OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 26, 2012) – A lot happened in Oklahoma Christian athletics in 2012. Here’s a look at stories 10 through six on the top-10 list for OC athletics this year. Look for the top five stories tomorrow.
10. Construction begins on $4.6 million softball stadium. In July, OC held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new softball stadium to replace Lady Eagle Field, which had been in use since the program began in 1995. Ricky and Kelly Lawson provided the seven-figure anchor gift for the project, for which fundraising remains ongoing. The stadium will be named “Tom Heath Field at Lawson Plaza” in honor of Tom Heath, who has served as the only head coach in OC softball history. When completed, the new stadium will include locker rooms, coaches’ offices, training rooms, meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, permanent restrooms, a press box, permanent seating, an indoor training facility and a 34-vehicle parking lot. Construction is ongoing and Heath hopes the Lady Eagles will be able to use the new field by April.
9. Women’s tennis team reaches NAIA semifinals for first time. OC long has had an elite small-college women’s tennis program, but the Lady Eagles never had advanced past the quarterfinals in the NAIA Championship. That ended this year, as OC rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 5-3 in a quarterfinal match in Mobile, Ala., in May. Maryfer Abreu Roman, Marta Contel Miranzo and Gabriela Carrillo won at No. 4, 5 and 6 singles, respectively, to key the win. OC lost to No. 1-ranked (and eventual champion) Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) 5-1 in the semifinals, ending a 12-match winning streak, but the third-place national finish was the best ever by an OC women’s athletic team to that point. OC’s Hermon Brhane and Lucie Sipkova earned first-team NAIA All-America honors while Andreea Constantinescu, Abreu Roman, Contel Miranzo and Carrillo received All-America honorable mention. Sipkova also was named as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s NAIA Player to Watch.
8. Women’s golf team finishes 2nd in NCCAA, 6th in NAIA. OC’s newest athletic team, its women’s golf squad, capped a solid first season of competition with a sixth-place finish in the NAIA Championship in Greeneville, Tenn., in May. Anna Arrese Cortadellas finished second individually and earned NAIA All-America first-team honors, while Sarah Harper received honorable mention on the All-America list. In October at the National Christian College Athletic Association Invitational in Panama City Beach, Fla., the Lady Eagles finished as the runner-up, the highest national finish ever by an OC women’s athletic team. Two players made the NCCAA All-America squad – Arrese Cortadellas and Catherine Odgers. During the fall season, Arrese Cortadellas was named the NCCAA student-athlete of the week three times.
7. Men’s basketball team sweeps through SAC tournament. After an inconsistent regular season, Oklahoma Christian entered the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament in Siloam Springs, Ark., in March with a 17-12 record and seeded seventh among the eight teams. But the Eagles played their best basketball of the season when it counted, beating No. 10-ranked Rogers State 83-77, No. 13 (and tournament host) John Brown (Ark.) 59-56 and No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist 73-66 in overtime to capture OC’s first postseason men’s basketball title in 30 years. Kendre Talley was named as the tournament’s most valuable player, while Devan White took the tournament’s Hustle Award and Will Reinke made the all-tournament team along with Talley. By winning the tournament, OC earned a spot in the NAIA Division I Championship. The Eagles led eventual national champion Concordia (Calif.) with 1:30 left before falling 81-74 in the first round of the tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Reinke was named to the NAIA All-America second-team list.
6. OC finishes in top 10 nationally in number of Academic All-Americans. Oklahoma Christian not only had a successful 2011-12 season on the athletic field of play, OC student-athletes also shined in the classroom. OC ranked in the top 10 nationally among all higher education institutions with a school-record 11 Capital One Academic All-America selections. OC’s total was tied for ninth overall and was tops among Oklahoma colleges and universities. OC was a part of the Academic All-America award program’s College Division, which included NAIA, Canadian and two-year institutions. Six of OC’s 11 honorees earned first-team recognition: senior Katy Clift (women’s basketball), senior Renardy Guelfi (men’s tennis), junior Martin Poboril (men’s tennis), junior Brayden Barrientez (men’s track and field/cross country), junior Tracy Marshall (men’s track and field/cross country) and junior David McWilliams (men’s track and field/cross country). Three were second-team picks – senior Trey Boykin (men’s soccer), sophomore Lucie Sipkova (women’s tennis) and sophomore Austin Simkins (men’s track and field/cross country). Two others earned third-team recognition – senior Cady Block (women’s track and field/cross country) and senior Erin Sesemann (women’s track and field/cross country).