Sports Update – Spring 2017
Men’s Basketball (1)
It was a year to remember for the BC men’s basketball team as they claimed the 2017 Crossroads League Regular-Season Championship, the 2017 Crossroads League Tournament Championship, and earned a trip to the NAIA DII National Championship Tournament, which ended in the Elite Eight with an overtime loss to Bellevue. The Pilots ended the season with a stellar 31-5 record behind the strong senior class of Clay Yeo, Caleb Oetjen, Jordyn Coon, Ryan Wassink and Nick Kindig. Bethel once again collected a handful of prestigious postseason honors, highlighted by Oetjen’s nod as the Crossroads League Co-Player of the Year and NCCAA Pete Maravich Award winner. Coach Mike Lightfoot finishes his remarkable 30-year career at BC with 794 wins, 11 regular-season league titles, and nine league tournament championships. With his retirement, he gives way to his son, Ryne Lightfoot ’10, ’13, who will take over as head coach for in the 2017-’18 season.
Men’s Indoor Track and Field (2)
The Bethel men’s track and field program had another successful indoor season with three athletes winning NCCAA Indoor National Championships and nine performances garnering all-American honors. Mishawaka native and junior Erik Escobedo had an exceptional season in the men’s weight throw. He finished as the NAIA National Runner-up, earned NAIA All-American honors, an NCCAA national title, NCCAA All-American honors and set a new program record with a toss of 19.88 meters. Six additional indoor records were broken during the 2016-17 season, including three by mid-distance specialist and South Bend native Andy Herbert.
Women’s Basketball (4)
After notching their first win in December 2016, the Lady Pilots found their stride and battled their way to a 10-20 regular- season record and a 7-11 mark in Crossroads League action, which was identical to their 2015-16 league record. They entered the postseason as the 7th seed and fell to Saint Francis in the quarterfinals of the league tournament, bringing their overall record to 10-21. BC was led by the senior duo of Savannah Bley and Madison Schrock, who collectively etched their names into the record books on 14 different occasions (this included Bley finishing her career with over 500 rebounds and Schrock becoming the 22nd member of the Lady Pilots’ 1,000-point club).
Women’s Indoor Track and Field (3)
It was a storybook season for BC sophomore transfer Danielle Wojciechowski. From her first outing in the BC uniform to the final showing at the NAIA National Championships, Wojciechowski set, broke and rewrote the Pilots’ indoor record book in the women’s pole vault. Wojciechowksi made history in 2017 by winning the first individual NAIA national title for the women’s program while also adding NCCAA National Champion, NAIA All-American, NCCAA All-American and program record-holder to her résumé. Senior Melanie Nellis landed the program’s other individual national title in weight throw, while Bethel finished with five NCCAA All-Americans at the close of the 2017 national meet.
On the heels of a 20-win campaign in 2016 that saw BC finish in a tie for fourth in Crossroads League standings, Bethel will rely on their 13 upperclassman to help this year’s squad make a run at the top of the league’s leaderboard. The Pilots will look to the junior duo of Eric Kelver and Jesse Zepeda to provide an offensive punch, as they led the team last season with 49 and 40 hits, respectively. Kelver also returns as the team’s leader in hitting percentage (.338) as well as the team’s leader in RBIs. League play kicked off against Goshen College in March.
Bethel softball is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2016 campaign that saw the Pilots miss the Crossroads League Postseason Tournament for the first time since the 1980s. This season, first-year Coach Scott Reese will guide the Pilots after spending 17 seasons at Ancilla College where he recorded 261 victories with the Chargers. Reese’s roster features six returners from the 2016 squad, including senior Katie Rhoade and sophomore Hunter Brummett, who finished second and third in hits last season. The Pilots will also field nine newcomers, including three upperclassmen transfers who each bring with them two years of collegiate experience. Bethel’s season kicked off in Tucson, Arizona, in early March before they returned home for their first contest against Goshen College.
Bethel lacrosse is back in action this spring for the program’s second season. As part of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL), BC will participate in the DII Central Region against Grace, Taylor, Bowling Green, Ball State and Toledo. The Pilots have a 15-game schedule lined up for this spring that kicks off with back-to-back, tri-matches hosted by Ball State and Eastern Michigan. The Pilots will rely heavily on the experience they gained in 2016 as well as the play of WCLA All-American junior Kara Holmes. Holmes finished last season with a team-high 42 goals and 27 assists and was second in the WCLL in goals scored.
To stay up to date on the latest athletics news, visit the home of the Bethel College Pilots, BethelCollegePilots.com.