ loss. “I think the effort is there, the energy is there,”said Dreckman. “We have new people, young people, and returners. I think we believe in each other enough to work it out.”
The loss puts Mount Mercy’s record at 0-3.
NAIA Not Requiring Vaccine
By Casey Ray/staff writer/Nov. 11, 2021
With 2020 being a year filled with COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the presidential election, one corollary in the latter half of 2020 was the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine has caused controversy among everyone in the nation. People on both sides of the line have tried to convince the other side that it is either worth or not worth getting it.
Joe Biden is mandating that federal workers get the vaccine. Following Biden’s mandate, many private sector businesses are requiring their employees to get the vaccine or be terminated. As of now, Mount Mercy, according to its COVID-19 vaccine page on its website, highly encourages employees and students to get the vaccine, but is not requiring them to do so. So, what about the organization that Mount Mercy is associated with, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)?
Jason Furler, Mount Mercy sports information director and athletic facility manager, works closely with all the teams and makes sure stats are up to date after each game. Furler’s job is also to enforce the policies put in place by the NAIA, the Heart of America Conference, and Mount Mercy to all studentathletes and coaches.
NAIA is not requiring vaccines for student athletes. According to Furler, “NAIA has given universities the autonomy to make this decision as does our conference in determining the safety we put in place.” Furler does not believe NAIA will change its policy. The NAIA, according to its website, oversees 250 schools across the country and 21 conferences. With 77,000 student athletes, NAIA has to make sure all 250 schools follow protocols and policies.
To help combat new variants of COVID-19, the CDC has recently approved the vaccine for children ages five to 11. For more information on COVID-19 and vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/.
Dual Athlete Says Communication and Hard Work are Key
By Grace Ries/staff writer/Nov. 11, 2021
It takes a strong mentality to play a sport in college while juggling classes and schoolwork. But can you imagine someone doing not one but, two sports in college? One individual who has been doing this a few years is Lotte van Malsen, a senior from the Netherlands. Van Malsen is a part of the women’s soccer team and the women’s basketball team.
“It is super hard to do both sports while keeping up with school. I think a lot of people don’t realize I actually do both since they aren’t at the same time. But in order to be able to do it, you need to work hard and make sure you communicate well with teachers and listen to your body,” van Malsen said. Van Malsen has played basketball since she was around 10 years old. However, she only started playing soccer inAugust 2020.
“In my idea it all started as a kind of joke which got out of hand. Amir Hadzic, head coach of men’s soccer at Mount Mercy and international coordinator for recruitment, asked me to play because my country is famous for soccer. So, I told them I would if I could,” van Malsen said.
Her contribution to the teams is admired by both of her coaches: Alen Kudumovic, head coach of the women’s soccer team, and Tim Schuring, head coach of the women’s basketball team.
“Lotte is a great young lady and a great teammate. The energy she brings to our program is second to none. She’s just an awesome young lady to be around!” Schuring said. Schuring went on to say how big of a commitment it is to do such a thing and how it can help you be organized in the long run.
“It takes great commitment, mental resolve, physical endurance, and excellent time management to bea multi-sport athlete at any institution of higher learning. There are so many factors involved in being a multi-sport athlete, it really depends on the individual athlete themselves. It’s doable, but really, really, difficult,” Schuring said.
Van Malsen enjoys her time with her teammates on both teams equally and works hard to keep herself in the right mindset to keep everything in control.
“If you are ever thinking about being a multi-sport athlete, know that it takes discipline, hard work, willpower, hyperactivity and determination. But, if it is for something you’re passionate about, do it–because if I can, you can,” she said.
Women’s Bowling Sweeps Podium
By Casey Ray/staff writer/Nov. 11, 2021
It’s no secret that Mount Mercy’s women’s bowling team had a great season last year, despite a shortened schedule due to COVID-19, finishing number one in the nation. This year, they are hoping to keep first place going into sectionals.
The Five Season Classic is the Mustangs’ home tournament, with the men competing at May City Bowl and the women competing at Cedar Rapids Bowling Center. Ayra Nur Jehan Aminuddin, senior, leads the women’s bowling team. So far, the team has placed in the top three. At the tournament thisyear, the varsity women took third place, while the junior varsity women took first and second place. Aminuddin’s favorite part of the tournament was walking onto the approach with her teammates and with head coach Richard Diercks and his wife, Makala.
Junior varsity bowler Megan Kitzmiller also bowled in the Classic. Kitzmiller, a junior, started the weekend struggling to figure out the lanes, but cameback on Sunday to help the junior varsity team finish strong at the event. Her favorite part of the event was in match play, coming down to who would get first and second places. It was a battle of the two junior varsity Mustang teams. In the end, it came down to one pin.
“In the end, it was fun because we were on the same pair and got to cheer each other on!” Kitzmiller recalled.
The next tournament for the women’s bowling team is the Leatherneck Classic in the Quad Cities on Nov. 13 and 14.
Men’s Bowling Climbs to 3rd Place
By Ayra Aminuddin/staff writer/Nov. 11, 2021
The Mount Mercy men’s bowling team finished as a runner-up at the sixth Five Seasons Classic that was held at May City Bowl in Cedar Rapids on Oct. 30 and 31.
The team climbed to the third spot after finishing fifth on the first day to make the top four cuts going into match play in the varsity bracket.
“The most challenging part was the lanes played so different from practice, we thought we had a good idea of what was going on. We soon found out that we needed to make some big changes after day one and we had the best scores in the building on the second day,” said Jared Durant, senior.
St. Ambrose University lead the qualifying with 8,281, Lindenwood was in second with 7,919, Mount Mercy University was third with 7,789 and William Penn University ranked fourth with 7,786 total pinfalls.
The Mustang men won 2-0 in the semifinals bracket against Lindenwood University, to go against Saint Ambrose University in the final match. They lost to St. Ambrose University 2-0.
“We learned from our mistakes and gained a ton of experience for the rest of the season. I truly believe this team is something special because we are not defined by our successes, but rather our ability to bounce back after failure,” said Kai Yamada, sophomore.
All-Tournament Team was given to the top five bowlers from the first day. Dakota Salonka and Zach Greim of St. Ambrose finished first and second. Troy Owens from Lindenwood University finished third, Jayson Miner of William Penn University fourth, and Brendan Holl of Clarke University ranked fifth.
The next team tournament the Mustangs will compete in will be the Leatherneck Classic in the Quad Cities on Nov. 13 and 14.
Sports in Short
Men’s soccer suffers two losses
The Mount Mercy men’s soccer team suffered two back-to-back losses, the first one on Oct. 9 against Missouri Valley and the second loss came against Baker University on Oct. 16. The Mustangs lost 2-0 in both matches respectively.
Women’s soccer looking to turn things around
The women’s soccer team was able to end a four-game losing streak this month. They defeated Evangel University 2-0 on Oct. 23.
Women’s golf finds success at fall invitational
Breanna Felderman was a runner-up at the Virginia McCoy Fall Invitational hosted by Park on Oct. 19. Felderman tied for second place after a final round 3-over-par 75. The Mustangs finished fourth overall in fall finale.
Men’s golf earns seventh-place finish
The men’s golf team finished up their fall season with a seventh-place finish at the Virginia McCoy Fall Invitational. Johan Wigerzt finished 23rd with rounds of 81-75 for a 156 total for 36 holes; he led the way for the Mustangs. He was followed by Kaleb Hagge, who tied for 24th shooting 84-73=157.
Women’s bowling places third
On Oct. 17, the women’s bowling team finished third, which qualified them for the finals. They advanced to the match play finals before losing to top seeded Sam Houston at the MidStates championships. The women’s team had a total pin fall of 9,153, and before losing they defeated sixth seeded Oklahoma Christian and second seeded Wichita State.
Men’s bowling finds success at MidStates
On Oct. 17, the men’s bowling team beat Linden-Wood & St. Ambrose, and then took a tough loss to Wichita state at the MidStates championships. Kai Yamada finished fifth individually to earn his second Tier 1 all-tournament honor this season.
Men Set Lofty Goals for Basketball
By Grace Ries/staff writer/Oct. 28, 2021
With the loss of the semifinals at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship last year, the Mount Mercy men’s basketball team is eager to get back to the championship again this upcoming season.
“We are excited about this season. Getting RoyShawn (Webb) and Bailey (Basala) back is a great place to start for our team. They bring experience and leadership that we need in this tough conference. Our goal is to finish in the top four in the conference and go to the National Tournament,” Head Coach Aaron Jennings said.
With these goals in mind, the team has certain aspects of the game they have been working on every day.
“We have been working on our defense and rebounding a lot in practice. We have to get better at both of those if we want to reach our goals,” Jennings said.
Furthermore, to get ready for this upcoming season, the team has also held weight training throughout the spring and summer and had a summer league with additional workouts as well. Other than practicing on the court and in the weight room, the team has also tried to improve their relationships and chemistry.
“One thing that we have been doing as a team to prepare for the season are activities outside of basketball to build chemistry, such as having team dinners or team outings,” senior and co-captain Webb said.
“Overall, just being another coach out on the floor and doing my part to help put us in the best situation possible to win games, and I think we have been making steps in the right direction to help us hit the ground running and get us to where we want to be in March,” Webb said.
With the leadership on this team, there are also players that have joined the team this season who will help achieve the overall goals.
“We have an awesome freshman class. Two guys at the top are Cole Hrubes and Ryan Bartley. They are both long, athletic, and versatile. They will play with a lot of confidence and I’m excited to see how they grow throughout the year,” Jennings said.
Webb said he is excited to see what the new players can do as a team once the games begin.
The team’s first opponent will be Maranatha Baptist home at the Hennessey Rec Center on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.
After COVID-19 Pause, Intramurals Back
By Lexi Berry/staff writer/Oct. 28, 2021
The intramurals program is back up and running after being paused by COVID-19 last year. Every Monday night they hold events at 7 p.m. for students, faculty, and staff to participate in and enjoy. They recently held a spikeball tournament on Oct. 11. Five teams showed up and participated in a double elimination tournament. After two hours of fun and intense competition, Rusty Talaboc and Luis Lugo were the champions.
“It was a great environment where I could have fun and be competitive,” Lugo said.
“It was a great experience competing against other Mount Mercy students,” said Talaboc.
Liza McGrane, a competitor in the tournament, said, “it was super fun. I thought I was going to get hurt since it was in the UC, but it wasn’t that bad. Would highly recommend and would participate again.”
People can keep up with intramurals events on imleagues.com. Those who win the events and signed up on IM Leagues will get the “Intramurals Champion” t-shirt. The next event is flag football at 7 p.m. on Nov. 1. Upcoming events are posted weekly on the bulletin boards around campus and on social media.
Mustangs Sweep Baker University
By Lavaris Duncan/sports editor/Oct. 28, 2021
Saturday, Oct. 9, the Mount Mercy women’s volleyball team faced Baker University after taking two tough losses. The Mustangs were determined to get things turned around. They came out to a slow start falling behind 5-2 in the beginning of the first set. As the match continued, it was back and forth in favor of Baker University and their strong plays led to a time out by Mount Mercy.
The Mustangs returned from the timeout with a completely different energy, dominating the rest of the first set and ending with a commanding 25-19 victory taking a 1-0 lead over Baker University. Heading into the second set, the Mustangs finished right where they left off. Many power plays strung together by the Mustangs led to a 25-15 victory in the second set.
A win in the third set would complete a sweep for the Mustangs. The Mustangs started out a little slow allowing Baker University to gain some momentum, and the opponent took an early 8-5 lead. After a few substitutions the Mustangs found themselves back in the game — all tied up at 12-12. After binding together and relying on their strong teamwork, the result was a huge dominating 25-17 victory.
The Mustangs were able to bounce back from a two-game losing streak and complete the 3-0 sweep against Baker University. Sophomore Torie Alexander had a match-high 15 kills. Her performance landed her on the all-time attack percentage list, sitting at number eleven in school history.
The Mustangs collected a total of 46 kills as a team. Nine of those came from Sophomore Kendall McNaull and another eight were added by Sophomore Cassidy Boche and Junior Maggie Peters. Freshman Hailey Hested led the way with a match-high 42 assists. Freshman Rylie Mussman totaled 18 digs, resulting in a new team best. After this impressive sweep by the Mustangs, their record improved to 9-11 overall and 5-6 in the Heart of America Conference.
After the game, Torie Alexander reacted to her impressive accomplishment of being named eleventh for attacks in school history. “I didn’t realize that my attack percentage for that game is ranked eleventh in school history — that is pretty crazy. I wasn’t thinking about my hitting percentage or the amount of kills I had during the game. I just thought about trying to put the ball where the other team wasn’t, and I tried to help my team in any way I could. Volleyball is a team sport, and I wouldn’t have been able to get those kills without my teammates. I feel honored to have a hitting percentage ranked eleventh in school history. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings for the team.”
Sports in Short
Men’s soccer beats Culver-Stockton
The Mount Mercy men’s soccer team played away at Culver-Stockton in Canton, Missouri on Sept. 18. The Mustangs were victorious over the Wildcats, with junior midfielder Yu Sasaki scoring a goal, allowing the Mustangs to win 1-0.
Later, on Sept. 21, the Mustangs played away at Central Methodist in Fayette, Missouri. The Mustangs lost 10-0.
Women’s soccer suffers two losses
The Mount Mercy women’s soccer team suffered two losses, the first on Sept. 18 against Culver-Stockton and the second against Central Methodist on Sept. 21. The Mustangs lost 11-0 and 1-0, respectively.
Women’s volleyball sweeps Graceland
Women’s volleyball won two days in a row, first 3-1 against Peru State on Sept. 17, and then 3-0 against Graceland on Sept. 18. They then suffered three consecutive losses, all 3-1, against Clarke on Sept. 21, Missouri Valley on Sept. 24, and Central Methodist on Sept. 25, respectively.
Men’s golf secures victory in Galena
The Mount Mercy men’s golf team secured a major victory, placing first out of 13 teams in Galena, Illinois on Sept. 17 and 18. Mustang Colten Mishek helped to lead the Mustangs to victory and tied for second place individually.
Men Fall 1-0 in the End
By Jada Veasey/Editor in Chief/Sept. 30
The Mount Mercy men’s soccer team took the field hours after the women’s team ended their game in a tie after overtime periods. The women’s team’s tie game Sept. 25 made the Mustang fans in the stands hungry for a goal.
In fact, fans in the stands were more vocal in the men’s games; many supporters of both teams loudly expressed their displeasure with the refereeing throughout the course of the game.
Just like the women’s team, the men’s team faced off against MidAmerica Nazarene University. Just as in the women’s game, thetwo men’s teams seemed evenly matched, which made for interesting and exciting gameplay. Both teams demonstrated impressive teamwork and passing and took several shots on goal. Mount Mercy ended the game with eleven total shots, while Nazarene took eight.
The outcome of the men’s game was different from that of the women’s, though for a while, it seemed the men may also end in atie game. The score remained at 0-0 for the entirety of the first half. But then, in the second half, during the game’s 66th minute, MidAmerica Nazarene’s Rick Hovinga scored a goal, besting Mustang goalkeeper Joao Pedro Oliveria.
After MidAmerica Nazarene scored the game’s first goal, there was an increased offensive push from the Mustangs, they gained some momentum and got more aggressive with their attacks on goal. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the extra push was not enough. MidAmerica Nazarene ended up scoring the game’s sole goal, and the Mustangs lost 1-0.
After the game wrapped up, Ogi Bozkan, senior midfielder, said, “we were the better team over the whole game but couldn’t convert our chances and unfortunately conceded a goal after a corner.” Despite the game’s outcome, Bozkan is staying positive. He continued, “I think this team is the most talented I’ve played with in four years, and I know that we will come back.”
Women’s Soccer Ties Conference Foe
By Jada Veasey/Editor in Chief/Sept. 30
The weather was perfect for a homecoming soccer game Sept. 25; sunny, a temperature in the low seventies, and just enough wind to make the game a little more unpredictable than usual.
The Mount Mercy women’s soccer team faced MidAmerica Nazarene University, a fellow member of the NAIA Heart of America Conference, for their homecoming matchup.
While it would have been nice for the Mustangs to secure a landslide victory for their homecoming game, that wasn’t quite what happened. At the end of the first half, the Pioneers and the Mustangs sat at a tied score of 0-0. By the end of the second half, the score remained the same, pushing the game into overtime.
For conference soccer games, overtime is played with up to two additional ten-minute periods. The Mustangs soldiered on through twenty extra minutes of gameplay, but neither team on the field was able to score a goal.
In the first minute of the first overtime period a dispute between the center referee and MMU coaches occurred about whether MidAmerica Nazarene was offsides. In the end the ref did not make the call and the overtime period carried on. A second ten-minute overtime period followed. The game then officially ended in a tie.
Though they were not able to score, both teams took many shots on goal. Shelby Vermeulen, senior, and Miran Sakai, freshman, were two of the Mustangs leading the charge on the offensive side of things.
The aggressive offensive strategies from MidAmerica Nazarene allowed Mustang goalkeeper Grace Byers, junior, to shine, as she made numerous impressive saves throughout the course of the game.
After the game finished, Byers said, “I feel really good about it.” She then added, “it definitely was a good matchup and I think we worked well together, especially on defense. We got opportunities to score but unfortunately didn’t get to score. That’s what we’ll work for next time.”
Isabel Alvarez, senior forward, was also positive in her post-game reflection. Alvarez said, “the game was a tough battle. Both teams were hungry to score and coming in stronger at the second half. We fought harder and harder each minute to have that win we have been working for.”
By Jada Veasey/Editor in Chief/Sept 16
The last weekend in August was one filled with Mustang soccer. Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams had their home openers, with both teams taking on Coe College, Mount Mercy’s cross-town rival.
The women’s team played first, taking on the Kohawks on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at Hadzic Field. After a first half with no goals scored by either team, the Mustangs really delivered in the second half, and ended up defeating Coe 2-0. Senior Ayaka Matsumaru scored both goals for the Mustangs, with an assist on the first by sophomore Sydney Busse and an assist on the second goal by freshman Miran Sakai.
The team showcased great teamwork with their impressive passing throughout the game. Goalkeeper Grace Byers, junior, said, “Ithink that it went really well,” and added, “I’m proud of how well we worked together this game; we really found that chemistry.” Byers certainly did her part to contribute to the win, as she managed to save all five of the shots on goal attempted by the Kohawks.
The women’s team was excited about their win against Coe, and that excitement seemed to carry into Sunday night’s men’s game. The energy was high both on the field and in the stands.
The men’s team fared just as well as the women’s team did the day before, beating Coe with a score of 6-0. The first three of the game’s six goals were scored by senior midfielder Yu Sasaki, with assists by junior Jonah Dancer, sophomore Manuel Prieto, and senior Ogi Bozkan, respectively. Sasaki scored in the game’s 26th, 35th, and 47th minute.
Just seconds after Sasaki’s third goal, Bozkan scored a goal of his own on a penalty kick. The fifth goal was scored by junior Diego Lopez at 69:21, and the final goal of the game was scored in the las minute by Jake Cawkwell with an assist from Lopez.
Meet Our New Sports Editor
By Lavaris Duncan/Sports Editor/Sept 16
Hello! My name is Lavaris Duncan. I am a 24-year-old graduate student from Converse, Texas, and I have been in college for five years.
I first attended Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. During my time there, I had a very successful basketball career that led me to going to NCAA Division-2 powerhouse at Angelo State University, located in Texas. This past spring, I was blessed to graduate from Angelo State with my bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in strategic leadership at Mount Mercy.
I am an active member of the men’s basketball team here at Mount Mercy University. I’m very honored and grateful to be the sports editor the “Mount Mercy Times” newspaper this year.
My love for sports goes beyond sports editing—someday I hope to be a basketball coach and a mentor for the youth. I believe that everyone needs someone to care for them, give them guidance, be a positive and safe outlet, and even be a father figure if necessary. I would love to be that someone for any kid that I coach or mentor; I believe I can be a part of change.
I’m extremely excited about the sports editor position. More importantly, I am thankful for the opportunity. My mission is to be active with the athletes and give them a chance to tell who they are outside of the sports world. I am a firm believer in finding your identity outside of sports—that will take you far in life once it’s time to hang up the jersey.
I am a huge family person, as they have helped shape me into the man I am today. On a more broad spectrum, I also consider my close friends to be family. I hope to build close relationships with many of you here, and I encourage my fellow student-athletes to go out of their comfort zones and do the same.
I look forward to supporting each other at sporting events this year. Together, we can do amazing things.
I look forward to witnessing, hearing about, and sharing stories about other people’s successes during my time at Mount Mercy. I am excited to meet new people through my journey as sports editor, and I hope to bring insight on topics that don’t get much attention such as the mental health of a student-athlete. More specifically, I want to dive into the details of how we can improve this growing issue.
I look forward to covering all the great things Mount Mercy athletes will both overcome and accomplish this year.
Lastly, to my fellow student-athletes: cherish your time with your friends, teammates, and coaches.
Let’s have a great year together and represent Mount Mercy in the most positive and influential ways. Don’t forget—if you see me around, say hello.
COVID Rules for Athletes
By Grace Ries/Staff Writer/September 16
COVID-19 has not only affected Mount Mercy University as a whole, but also the way student-athletes take extra precautions to be able to participate in their sport.
With the recent news of the Delta variant, there have been ongoing adjustments in the buildings at Mount Mercy as well as the athletic facilities. Student athletes have been having to adjust their style of practice and events for the past two years. However, because of vaccinations, most of the rules from last year have adjusted.
“Everyone wears a mask unless you’re in your workplace, doing cardio at the Rinderknecht Athletic Center (RAC) or when eating,” said Paul Gavin, Athletic Director at Mount Mercy University.
All students must take these extra precautions to keep each other safe. The rules within the RAC are adjusted so all athlete scan socially distance themselves while still getting the help they need from the trainers.
“This year in the facility, they limit the number of people in the training room. You make appointments online only, and everyone’s wearing a mask in there. There is also an extra level of disinfection on everything, and fitness equipment as well,” said Gavin.
The athletic trainers are stricter with these rules to keep the student athletes safe and not have them affect their sports seasons.
“The main challenges are if someone has symptoms, they should tell someone in a timely fashion because it can impact not only their team but the community as a whole,” said Gavin.
Laila Sain, who plays for the women’s volleyball team, said it was “very nice” that practices are returning to a sense of normalcy.
“This year practice has gone almost completely back to normal. We do not have to wear masks throughout practice anymore, which is very nice! However, as a whole I feel like there is a lot more competition within the sport and any sports program in general,” Sain said.
With Sain’s love for the sport, she states how COVID-19 has also positively impacted her love for the sport and teammates as well.
“COVID really made me appreciate the time I have as an athlete and just in general with my teammates. I feel as though I’veREALLY realized how important it is to play every single game like it’s your last game because for some of those athletes last year, it was unexpectedly their last game,” Sain said.
Alen Kudumovic, head coach of the women’s soccer team, said he would like to stay focused on the season and minimize distractions.
“We are here to play soccer. I want to focus on the field and not on everything else that can happen off the field and the little nuances that can prevent us from actually playing soccer,” Kudumovic said.
Student athletes all over campus care about the sport they are playing as well as the teammates they surround themselves with.
“With or without COVID, any game has the possibility of being someone’s last game, but you don’t really get that kind of understanding and appreciation for a sport and your teammates until you’re put in a situation where that’s the case,” said Sain.
Mount Mercy Hosts NAIA XC Nationals
By Josh Harmon/Senior Multimedia Editor/April 30, 2021
On the rainy and muddy morning of Friday, April 9, both the men and women of the Mount Mercy cross-country team stepped foot on a common course to compete, although the occasion was not so common.
Mount Mercy University hosted the 41st annual NAIA national meet for cross-country, with 35 women’s teams and 37 men’s teams laced up to compete at Seminole Valley Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This was only the second time MMU hosted the cross-country national meet, the first time occurring in 2018.
326 female athletes competed in the 5k, while 317 male competitors raced in the 8k race, both at Seminole Valley Park. Of the 326 women, MMU runner Kelsi Huhndorf, junior from Marion, Iowa, finished first for the Mustang squad and placed 45th overall. Mount Mercy athletes Jessica Ertz, Ruth Cobieya, Lilian Gaulrapp, Carli Reittinger, Sydney Woods and Abby Hill were the rest of the women to finish the race.
On the men’s side, Cameron Steffens, senior from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the first to cross the finish line for MMU. “It’s definitely a bittersweet ending to my senior season,” Steffens said. “It was a unique experience running an 8k cross-country race in the spring when we have been training for a lot shorter distances such as the 800m on the track,” Steffens added.
“It was pretty special to take a look around and see the amount of people at our home course,” he concluded.
A similar experience came from Ryan Clancy, freshmen from Aviation, Illinois. “Before the race during my warm-up strides, I took a brief moment to stop and look at the amount of competition,” Clancy mentioned. Clancy also noted that getting the experience to run at nationals as a freshman motivates him even more to qualify next year.
MMU runners Chase Kress, Oscar Lopez, Matt Hellige, Noah Cokel and Mahlon Steepleton were the rest of the competitors on the men’s cross-country team. Overall the women’s team placed 31st in the women’s 5k, with the men’s team finishing 35th.
Ready to Roll! Mount Mercy Men’s Bowling Team Heading to Sectionals this weekend.
By Ayra Aminuddin/Staff Writer/April 30, 2021
The Mount Mercy men’s bowling team is ranked eighth in the country and only eight of them are heading to Addison, Illinois for Intercollegiate Team Sectionals Championships on Friday through Sunday.
The men’s team is the number two seed at Stardust Bowl, Addison, with Calumet College being the number one seed. A total of 16 teams will be competing for the top four positions to qualify for Intercollegiate Team Nationals Championships that will be held in Wyoming, Michigan from May 5-8.
“I feel confident in being assigned at Addison,” said Andy Diercks, the bowling team head coach. “I believe we know the center well as we compete there several times a year, so we know the characteristics of the lanes.”
As preparation for Sectionals, the coaches built a lane condition for bowlers to train on. It stimulates how the lanes at Stardust Bowl transition so that the bowlers can get used to it.
“The coaches push us to our physical and mental limits every day and by doing so, has propelled this program to one of the top teams in the nation,” said Kai Yamada. Yamada is a freshman majoring in nursing. He is the top bowler for the team, averaging 211 for the regular season.
The team recently started reading mental performance books to work on improving their mindset during tournaments. They have weekly small group meetings for an hour and a half where they focus on the mental aspects of bowling.
“I have all of the faith in the world that my teammates and I have learned and grown enough to trust our process and qualify for ITC Nationals,” said Alex Diercks, a senior on the team. “We are equipped and ready to take that step.”
This is the first time the men’s team has made the top 10 in the country based on the Team Ranking System (TRS) points earned throughout the United States Bowling Collegiate season. If the team gets top four spot at Sectionals, it will be their second time making Nationals since 2013.
Here are the bowlers going to sectionals:
Alex Diercks (Senior)
Max Roers (Junior)
Jared Durant (Junior)
Ian Ridgeway (Junior)
Darin Bloomquist (Junior)
Josh Zilk (Sophomore)
Isaac Erickson (Sophomore)
Kai Yamada (Freshman)
Mount Mercy Hosts Nationals for XC FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THE PROGRAM’S HISTORY
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/April 30, 2021
The Mount Mercy men’s and women’s cross-country teams hosted the NAIA Cross-Country National Championships on Friday, April 9, at Seminole Valley Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
This year’s event was supposed to happen in November 2020 but was pushed back to April 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The university put a dual bid in with a separate conference to host the last two national championships in 2018 and 2021. The director of the meet was Mount Mercy’s head coach of track and field Ryan Scheckel.
“We put a dual bid back in 2016, with the Cascade Collegiate Conference. We were wanting to create this championship course for the top runners to compete on. It would also help the city of Cedar Rapids’ sports and tourism areas. Plus, boost the economic area as well,” Scheckel said.
Hosting this year’s national championships was much different compared to hosting back in 2018.
“Hosting this year in 2021, compared to 2018 was a different experience socially. We had a large banquet with everyone who was competing back in 2018. The student athlete experience was less fulfilling with the banquet getting canceled. We also had to test over 1,000 people for COVID-19.” Scheckel said.
The 2017 and 2019 NAIA National Championships were hosted out in Vancouver, Washington- who will be hosting the national championships fall of 2021 and 2023.
Scheckel and the Mount Mercy Mustangs hope to put in a bid to host again for 2022.
MMU Baseball Hits Their Stride
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/April 30, 2021
The Mount Mercy men’s baseball team defeated Waldorf University 12-8 in a nonconference game on the cold, windy, Wednesday evening of March 24 at the Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex.
Seniors Lyle Fini and Jake Faur led the Mustangs to a solid victory over the Warriors. Even though Mount Mercy came out on top, they trailed 5-3 during midway through the fifth inning. Then, they scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, along with two more runs in the sixth inning.
Waldorf tried to close the overall gap by getting the score to 9-7 in the eighth, however, Mount Mercy scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to lead the team to another win. The combined help of Fini and Faur contributed to five of Mount Mercy’s 11 total hits in the game.
Fini did well, batting 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Faur finished batting 3-for-4 with a double and four runs batted in, to help the cause. Left-hander Nolan Frey earned the overall win with his relief pitching—he only allowed one earned run, with three hits in 2 1/3 innings of pitching.
The Mustangs have an overall record of (15-7, 4-4 Heart of America). The team is looking to build even more momentum in the coming weeks.
“We started off the season fast and hit a bit of a rough patch, but we are starting to put the pieces all together again,” senior shortstop Chili Moseley said.
Moseley is excited the direction the team is headed in.
“It feels good knowing we are about to hit our stride as a team,” he continued. “It is fun watching guys get through the rough times and succeed.”
Men’s Volleyball Shines on Senior Night
By Josh Harmon/Senior Multimedia Editor/April 30, 2021
Mount Mercy’s men’s volleyball team faced off against William Penn University to conclude their regular season and potentially celebrate a win for Senior Night on March 23.
The Mustangs came out the gates with an intense energy to start the game. After a first set mostly dominated by Mount Mercy, the ‘Stangs won the first set to take the lead 1-0.
Caught a bit on their heels by the Statesmen in the second set, MMU found themselves on the opposite side of the game. William Penn turned their first set around by only committing 3 errors in the second set, compared to the 8 committed by Mount Mercy. The Statesmen also led in kills during the second set with 14 over the Mustangs’ 9. William Penn evened the match score, 1-1.
During the start of the third set, Mount Mercy switched to a much more serious game plan, knowing they needed to put the game away before William Penn could gain more momentum. The Mustangs started strong and kept their composure to close out the third set with a win and regain the match lead, 2-1.
After regaining the match lead, it was important for MMU to not allow William Penn any room to breathe. In the closest set of them all, Mount Mercy showed discipline and held on to win the set 25-22.
Senior from Cedar Rapids, Evan Gaskill led the team with 18 kills. Gaskill, along with senior teammates Ben Ruggles from Oswego, Illinois and Ben Steffen from Madison, Wisconsin, were able to celebrate their senior night with a 3-1 win over William Penn.
“It is humbling to be recognized by my coaches and teammates for years of hard work and dedication,” Ruggles said. “I think the idea of senior night is bitter-sweet, but I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my final regular season game, and I am excited for the conference tournament,” he concluded.
MMU is seeded fifth in their Heart of America Conference championship quarterfinals match, which is scheduled on March 27.
Bruner Sets All-Time Hits Record
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/April 30, 2021
Bruner Sets All-Time Hits Record
By Mahlon Steepleton
The Mount Mercy woman’s softball team had their home opener over spring break weekend on Saturday, March 20. The Mustangs had not played on their home field in almost two years, as their season got shut down last March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mustangs split their Heart of America Conference doubleheader against William Penn University. MMU won the first game 7-2 and used a 3-run sixth inning to pull away from the Statesmen. Senior Payton Bruner of Cedar Rapids, Iowa also became Mount Mercy’s all-time hits leader during the first game. She got a triple in her first at-bat, resulting in 195 hits for her career.
Bruner came back to play softball in 2021 after graduating with a degree in criminal justice last year. She has played softball now for a total of 11 years and still loves playing the game. Bruner primarily plays the infield as a shortstop as her natural position and sometimes switches over to playing third base.
For Bruner, it is an amazing experience to be a part of such a storied softball career and to achieve such a high goal of being the all-time hits leader for Mount Mercy.
“It is a really big accomplishment for me,” Bruner said. “It is surprising and awesome to see myself at the top of the list. I was nine hits away last year before COVID-19 ended our season. I decided to come back and get that record under my belt.”
Bruner is excited not just for what she can accomplish, but for the overall goals that the team can accomplish this season.
“My goal and our team’s overall goal for this season is for us to make the conference tournament,” she said. “We need to take it one game at a time. We want to get a sweep and not just only split our conference games this season. We don’t want to get complacent.”
The Mustangs host the Heart of America Conference Tournament this season, so keep your eyes open for more opportunities to see them play.
Ertz and Mckinney repeat Athlete of The Week Honors
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/April 30, 2021
Mount Mercy is honored to have two graduate-level record-breaking student athletes. For the fifth week in a row, graduate student Andrea Ertz was named the NAIA Track and Field Athlete of the Week, and graduate student Dennis Mckinney was named the NAIA Athlete of the Week for Men’s basketball for the fourth time in five weeks.
Ertz was named Co-Track Athlete of the Meet after a successful weekend in the 2021 Heart of America Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships. The reason for Ertz’ accomplishments came from earning 30 points to help the women’s team.
Ertz has been dominating the last five years at Mount Mercy for the women’s cross-country and track and field teams respectively. She has been running since her sophomore year of high school and got interested because of her sister, who wanted to join the Marine Corps and decided to start running with her.
Ertz finished her undergraduate program in December 2019 and decided to come back and attend graduate school to complete her MBA degree. In this time, she decided to continue competing in track and field, and will be going to the NAIA National Championships this week for the Mustangs. She qualified in the women’s 800, 1000 and 4×800 meters events.
“I feel very honored to be recognized with the athlete of the week awards for multiple weeks,” Ertz said. “Our conference has a lot of talented runners, so each week I knew I had to be on top of my game to stay competitive with them.”
Ertz has been grinding ever since the outdoor track season was cancelled last March.
“I have put in a lot of training between last year’s indoor season up till now,” she said. “So, it feels good to know that the training is paying off.”
Also balling out for the Mustangs is graduate student Dennis Mckinney, who was named the NAIA Athlete of the Week for men’s basketball for the fourth time in five weeks. Mckinney also was a first-team all-conference for the Heart of America.
Mckinney led the Heart and ranked sixth overall in the NAIA in scoring at 24.3 points per game. Mckinney also led the Mustangs in rebounding (7.1 rpg) and 3-point field goals. His 78 treys moved him into second place in school history with 230 total. He also was ranked fifth in the nation for three pointers made.
Mckinney is also sitting currently in third place on Mount-Mercy’s all-time scoring chart with 1,779 points; he is only 2 points away from second place. Mckinney has worked hard on his game to get to where he is right now.
“A lot of my hard work has paid off,” Mckinney said. “I get by on work ethic, not talent. I also pushed for it every single game and every week I saw my name for Athlete of the Week, it pushed me to get better.”
Both head coaches for Mount Mercy are very proud of their athletes’ performances this year. For head men’s basketball coach Aaron Jennings, it is nice to have a hard-working player like Mckinney on your team.
“I feel very blessed; Dennis is amazing,” Jennings said. “He has earned everything that has come his way. He has put in the work, day in and day out.”
Similarly, assistant track and field coach Tad Hulst has been blessed to coach a standout athlete like Ertz for the last four years now.
“It is really fun,” Hulst said. “She is the type of athlete you love to coach. Not because of her elite level talent, but because of her work ethic, grit, and how coachable she is.”
“She’s bought into what it takes to reach that next level and takes care of business, not just the two hours a day at practice,” he continued. “It is the other 22 hours a day, every day as well.”
Ertz will be back for next year’s track and field season after completing this 2021 outdoor season. She will be continuing to take MBA classes during the season and is looking to graduating next spring.
Mckinney has a big decision on what his future will be in the sport of basketball. He has a couple of options for next basketball season.
“The plan is what I can see about going pro. If it is not for me, I will be coming back to Mount Mercy University,” Mckinney said.
Mustangs Take on Indoor Conference Championships Meet
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/April 30, 2021
The Mount Mercy men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in the Heart of America Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20 at the Hughes Fieldhouse indoor facility at Northwest Missouri State University.
The men’s team scored 40 total points and finished in eighth place out of a total of 11 teams. The women’s team scored 72 total points and finished in sixth place out of 10 total teams and collected five individual conference titles as well. Graduate student Annie Ertz dominated the field with three overall first place titles.
Ertz got conference champion in the 1000 meters – (3:01:88) and the 800 meters (2:17:37) races respectively. Ertz also anchored the women’s 4×800 relay team to a first-place victory along with teammates Kelsi Huhndorf, junior, and freshman Carli Reittinger, hitting an overall time of (9:33.84).
Huhndorf also got a first in the 3000 meters with a personal record time of (10:41.75). She placed third for the Mustangs also in the mile with a personal record time of (5:18.58).
Also performing well for the Mustangs was Jessica Ertz who got honorable mention in the 1000 meters with a personal record of (3:11.95). Freshman Bre Nail was a conference champion in the shot put, throwing (12.96m).
On the men’s side, sophomore Nathan Skala won honorable mention in the 800 meters race with a time of (2:00.56). Freshman Ryan Clancy finished fourth in the mile with a personal record time of (4:33.24). Sophomore Mitchell Miller had a solid day in the weight throw, finishing sixth overall with throwing (15.18 m).
Senior Luke Nickelson will be heading back to the NAIA National Championships after having an overall good finish during conference. Nickelson qualified for nationals in the triple jump category. Nickelson placed third in high jump, jumping a height of (1.97m), and he followed that up with a second-place finish in triple jump, jumping (14.00 m) overall.
This will be the third year in a row that Nickelson has made nationals for the Mustangs.
“It is definitely a blessing, because it is nice that I am getting better and better every time I have gone to nationals,” Nickelson said. “It will be nice to see how I compete and finish overall.”
The Mustangs 4×800 also had a good day, placing fifth with an overall time of (8:04.50). The 4×800 team was led by Skala, senior Cam Steffens, freshman Gyanziel Quinonez and sophomore Oscar Lopez. They were 2 seconds away from making nationals.
For the team, there was some dismay on being so close and not making the NAIA National championships.
“It sucked! We put together a good squad to run it, but we were unable to run a fast-enough time to qualify,” Skala said. “Our goal for outdoor will be to drop a couple of seconds on each of our times. Hopefully, we can just take this as motivation to ride it into the outdoor season.”
The individuals who qualified for nationals will compete at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. on Wednesday, March 3 through Saturday, March 6.
Men’s Volleyball Loses in 4 Sets
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/April 30, 2021
The Mount Mercy men’s volleyball team lost in four total sets to Missouri Baptist University, on Feb. 25 at the Hennessey Rec Center. Missouri Baptist was ranked No. 5 coming into this match-up with the Mustangs.
The Spartans won the first two sets with scores of (26-24, 25-22), although the Mustangs came back in the third set by winning in a back-and-forth fight (35-33). Missouri Baptist then ended the game by winning the fourth set, (25-20).
Junior Tiago Almeida led the Mustangs with 18 total digs. In addition, senior Evan Gaskill and sophomore Ryan Tilkens tied for the lead in kills with 13 each.
For the No. 14 ranked Mustangs, it was special to go up against a top five team in the Spartans.
“I do not look at rankings often but playing top 10 teams is special and it is always super fun and competitive,” said freshman Rafael Vieyra. “It is what molds us into better players.”
The Mustangs held their ground, but still have things they need to work on.
“We need to adapt quicker on offense,” said senior Ben Ruggles. “We also want to be more fluid offensively. The team needs to have better setups.”
The Mustangs are also trying people out at new positions lately, and it has been a little tough adjusting to the new system.
“We are trying a new setter, which is a tough adjustment,” said Head Coach Mary Kay Van Oort. “Especially with hardly any practice and on short notice. Our regular setter is doing well as a hitter, and we needed that from Ben Ruggles.”
The Mustangs will play Friday, March 5 against Graceland University on the Heart of America. Those interested in watching can catch the game on the Heart of America Athletics website.
Mustangs Extend Winning Streak to Two
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/Jan. 23, 2021
The Mount Mercy women’s basketball team created a winning streak on Saturday, Jan. 9 against the Evangel Crusaders. The team won 71-63, with a 63-shot percentage in the second h
It had been almost a year since the Mustangs had won two games in a row, hoping to continue the streak. Junior Kyla Richardson and sophomore Sammy Mia led the way for the Mustangs with 12 points apiece. Senior Sarah Moffett also had an excellent game with 10 points and 9 rebounds as well.
“Overall, coming back from winter break, we knew what we had to do to get a win as a team. Especially with our win against Graceland last week. We wanted to bounce back and get another win,” Abbi Kinnaird, senior, said.
Mustangs Head Coach Tim Schuring has also been impressed with the team the last couple of games as well.
“We’ve been successful with this win streak, because the team has been working hard daily,” Schuring said. “They are also doing everything that we need to do daily to get better. It’s as simple as that.”
The Mustangs are now 3-7 overall. In addition, they are 3-6 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
Mustangs Win with a Shutout
Images from the Nov. 18 soccer game (Times photos by Matthew Mumm)
By Matthew Mumm/Staff Writer/Dec. 8, 2020
Skies were clear on the evening of Wednesday Nov. 18, but the wind was blowing rapidly with gusts reaching 17 to 25 mph, as the Men’s Soccer Team took the field at Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex against the Wildcats of Culver-Stockton.
High winds didn’t stop the Mustangs getting off to a fast early start. Within the first 4 minutes; 40 seconds of the first half the Mustangs got the broad first. Yu Sasaki, number 10, junior and businesses management major scored the first goal.
With 40 minutes; 10 seconds remaining in the first half, the Mustangs had to keep the pressure on the Wildcats. The Mustangs achieved that by not allowing the Wildcat’s to score, and the Mustangs went into halftime with lead of 1 to 0.
At halftime, Will Hanigan, junior and marketing major, who is out for the season due to injury was on the sidelines supporting his team. He stated:
“It has been a really great first half so far by us, we are moving the ball really well. This game is a must win game for us to make the playoffs, but we need to at least two or three more goals in the second half to make the game safe.”
As the second half continued, the Mustangs kept the pressure on, with 19 minutes; 22 second left the second half, Yu Sasaki struck again by scoring the second goal of the evening and his second of the game. Yu Sasaki stated the following in the post-game interview:
“My goal was to score two goals in this game, so that I can lead the conference with most scored goals so far this season. Before coming into today’s game, I had nine goals and was in second place, behind Tom Irion from Central Methodist.”
Sasaki further stated: “I want to be in first place and now I am with 11 total goals. I am very excited!”
As the second half proceeded, the Mustangs scored two more goals. The third goal was scored with 15 minutes;47 seconds left by Thomas Bean, number 11 and the fourth goal was scored by Jonatha Vieira, number 12.
Mustangs win with a shut out of a final score of 4 to 0; they have raised their conference record to 4-5 and 2. After this win, the Mustangs still have change to advance to the playoff. Head Coach Amir Hadzic, quotes the following just moments after the game:
“This win feels good, after the game on Nov. 15, against Central Methodist two-time defending national champs. That game took a lot out of us as a team, not only physically but mentally, and it was hard to get motivated this game against Culver-Stockton”.
Hadzic further stated that their strategy was to keep constant pressure on the other team and score quickly. Once they made it past the second goal, it was easier to play.
As this game, the Men’s Soccer Team was wanting to hear back from Graceland University for their final conference game. “We are not for sure when our final away game will be, ether sometime after Thanksgiving or next spring in April of 2021 as players form Graceland have COVID-19,” Hazdic noted.
New Women’s Soccer Coach Looks Ahead After Tough Season
By Dylan Mills/Staff Writer/Dec. 8, 2020
Coach Alen Kudumovic and his women’s soccer team fought their way through a very tough season this fall semester. Kudumovic was appointed the women’s head soccer coach in December 2019 and had very little time to recruit players who could bring the skills and success the team was looking for. Adding to that, the COVID-19 pandemic made matters even more challenging.
Kudumovic is a very experienced coach and is well-known in the soccer community, having been involved in the Mount Mercy men’s soccer team as the graduate assistant coach from 2016 to 2018. Furthermore, he has been the director of coaching at the Cedar Rapids Soccer Association (CRSA) since 2010.
This season, the women’s soccer team had an overall record of 1-10 and a Heart of America Conference record of 0-10. Although the season was a challenge, with more knowledge on how athletic programs can protect athletes from the current COVID-19 pandemic and more time to recruit players, a successful season next fall is what the team looks forward to.
The team was short on players and the coaches appreciated all the effort and dedication the women have shown from the first day of pre-season, until the very last second of their last match.
“This season was really tough for our girls,” Melany Roggow, assistant coach, said. “Not only were we dealing with strict changes due to COVID-19 protocols, but we struggled with numbers as well. Due to COVID restrictions, some of our players couldn’t make it back to campus.
“Those who were able to make it back for the season showed a lot of heart and dedication. Following the new protocols was not easy – even with the challenge of short numbers and losing players due to injuries or illness, our ladies really pushed through and showed up to every game. I look forward to next season and I am excited to see the continued growth of each player and our team as a whole.”
The team had to quarantine for two weeks early in their season as there were positive COVID-19 cases within the team, and that put them on the back foot. However, the women jumped back strong. Just as things were starting to flow smoothly however, more positive cases came up at the end of the season and the team had to quarantine again for another two weeks. This resulted in the girls not getting to play their last two games.
A junior and star player on the team, Shelby Vermeulen, said: “Although we had a losing season with the unfortunate events of COVID and injuries, I still saw an overall improvement in the teams’ game play and attitude. I have no doubt that our new coach Alen Kudumovic is taking the women’s soccer program in the right direction for a good season next year.”
Women’s Basketball Struggles Against NAIA 13th Ranked Team
By Josh Harmon/Senior Multimedia Editor/Dec. 8, 2020
MMU’s women’s basketball team lost 82-46 against Clarke University Nov. 30. Clarke came into this year’s basketball season ranked 13 in the nation for NAIA women’s basketball.
The Mustangs started off the match rather competitively. McKenzie Stoehr a junior from Granada Hills, California put in the first bucket of the game for MMU. Stoehr ended the night as the Mustangs leading scorer with 12 points.
Sassy Coleman, a junior from Aurora, Colorado and Chailey Cabalis, senior from Keaau, Hawaii were the first substitutions to check into the game for Mount Mercy. Coleman picked up a quick blow-by layup instantly entering the game. Coleman also concluded the game with three rebounds and a blocked shot.
After the first quarter action, Clarke led MMU 23-14. This was the closest score the Mustangs would get to Clarke the rest of the night. Clarke was able to settle in defensively and keep MMU from scoring the ball. At halftime, Clarke was ahead 40-21.
Mount Mercy’s head coach, Tim Schuring talked to his team at halftime about sharing the ball with one another. Schuring also noted that the Mustangs were getting open looks at the basket, but the shots just weren’t falling.
Clarke was able to finish off the game in front, defeating Mount Mercy 82-46. Clarke’s largest lead over MMU was 41 points at one time during the game
Mount Mercy women’s basketball was looking to bounce back in their next match against Grand View University which was Dec. 5 in Des Moines, Iowam, but Grandview won that game 77-60. More images of the game:
Mustangs Lose Close One to Vikings
By Mahlon Steepleton/Sports Editor/Dec. 8, 2020
The Mustang women lost a close one in the fourth quarter, 68-61, to the Missouri Valley Vikings in a Heart of America Conference game on Nov. 28.
The contest had a slight disadvantage for Mount Mercy—Missouri Valley had already played a total of four games. Mount Mercy on the other hand, had their season paused since their exhibition loss to Emmaus on Nov. 3 due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Mustangs had a tough time pulling away throughout the game.
“We need to continue to grow and get better. In all phases of the game,” said Head Coach Tim Schuring.
Junior Cristian Patron led the way for the women’s team with a total of 13 points, along with three steals. Junior Kyla Richardson added a team-high of eight rebounds to go along with her 12 points. Senior Sarah Moffett helped out the Mustangs as well with six rebounds and 11 points.
Moffett knows what the team can improve on.
“The biggest thing is not to have mental lapses,” she said. “As well as playing all 40 minutes of the game and not slowing down,” said Moffett.
On the other side of the ball, Hannah Stephens and Shanelle Tolley both had double-double games for the Vikings.
Tolley had a game-high of 19 total points and 16 rebounds, while Stephens added 12 boards and 13 points. Shalina Harper also contributed to the team’s win with 12 points of her own. Missouri Valley controlled the game with their 53-41 advantage in rebounds.
Up next, the Mustangs host to 13th-ranked Clarke (4-1, 2-1 Heart) on Monday, Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m., located at the Hennessey Gymnasium.
Men’s Basketball Dominates
By Veronica Jons/Editor-in-Chief/November 13, 2020
Waldorf University didn’t stand a chance against the Mount Mercy men’s basketball team for the Mustangs’ third game of the season on Nov. 13.
Despite there being some new faces on the starting line-up, the Mustangs started out strong with their fast-paced offense. Within the first 45 seconds of the game, senior Bailey Basala scored a three-pointer for the team.
The men gave Waldorf no other option but to match the Mustangs’ speed, leading to many missed shots for the Warriors and many defensive rebounds from senior Dennis McKinney, totaling to six rebounds for the night.
Top scorer of the night with 27 points on the board, McKinney said, “We came out and set the tone early. We played with energy and pace, which is when we play at our best.”
He couldn’t have been more right. Throughout the night, the Mustangs kept pushing the Warriors to match their speed of play. During the night, senior Keishun Thomas continued to contribute to the high scoring game with seven assists. Thomas wasn’t the only one in on the action—sophomore Cody Westcott dove for the ball, wrestling it from the other player to gain possession with success.
The Warriors, desperate to catch up to the Mustangs, attempted a three-point shot with two seconds left of the first half, only to miss—signaling the end of the first half with a score of 51-31.
By the end of the second half, junior Tyler Kelly had given the game 18 points, with senior RoyShawn Webb having 17 points, and Basala ending the game with 15 points. The Mount Mercy Mustangs finished the game with a score of 103-71, giving them a season record so far of 2-1.
Volleyball Takes the Win Over the Wildcats
Josh Harmon/ Senior Multimedia Editor/October 27, 2020
Mount Mercy University’s women’s volleyball team swept the Wildcats of Culver- Stockton University three sets to none on Tuesday, Oct. 27 in the Hennessy Recreation Center. After this game, senior Kayla Daggett became 19 assists away from setting the new all-time assist record for women’s volleyball at Mount Mercy.
Both teams began the game with a similar high-paced energy, however, the Mustangs quickly took control over Culver-Stockton. Maddie Bell, senior from Ely, Iowa, scored a streak of points early in the first set, including a sneaky ‘trick shot’ kill that gave MMU the lead 9-5.
The Mustangs continued to score until Culver-Stockton took their first timeout of the game. Looking recomposed following their timeout, the Wildcats scored and cut Mount Mercy’s lead down 13-6. The rest of the set was dominated by MMU, winning the first set 25-9.
The second set was the most competitive of the three. Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout the set until Culver-Stockton once again called for a timeout when trailing 17-16. Mount Mercy never gave Culver-Stockton the breath of air they were searching for and finished off the second set 25-18.
Much like the first set, Mount Mercy completed their sweep over the Wildcats with a comfortable third set win of 25-9.
Amidst the third straight win for the women’s volleyball team, Kayla Daggett, senior from Madison, Wisconsin, is currently in pursuit of Mount Mercy’s individual all-time assist record in women’s volleyball.
The current women’s volleyball record at Mount Mercy is held by Renee Downey, set back in 2005 with 1,356 assists. For those unfamiliar, an assist is when a player sets the ball in position for another player to complete the kill, or score the point.
“It’s super exciting,” said Daggett, who is currently 19 assists away from the record. “I hope I can break the record in front of my parents on senior night.”
“I think Maddie (Bell) will score the point that gives me the assist and breaks the record,” Daggett said. “We started all this together as freshmen.”
Mount Mercy women’s volleyball’s senior night game will be played on Sunday, Nov. 1. Mount Mercy will host William Penn and will permit in-person attendance for limited family members to celebrate senior night.
MMU Cross Country Teams Continue to Succeed
By Josh Harmon/Senior Multi Media Editor/October 10, 2020
Kelsi Huhndorf broke her previous set personal best and finished as a top 10 individual in the women’s 5k race on Saturday, Oct. 10. Women placed 12 and men placed 19 out of 25 teams competing in the NAIA Seminole Valley Stampede cross-country meet.
The chilly, fall breeze blew persistently over the grass at the Seminole Valley Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The women’s 5k race started off the meet, which contained 25 different teams from throughout the Midwest, with multiple teams coming from the NAIA Heart of America Conference that MMU competes in.
Baker, William Penn, Clarke and Graceland University were a few of the other HAC teams present.
The winner of the women’s 5k finished with a time of 16:24, over a minute faster than the second place runner. The first Mount Mercy runner to cross the finish line was Kelsi Huhndorf, junior from Marion, Iowa with a time of 18:41. This time beat her previous personal best time by 24 seconds set at a meet earlier this season.
Jessica Ertz, senior; Ruth Cobieya, junior; Carli Reittinger, freshman; Jordan Hernandez, freshman; and Abby Hill (freshman) were the other Mount Mercy finishers. The women’s team ended up placing 12 of 25.
The men’s 8k race had a closer finish compared to the women’s with the runner-up crossing the finish line nearly 10 seconds after the winner, who finished with a time of 24:44. Of the Mustangs, Cameron Steffens, senior, finished first and ultimately crossed the finish placing 43rd.
Behind Steffens finished runners Chase Kress, senior; Matt Hellige, freshman; Noah Cokel, freshman; Jared Tegeler, junior; Ryan Clancy, freshman; and Josh Scholl, freshman. The men’s team finished placing 19 out of 25 teams.
Return to Sports
By Morgan Ingwersen/Sports Editor/Sept. 7, 2020
Most colleges and universities have made the decision to push back the fall sports season to the spring, though the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) has made the decision to continue the season as planned.
Classes resumed in September after a long six-month break from in-person sessions. In addition to classes starting, athletics have also been in full swing, but following new guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
“The first few practices felt really strange with the six-month gap, because we normally practice throughout the year,” said Amir Hadzic, the head coach for the men’s soccer team. “Not having a camp with kids like we normally do in June, it took me awhile to get back into coaching.”
Mount Mercy, as well as other schools in the Heart of America Conference, are required to follow specific safety guidelines for the fall season. These guidelines include, but are not limited to temperature checks, denying spectators at any home events, and COVID screening completed each day.
The NAIA has already made the decision to postpone the cross-country fall championships to April 2021, regarding the safety of the host school, Mount Mercy University, as well as other schools in the NAIA.
Mount Mercy Welcomes New Golf Coaches
By Taylor Petersen/Sports Editor/May 14,2020
On Tuesday, April 28, it was announced that two new gold coaches have been hired to take over the men and women’s golf teams for the 2020-2021 season. The new head Mount Mercy men’s golf coach is Ben Jones and the new head coach for the women’s team is Danielle Ducklow. They will begin their reign of the programs on July 1, 2020.
Jones is a Mount Mercy graduate of the class of 2018 and is a native of Eastbourne, England. Before coming to Mount Mercy, he played two years of golf at Kirkwood Community College before finishing his golf career at MMU.
While a Mustang senior, he was the team captain and graduated with a degree in psychology in 2018. After graduation, he has been working as the assistant golf coach at Kirkwood and graduate assistant for events while working toward a Masters in Strategic Leadership at Mount Mercy.
Ducklow was a four-year standout for the Viterbo women’s golf team (2014-18) while earning a sport management and leadership degree. She was a four-time all-conference selection, garnering first-team All-North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) honors three times.
She also led the V-Hawks in scoring average from 2016-18 and was an NAIA Scholar-Athlete and NSAA Scholar-Athlete, as well as an NAIA-SIDA Student-Athlete Representative. Ducklow earned the Outstanding Student Leadership Award at Viterbo. She is presently finishing up a Master’s in Business Administration at Mount Mercy while serving as the graduate assistant for sports information.
The new coaches were hired after former Mount Mercy coach Luke Slaymaker resigned from his position as the head golf coach for both teams.
When Slaymaker was the head coach for MMU, the Mount Mercy men were runner-up in the Heart of America three times and finished fourth once, while the Mustang women placed sixth or better each year, including a third-place finish in 2019. In all, he coached 20 all-conference performers, as well as Heart of America Player of the Year and NAIA second-team all-American George Long (2016).
Slaymaker was a 2011 Mount Mercy Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and two-time NAIA all-American as a player for the Mustangs. He took over both golf programs in July 2016 after coaching the men’s squad during the 2015-16 campaign, and he led the Mustang men to the NAIA national tournament in 2016 and earned Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Coach of the Year honors in 2019.
Opinion: Life Without Sports Feels Unimaginable
By Aaron Golding/Business Manager/May 14, 2020
The one word that was in the air and described me in February through early March was ‘suspense.’ You might ask, why? Any basketball fan would know that the most exciting month was coming up, March Madness!
Not only is March the most exciting month, it is one of the most profitable months for teams, arenas and gamblers. The reason there was so much suspense in my life was because I needed to find out if the Indiana Basketball team would solidify a spot in the “Big Dance.”
Wednesday, March 11 was the night that the Hoosiers defeated the Cornhuskers in the First Round of the Big Ten Tournament. This win would have put the team officially in the NCAA Tournament. You could say that my life was soaring with excitement. That was until the next morning. The following morning, the Big Ten Commissioner cancelled the Big Ten Conference Tournament due to the spread of COVID-19.
This was the morning that my world seemed to stop. I could not believe the tournament was not going to happen along with millions of other basketball fans. Sadly, sports seasons were officially halted due to this crisis.
After every tournament was cancelled, other major sports started to suspend play too. If you are not a basketball fan, COVID-19 was also responsible for the cancellation of all professional, college and high school athletic competitions. For several weeks, Americans lived not knowing what to do. During that time things began to unravel rapidly.
My roommates and I found out that our senior track season would be taken from us due to this pandemic. I thought March Madness being cancelled was bad, but once NAIA cancelled our 2020 track season it hit too close to home. Sports in my life give me enjoyment and a reason to live. Once they told us that we could not even practice, it was devastating.
The next thing we know ESPN and Fox Sports began rolling out with virtual sports. Throughout the quarantine, I have watched multiple virtual sporting events take place. MLB the Show, Madden and iRacing for NASCAR have come to the rescue! The one virtual sporting event that has been the most realistic has been the iRacing for NASCAR. It has been interesting to watch them race for the past five weeks and has me wanting to try it out on my rig at home.
Due to NASCAR’S virtual races, I have been able to watch Jeff Gordon, who is my all-time favorite driver, come out of retirement and race one more time. Even though it was not really a NASCAR race, it was neat to watch Jeff drive the virtual car in the iRacing game. The one thing I would have never believed was that we would be watching virtual sports instead of real sporting events in 2020. The year 2020 will always be remembered in history as the year the sporting world came to a “SCREECHING HALT!”
COVID-19 changed many of my plans this spring. No spring break trip, no goodbyes to friends and no in-person graduation ceremony. This pandemic is definitely the most bizarre situation that myself and most Americans have ever experienced and hopefully ever will experience.
The one bright thing that this pandemic created was that I was able to move back home and spend more time with my parents and family before I start my career in business. This was only a small token that I got back from being stripped of the last couple months of my senior year of college. The lost experiences of the last couple of months will never be able to be replaced, but we always must look at the brighter side of things. Just think how we can bore our grandchildren someday about the sacrifices that we made during the “Great Pandemic of 2020!”
Opinion: “The Last Dance” Proves Scottie Pippen Responsible for his Contract
By Dennis Mckinney/Staff Writer/May 14, 2020
ESPN has decided to release the 10-part documentary that they planned to release later in the summer. This documentary, titled “The Last Dance,” focuses on the man who everyone believes to be the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan.
This documentary in all is about Michael Jordan’s last season as a Chicago Bull. In order to talk about Jordan’s last season with the Bulls it required people to know his past as well. It began by talking about Jordan and how he became who he was, not only as a basketball player, but as a man as well.
The documentary did the same thing for Michael Jordan’s closest teammate, Scottie Pippen. It goes in depth about his life as well. Jordan goes as far to say, “There is no Michael Jordan without Scottie Pippen.” Scottie Pippen is someone who helped Jordan grow his game to the point where he could be a winner. As a result, they have the two three-peats to show for it.
Going into the last season that Jordan and Pippen were together, Pippen neglected to have surgery when he was supposed to and decided to wait until the season began because he was being extremely underpaid. He was a top 10 player in the NBA and was the 122nd highest paid player.
A lot of people blame that contract on the Bulls and how they handled the situation, but I don’t feel that way. I feel like more blame should be put on Scottie Pippen. Before signing the contract, the Bulls warned him that they would not rework his contract no matter what. Not too long after he signed that deal, a new CBA deal was signed and players were signing for a lot more money.
Scottie Pippen should’ve been aware of what was going on. He might’ve needed the money at the moment to support his family, but he should’ve been more aware of the situation going on around him and signed a shorter-term deal. His agent advised him against it as well.
Pippen doing what he did after he failed to get his deal reworked was uncalled for. When he didn’t get the surgery until the season started, it not only hurt him, it hurt the team as well and they struggled to start the season because of it. There were games that Michael had to will them to win and some where even he wasn’t enough to get the job done.
Anyone going against this should not look at it from just one point of view. There is blame that should be put on both sides. Scottie Pippen should’ve looked at the circumstances around his contract and how he could’ve made more money. The Chicago Bulls should have looked at the player that Scottie Pippen was and offered him a contract knowing how great his potential was. In the end it all worked out in a way because even Scottie Pippen went on to make more money than Michael Jordan for his career.
New Women’s Basketball, Soccer Coaches Announced
By Taylor Petersen/Sports Editor/May 14, 2020
Two new coaches will be coming to Mount Mercy University for the 2020-2021 school year—Alen Kudumovic and Tim Schuring.
Kudumovic will lead the women’s soccer program and assumed his role on Dec. 16, 2019, while Schuring will lead the women’s basketball program and assumed his role on April 1.
Kudumovic is a Mount Mercy graduate and Hall of Famer as well as an NAIA All-American. He graduated from Mount Mercy in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and earned a masters in strategic leadership in 2018.
From 2016 to 2018, Kudumovic was the graduate assistant coach for the Mount Mercy men’s soccer program under coach Amir Hadzic. Since 2010, he has been the director of coaching at the Cedar River Soccer Association (CRSA) and from 2003 to 2010 he was a coach for CRSA. Kudumovic was also the head coach for the Iowa City High School boys’ soccer team from 2001 to 2003.
MMU Athletic Director Paul Gavin believes that Kudumovic will bring experience and connections to the Mount Mercy soccer program.
“He brings a wealth of experience, having managed a successful local soccer club for many years,” stated Gavin. “His connections and network in the world of soccer will be beneficial for recruiting talented student athletes and his technical expertise will ensure our athletes will be getting the best coaching possible.”
Schuring founded the TNT5 Basketball Development in 2008, and for the past 12 years has served as an owner, skills trainer and head coach. His main focus was being the coach for the Iowa Prep 15-under girl’s club team and 17-under boys’ squad.
Schuring graduated with his bachelor’s from Wartburg college in social studies education and a masters in sports management from the United States Sports Academy.
He had seven fruitful seasons as a high school boys’ basketball coach in Iowa and Illinois. He was also the assistant men’s basketball coach at Iowa Wesleyan from 1996 to 1998.
In 1998, Schuring took over the men’s basketball program at NAIA Division II Saint Mary (Kan.). The team went from four victories to a school-record 24 wins in his third season because of his leadership and coaching abilities. He was also the 2001 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Coach of the Year after Saint Mary won the KCAC regular-season title and reached the sweet 16 at the NAIA national tournament.
From 2001 to 2005, Schuring led the men’s basketball program at NAIA Division II Dakota State (S.D.). He took a four-win team to the runner-up spot in the Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC-10) in 2004-2005.
Before coming to Mount Mercy, Schuring served as the assistant men’s basketball coach at Luther where he helped the Norse secure Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) titles in 2011 and 2013.
“Tim has coached at the NAIA level at a couple other institutions, pulling off huge turn-arounds at St. Mary KS and Dakota State,” said Gavin, “He is a proven leader, incredible recruiter and teacher of the game. I expect we will see vast improvements within the women’s basketball program in no time at all.”
UPDATE: Mount Mercy University’s men and women’s golf coach, Luke Slaymaker ‘04, announced stepping down from his head coaching position following the season’s cancellation due to COVID-19. The new coaches to take on the role were recently announced to be alumni Ben Jones ‘18 and Danielle Ducklow.
NAIA Cancels 2020 Sport Season
By Taylor Petersen/Sports Editor
On March 16, the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) released a statement canceling the 2020 spring sports season immediately due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“All possible scenarios that would have supported a spring sports season were seriously considered by multiple NAIA governance groups,” said NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr. “However, the growing state of emergency due to COVID-19, as well as the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation yesterday to limit gatherings to fewer than 50 people for eight weeks, meant we could not in good conscience move forward with the spring sports season and championships.”
It all started on March 12, when they announced the cancellation of NAIA Cheer and Dance National Championships, causing the dance team to come back to Mount Mercy. The next day it was announced that bowling, men’s volleyball, and golf tournaments were all cancelled for that weekend. From there it was a domino effect with having seasons temporarily suspended, to eventually cancelled.
The NAIA states that in order to provide relief to the players, no spring sport student-athlete will be charged for a season of competition and that any spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled full-time in 2020 will be awarded two additional semester terms of attendance or the equivalent.
Students athletes at Mount Mercy are disappointed about the season being cut short, specifically seniors.
“Overall the outcome of our session being cancelled is a hard concept to grasp,” said baseball senior Christian Moseley. “But I think because of the severe conditions the country was moving toward it was the right choice.
“As a senior it leaves me in a tough spot. Do I come back for a fifth year of eligibility and continue into grad school, or do I lose my last year of playing and continue with life? There are still a lot of unanswered questions a lot of us seniors are waiting to hear about.”
“I’ve really gone through the full range of emotions since the cancellation,” said Connor Christophersen, senior, track and field. “Athletics was a big part of my life and with the announcement it felt like a piece of me was suddenly yanked away. Being a senior, my future is very unknown, but I consider myself one of the lucky ones as the opportunity to run never really goes away. I feel for the other seniors who might be less fortunate.”
The NAIA is available to answer questions related to these changes and will share new information as it becomes available.
Check the NAIA website for any information or questions you may have at https://www.naia.org/covid19/index
Four Mustangs Earn All-American Honors
By Mahlon Steepleton/Staff Writer
Three Mount Mercy Track and Field athletes earned four All-American honors at the NAIA National Championships at South Dakota State University the week of March 3: seniors Annie Ertz (twice), Rachel Gadient and junior Luke Nickelson.
Nickelson earned All-American honors by placing seventh in the triple jump. He got the school record mark and had a personal-best of 14.65m.
Ertz came back to Cedar Rapids with two pieces of hardware. She collected two All-American honors in the mile and the 1000 meters races. Ertz finished sixth in the mile with a time of 4.59:32. Ertz posted a third place overall finish in the 1000 meters with a personal-best and school record time of 2:54:42.
Finally, Rachel Gadient finished sixth in the women’s pentathlon with a score of 3,241 points.
Nickelson said he really wanted to bring some piece of hardware from Nationals.
“I felt proud to represent Mount Mercy University in a great way at Nationals and I want to thank my teammates and coaches for supporting me,” said Nickelson. “Without the support from the Mount Mercy community I don’t think I would be where I am today, an All-American. It was a great experience to watch the seniors ball-out on the track and reach their full potential as well.”
The Mustangs will not be competing in the NAIA 2020 Outdoor Track and Field Season. The entire Spring season was cancelled on March 16 due to the pandemic.
Men’s Volleyball fall against Lourdes
By Taylor Petersen/Sports Editor
The Mount Mercy men’s volleyball team put up a good fight against the Lourdes Grey Wolves (Ohio) on March 11 at the Hennessey Rec. Center, but the Grey Wolves took the match, beating the Mustangs 3-1.
It was close in the first set, but Lourdes pulled it out beating Mount Mercy 25-23. The Grey Wolves had 15 kills compared to Mount Mercy’s 13. Lourdes then went on to take the second set, beating the Mustangs 26-24.
In the third set the Mustangs came back fighting, beating the Grey Wolves 25-18, extending the match to four sets.
However, the fight would not be hard enough. In the fourth set, the Lourdes Grey Wolves hung onto their lead and beat the Mustangs in a close call of 25-23.
Overall, the Mustangs totaled 49 kills, 44 assists, 74 digs and 5 serve aces. Lourdes obtained 53 kills overall, 47 assists, 73 digs and 3 serve aces
Sophomore Julian Armendano led the Mustangs with 14 kills and 13 digs. Senior Nikola Stoimenov had 13 kills, while junior Evan Gaskill had 12 kills and 14 digs. Tiago Almeida helped the Mustangs defensively with 17 digs as well as sophomore Ben Ruggles with 15 digs and 37 assists.
For the Grey Wolves, senior Ricardo Gehrke led in kills with 18, followed by Evan Gebert, senior, with 13. Sophomore Brady Boyle dished out 44 assists and 16 digs. Guga Heidrich, sophomore, aided the Grey Wolves by obtaining 27 digs followed by Jeff Lam, junior, with 10 digs.
The Mustangs are now 16-6 overall and 9-3 in conference play.
The XFL Is Back!
By Mahlon Steepleton/Staff Writer
It all started back in 1999 when the original Xtra Fun League (XFL) was founded by the CEO of the WWF, (now WWE: World Wrestling Entertainment) and owner of Alpha Entertainment Vince McMahon.
Alpha Entertainment happens to be the holding company of the XFL: an American Football League. NBC at the time wanted to create a football league of their own. McMahon’s plan was to build off the popularity and prosperity the NFL and WWF had accomplished over the years.
The XFL was supposed to be different from the NFL. They wanted to combine interesting and different rules from the NFL in a WWF-style format kind of way. They called themselves “The Xtra Fun League.” The League Commissioner Tyler Schueck first announced the concept of the league on Feb. 3, 2000. The XFL’s inaugural season started on Feb. 3, 2001, a week after Super Bowl XXXV.
The first ever game was between the New York/New Jersey Hitmen and the Las Vegas Outlaws at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Nevada.
The cool part about the first XFL stint was that players could pick any names to put on the back of their jerseys. Famously, running back Rod Smart put the phrase “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey. Smart said that the reason is opponents should “hate” how good his play is. Smart’s jersey was the most popular and best seller in the XFL’s only season.
The 2001 championship was won by the Los Angeles Xtreme who won the Million Dollar Game (the winning team wins $1 million). The league disbanded in 2001. NBC and the WWF lost a reported $35 million. Although paid attendance at the games was somewhat respectable, the XFL ceased operations after just 1 full season due to very low TV ratings.
Fortunately, the league had a revival this year. The league has a total of eight teams compared to the NFL’s 32. The league’s commissioner is Oliver Luck. Luck’s son Andrew was a former NFL quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts before he unexpectedly retired this past NFL season. He was named the league’s commissioner and chief executive officer on June 5, 2018.
A few former Iowa Hawkeyes are in the league as well too. Chuck Long, who is a former 1980s stellar quarterback and multiple school record holder for the Iowa Football team and one of the best players in their school’s history, is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis Battlehawks along with James Butler, who was a former Iowa backup running back and current member of the Houston Roughnecks.
The league now is based on creating a league with way fewer off-the-field controversies and much faster, simpler plays compared to the NFL. It has a different ways to return kickoffs, punt returns and score extra points.
The XFL embodies the true nature of sports. It gives talented players and former NFL who didn’t get a chance in the NFL or got tossed aside a chance to succeed and be heroes on the football field. It has an original timeless spirit of a true fair contest and love of the game. It’s free from corruption and politics compared to the NFL.
It’s motto, under its logo, is “For the Love of Football.”