Tremendous college tennis on display here today

By Steve Sell
April 21, 2014

Monday’s musings...

• TENNIS SHOWDOWN TODAY — If you want to see some of the best collegiate tennis in this part of the state, be at the McPherson High Tennis Complex today.

The KCAC men’s title will be determined when McPherson College hosts Bethany College at 5 p.m. Both teams are 6-0 in the KCAC going into their final conference match.

The Swedes have been the longtime kingpin of the KCAC, but the Bulldogs are probably the only team capable of making them break a sweat.

Meanwhile, McPherson College’s women’s team can wrap up the regular-season championship with a win over the Swedes. The Bulldogs are 6-0 and will be overwhelming favorites as the Swedes are 1-5.

Jeff Benito, who coaches both the Mac men and women, has done a marvelous job in his short tenure. Benito has a lot of connections in California and also recruits internationally. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t overlook the strong McPherson High program, as former Bullpup Connor Schafer is a member of the men’s team and Ashley Allmon has played for the Mac women for four years.

• MAC THINCLADS STRONG — Speaking of having a good spring, the McPherson College women’s track and field team is expected to be a factor when the KCAC Championships are contested May 2-3 at North Newton.

Mac coach Cameron Magnall has put together an outstanding team. The Bulldogs feature a lot of speed on the track and some quality in the field events. Headlining the women’s team have been Sharica Pleasant and Arryana Barton, with Pleasant perhaps the top all-around performer in the conference. A boost has come from McPherson High’s Kaley Kinnamon, who has excelled in the sprints and on relays.

The men’s team probably won’t be in the top two in the conference, but has some very good individuals. Paul Rotering has been one of the top field event performers so far and should produce a chunk of points at the conference meet.

Magnall has done a nice job of improving the Bulldogs’ numbers. There was a time when the track and field team was in the high teens and low 20s, but Magnall has recruited hard and raised the program to the point where it will be a force for years to come.

• BULLDOG GRIDDERS IN FINAL WEEK — McPherson College is scheduled to wrap up spring football practices this week.

The Bulldogs, like all the other KCAC schools, are making full use of the 15 practices permitted by the KCAC.

Mac is tentatively scheduled to host its spring football game on Saturday.

Steve Fox has taken over as head coach after serving the team as defensive coordinator. The Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back 4-5 seasons in the KCAC. They closed out the 2013 season on a high with a pair of 37-7 victories over Bethany College and Southwestern College, respectively.

• KCAC-HEART FOOTBALL CHALLENGE SET SEPT. 13 — The KCAC made a statement last year when it went 5-5 against the supposedly stronger Heart of America Conference in the first-ever football challenge between the two conferences.

But this year will be the acid test. The KCAC teams had the luxury of being at home, while this year the Heart teams will be the hosts.

The schedule was released last week and the matchups would appear to work in the Heart’s favor.

McPherson College certainly has no bargain as it plays MidAmerica Nazarene in Olathe. The two schools met in the first round of the NAIA playoffs in 2009, with the Bulldogs leading much of the game before losing.

Other games include Sterling at Baker, Tabor at Missouri Valley, Ottawa at Benedictine, Friends at Peru State, Southwestern at Evangel, Kansas Wesleyan at Central Methodist, Saint Mary at Culver Stockton, Bethel at Avila and Bethany at Graceland.

The games were determined by last year’s conference standings. The two champions, Sterling and Baker, play and it goes right on down the line. Bethel and Bethany tied for last in the KCAC last year, but the Swedes were deemed to be last because of the Threshers’ head-to-head victory.