It has been a thrilling winter sports season for Whitman College.
After leading the Whitman women’s basketball team to its first 20-win season in the program’s history and a 13-3 conference mark, the Lady Missionaries earned a spot at the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, reaching the NCAA Division III Regional Semi-Finals.
The Missionaries (22-5) punched their ticket to Williamstown, Mass., by downing Cal Lutheran in the opening round, 61-37, and then upending the No. 13 ranked Pioneers of Lewis & Clark on their home floor, 66-57.
Coach Michelle Ferenz was named the Northwest Conference Coach of the Year.
The men’s basketball team advanced to the Northwest Conference Finals for the second time in the last three seasons with a 90-78 victory over No. 3 seed George Fox. In the NWC championship game, Whitworth defeated the Missionaries 93-72. They finished the season 12-4 in the conference and 19-8 overall. In the regular season, a highlight for the men’s season came on Feb. 3, when the Missionaries beat No. 3 Whitworth in overtime 93-90, ending the Pirates’ 20-game winning streak.
The swim team reached great heights, culminating with terrific performances at the Northwest Conference Championships Feb. 8-10. At the three-day event, the team broke 20 school records. Karl Mering ’15 earned Outstanding Male Swimmer honors after winning three individual events, including a conference and meet record in the 100 butterfly. Also, Coach Jenn Blomme was named Women’s Coach of the Year. It was the third time Blomme has won the honor in the last four seasons and her sixth Coach of the Year award since 2000.
Many swimmers clocked NCAA provisional times that may qualify them for the NCAA meet in March. The men finished second and the women third (just four points behind Puget Sound). Mering has automatically qualified for the meet, and there is a good chance teammate Galen Sollom-Brotherton ’14, who also garnered victories in three individual events and recorded two provisional times, will join him.
The championships capped a season in which the men won the regular season title with a 7-0 mark and ended Whitworth’s 90 dual meet winning streak. The women recorded a 5-2 record as they battled through injuries and illness.
The baseball team was off to its best start in a decade after going 4-2 on their trip to California and Arizona. First-year Coach Sean Kinney ’05 has brought a new energy to a team composed of veteran upperclassmen and eager newcomers.
The men’s and women’s tennis teams had strong starts to their seasons, each posting 4-1 records overall. The men came into their season ranked No. 13 in the nation, and the women came into their season ranked No. 29 in the nation.