Fall sports wrap up: Pioneers find success across the board

By Jackson Schulte
schultej@grinnell.edu

Football 

The Pioneer football team wrapped up their season on Saturday, Nov. 11 in a 35-0 loss to Beloit College. The team finished 1-9 which, although on paper doesn’t look great, was actually a terrific improvement.

After going almost two years without a win, they picked up a 15-6 victory over Trinity Bible College in a defensive battle. Also, the team put up a great fight the week before against Cornell College on Nov. 4, scoring 20 points and going head-to-head until the second half.

Ryan Slager ’19’s 447 tackles this fall made him the nation’s leading tackler, and Grinnell College’s all-time leading tackler. It is no surprise, then, that Slager finished the season on the All-Midwest Conference Football Team for a second time.

Volleyball 

The volleyball team finished with a 16-9 record, reaching their highest victory total in 15 years. This is an incredible year for a team in its first year under a new coach, head coach Eric Ragan ’12. Some noteworthy matches include their 3-1 victory over Lawrence in October, and their conference tournament-clinching victory over Monmouth.

As far as postseason honors, Kaylin Kuhn ’21 picked up Midwest Conference Newcomer of the Year. Kuhn was the team’s cumulative kills leader. Blocks leaders include Emma Willhardt ’19 with 48 kills, and Olivia Jensen ’21 with 43.

Women’s tennis

The women’s tennis team finished their season atop the conference with an 11-1 record. Four women won conference in their respective flights. Milica Cvrkota ’21, Ali Hickey ’21, Abby Nielsen ’21 and Lily Hamilton ’19 won the first, third, fourth and sixth flights, respectively. The match was Hamilton’s 50th career win and second conference title, which places her ninth on the College’s all-time singles wins list.

In doubles, Hickey and Nielsen won a conference title in the second flight. To cap things off, head coach Paige Madara earned Coach of the Year honors. Perhaps the most promising part of the team’s success is that five of six players in the lineup will return next fall.

Women’s cross country

This fall’s cross country season’s successes can be attributed to older leadership and important new faces. Emma Zimmerman ’18 led the way, finishing All-Region and third in the conference. What’s even better for the team, though, is the fact that many standout runners will be back next year.

Anna Ahrens ’19, Mikayla Fujiwara ’20 and Cara Keleher ’21 consistently finished with terrific times, ultimately leading to the team’s second place finish at the Midwest Conference Meet. Ultimately, this is one of the deepest teams in program history. At conference, nine Pioneer runners ran times that placed them top 30 in all-time program history, and most of those runners will return next fall.

Men’s cross country

While the men’s cross country team fell just short of winning their 20th conference championship in 22 years, they still posted a runner-up performance and several men set personal record times. Leading the way all season was John Lennon ’19, who ran a personal best 25:26 8-kilometer race at conference, which ranks 18th in program history. Pieter Hansen ’19 also cracked the all-time top 50 list, running a 26:09 race that places him 49th in team history.

The most promising aspect of the cross country team is the fact that all seven scorers are returning next fall, and there are a lot of young runners in the top seven. Matt Lieberman ’21 was the Midwest Conference Newcomer of the Year, with a 26:20 personal best. Along with Lieberman, Jackson Schulte ’20, Lucas Chamberland ’21 and Matt Phipps ’20 are all returning scorers next year.

Editor’s note: Jackson Schulte is the sports editor for The S&B.

Women’s golf

The women’s golf team had yet another successful season this year, winning their fifth Midwest Conference Championship in a row, led by sisters Vidushi and Vrishali Sinha, both ’19. The Sinhas were the top two performers in the conference, and Samanike Hengst ’18 was not far behind, placing seventh.

Grinnell’s women’s golf team was loaded with young talent this year as well, with Danielle Oberlander ’21 and Julia Echikson ’20 rounding out their lineup. Every golfer except for Hengst will return next fall, making a sixth straight conference championship seem likely.

 


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