Biola's Solid Spring

Biola grabs 43 All-GSAC honors this spring.

Apr. 30, 2014 By Neil Morgan

Biola had a roller-coaster ride of a spring season, one that is still ongoing with the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships set to take place next month and the softball team holding on for a chance at the national tournament. It was an up-and-down season that saw the surprising success of Biola’s nationally ranked softball team and newfound success of its tennis programs, but also saw some uncharacteristically down performances of other teams.

No matter the outcome of some of the team finishes, Biola fans were treated to a multitude of fantastic individual performances during its spring season, resulting in 43 All-Golden State Athletic Conference performances from 33 of Biola’s student-athletes. The 43 spring honors, headlined by track and field’s 35 nods, gives Biola Athletics 64 all-conference honors in the full 2013-14 season, with 54 student-athletes getting the awards.

In order to be considered All-GSAC in track and field, the student-athletes or relay teams needed to finish among the top-three in the finals of any track or field event.
 
Alexandra Sciarra was the standout individual performer, as the senior racked up five All-GSAC performances. She finished in the top-three in the 400m, 800m, 400m hurdles, 4x800m relay and 4x400m relay.
 
The five All-GSAC nods help Sciarra end her four-year career at Biola with eight total all-conference performances in track and field.
 
Kate Smiley and Jordan Smith also had very busy, very successful weekends as they each ended with four all-conference finishes. Smiley upped her career total to six following solid finishes in the 100m hurdles, 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. Smith had previous All-GSAC finishes in the high jump and 4x100m relay, but this season he performed in the triple jump, long jump, high jump and the 4x100m relay.
 
Anika Gasner bested her two all-conference relay performances from 2013 by finishing in the top-three three times this season. She earned her honors in the 800m, 1,500m and the 4x800m relay.
 
The McCahon's, James and Taylor, combined for five all-conference marks. Particularly impressive was All-American pole-vaulter Taylor McCahon's All-GSAC run in the 4x100m relay. James McCahon tacked on top-three's in the 400m hurdles, 4x800m relay and 4x100m relay.
 
Biola's 35 All-GSAC performances are its most all-time in a single GSAC Outdoor Track & Field Championship. Twenty-five different student-athletes earned all-conference honors, also an all-time high. Seven of the All-GSAC honorees earned all-conference honors for the first time in their Biola career.
 
The rest of the Eagles' All-GSAC T&F winners are listed below.
 
Marc Opena – 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 4x100m relay
Alex Calkins – Pole Vault, 4x100m relay
Megan Crumley – Javelin Throw, Discus Toss
Lyndee Dawson – 1,500m, 3,000m steeplechase
Nicole Falkenstein – Pole Vault, 4x100m relay
Elyse Harabedian – Heptathlon, Triple Jump
Kevin Horchler – 3,000m steeplechase, 5,000m
Kellian Hunt – 4x800m relay, 4x400m relay
Tayllor Lemphers – 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay
Kathleen Bell – 4x800m relay
Mark Diaz – 4x800m relay
Whitney Fredenburg – Discus Toss
Josh Goertzen – 4x800m relay
Danny Ledesma – 5,000m
Megan Ransom – 4x400m relay
Peter Stacy – Javelin Throw
Branden Stewart – 4x800m relay
Jeff Tran – Pole Vault
Michael Watson – Decathlon

Biola kept pace with the 2013 season as the men and women's tennis contingents each landed one representative on the All-GSAC teams presented by Under-Armour.

On the women's side, Kathryn Ashford had a dominant season as Biola's No. 1 and a member of the Eagles' top doubles pairing in order to earn her second All-GSAC honor as a sophomore.

Lucas Lee was Biola's representative on the men's All-GSAC team, following a successful freshman campaign that included his play as the men's No. 1 and a part of Biola's top doubles pairing.

Ashford ended the season ranked as a top-25 player in the NAIA by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association with an 11-8 record in singles play, including a winning record against Golden State Athletic Conference opponents.

"Kat's focus and determination help her to stay in points and choose the appropriate shots," said Women's Tennis Coach Dee Henry. "I see good things for next year, as she got a taste of being an all-court player, and she sees how that complements her playing style."

Ashford was not only a force in all of her No. 1 singles matches, but was a powerful duo with Susan Carmichael at No. 2 doubles. The pair went 12-4 when playing other No. 2 pairings, and Ashford proved her versatility by also getting a win when paired with Kelsey Post.

March was a phenomenal month for Ashford, as she had two different doubles winning streaks of five matches or longer from early-March to early-April. Overall, she was 7-2 in doubles in March and 7-1 in singles matches in that month.

"Kat struggled with some health issues in the early part of the season, but the growth we saw in her doubles game really helped her singles," said Henry. "She is quite the team player, as she is always willing to hit with her teammates, and seeing their game develop is one of her greatest desires."

Lee impressed coaches and players alike in his first season in the GSAC as he performed well and worked so hard to post solid performances at No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles.

He was 7-15 overall in singles play as he faced some of the top talent in the nation, as the GSAC is home of two of the top-10 NAIA men's tennis teams. He managed a 3-6 record in individual matches against conference opponents.

He was especially dominant when teamed with Luke Mountain at doubles. The freshman pair worked their way to a 9-10 overall record split between Biola's No. 1 and No. 2 doubles pairing.

"Those guys are the future of Biola tennis. It will be excited to see how they progress over the next three years," said Men's Tennis Coach David Goodman.

The 2014 Biola baseball season was marked by gritty performances revolving around solid defense and timely hitting in close games. Two student-athletes excelled in those aspects as David McNeill was one of the best-fielding first-basemen in the league and Boone Farrington was the most consistent hitter in the conference.

The two seniors were rewarded for their season-long efforts with recognition on the All-GSAC baseball team presented by Under Armour.

Farrington earned his second career All-GSAC nod as he was one of two third-baseman to be named to the 2010 All-GSAC squad. This season he became the only designated hitter to make the squad.

McNeill earned his first career all-conference selection following his first season as a full-time starter. He was the only player in the conference to be selected as a first-baseman.

Farrington continued to produce at the excellent level he has contributed throughout his three-year career at Biola. He hit for the highest batting average (.335) on the team, and he also had the highest on-base percentage (.424) and most homeruns (3). His 15 extra-base hits led the team and helped him accumulate a slugging percentage of .478 to easily lead the team.

He was instrumental in the emotional high of the season for the Eagles when he hit a two-run walkoff homerun to upset the No. 7 San Diego Christian Hawks and make the final series of the season very interesting for the top-five teams in the conference. The Eagles' win in that Friday contest, keyed by his big bat, made it so that all five of the top-five teams had a mathematical chance to win the regular-season championship the next day.

"Boone is our most polished offensive player," said Head Coach Jay Sullenger. "He sees the ball rally well and has a lot of God-given ability to go along with that. He is real patient at the plate and got better as the year went along. He is a really big reason why our team played better at the end of the year."

He ends his Biola career with a .358 batting average, 112 runs scored, 173 hits, 11 homeruns and 79 RBI in 140 games in a Biola uniform. His individual high point came when he hit safely in 17 consecutive games in the midst of a difficult stretch of Biola losses in the middle of the season. That stretch helped him end the season with the second-highest conference-only batting average (.387).

McNeill entered the 2014 season with 33 career starts over the course of his previous three seasons at Biola. He was thrust into a new role as the starting first-baseman in Sullenger's first season at head coach, and he excelled by starting all 54 of Biola's contests.

He stood out among others in the conference around the first-base bag because of his artistry with the glove. He led the GSAC in fielding chances (454), putouts (419) and was second in the conference in double plays converted (35). His .993 fielding percentage was also tops among starters on Biola's roster. His putout and fielding chances numbers put him among the top-10 position players in the entire NAIA.

McNeill was not just solid in the field, but at the dish as well, as he spent the season moving his way up in the lineup and on the statistical charts. He led the team with 28 RBI and was among the top-three on the team with a slash line of .293/.375/.346.

"David got better as the year went along and went from being a guy who hit sixth or seventh to being a three or four guy," said Sullenger. "He has years of experience under his belt, but he is still very coachable. He also showed his ability around the bag and proved to be a very balanced player."

The final spring season All-GSAC performances came from a team that still has a chance to make its national tournament and keep its season alive, softball.

Just one season after getting just one player named to the All-GSAC team the Eagles have rebounded in a big way with a second-place conference finish, four all-conference student-athletes and the Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Reba DePriest led the way for the Eagles, earning a spot on the all-conference team and taking home the Eagles' first conference pitcher of the year honor since Jessica Logsdon earned the nod in the 2001 season.

DePriest has had a marquee year, end capped by her recent performance against No. 1 Concordia when she broke Logsdon's all-time single-season strikeout record. She is currently 16-1 with a 0.34 ERA and 193 strikeouts over 142.2 innings of work.

She is ranked first in the NAIA in opponent batting average (.107) and hits allowed per nine innings (2.5). She also has a perfect fielding percentage and ranks in the top-5 in ERA, runs allowed and saves. Her 193 strikeouts puts her eighth in the nation in total Ks.

DePriest earned her spot on the squad as a pitcher, but she was not the only pitcher on Biola's roster to earn the honor. CeCe Luster earned her third career All-GSAC nod as the only designated player to get named to the team.

This season Luster is leading the Eagles with a .360 batting average and also has the most doubles (11), hits (45), runs (29), total bases (73) and walks (23). 

She was also productive in the circle for Biola, starting 37 games and winning 16 for the Eagles. She put up a 1.99 ERA and tied with DePriest for the second most wins in the GSAC. They ranked in the top-20 in the entire NAIA in wins.

Brooke Madrid hit .342 this season en route to her second career all-conference honor. She raised her batting average by nearly 50 points this season and ended up with the third-highest mark on the squad. Her 19 runs scored put her fourth on the Eagles. She also played a solid center field and anchored the Eagles' outfield with just one error all season. Her other All-GSAC nod came when she was a freshman in 2012.

Heather Hall makes her first appearance on the All-GSAC squad following a powerful sophomore season at the dish. She led Biola with six homeruns and hit .323 while knocking in a team-high 32 RBI. She also played sound defense at the hot corner, ranking in the top-50 in the NAIA in assists (89) while fielding at a .942 clip.

Vanguard, No. 1 Concordia and the No. 13 Eagles provided nearly all of the players for this seasons All-GSAC squad, as the top-3 schools in the conference provided 16 of the 18 All-GSAC student-athletes.

Biola's four softball honorees are its most since it also got four following the 2002 season.

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