NCURAMS Spring Sports Preview
Last track season was a wild one, as now head coach Paul Theorin was thrown in as interim coach, the team was composed of only 10 members (men’s and women’s combined), and most hadn’t ran competitively in a while due to COVID-19. However, this season has already gotten off to a great start with a very successful indoor season and 20 more athletes than last year. Theorin was very surprised at the University of Wisconsin-Stout meet, the first indoor competition of the season. “I knew our athletes hadn’t competed in a while, but we’ve had multiple PR’s already,” said Theorin. “It’s almost like we’re overachieving in some sense.” That overachieving is due to team members and coaches alike.
The track team added in one assistant coach and two graduate assistants. Assistant Lydia Carr brings her experience running cross country and track at Concordia University St. Paul. Graduate assistants Alice Cato and Sam Peterson, both NCU alum, round out the team coaching jumps, sprints, and throws.
On the men’s side, returners Derek Burgin and Tian Elder will bring in points from the sprints. Freshman Isaac Weiers is already making his mark in the indoor season, leading the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) in the high jump. And newcomers Kayden Sund and Nehemiah Juaire will also aid in both the sprints in the jumps.
The women are led by senior Elizabeth Lofstad who has been a star for both NCU’s cross country and track team for all her years at NCU in the long-distance events. Senior Micayla Jones will be vital in the throwing department, as well as freshman Miriam Anderson. Sophomore, Kayley Hyland and freshman, Serena Lanes, are starting to make an impact in the indoor season and will be vital in the upcoming outdoor season.
The first outdoor meet of the season, the Kent Shaly Invitational, is on Saturday April 2nd in St. Paul. Click here to see the rest of the Rams’ schedule.
BASEBALL: “Ready to be back”
Coach David Babcock is excited for this season’s baseball team, coming off the unexpected COVID-19 year. “The guys are just excited to be outside and playing games,” said Babcock. And he recognizes that this group is the most talented since he has been coaching. While half the team is composed of some talented freshmen, there is a core group of returning players that will be valuable to the team. Pitchers Kristian Garcia and Tanner Oka, outfielder Kyle Huerth, catcher Jack Parker, and first baseman Daniel Montana are all vital in winning games and making the UMAC playoffs, which Babcock believes is a real possibility. “If we stay healthy, do our roles, we’ll be a contender [for the playoffs],” said Babcock.
Outside of the sport, Babcock and assistant coach, Paul Babcock (David’s father), started FCA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, on NCU campus back in the fall. The group met on Monday nights and saw a large population of baseball players. Babcock said they saw “four kids come to Christ” and a shift in the team which has been able to grow through lots of adversity in the past couple years.
The team’s first game is against Augsburg University on Monday March 7th, held in the U.S. Bank Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. A few weeks after that, the Rams head to Lincoln, IL to face off against Lincoln Christian University, a tough NAIA NCCAA opponent. Click here to see the Ram’s full schedule.
SOFTBALL: “Young and Hungry”
Looking to build off their season last year, the NCU softball team is excited to prove themselves and be competitive in every game. Coach Joe Waalk came to NCU in 2019 looking to develop a program with a culture centered on dedication, commitment, accountability, and competitiveness.
While it has been a slow couple of years due to COVID-19 and lack of numbers, this season will be the first time the team has 100% recruited players. 12 players were brought in this year with five returning. The returners are composed of one junior and a formidable sophomore group that built a really strong base for the team last spring. The 12 freshmen bring talent and excitement for the program. Waalk realizes he has a young squad, but thinks that they will surprise a lot of people and is aiming to make the playoffs. “We’ve moved from survival mode to being competitive,” said Waalk. The team also adds assistant coach Megan Paulson who is a NCU alum and played on the softball team.
Besides the players, another aspect helping the team out is some new improvements made to the softball equipment. A big donation brought in new batting cages and Rapsodo analytic technology that provides instant statistical feedback to help get players “better faster”.
The softball team travels to Clermont, FL for a week to play a whole slew of games, the first being this Sunday, February 27th against Regis College at 4:30 pm. Click here to see the Rams’ full schedule.
LACROSSE: “Bringing Back the Brotherhood”
If it seems like NCU’s lacrosse team has been off the radar for a couple years, it’s because it has been. Due to COVID-10 and low numbers, the Rams haven’t had a season since 2019. However, things are looking up as former NCU player and alum, Tim Dokken, has stepped in at head coach. Dokken started out as a graduate assistant but was quickly moved to the head coaching position when it opened up.
While this year’s team is still a little low on numbers, the players are committed and bring some fresh energy to the team. Jay Crim and Chris Rasmussen are returning captains for the team and will bring invaluable leadership and experience. Freshman Jackson Smith was voted as another captain by the team and is expected to usher in a lot of talent on the offensive end, along with Crim and Corey Evers. On the defensive side, Noah Holt, Freddie Van Tiem, and Rasmussen will be the core holding down the fort in the backfield. Corbin Entinger, while new to the sport, has caught on quickly and is anticipated to be a threat in the midfield.
While more offensive minded, Dokken is thankful for the addition of assistant coach Hunter Brown who focuses on training the goalies and defense.
The team will face off in their first game on Saturday March 5th at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Then, the Rams will get into conference play on the 30th of March against the University of Northwestern. Dokken is excited to be competitive and change the approach to games. “We want to play our brand of lacrosse instead of letting other teams dictate how we play,” said Dokken. Furthermore, Dokken, along with all the players, hopes to reestablish the culture that he experienced when he was a player and bring back the brotherhood to NCU’s lacrosse team. Click here to see the Rams’ full schedule.
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