Bulldogs still seeking athletic consistency

By Steve Sell
May 12, 2016

Thursday’s tidbits...

• SPRING SEASON HELPS MAC — A strong spring season propelled McPherson College’s athletic program to the middle of the pack in terms of success in the KCAC for the 2015-16 school year.

The Bulldogs used highly successful seasons from their two tennis teams and men’s outdoor track and field team to finish in sixth place overall for the year in the 12-school Kansas Commissioner’s Cup.

The women’s tennis team won the KCAC regular-season title and the men were second, which are used for the scoring. However, both sports won the postseason tournament, which carries with it the automatic berth to nationals.

The Mac men’s outdoor track and field team was second.

Where the Bulldogs are hurting in the spring are softball (last) and baseball (three-way tie for last). Both sports have been spinning their wheels the last couple of years as they can’t seem to gain any traction.

It seems to be feast-or-famine for most of the Mac sports. The Bulldogs were only ninth out of 12 after the fall and that’s with strong performances by the men’s soccer team and men’s cross country team. Once again there were sports that brought the school down as football and volleyball both finished in last. The football program, under second-year coach Paul Mierkiewicz, is in full-blown rebuilding mode and it’s probably at least two years before being competitive. New volleyball coach Jessica Cleveland seems to be a breath of fresh air with her energy as she’s already signed some promising recruits as she begins her first season this fall.

In the winter, Mac had good indoor track and field performances. Men’s basketball, though, was last and the women were in the middle.

• GOOD RECRUITING FOR MAC BASKETBALL — Still on the subject of McPherson College, basketball coaches Gordon Reimer and Tim Swartzendruber are doing their best to improve their teams heading into next season.

Reimer, who has to replace six seniors, has added more than a dozen players. The Bulldogs must find some scorers as Bailey Brown and Ashton Bruner, who carried the load last year, have both exhausted their eligibility.

Reimer has done a good job of mixing in juco players for immediate help along with high school players who will have time to develop.

Swartzendruber, whose team has fallen off since the last of four straight national trips in 2013, may be ready to get back into contention. Needing immediate help, he has tabbed the transfer ranks, including Barton County transfer Jordan Windholz, who is reputed to be a fine shooter, and Thomas Butler, a 6-3 and 240-pound inside presence who is said to resemble Devirous Johnson, who had a phenomenal two-year career as a Bulldog.

Swartzendruber said he’ll be signing another transfer big man on Friday. Rebounding was a Mac weakness last year once 6-8 Reed Rowell missed a chunk of games with a bad ankle. 

The Bulldogs, while finishing in last, weren’t that far off as it seemed they lost a slew of games after leading with 10 or 5 minutes to go. They graduate only Kyle Lakin, as it was a team made up of youngsters.

• FINISHING UP MAC — To wrap it up, the Mac tennis teams will be heading to Mobile, Ala., for the national tournament beginning Tuesday.

Second-year coach Justin Stuckey has done a great job of building on the foundation poured by former coach Jeff Benito. The women won both the regular and postseason titles, while the men had only one conference loss to champion Bethany, but avenged that defeat by winning the postseason tournament to earn the national berth. Best of luck to the Bulldogs.