Austin leads Drake at NCAA Regionals

November 19, 2014 1:22 PM
Senior Brogan Austin finished 12th at the NCAA Regional race in Peoria, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Drake athletics.

Senior Brogan Austin finished 12th at the NCAA Regional race in Peoria, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Drake athletics.

STORY BY COLTON WARREN

Senior Brogan Austin led the Drake cross country team yet again, this time guiding the men’s squad to a 12th place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional Race in Peoria, Illinois.

Austin’s sixth-place finish individually also earned him a berth in the NCAA Championships next weekend.

Austin completed the 10-kilometer race in 30 minutes and 16.5 seconds. A late surge from Austin moved him up four spots in the final kilometer of the race, and into national qualifying territory.

“Brogan put in an outstanding effort to punch his ticket to nationals,” said Drake head cross-country coach Dan Hostager. “It was an outstanding field with a lot of nationally ranked teams and individuals, all with same qualification goal. So Brogan had to run a smart race, and not just a gutsy one, as there was very little margin for error.”

Hostager was especially impressed with Austin’s race, simply based on the challenge posed in trying to advance from a packed field.

“From a statistical standpoint, Cross Country is the hardest NCAA sport to advance to nationals due to the few qualifiers,” Hostager said. “Brogan has put in a ton of work and made a lot of sacrifices over the years to get to this point, so he’ll certainly be motivated to finish out his collegiate cross-country career on a high note.”

Hostager said he knows his senior leader won’t be fazed by the tough competition on a big stage.

“He’ll be going up the nation’s very best, but won’t be intimidated,” Hostager said.

Behind Austin for the Bulldogs was senior Connor Wells, who finished 57th with a time of 31:05.8.  Reed Fischer finished just shy of Wells’ time, posting a 31:08 finish, good for 60th overall.

Rounding out the scoring five for Drake was junior Rob McCann (31:39.9) and fifth-year senior Doug Brady (31:49.7), who finished 92nd and 110th, respectively.

Hostager noted had it not been for a late misfortune, the Bulldogs may have been able to jump into the top 10 as a team.

“One of our guys got tripped up late in the race, so that probably cost us a spot in the top eight teams,” Hostager said. “But, we were able to finish ahead of some ranked teams and also move ahead of some MVC conference teams that had beaten us earlier this year.”

The women’s squad raced to a 19th place finish out of 32 teams in its six-kilometer race on Saturday.

Three runners finished in the top half of the field, headed by junior Emma Huston’s 42nd place finish after submitting a time of 21:04.1.

Krista Maguire was the next Bulldog to cross the finish line, posting a time of 21:29.1, good for  71st.  Taylor Scholl followed Maguire with an 86th place finish at 21:36.3.

Erica Bestul and Melissa Parks posted 152nd and 160th place finishes, respectively, to complete Drake’s scoring on the day.

Hostager was pleased with the way his squads finished the season against stiff competition.

“As a team, both our men and women put in outstanding efforts to finish on a great note,” Hostager said. “We hadn’t been regionally ranked all fall, but our men were able to finish 12th and our women 19th in a very strong region containing mostly Big 10 and Big 12 teams.”

Hostager added many of his racers finished with personal bests, something that will help motivate his runners going into track season.

“Most of the men and women also came away from the meet with personal bests, so that will be tremendous motivation, not only for next fall’s cross-country campaign but, also for the upcoming track season,” Hostager said.

Bulldogs finish home slate, honor seniors

1:15 PM
Senior outside hitter Amanda Platte was one of the three Bulldog seniors honored this weekend. File photo.

Senior outside hitter Amanda Platte was one of the three Bulldog seniors honored this weekend. File photo.

STORY BY ASHLEY BEALL

The Drake volleyball team hosted its final two home games of the season last weekend.

The Bulldogs swept Indiana State Saturday at the Knapp Center.

“This match was awesome,”  said redshirt sophomore Katie Allen. “Winning feels great, and I’m glad we got our first conference home win tonight for our seniors. It’s a big weekend for them. Overall, I thought our team did a really good job with serving and passing. I thought we worked really hard tonight as a team, and I am so proud of us.”

It was the Bulldogs first win at home in conference play this year. The Bulldogs sweeping the Sycamores, 25-20, 25-16 and 25-19.

Sophomore Makena Schoene and freshman Kyla Indurski led Drake with 10 kills each.

It was Indurski’s tenth double-double as she added 10 digs for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs recorded 12 blocks against the Sycamores.

The first set was hard-fought on both sides as the Sycamores and Bulldogs traded points back-and-forth.

The Sycamores attempted to slow the Bulldogs’ momentum by calling a timeout, but the Bulldogs continued their run and won 25-20.

In the second set, the Bulldogs came out swinging and never allowed the Sycamores to take the lead.

Drake finished with a .323 hitting average and took the set, 25-16.

Drake’s momentum temporarily stalled in the third set as it allowed Indiana State to take the lead early.

But the Bulldogs quickly regained their footing as they finished the set with a kill by Schoene.

On Sunday, the Bulldogs played their final home match of the season against Missouri Valley Conference leader Illinois State, falling in three sets.

The Redbirds swept the Bulldogs, 25-15, 26-24 and 25-13.

“We gave our all against the toughest competition that we’ve seen. They’re number one in the conference,” Schoene said. “I think we did a lot of things well, and I think it was a good note to end on, even though it wasn’t what we had hoped.”

Sunday was senior night for the Bulldogs, and seniors Amanda Platte, Halli Meyer and Meredith Moore’s final home game.

Platte finished the game with four kills, three digs, two blocks and one assist.

Moore played one set for the Bulldogs and Meyer recorded  one dig.

With the loss, the Bulldogs moved to 3-13 in MVC play, and 11-16 overall this season.

The Redbirds remained perfect in the MVC, 16-0 and futhered their season record to  22-5 with just a few games to go.

The Bulldogs’ final games are this Friday and Saturday at Bradley and Loyola, respectively.

In their first matchup on Sept. 19, the Bulldogs bested Bradley 3-1 at the Knapp Center.

Drake hosted Loyola the same weekend, Sept. 20, and fought the Ramblers to the wire, but eventually fell  in five sets, 2-3.

Schoene spoke on the final weekend of the season for the Bulldogs.

“Our goal is to take them down,” Schoene said. “We want more wins for our record. Bradley and Loyola aren’t going to leave without a fight from us.”

Bulldogs focus on big picture after loss

1:10 PM

COLUMN BY CARLY GRENFELL

Grenfell is a senior public relations and management double major and can be reached at @carly.grenfell@drake.edu

Grenfell is a senior public relations and management double major and can be reached at @carly.grenfell@drake.edu

World-renowned business and personal success coach, Robert Kiyosaki, explains failure in an interesting light.

He says, “One of the most important messages you can reinforce each day is that failure is a part of success. That it’s a necessary stop on the road to greatness. That although playing it safe feels more comfortable, the discomfort of mistakes will help them grow as athletes and people.”

It was a tough loss for our team this past weekend. In fact, it still stings.

But the way I see it is onward and upward from here.

There is still a whole lot of basketball to be played.

All we can do at this point is not only learn from our mistakes and move forward, but believe there are better things ahead if we do exactly that.

With that said, it surely doesn’t get any easier from here with back-to-back games against Iowa State and Wisconsin.

That is what preseason is for, to be as prepared as we possibly can for the conference season.

Nothing ever really gets easier, though.

Even being a senior does not make the journey of playing college basketball any less challenging.

You grow more than you could ever even imagine, but that growth comes from those challenges year after year, game after game, day in and day out.

The only thing that really changes is your mindset.

The journey, and the successes and failures you encounter along the way, still remains something you have to fight your butt off for.

I would imagine life’s journey is somewhat similar.

To think it will get easier from here on out is probably a little bit naive.

We graduate college. We start working full-time jobs, maybe we get married along the way and start raising kids of our own.

Nothing about that says “easy,” but everything about that screams “worth it.”

Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is to look at the big picture.

One day, being a college athlete will be no more. Those days will come to an end.

So, appreciate the bad ones even when it seems impossible to do.

The journey isn’t easy nor will it ever be easy.

Fight for what you believe in and the rest will fall into place.

South Dakota squeaks past Drake to open season

1:05 PM

STORY BY MIKE WENDLANDT 

A battle between two potent offenses opened the Drake women’s basketball team’s season Friday night at the Knapp Center as the Bulldogs fell to South Dakota, 83-78.

For Drake, the loss kicked off a tough non-conference schedule, as the Bulldogs faced the Summit League champion and NCAA tournament team from last season in the Coyotes.

“We have a brutal non-conference schedule, and it will help our players grow,” said Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk after the loss.

Leading the way for Drake were preseason all-conference players Lizzy Wendell and Kyndal Clark who, at different times in the game, took over the scoring on the court.

Wendell led all scorers with 25 points while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Clark, who fueled a comeback early in the second half with a personal 8-0 run, added 17 points of her own.

The top three-point shooting team in the Missouri Valley Conference from last season picked up where they left off, as Drake hit 10 3-pointers in the game.

The Bulldogs focused on getting freshman forward Becca Jonas touches down low early, which opened the floor for the Drake shooters. Wendell hit open look after open look to put Drake ahead early in the first half.

“Becca did a nice job in her first start, and I loved the balanced scoring that we had in the game,” Baranczyk said.

However, South Dakota clawed its way back with some hot outside shooting, especially from guard Raeshel Contreras, who finished with 24 points and nine rebounds.

The Coyotes challenged Drake’s outside shooting performance, hitting 11 of their own shots from beyond the arc.

South Dakota outrebounded the Bulldogs, 45-35. The Coyote guards dominated the glass, pulling in 23 boards between their three starting backcourt players.

“We were exposed in some areas, and we need to learn somehow, someway to rebound,” Baranczyk said.

South Dakota took a 46-37 lead into halftime, and never let up, hitting big shots down the stretch.

Drake crawled back behind Clark’s shooting, and the play of point guard Caitlin Ingle, who was all over the court for the Bulldogs.

Ingle finished with 11 points and six assists. Baranczyk was pleased with her play on the night.

“Caitlin’s a really good player,” Baranczyk said. “Has a great basketball IQ, and it’s going to be really fun to see her growth this season. She’s got the potential to be a really great point guard.”

Drake took the lead, again, with just under five minutes left on a pair of free throws from Clark. From there, it was a back-and-forth battle down the stretch.

The crowd erupted as Ingle hit a jump shot with 1:17 remaining to give Drake a 78-77 lead.

But, a dagger three from Contreras with 19 seconds left gave South Dakota the late advantage. Three more free throws were converted to seal the win for the Coyotes.

Despite the loss, Baranczyk remained optimistic for the season ahead.

“We have a great tradition here, and this team will have their own legacy. I’m proud to be a part of it,” Baranczyk said.

The Bulldogs hit the road for the next two games. They travelled to Ames to take on Iowa State last night.

The Bulldogs will visit SIU- Edwardsville on Thursday, before returning to the Knapp Center on Nov. 23 to take on Wisconsin. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.

Bulldogs drop season opener to Bowling Green

12:40 PM

STORY BY MIKE WENDLANDT

The Drake men’s basketball team opened its season with  struggles on both sides of the ball and fell to the Bowling Green Falcons, 77-58, Saturday afternoon at the Knapp Center.

Only suiting up nine players because of the suspensions of seniors Gary Ricks Jr. and Karl Madison. Foul trouble tested the Drake bench early and often. Further defensive struggles allowed the Falcons to hit 63 percent of their shots in the first half.

Drake’s offense struggled to get off the ground and the Bulldogs were never able to build a lead in the contest.

The Bulldogs kept things close for the first 10 minutes, before the consistent shooting from Bowling Green wore the Drake defense down.

“I thought we did a pretty good job in the first 10 minutes,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “They just hit contested looks. They were a lot better of a shooting team than we anticipated.”

Drake was paced by freshman guard Reed Timmer, who led Drake in scoring after tallying 12 of his 16 points in the first half.

Timmer was the bright spot in a tough game for Drake, playing all 40 minutes of his first collegiate basketball game.

“Reed’s a four-year starter here,” Giacoletti said. “He’s somebody that we’re going to build around. He’s a point guard, but he can also shoot really well and will continue to get better.”

Bowling Green got on the board early with a 10-foot jumper from senior forward Rishaun Holmes and never looked back, using his presence as a building block for an inside-out game that gave the Drake defense fits.

Playing a 2-3 zone for most of the game, the Bulldogs’ rotation appeared to be a tick late in getting to the open man, leading to open shots that fell consistently for the Falcons.

As the defensive struggles continued for the Bulldogs, the offensive woes began after Drake started forcing contested shots and driving aggressively into the teeth of the Bowling Green defense.

Holmes recorded five rejections in the game.

“We don’t want guys to get into situations that can cause problems, whether that’s kicking out on a drive, and making smart decisions around the rim,” Giacoletti said.

Drake trailed 47-31 at the half.

After a halftime ceremony officially dedicating the new Shivers Practice Facility, Bowling Green picked up where they left off in the first period.

The Falcons went on 5-0, 7-0 and 8-2 runs that extended their lead as Drake tried to hold on.

Guard Chris Caird picked up his fourth foul early in the second half. His absence further handcuffed the already shorthanded Drake roster, which had four freshmen on the court at times.

“This game’s about having guys who’ve been through the war, and understanding the little things, and we’ll get better than that over time,” Giacoletti said.

As the final 10 minutes ticked off the clock, Drake attempted to establish an offensive identity by getting the ball down low to seven-foot center Jacob Enevold Jensen, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds on the afternoon.

Freshman guard C.J. Rivers led Drake in rebounding after collecting a game-high eight in 26 minutes on the court. Rivers added six points and three assists to his stat line.

Timmer led all players with six assists on the afternoon.

In the end, though, the Falcons offense was too much for the depleted Bulldogs. The early shooting success for the Falcons led to a 52 shooting percentage. Drake shot only 37 percent.

Drake travelled to DePaul last night and heads to Western Michigan on Nov. 22. They return to the Knapp Center on Nov. 25 for a matchup against IUPUI.

Parents Contribute to Nature of Youth Sports Competition

November 15, 2014 6:00 AM

STORY BY CARLY GRENFELL

Grenfell is a senior public relations and management double major and can be reached at @carly.grenfell@drake.edu

Grenfell is a senior public relations and management double major and can be reached at @carly.grenfell@drake.edu

“But no one escapes this world unhurt, emotionally if not physically.”

Not to put a damper on your day, but this quote which Bill Speros used in a recent Boston.com article jumped out at me.  It talks about parents, youth athletics and the reasons why “kids aren’t playing.”

I’ll admit, it is a touchy subject. But, I absolutely love and appreciate the argument it raises.  As someone who has grown up around sports, I simply cannot imagine my life without them.

However, they are not the end all be all. And for parents: Sports do not define your children.

Sports shouldn’t define any athlete: young, old, athletic, not athletic, naturally talented, hard working, driven or participating just to participate.

Not to disregard the kids themselves as a source of blame, but parents are often the ones who lose sight of this notion.

From a player perspective, whether it was middle school, high school or college, I never quite understood why some parents would insert themselves into situations when their kids weren’t playing.

Since when does every single player get playing time? In what sense do parents think their kids are entitled to playing time?

It drives me nuts when the coaches or other players are automatically victimized.

I am not a parent and will not be one for a while. But, honestly, what message are you sending? It seems like a lesson of placing the blame on other people when things aren’t going your way.

This is where I would say ownership comes in. Ask your kid what’s going on. Ask how practice is going. Ask their opinions of why they think they aren’t playing. Don’t just assume they deserve to be playing and automatically get upset when they aren’t.

Take ownership and expect the same from your kids. It could solve a lot of problems.

I say this because, yes, even as a college basketball player, I have ridden the bench plenty.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that. Why? Because I had parents and mentors who told me to get over it, to work harder and to not give up on something I really care about.

It is absolutely true that no one escapes this world unhurt. Things don’t go your way. Coaches miss what you bring to the table. So what? It is your job to prove yourself differently.

The earlier we realize that, the less say parents will have when it comes to youth sports. Sports can be an incredible outlet for growth when approached with a truly competitive mindset.

Maybe it’s just me, but thinking everyone should play is far from a competitive mindset.

The best players play. The hardest-working players play. The most gifted players play. Anything less than that is met with a harsh reality, being that they probably won’t play.

Where many parents are mistaken is thinking their kid should be playing without any grasp, or  having unrealistic expectations of the situation, and then pointing the fingers elsewhere.

Just because your kid doesn’t play doesn’t mean it will always be that way. But if it is constantly the coach’s fault, and never a matter of ownership, chances are your kid will never understand what it means to compete.

To compete means to find what is wrong, and do everything you can to fix it.