It was an historic weekend for the McPherson College Athletic Department. Three of the five spring sport programs brought home conference championships, bringing the total number or KCAC championships this year to four. According to records, this is the first time in the Bulldog history that the department has had four KCAC champions in the same year.
The Bulldog volleyball team got things started, setting a new record for wins in a season with 34, and going 12-0 in KCAC play to win the regular season championship. The team went on to win a first round NAIA playoff game and earned a place at the final site of the NAIA national championships. The spring sports continued the pattern of excellence begun in the fall with two KCAC tournament championships, and one regular season championship were added to the list this past weekend.
The championship festivities got underway with the Bulldog women's tennis team, which defeated the Southwestern College Moundbuilders, 5-3, in KCAC tournament finals. Softball kept things going by sweeping the Oklahoma Wesleyan University Eagles to secure a regular season championship, and then men's tennis capped the day by winning the tournament title over Ottawa University, 5-1.
The Mac women's tennis team was the KCAC regular season runner-up and entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed. Its only loss in conference play came in the opening match of the spring to the Moundbuilders, 6-3. From there, the team ran the table and made the finals by defeating the Ottawa University Braves, 5-4, in the semifinals. The Bulldogs flipped the script on the Moundbuilders in the finals, winning two of the three doubles matches, then winning on three of the five singles lines. The tournament championship gave the Bulldogs an automatic berth in the NAIA National Championships in Mobile, Alabama. For the ladies, it will be their fifth trip in the past six years.
The Bulldog softball team wrapped up its historic season with a sweep of the OKWU Eagles on the road in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The team finished the year with an overall record of 31-14, and a 20-4 mark in KCAC games, both program bests. What is remarkable is that the Bulldogs closed out the year winning 16 of 17 games, and in the last week, played six games on the road, winning five of them. With the sweep of the Eagles on Saturday, the Bulldogs claimed a share of the KCAC regular season title, splitting it with Avila University. It is the second time the Bulldog softball program has shared its regular season title since 2003. The Bulldogs will enter next week's KCAC tournament as the No. 2 seed.
The Bulldog men's tennis team finished off championship Saturday by claiming its fifth KCAC tournament title in a row. All titles are special, but this one maybe a little more so for the Bulldogs. The men opened the season with four ranked opponents, all of them in the top 15, three of them in the top 10, and two in the top 5. The team lost all four matches, and then opened up KCAC play against Southwestern College. The Bulldogs lost that match in a close 5-4 decision, marking the low point of the season. It was also the turning point of the season. From there the Bulldogs didn't lose a match the rest of the season, going 9-0. The team entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, but were dominant, winning both matches 5-1. With the win, the Bulldogs will make their fifth straight trip to the NAIA National Championships, which take place May 14-18.
Also making noise this spring are the baseball and track and field programs. The Bulldog baseball team wrapped up its regular season this past weekend, finishing the year with a program best 36-15 overall record, and a 22-11 finish in the KCAC, also a program best. The Bulldogs reached as high as second in the conference, and for the first time in the history of the program, they were receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 poll. After this weekend's game, the Bulldogs are tied for third place in the conference standings, but will be seeded fourth at next week's KCAC tournament. In KCAC baseball, only the top six teams make the end of the year tournament. This is the second time in program history that the Bulldogs have qualified for the postseason.
It's also been a great year for the Bulldog track and field programs. Seven school records were broke during the indoor season, and in early March, the Bulldogs sent seven participants to the NAIA Indoor National meet in Brookings, South Dakota.When the meet concluded, the women had finished in 21st place, and six individuals were awarded All-American status.
The spring outdoor season got off to a slow start with the first two scheduled meets cancelled due to poor weather. When they finally were able to get out and compete, the Bulldogs got after it. Thus far this spring, five school records have fallen, and 13 individuals have met the qualifying standards for the NAIA Outdoor Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama on May 23-25. This week, the Bulldogs are gearing up for another run at a KCAC outdoor title. The Bulldog men have won the last two outdoor championships in 2017 and 2018. The women last won in 2014.
Softball Head Coach Tony Segovia, who graduated from McPherson College in 1999 and is now back to coach at his alma mater, had a unique perspective of the year the Athletic Department is experiencing.
"This is a very special year for McPherson College," he said. "I think sometimes people forget how hard it is to win one, or all the things that go into winning one. I can remember going back to when I was in school here and even when I coach as an assistant coach, winning championships didn't happen on a regular basis. Once you leave, you get a whole new perspective on what people think of McPherson, and everyone talks about how McPherson Is just happy being okay. I feel like times are changing around here. The support and encouragement around here is top notch. It's great to see all these programs having success! Winning four championships in an entire season is special"
There is a saying at McPherson College, coined by Hall of Fame Men's Basketball Coach Roger Trimmel, "It's a Great Day to be a Bulldog." It is true every day, but even more so right now. There is a lot going on in Bulldog Nation to be excited about and proud of. When asked about the success of current Bulldogs, and the future of the McPherson College Athletic Department, Director of AthleticsAndrew Ehling commented, "I am proud of the student athletes here at McPherson. Not only are they achieving outstanding results on the field and court, but they are also excelling in the classroom. To date, our student athletes have a cumulative grade point average above a 3.0, and we have a 100 percent job placement rate for graduating seniors."
Ehling also mentioned the future growth of the college saying, "We have been fortunate to be able to provide our student athletes with some new facilities like Bulldog Park for baseball and softball, and we plan on adding three new tennis courts this summer. As we move forward, we hope to continue upgrading our current facilities and also expand our footprint and influence in the McPherson community."