23 February, 2024

Strong Showings in Finals as Cross Country, Soccer, and Volleyball Teams Close Out Seasons

by | 21 November, 2022 | 0 comments

By Jim Nieman

Christian church colleges had strong showings but didn’t win any championships last week in the national finals of several sports. 


The men and women’s cross country teams from Milligan University both registered runner-up finishes in the NAIA National Championships on Friday in Tallahassee, Fla. Individually, the men had four All-Americans and the women had three.  

Milligan won the team title—the top overall finisher among the combined men’s teams and women’s teams. 

“Two runner-up finishes, seven all-Americans, and the combined team honor,” Chris Layne, the head coach of both squads, told milliganbuffs.com. “[It was] just a great day all the way around. This is a fun bunch and [I’m] so, so proud of their effort today.” 

Among the men, All-Americans included Aaron Jones (4th overall), who is now a three-time cross country All-American; Will Stockley (9th), earning a second-straight All-America honor; Bryn Woodall (19th); and Jake Crow (38th). 

Thirty-six schools and 318 runners competed in the 8-kilometer race, with Dordt University of Sioux Center, Iowa, winning with a score of 97 points overall, followed by Milligan with 115 (the same point total that earned Milligan the national title a year ago). It was the Buffs’ third consecutive top-three finish. 

Among the women, Ellen Mary Kearney—running in her first NAIA National Championship—had the top finish for the Buffs (8th overall). Caitlin Dominy (14th) and Alyssa Bearzi (18th) also secured All-America honors (it was Bearzi’s second).  

The runner-up finish marked the Milligan women’s fifth top-10 team finish in the last six years and eighth-straight top-15 showing, according to milliganbuffs.com

Thirty-six teams and 236 runners competed in the 5-kilometer race, with Taylor University (Upland, Ind.) winning the women’s title; Taylor finished with 50 points, while Milligan recorded a score of 177. 

“I really think both squads ran as well as they could have, so just a big congrats to both Taylor and Dordt on their team titles,” Layne said. 

The Milligan men’s soccer squad also qualified for the NAIA tournament, but their 3-1 loss to Warner Pacific University (Portland, Ore.) in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday in the opening round eliminated them from contention. The Buffs finished the season with a record of 10-3-7. 


In other NAIA tournament action, William Jessup University (Rocklin, Calif.) fought hard but lost a 5-set women’s volleyball match to Southern Oregon University in NAIA opening round action in Ashland, Ore., on Saturday. 

The Warrior squad was down 2 sets to 1 but came back to force a fifth set, and ultimately had two match point chances before falling. 

“I’m extremely proud. I’m hurt. I’m hurt right now,” an emotional coach Tiger Shelton shared with jessupathletics.com. “But when I have the time to relax a little bit and look back on the team that was, I’ll always have incredible memories of who they were as a team.” 

WJU finished with a record of 17-10. 


The women’s soccer team from Great Lakes Christian College (Lansing, Mich.) advanced to the championship game for the NCCAA DII national title by defeating Southwestern Adventist University (Keene, Texas) 3-0 on Thursday in Kissimmee, Fla. Sophomore forward Randi Fitzgerald scored all three goals. 

But on Saturday afternoon, the Crusaders fell 2-0 to Providence University College (Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada) in the championship game. The score was tied at halftime, but 12 minutes into the second half, PUC scored on a corner kick. 

Fitzgerald, Avery Carr, and Hannah Rossner were named to the All-Tournament Team, according to glccathletics.com. Fitzgerald was also awarded the Golden Ball for scoring the most goals in the tournament. 

GLCC, which won the national championship a year ago, finished the season 11-4. 


In the eight-team NCCAA DII National Championship Women’s Volleyball Tournament hosted by Johnson University Florida in Kissimmee, No. 1-ranked Manhattan (Kan.) Christian College came out of pool play with a perfect 3-0 record to advance to the four-team semifinals.  

On Thursday Manhattan defeated No. 8 seed JUF and No. 5 seed Toccoa Falls (Ga.) College. Then on Friday, MCC bested No. 4 Maranatha Baptist University (Watertown, Wis.). Meanwhile, JUF won one of three games but failed to advance. 

In MCC’s Final Four game, the Thunder fell to No. 3-ranked Bob Jones University (Greenville, S.C.) in straight sets. MCC finished its season with a record of 29-5. 

Bob Jones went on to defeat No. 2 Arlington (Texas) Baptist University to win the national title. 

Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard. 


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