Mac, Bethany need to upgrade in some sports

By Steve Sell
May 12, 2015

The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference announced the results of its Commissioner’s Cup tabulation on Monday.

Friends University will be hoisting the cup as KCAC champion, buoyed by having the No. 1 men’s program in the conference and the No. 4 women’s program.

Ten points are awarded for first place, nine for second and so on. There are 18 sports considered, though there are schools that don’t field teams in some of them. For example, McPherson College does not have men's and women's golf. 

Ottawa, which was the champion last year, finished second to Friends, with Kansas Wesleyan third.

As for our county schools Bethany College and McPherson College, they were sixth and ninth, respectively. However, the point totals were relatively close from Nos. 3 through 9. Bethany scored 99 points and Mac 88.

The Swedes and Bulldogs, however, excelled on the men's side. Bethany (62) trailed only Friends (70) and Mac tied with Tabor for third (54).

But Bethany and Mac both plummeted on the women’s side, finishing ninth and 10th, respectively.

And that’s with the Bulldog women’s tennis team winning the KCAC title. That was 10 of Mac’s 34 points, as it did not fare well in most of the others, including basketball and softball, where it finished ninth and 10th, respectively. There also was an eighth in volleyball, and seventh in track and cross country.

I look for the women’s basketball program to improve at some point. Gordon Reimer will be entering his third year as head coach and given his past track record at Kansas Wesleyan — where he won two KCAC championships, made three trips to nationals and is the winningest coach in school history — you have to think at some point he can approach that success at Mac.

The softball team was under first-year coach Ashley Spencer and anytime there’s a coaching change teams sometimes falter. Spencer has her work cut out though as the Bulldogs had one of their roughest years in their history. She was formerly an assistant at Tabor, which is generally a strong program.

As far as the men’s sports, the Bulldogs must especially prop up their baseball program, which was far and away behind the rest of the KCAC schools. Mac won only two conference games, though it had a very young team.

The Bulldogs were enhanced by winning the KCAC soccer title and did well in tennis (second), track and field (third) and cross country (fourth).

The most popular sports — football and basketball — produced a tie for sixth and eighth place, respectively. The men's basketball program recently was the KCAC's gold standard with four straight national tournament appearances, but has missed out the last two years. The other KCAC schools have turned to the junior colleges to stockpile their rosters, especially Tabor and Bethany. Both of those schools are recruiting coast to coast and in Tabor's case, overseas.

Bethany’s men’s programs appear to be in good shape. The Swedes were a strong second with 62 points, led by championships in golf and tennis. It had the No. 1 point total in spring sports.

The Bethany women were hurt by their volleyball and basketball programs, both finishing in last.

I'm sure the KCAC schools take notice of these standings. It has to help in recruiting to show prospective student-athletes where their programs rank in terms of other schools in the conference.

It's obvious both McPherson College and Bethany College have work to do to have consistency throughout their athletic departments. Both schools are strong in some sports, but need to pull up some of the others.