The McKendrean Magazine for McKendree Univeristy - Summer 2023

Bearcats Unleashed

Men's Basketball TeamMen’s Basketball Secures First GLVC Championship in Program History

McKendree University’s men’s basketball team won its first-ever Great Lakes Valley championship on Sunday, March 5, defeating the University of Missouri-St. Louis 62-51. The Bearcats were seeded sixth heading into the tournament and improved their record to 18-12 overall following the win.

McKendree claimed control of the championship game from the beginning, climbing to an early 21-10 lead over the Tritons in nine minutes of play. At the end of 20 minutes, McKendree held a 38-24 advantage over UMSL. In the second half, UMSL would only come as close as five points to the Bearcats’ lead with a few short scoring runs, closing the gap to 54-49 with 2:35 left in the contest. McKendree scored on back-to-back turnovers from the Tritons and held off UMSL’s last-minute efforts to claim the victory.

Overall, the Bearcats shot 51.1 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Senior guard Bryson Bultman netted 20 points to lead McKendree, firing 7-for-18 from the field and 3-for-7 from the three-point range. Junior forward Milos Vicentic tallied 18 points, hitting 7 of 13 field goals and 2 of 3 three-pointers while sophomore forward Caleb Zurliene added 13 points, including 11 in the second half. Bryson and Caleb each grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Milos was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Player while Bryson and Caleb were voted to the All-Tournament team, along with UMSL’s Bowen Sandquist and Isaiah Fuller.

“This was an incredible day for McKendree. I could not be prouder of our guys as they again made program history. They deserve so much credit for the last few weeks and all they’ve given our basketball community,” said McKendree head coach George Suggs. “The support we’ve felt this season has been incredible. These players are tremendous ambassadors for this university and represent our program with such pride. This team deserves to be called champions.”

Women’s Bowling Concludes Season with ITC Championship Title

McKendree’s women’s bowling secured the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships title on April 22 at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas to conclude its season. McKendree previously won the title in the 2016-2017 season.

Graduate student Hope Gramly ’22 and junior Isabel Allen earned spots on the All-Tournament team while Hope was named the Most Valuable Player.

McKendree concludes its historic season after holding a No. 1 national ranking for the entirety of the 2022-2023 season, 10 tournament titles including the GLVC Championships and NCAA Arlington Regional, an overall record of 108-19, and a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Three Individual Champions for Women’s Wrestling; Bearcats Finish Third at NCWWC

No. 3 McKendree University women’s wrestling claimed three individual national titles during its run to third place at the 2023 National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championship as senior Emily Shilson, senior Sydnee Kimber, and junior Cameron Guerin each defended their individual championships. McKendree grabbed seven All-American finishes in the tournament with eight individuals contributing to the team’s 147.5 total points. The eight All-Americans for the Bearcats were Emily, Cameron, Sydnee, junior Lizette Bernardo, redshirt senior Payton Stroud, first-year Jennifer Soto, senior Pauline Granados, and junior Alexandra Castillo.

Emily and Sydnee became four-time NCWWC national champions, while Cameron became a three-time NCWWC national champion.

Men’s Golf Claims First GLVC Title in Program History

The win was decided by a tiebreaker after 18 holes between the Bearcats and Missouri-St. Louis Tritons in the GLVC match play final. The tiebreaker was the cumulative score of the five scores from the match. The Bearcats’ men’s golf team won its first Great Lakes Valley Conference title in program history with a team score of 367 to UMSL’s 375.

In the championship match against the top-seeded Tritons, the Bearcats received a 2-shot victory by sophomore Fabian Wennerlof and a massive 10-stroke win by senior Phasin Vichitcharoenpaisarn. Sophomore Griffin St. Pierre played to a draw in the decisive fifth match.

For the second time in his tenure, head men’s golf coach Mikal Guffey has been named the GLVC Coach of the Year. His peers bestowed the honor on him as he led the program to their first medal/match play appearance since 2014. Mikal guided three to All-GLVC recognition, including Fabian, who finished fourth at the GLVC Championship (74-73-71-218), as well as junior Thomas Tollefsen and sophomore Rasmus Nilsson, who were voted onto the All-Conference team.

Women’s Hockey Earns First-Ever ACHA Nationals Victory

No. 8 McKendree University women’s hockey closed out its season at the ACHA National Tournament after going 1-2 during the championship weekend. The Bearcats earned their first-ever national tournament victory on March 17, defeating Michigan in overtime, 2-1.

The Bearcats recorded a sixth double-digit win season with their 15 victories in the 2022-2023 season. It also marked the fourth winning season in the program’s seven-year history.

Track and Field Finishes Season at GLVC Championships

The men’s and women’s track team traveled to Missouri S&T in May to compete in the GLVC Championships. The men’s team brought home sixth place while the women’s team placed 11th.

Junior Malachi Carroll was named GLVC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year as he captured the 100-meter dash title, breaking a 22-year-old GLVC record. He also brought home the 200-meter race title.

Mejia, Kvien Win All-American in Cedar Rapids for Men’s Wrestling

McKendree’s men’s wrestling team finished out its season with a pair of All-Americans in redshirt junior Christian Mejia and redshirt sophomore Logan Kvien at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships. Christian, now a two-time All-American, finished fifth in the 125 class while Logan earned his first-ever All-American honor in his first nationals appearance with a sixth-place finish.

The Bearcats also had first-year Zeke Waltz and senior Joshua Jones compete in the national championship tournament, finishing 17th as a team. This season marks the Bearcats having multiple All-Americans in every NCAA season, beginning in 2014.

Lauren Harris Picks up Two Major Awards; Two Other Bearcats Honored

First-year infielder Lauren Harris was named both Freshman and Player of the Year at the Great Lakes Valley Conference annual pre-tournament banquet this May. She also gave the Bearcats their second Freshman laurel, the first coming in 2018. Later in the month, she was named a finalist for the 2023 National Fastpitch Coaches Association/Tucci Division II Freshman of the Year honors by the NFCA.

Lauren was also a unanimous selection to the All-GLVC First Team. Joining her on the first team as a unanimous selection was junior pitcher Ellie Quaethem. The Bearcats had a third selection in senior first baseman Olivia Stansbury.

Bass Fishing Finishes 5th in ACA School of the Year Race

McKendree’s bass fishing team earned fifth place in the annual Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) Bass Pro Shops School of the Year Race in May. McKendree finished with two boats in the top 50 and three in the top 120 to contribute to the School of the Year points.

The team’s fifth-place finish marks its eighth time placing in the top five in nine years. This season, McKendree fished with multiple pairs in 26 tournaments for the season, posting 42 top-15 performances, 27 top-ten finishes, 25 top-five appearances, and 16 top-three achievements.

The Bearcats were named the Major League Fishing (MLF) Central Conference Champions and took the title at the Wiley X Faceoff in LaCrosse, Wis.

Additionally, in the Bassmaster National Championship, McKendree placed third as a team and sent one boat to the bracket round. Senior Tyler Christy placed third while fifth-year senior Trey Schroeder was seventh overall. In the Bassmaster Individual Team of the Year Race, six Bearcat teams reached the top 25 percent.

McKendree also took home the title at the Illinois State Championship with four boats in the top-10 spots.

Football Players Earn Postseason GLVC Accolades

The McKendree University football team had 14 players earn postseason accolades from the Great Lakes Valley Conference as the league unveiled the 2022 All-GLVC Teams and the conference’s major award winners.

Along with having 14 All-GLVC selections, redshirt junior quarterback Turner Pullen caps off his collegiate career by becoming the second-ever Bearcat football player to be named the GLVC Offensive Player of the Year.

Pullen is joined on the All-GLVC First Team by redshirt junior receiver Jacob Bachman, sophomore receiver Yogi Flager, Jr., and sophomore running back Narkel Leflore. Second-Team All-GLVC honorees for McKendree are sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Johnson and redshirt sophomore defensive back Andrew Sherry.

The Bearcats had eight players earn Honorable Mention All-GLVC honors: sophomore long snapper Wyatt Hall, junior defensive back Drew Crooks, redshirt junior linebacker Luca Gualdoni, sophomore defensive lineman Jacob Stoneburner, sophomore tight end Jordan Sprycha, sophomore receiver Diontay Griffin, redshirt senior offensive lineman Kenny Thomason, and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jake Rich.

Leonardo Schmitz Frederico Named ITA All-American

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the Division II Men’s student-athletes who earned All-American honors for the 2022-2023 season. In order to qualify, the athletes must finish the season in the top 20 of the ITA singles rankings and top 10 in the final ITA doubles rankings.

Senior Leonardo Schmitz Frederico finished with a singles ranking of 14th in the country, making him the first Division II ITA All-American in program history. He compiled a singles record of 15 wins and 6 losses.

The Bearcats finished the season with an overall record of 12-6 (4-1 GLVC), which saw them qualify for the NCAA Midwest Regional tournament.

Men’s Swimming & Diving Finishes Program-Best Third Place at NCAA Championships

McKendree University men’s swimming swam to its highest finish in program history at the NCAA Division II National Championships, placing third overall with 352.5 points. The Bearcats bested their finish from last season of fourth place in the championships and appeared in the top four for the third consecutive year.

McKendree claimed a national title in the 400 freestyle relay, which included sophomores Alireza Yavari and Arthur Souza, senior Caleb Law, and fifth-year senior Gregg Lichinsky. The Bearcats posted a school-record time of 2:52.69 in the victory. Last season, McKendree finished third for the relay event.

Gregg added to his national accolades with a second-place finish in the 100 freestyle, recording a time of 42.37 for a McKendree program record. Junior Filipe Pinheiro represented McKendree in the 200 breaststroke, tabbing his second fourth-place finish of the meet with a time of 1:56.09. Sophomore Paytrk Rozenek competed in the consolation finals of the 200 backstroke, finishing 10th overall.

In the five-day competition, the Bearcats collected five national championship titles, including a win in the 200 butterfly and Division II record for sophomore Jackson Lustig, 100 butterfly win from Gregg, and relay wins in the 800 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay, and the 400 freestyle relay.

Jimmy Tierney Named CSCAA Men’s Swimming Co-Coach of the Year

McKendree University’s head men’s and women’s swimming coach Jimmy Tierney was named the College Swimming Coaches Association of America’s (CSCAA) Men’s Swimming Co-Coach of the Year.

Jimmy joined McKendree in 2015 and has coached the Bearcats for the last eight seasons. This season, he led the men’s swim team to an undefeated 9-0 dual season with four wins over nationally-ranked teams, including the No. 1-ranked University of Indianapolis.

“I am honored and humbled to be voted to such an award by my peers. It is truly a staff award as our accomplishments could not have happened without great coaches like Nathan Townsend and Jolynn Harris,” Jimmy said. “Of course, coaching awards are a product of the success of your athletes. I am blessed to have coached such a wonderful group of motivated and passionate men and women. They make me look good.”

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