Lauren Allison, Staff Writer
This year was one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history. The team finished in 10th with a 4-16 GNAC record. The Saints tied for the most wins in a single season during one the games against Alaska midway through their season. The eight-game win season has been the most in a single season since the Saints joined the NCAA in 1998. They then went on to break the school record with a 3-0 win over Simon Fraser. The team was also able to push Northwest Nazarene, a nationally ranked team to a four set game. Seven Saints were named to the All-Academic team which included, two seniors; Jennifer Codd and Nicolette Nesbitt, two juniors; Rachel Gondrezick and Liz Larson, and two sophomores; Ililani Kamaka and Megan Vernoy. Senior Rebecca Mitchell was voted to the 2017 GNAC Honorable Mention All-Conference team and is the first selection from SMU since Julia Wabinga in 2015. Mitchell finished the season with 367 kills, the second most in a single season in SMU history and fourth in conference with 3.74 kills per set. She also recorded 303 digs, 42 blocks and 1,156 attacks which set the school record for most attacks attempts in a single season. Mitchell concluded her impressive career at Saint Martin’s with 846 career kills, ranking her fourth all-time, as well as second in attack attempts with 2,766, fourth in kills per set (2.79) and seventh in digs with 835.
Under a new coaching staff, the Saints ended the season in eighth place with a 2-9-1 record. Head coach Heather Cato lead the team to the most season wins in program history. Six Saints were named to the All-Academic team including, one senior; Lauren Allison, four juniors; Blair Hardy, Ali Koehler, Gloria Petri and Kylee Sarchett, and one sophomore; Shea McKnight. The Saints were the first team in GNAC for the 2017 season to score against #1 ranked national champions Western Washington University. Senior Allison lead the Saints with four goals. Sophomore defender Rose Robbins was named to 2017 GNAC All-Conference team as an honorable mention selection. Robbins started in 16 games while leading the team in minutes played with 1,416.
Head Coach Rob Walker took over the men’s team fully this season. Men’s soccer started with a strong preseason, winning their first three games. In many of the games throughout the season, the team was able to take an early lead opposing teams, frequently come back to win. SMU finished in seventh place with a 2-9-1 record. Nine Saints were named to the All-Academic team including one senior; Kyle Witzel, three juniors; Steven Chu, Alexis Lopez, Tim Teipel and five sophomores; Parker Elliot, Collin LaBranche, Sebastian Navarro, Treyson Ramos and Dylan Shaw. Sophomore Sebastian Navarro earned his first GNAC Defensive Player of the Week, and Brandon Madsen earned Offensive Player of the Week twice. Madsen broke the school record for goals in a single season with 16 and was voted first team All-Conference as well as Newcomer of the Year. In the NCAA, Madsen tied seventh in goals while scoring in every single home match at SMU, recording 12 goals in the seven home games. Senior Kyle Witzel earned a spot on the second team All-Conference to lead five Saints including Navarro, freshman Cayman John, and junior Tim Teipel. Navarro ended the 2017 campaign by breaking the school record with 11 assists tying him for eighth in the NCAA D-II, placed third on the team in points with 13. John played in all 17 matches for the Saints, making 16 starts. In 1,110 minutes of action, John recorded one assist with 11 shots, two falling on goal. Teipel lead the team in minutes with 1,540 minutes while taking three shots and one on goal.
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
Junior Larissa Kolansinski won the Puget Sound Invitational with a time of 23:51.00 seconds, and was 27 faster than any other racer. Both the men and women took third place at the SMU invite. At the GNAC Championships, Kolansinski finished 31st out of the 92 runners and senior Josh Hunt finished 59th out of the 95 runners. At the NCAA West Regional, the women’s team placed 27th with 753 points while the men placed 26th with 754 points. This year, the teams helped out at Cornerstone Christian where they helped the school relocate in Lacey. Nine Saints were named to GNAC Cross Country All-Academic Team including, two seniors; Josh Hunt and Austin Miller, five juniors; Levi Schilter, Joe Edgecomb, Larissa Kolasinski and Lindsey Dorney, Andrew Walter, and one sophomores, Yeshi Vaughan.
This season, under new head coach Christy Martin, the women’s team finished in 10th place with a 4-16 overall record, three more wins than last year. Preseason started strong for the squad with great performances from senior Elin Johansson, sophomore Makenna Shultz, and freshman Saniah Simpson-Patu resulting in two straight wins. A few weeks later, SMU found themselves on a four game winning streak. Seven Saints were named to the All-Academic Team this season including, all three seniors; Hannah Reynolds, with a 4.0 GPA, Johansson and Lauren Lindley, three juniors; Rebekah Baugh, Emma Kennedy, and Mallory Kessler, and one sophomore; Makenna Schultz. Schultz was named GNAC player of the week after scoring 33 points against the conference’s best defensive team: Seattle Pacific. She went on to score 19 more points against Montana State Billings, finishing the week with 52 points, averaging 26 points a game and shooting an impressive 69.2 percent beyond the arc. Simpson-Patu was named Freshman of the Year. She hit the double-digit mark 21 times in 28 games with a season high of 33 points, averaging 6.1 rebounds per game. She also recorded two double-doubles and finished the season with 395 points. Despite a season ending injury, Johansson was chosen for the second year in a row with GNAC All-Conference Honorable Select.
This year, men’s basketball made school history ending with a 15-5 conference record and a 25-8 overall record. The Saints faced Western Oregon in the GNAC Championship where they finished in second place. They went on to play in the D-II NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. The team beat Cal Poly Pomona in the first round with a 66-58 victory. They then faced GNAC Champions Western Oregon beat SMU 77-55. Three Saints were named to the All-academic team including juniors Rhett Baerlocher and Kazuma Lane as well as sophomore Cameron Chatwin. Junior Luke Chavez was named to the NABC and D2CCA All-Region teams, the NCAA West Region All-Tournament team, GNAC Newcomer of the Year, GNAC first team All-Conference and GNAC Player of the Year three times this season. Chavez averaged 16.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 spg, along with 3.8 rpg, finishing the season with 513 points. Junior EJ Boyce was selected for All-Conference honorable mention. He shot 43.6 percent beyond the arc, first in the conference, and finished the season with 383 points. Senior Matt Dahlen broke the record for most blocks in a single game with seven against Alaska Fairbanks.