Peter Bond takes the reins of APU men's basketball

This article originally appeared on ZU News.

Peter Bond sits alone in an office built for two. Half of the office is vacant; an empty desk and bookshelf just beginning to gather dust. The room is too quiet, the atmosphere too raw.

Bond has just been named Azusa Pacific’s new men’s basketball head coach. This came just one day after previous head coach Justin Leslie announced his resignation.

Leslie served as head coach for 12 years and was a part of the program for a decade prior to that. He announced his resignation on April 23, assuming the head coaching position at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas later the same day.

Leslie expressed his gratitude for the APU community and athletics department, saying he made lifelong friends and unrivaled mentors in his 22 years here.

“Although I am very excited to begin this next step in my career, I know that the hardest part of this transition is saying goodbye to so many people that I love dearly,” Leslie said. “Azusa Pacific is an incredibly special place that is filled with amazing people.”

Leslie finished his APU coaching tenure with a 266-121 (.687) overall record. He led the Cougars to nine 20-win seasons and three NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, including a trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in the program’s first season of NCAA playoff eligibility.

Leslie’s departure came as a surprise to the APU community, including Bond.

“When I first found out, it was quite shocking. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting it,” Bond said.

“I’m going to miss him much more than just as my boss. I’m going to miss him as a friend. I’ve spent more time with him over the last 15 years than anybody else in my life. It is going to be a missing piece of almost half my life, but I know he’s going to do well and he’s doing what’s best for his family, which is really important.”

Bond met with his players soon after the announcement, doing what he could to be there for them.

“Within a team sport, there is a lot of talk about being selfless and doing what’s best for the team and what not … in this situation everybody’s first reaction is, ‘Oh man, how does this affect me?’ I told them that is totally normal. When guys came to me and were kind of shocked, that’s what I would lead with because I know it would make them let their guard down,” Bond said.

Bond empathized with the players because he has been in this situation before. In his junior year, former APU men’s basketball head coach Bill Odell resigned without warning, leaving Leslie to take over the program. Just over a decade later, history repeated itself, with Bond taking the reins this time around. However, Bond said he wasn’t sure if he would be selected.

“I didn’t know,” Bond said. “I knew that during my time here, I had represented myself well, I had represented the program well and we’ve done good things that I had a role in. But I didn’t want to assume that it was a given, that once he left I would take over.”

After the athletics department announced Bond as the new head coach, he said he received many congratulatory texts and calls. While he appreciated this, Bond said he told people that he still had a lot of work to do.

“I want to make sure that I do every step of that process well,” Bond said. “I was really intentional in that process to prepare, to plan, to still continue to do things well.”

Prior to being named head coach, Bond was the men’s basketball assistant coach and director of athletic development for 11 years. He was also a member of APU’s basketball team while he was a student from 2004-08.

Bond was humbled to be selected for the position.

“I felt honored because of how much APU means to myself and my family … in a way, I kind of grew up with APU being held up on a pedestal,” Bond said.

“To be able to take over a role like this, I just felt a lot of pride and honor in being chosen to do that, mixed with excitement and some nervousness. There was a whole array of feelings.”

Bond met his wife Erin Halma at APU. Halma was a star on the Cougars’ softball team. In addition, his two sons have both grown up as huge APU fans.

Bond is already making plans for how he will lead the Cougars next year. Last season, the Cougars finished third in the PacWest Conference with a 20-11 overall record, falling to Point Loma in the PacWest tournament semifinal. Bond looks to take the team deeper into the postseason behind the strength of six returning seniors.

“I anticipate our upperclassmen having a huge impact,” Bond said. “I think having guys who are not only seniors but have been in the program for a long time, they know they’ve got an opportunity to do some very cool, very unique things in a basketball career. You only get a college basketball experience one time. I feel like guys are really embracing that and know this is their last shot to make something special happen.”

Bond said the top trait that will elevate the squad to the next level is teamwork.

“A really good team cares about one another. They want to perform and hold themselves to a high standard for the guy next to them,” Bond said. “Everybody wants to perform well as an individual because we’re competitive and that’s what we desire, but when there’s a care for one another that runs deep, it takes everybody’s level up because they’re holding each other to a higher standard.”

The team will also bring in three freshmen and one transfer. He is excited about each of them, from their physical traits to how hard they play. His face lit up when he described what each new player brings to the team.

“I have high expectations for the team, but a lot of that comes down to that I know what they’re capable of,” Bond said.

Bond said his squad for next year might have more talent than APU’s 2014-15 team, which went to the Elite Eight. However, he said that team had an extremely high basketball IQ and this team will have to work a lot on that in order to go deep into the postseason.

In order for the team to do that, Bond said the work begins now. While the team will not practice together over the summer, due to NCAA rules, Bond met with each player and discussed their workout plans for the offseason.

“The four month summer gives them a good chance to grow as players, to grow physically,” Bond said. “I want the players to have specific goals and a plan for how they’re going to get there … I was very intentional with them about that.”

Bond said he wants his players to keep each other accountable, to communicate with each other what their plans are and if they’re following through on them. He wants the team to keep each other in line but to mainly support each other’s success.

“I want to really have the guys know what I expect of them, but also what they’re going to expect of me,” Bond said. “I want to coach them, but I want to have them go out on the floor and have full confidence in themselves and know that I have full confidence in them. That’s part of my strength. I’m going to be pretty even keeled. I’m going to put in the work ahead of time. When it comes to game time, I’m going to be there for them, but I’m not going to lose my cool.”

While the players are practicing at home for the summer, Bond will find look for someone to take over his old positions. He said he has received a huge amount of interest from people all over the country.

“Honestly, I’ve been a little taken back by how many people are interested in coming here and coaching in this program. People from all over the place — East Coast, Midwest, local schools — I know we’ve had some tough times at APU, but it’s still very much a popular destination,” Bond said. “There are a lot of people wanting to leave what I view as other very good schools to come here. I think that really speaks highly of what we have going here, not just as a basketball program, but also as a university.”

Bond hopes to name the new assistant coach by June 1, but it might take longer. Until then, the other half of the office will remain empty.

Men's Soccer Team Clinches Playoff Spot With Win On Senior Night

This article originally appeared in the Empire State Tribune, the student newspaper of The King’s College.

The King's College men's soccer team punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 3-0 win over Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Science. The team had a solid defensive effort, backed by two goals from freshmen striker Spencer Smith and one from sophomore midfielder Anton Soerlin.

The Lions scored in the 12th minute of the first half, as Smith was able to kick the ball just under Albany's diving goalie, with an assist from sophomore midfielder Edvin Loefgren. After the quick start, the Lions were unable to capitalize on a series of shots on goal throughout the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half. Although they missed shots, their defense locked down, not allowing Albany to score even once.

"They did everything we asked them to," said head coach Tom Harman. "We knew this was going to be a tough game and we knew we needed our defense to step up. We knew that as long as we all did our jobs, we would win, and that's what we did. It's been a collective effort and everyone did their job great."

Harman was impressed with how his defense played today, helping set the offense up with opportunities to score. Smith took advantage of those opportunities with his two goals, his 16th and 17th goals of the season.

"I was nervous coming in to this game. I had a lot of pressure on my back, but honestly, that just motivated me," Smith said.

Smith was able to score once more in the 60th minute of the game, as a kick by another player bounced off the crossbar and landed in front of him. He put the ball into the back of the goal with ease as the goalkeeper just stood there.

Fifteen minutes later, in the 76th minute of the game, Soerlin was able to increase the lead, stealing the ball from a defender and taking advantage of the goalkeeper being out of position, sending the ball to the far side of the net with a beautiful arcing kick.

Both Smith and Soerlin have had big impacts on the team this season. Smith leads the team in goals as a freshman. However, he said he would not have been able to do so without the support and mentorship of the four seniors on the team.

These four seniors- Nick Beckman, Tom Champlin, Nolan Wolfe, and Luke Borchelt- were honored before the game on their senior night. Coach Harman presented each of them with plaques and spoke about their impact on the team.

"This season the seniors welcomed in a whole bunch of guys. They've set the tone for what we expect from our players on and off the field, what we expect from our athletes at King's," Harman said. "Without people like Craig, Ben and Luke there would be no soccer program here. There was nothing here when they started and they were the ones who saw through it and stuck to it. They've been phenomenal."

Craig Wishart played a big role in the game notching two saves. He has allowed only seven goals all season, over the course of 12 games played. Wishart has 37 saves on the season, for a saving percentage of .841. However the players all refused to take credit for their success, instead attributing it to a total team effort.

"We played amazing tonight," Soerlin said. "We started the season off well, but we got run over in our first real test of the season. That was a wake up call for us. Since then we've been working together as a team, not individual players, we're a great team. Our defense was super disciplined tonight."

With the win, the Lions have locked their spot in the postseason. Smith, Soerlin, and the rest of the team celebrated in front of a crowd of over 30 King's students at the game. However, coach Harman didn't relish in the moment with his team.

"I don't get too happy about things like that. I'm already focused on the next game," Harman said. "I'm focused on winning our next game and winning through the playoffs. Eventually, I'll think about how this is a nice achievement, but for right now, I'm thinking about who will we draw, who will we play in the playoffs, what we need to work on."

Harman said the team needs to work on slowing down their attacks a bit to make them more effective. He said they also need to work on consistency because they cannot afford to make mistakes in the playoffs.

The King’s Lions are ranked in the top 10 nationally in USCAA Division 2. If they win Conference Semi-finals, they will automatically get a bid to play at the National Championship in November, according to Wishart.

The playoffs will start on Saturday, Oct. 27.

Women's Soccer Team Celebrates Senior Day Despite Loss

This article originally appeared in the Empire State Tribune, the student newspaper of The King’s College.

Just two months ago, there wasn't going to be a women's soccer team at King's this year. After a series of incoming players decided not to come to King's, the season had a bleak outlook. The team had only six members, five shy of the 11 needed for a starting lineup.

Seniors Megan Leblanc and Hannah Hagadorn were not deterred. They helped recruit eight other King's girls to join the team, along with a new head coach.

Due to their efforts, the team was able to put a four game regular season schedule together. They started the season off 1-1, with a 2-0 win over New Rochelle and a 0-3 loss to SUNY-ESF.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, the team faced Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, losing 0-8 on their senior day. Hagadorn was not brought down by the loss.

"I thought we played pretty well. Everyone was encouraging. It can get really exhausting when we're down like that. But overall I think we played a good team game," Hagadorn said.

The Lion's defense surrendered six first half goals to Albany, who was led by senior Erin Tersegno. Hagadorn and Leblanc were taken aback by Tersegno play. At halftime, the Lions huddled and planned on how they could better defend against her.

"She's a great striker, very quick, faster than anyone on our team. We had to come up with a tactic to keep up with her, which was hard," Hagadorn said. "We did a better job of it in the second half."

The Lion's played a stronger second half. Although they were unable to get on the board, the defense gave up just two goals.

Head coach Bracey Fuenzalida said he was proud of the way the girls rallied in the second half.

"I saw no quit in them. I saw resolution. I saw enjoyment, even in the midst of a difficult circumstance. If you have that in an athlete, that means you can go pretty far with them," Fuenzalida said. "They beat us handily, but I enjoyed the fight out of our players."

Fuenzalida has only been the coach for a matter of weeks, but he said he has gotten to know the girls and has enjoyed every moment of watching the team grow during the season. When asked about the play of the two seniors on senior day, Fuenzalida had nothing but positive things to say.

"The two of them have exceptional character. They both have a strong faith and are great leaders on the team," Fuenzalida said. "Megan Leblanc went out of her way to help me from my first day coaching. I've coached many teams before, but having her to help me was incredible. I've gotten to know them both really well and I wish I had gotten to coach them all four years."

Leblanc was impressed by the way Fuenzalida was able to come in and coach the team. However she said this game felt weird to her.

"This being a final home game felt absolutely weird. I came to King's to play soccer and that's almost over," Leblanc said. "But I'll still be excited to see the program grow over the next few years."

Men's Soccer Drops Second Game Despite Solid Outing

This article originally appeared in the Empire State Tribune, the student newspaper of The King’s College.

The King's men's soccer team dropped their second game of the season against Berkeley College, 2-1, bringing their season’s record to 6-2.

The Lions had several opportunities to score in the first half, with six shots, including five shots on goal. However, they failed to capitalize on these opportunities.

"We created a lot of chances to score but we struggled to put away those chances," said junior defender Jackson Kane. "Our attacks and defense started breaking down. We made a couple sloppy mistakes and had fewer chances. We didn't give ourselves a lot of chances to win the game.”

The Lions’ one goal of the night came in the 39th minute of the first half.

Freshmen defender Diego Herrera had a free kick from over 50 yards away. He lifted the ball over all the players on the field. All they could do was watch as the ball soared in just over the Berkley goalie's hands.

"That was really cool.  I had seen something like it once, but only once before in high school," Kane said. "It's always really fun to see a guy score a goal like that. It really got us energized, but I think it also played a part in their goal right after. We relaxed too much on defense."

Berkley midfielder Carlos Leon was able to score just one minute later, tying the game 1-1, where it stayed until after halftime.

Midfielder Jean-Gardy Derineau scored for Berkley scored in the 52nd minute, giving them a 2-1 lead, which they would not surrender for the rest of the game.

“It’s obviously a disappointing result, we feel the quality within our group means we should be looking to win every game we go into,” head coach Tom Harman said. “We played well and dealt with their physicality and long direct switches of play well. However, we switched off a couple of times and got punished. We lacked the intensity when pressing in the second half and once they had a lead they made life very difficult for us.”

The Lions had just four shots in the second half, but none of them were on goal. Kane said the Lions needed to work together as a team more in the second half.

"We've got to start committing to doing things as a team," Kane said. "We were doing some things together, but the further we got up the field, the more individually we were playing. We're going to start to practice more in units and tailor that approach in the coming games."

This loss was only the second game of the season where the Lions scored less than four goals and gave up more than one goal. Harman focused on the things the team needs to work on before their next game.

“There are a lot of freshman players in our group and it’s something we have to learn, we have to be on for 90 minutes against teams,” Harman said.

The team will have their annual senior night at their next game against Vaughn. The game will be on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn.

"It should be a pretty good matchup. This team can be tough defensively, but I'm pretty confident we can win that game," Kane said. "It should be a good opportunity for our seniors to play their final home game and end their soccer career on a good note.”

Young Lions Volleyball Team Notches First Loss, Works on Chemistry

This article was originally published in the Empire State Tribune.

Down two sets and facing match point, The King's College volleyball team scrapped together a seven-point comeback run, before dropping the third set 23-25 against Penn State Hazleton.

The Lions lost the first two sets 25-27 and 5-25, dropping their first match of the season.

"We got to a point where we just weren't playing well in the second set," said Samantha Klozik, a freshmen outside hitter. "Volleyball is a mental game and sometimes it just comes down to who wants it more. You can see how much we wanted it in that comeback."

Klozik led the team with 12 kills and finished second on the team with 11 digs, also notching an ace. She is just one of six freshmen on the squad, including four of the six starters.

One of only three returners, sophomore middle hitter Hope Feller, said she was excited by the play of the freshmen during the comeback, especially after the mistake filled second set.

"It was unbelievable to watch the comeback, compared to the second set. We fought for it," Feller said. "The freshmen have been phenomenal. They all bring so much to the team, even if their numbers don't necessarily reflect it."

Feller said the team needs to start a lot faster in their next match, that the Lions could have snatched the first set if they had a better start. During the first set, each team traded points back and forth until the end. The Lions grabbed the lead twice, but not until late in the set.

Head coach Alexandra Salavitch echoed parts of Feller's assessment. She said she was proud of the scrappiness in the last set, but saw a lot of room for improvement.

"The girls need to work on their mental toughness. I saw a lot of mistakes that stemmed from mental immaturity. Mental mistakes can be contagious and we have to avoid that," Salavitch said. "These girls have the skill. The talent is there and I saw spunkiness in that run at the end. That run shows me what they can do."

This is Salavitch's third year coaching the volleyball team. She said this team feels strong compared to years past, that they have a lot of potential. Her plan for practice is to make the team run, work hard, and to reiterate the idea of scrappiness.

Aside from scrappiness, chemistry was a theme the team focused on. Even though two thirds of the team are new, Salavitch and the players feel that they have strong chemistry.

"We jelled almost instantly," Klozik said. "When I'm with the girls, I don't feel like a freshman. I feel like I've been playing with them for a long time and I'm happy to be part of a team like that."

The volleyball team will look to rebound at William Paterson University on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Cougars Water Polo Drops Game In Final Minutes to Cal Baptist

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

The Azusa Pacific water polo team carried a lead against ranked rival Cal Baptist into the final three minutes of the game, before surrendering it and dropping the contest 8-9. With the loss, the Cougars fall to 13-13 on the season.

The Cougars led by as much as four goals at one point, largely thanks to a pair of hat tricks from senior attacker Britt Harris and freshmen utility Hannah Bradley.

Both Bradley and Harris led the team with three goals apiece. Bradley had a better shooting percentage of .500 compared to .375 for Harris, but Harris had five steals compared to Bradley’s one steal.

“We definitely came out stronger than we ever have before against CBU in my four years here,” Harris said. “I think we just fell a little flat toward the end of the third and fourth quarter. The score can definitely reflect that. We came out in the first with a 4-1 lead and in the fourth quarter they out scored us 4-1.”

Sophomore driver Sarah Adams agreed with Harris, saying the team needed to finish stronger.

“I feel the team could’ve played better. It wasn’t our best game. I think we came out strong but towards the end we made minor mistakes that unfortunately costed us the game,” Adams said. “I think I could’ve contributed more to the team and the game in every way. I felt as if I didn’t do my job on offense.”

Adams had one shot during the game. The team as a whole had 27 shots, outshooting Cal Baptist by two. However, the Lancers had four more shots on goal (18) than the Cougars (14). The amount of opportunities the Cougars had upset Adams.

“I felt a lot of different things. I felt that we definitely had a huge opportunity to bring home the win, especially since we were up the whole game, but it was upsetting to lose to one of our rivals, especially CBU,” Adams said.

Harris shared Adam’s frustration after the loss.

“I was pretty upset after the game because I felt that our team was so capable of winning, but it is just a game and we have more to play so I’m looking to taking out my frustrations with our next opponent,” Harris said. “For now, I am looking at this loss as a bump in the road for the team. We will persevere.”

Senior goalkeeper Erica Marquez said that losing a rivalry game like this was tough, one of many tough games for the Cougars this season.

“Cal Baptist is always a very tough game. It’s a rivalry game so we both prepare all season for this moment. You have to give it all you got,” Marquez said. “We’ve played a lot of ranked teams but we have prepared for them. I believe that even though the games have been tough, we are ready to prove ourselves as a program.”

Cal Baptist, currently ranked 23rd in the nation, is just one of 10 ranked opponents the Cougars have faced this season (which includes Cal State Northridge who APU has played three times this season). The Cougars are 2-11 versus ranked opponents, making them an almost perfect 13-2 against unranked schools.

“This is one of the most if not the most challenging string of games in a season that I have experienced in my four years here,” Harris said. “We are playing a lot of ranked teams, but those games are also the most fun. Losing by one here and there sucks, but it’s just nice to see the program continuously improving. In years past if we played teams like this, almost every game would have been a blowout and not in our favor. This is by far the most competitive team we’ve had.”

The Cougars next game is a home contest against Santa Clara on Saturday, April 7 at 12 p.m. This is one of three consecutive home games the team will have to end the season.

“We beat Santa Clara twice last year at their home pool, so I am expecting them to come out with a fire in their stomachs,” Harris said. “I’m really looking forward to this match because I know our team is capable of coming out on top. These are some of my last games ever and I’m just trying to play to the best of my ability and not leave anything on the table.”

Tennis Takes Down Two Ranked Opponents Before Dropping Final Match In Florida

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

Playing the 13th-ranked team in the nation is hard. Playing the sixth-ranked team in the nation the next day is harder. Playing a third consecutive match in as many days is somehow even harder, let alone the fact that it was against the top team in the nation.

This week, the men’s tennis team travelled to Florida and did just that. They beat No. 13 Embry-Riddle, 5-2 on Monday. Then they beat No. 6, Flagler, 5-4 on Tuesday. Finally, they faced the No. 1 team in D-II, Barry, losing 3-6 on Wednesday.

Although the team dropped one of their matches, it was still a successful road trip, setting them up well as they prepare for the end of the season tourneys.

“It certainly takes it out of your body. It’s tough playing three top teams in a row, but it’s basically exactly what we need because we’re getting ready for the same format at the PacWest tournament and at nationals,” grad student Christian Schmid said. “It was a good test for us to see how we’ll physically endure and keep up with top teams.”

Schmid, currently ranked 39th among DII singles players, helped the Cougars by winning all of his singles matches. He beat Embry-Riddle’s Deepak Vishavkarma 6-1, 6-3; Flagler’s Alexander Chepik 7-5, 6-3; and Barry’s Carlos Gomez 6-3, 6-0. Gomez is the sixth-ranked singles player in all of DII.

“The match against Flagler was the toughest for me. It was super humid that day and I was playing their number two guy. It was an intense match of about an hour and a half,” Schmid said.

Schmid also won all of his doubles matches with his partner, grad student Oliver Frank. The duo knocked out all three opponents in sequence, including the fourth-ranked pair of Rodolfo Arreygue and Andres Donayre from Embry-Riddle, 8-4.

“It was a valuable experience for us to play better ranked teams back-to-back-to-back in only three days. For us, this was kind of a simulation what nationals could be like since we also play matches on following days,” Frank said. “Physically, it was a challenge for sure, but our off season prepared us to withstand the challenges. We had to take care of our bodies after the matches but overall we did a good job doing that.”

Frank also had three tough matches in singles against ranked opponents. He lost only his second singles match as a Cougar against 50th-ranked Juan Ortiz Couder of Embry Riddle 7-5, 6-4, before beating 13th-ranked Luca Bolla of Flagler 6-2, 6-0, and 11th-ranked Pierre Montrieul of Barry 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“The hardest match was definitely the last one against Barry. It was the third match in a row for us. We were all pumped up to play the No. 1 team in the nation although we were all physically not fresh,” Frank said. “Nevertheless, we fought hard and came close to winning almost every match. It was physically exhausting but it showed us that we have what it takes to beat them.”

Frank said that even though the team lost, the last match against Barry was the most exciting.

“The atmosphere in that last match was thrilling. Since nearly all of the matches were really close, both teams were nervous and no team could ever be sure of winning. That’s why it was a thriller to the very end,” Frank said.

Freshmen Jesse Haas also played well for the Cougars, winning two of his three doubles matches with his partner Ryan Nuno. Haas said he enjoyed the trip.

“It’s exciting. You train all year to get to play these great teams. It was definitely tiring. Three high level matches in three days is pretty mentally and physically taxing,” Haas said. “I think we handled it pretty well and got some pretty good results. I’m happy with that.”

Haas said that his match against Flagler turned out the best as he and Nuno were able to put pressure on their opponents and pull out the win. He said that he’s excited for the rest of the season as well.

“I’m excited to travel again. I heard that the San Diego trip is exciting. It will be fun for us to come together on the road and get the last couple wins,” Haas said. “It’s really exciting to be a part of the team where everyone works so hard.”

Now with a 20-2 record on the season, the team will go on one last road trip before the regular season ends, playing UC San Diego and Point Loma next weekend. Even though this is the end of the regular season, Schmid said it feels like there’s a lot left for the team.

“We don’t really feel like the season is almost over,” Schmid said. “We have so much more to accomplish this year, starting with the PacWest tournament. Our goal is to get that title. We still have a lot of work to do and a lot left to achieve. “

Toby Miclat Wants To Make History For Women's Tennis

This article was originally published in ZU News.

Senior Toby Miclat wants to lead the charge for the women’s tennis team to be the first to go to the NCAA regional and national postseason tournaments.

It’s certainly a big goal, but not unreasonable, as the Cougars have already notched 10 wins and are on pace to win a couple more contests than last year. Miclat has been a big part of that momentum.

“She can almost account for two points every match. That’s something we’ve had with the men’s team, but we haven’t had a player quite as strong as Toby in our women’s tennis history,” assistant tennis coach Kirby Ronning said. “When she’s locked in and focused on her tennis stuff, she’s very intense. She has a super high level of intensity during practice and at matches. She’s very mentally tough.”

Ronning spoke about the kind of leader that Miclat is, helping the freshmen learn with her work ethic.

“Even though it’s Toby’s first year [at APU], she’s been a really good leader just with the work ethic she has. Day in and day out, she’s really professional about how she approaches things,” Ronning said. “A lot of the girls she’s playing with are freshmen, so it’s just ingraining those habits and making the girls understand how much work and how much of the daily grind it takes to be a great tennis player.”

One of the freshmen Miclat has helped improve throughout the season is Petra Ivankovic.

“I’ve learned a lot from Toby. She has a great attitude and is a great player. I think that she is a really good example for all of us, a good teammate,” Ivankovic said. “She’s amazing. She’s a really good friend. I just have the most respect for her.”

One of the reasons Ivankovic respects Miclat so much is because of how good she is on the court.

“She’s very aggressive on the court. When you play with her you have to be really conscious and you have to play really well to beat her, it’s almost impossible,” Ivankovic said.

This aggressiveness and intensity is part of what led Miclat to be offered a spot on an NCAA Division I team, Brigham Young University. Miclat played for BYU for three years before transferring to APU.

“I had a bad time at BYU and I didn’t want to transfer to another DI school. There’s something about DI’s which make a person extra catty. I wanted to use my last year of eligibility at somewhere close, comfortable, and not a DI. APU was the perfect fit since it was all that and also Christian,” Miclat said.

Miclat is from Claremont, Calif. originally and she commutes from her home to APU. Her choice to transfer to APU was relatively easy, considering that it was close to home and she was already familiar with APU head tennis coach Mark Bohren.

“It’s like 10 minutes away from home. I knew head coach Mark [Bohren] since I was really small, since we went to the same tennis club when I was younger,” Miclat said.

BYU, which is located in Utah and is a well-known Mormon school was something that Miclat was not very comfortable with. Miclat explained that she had expectations when she went to BYU, and it turned out to be something that wasn’t good for her.

“I enjoyed the people I knew, but I didn’t enjoy BYU itself. I didn’t enjoy praying to Joseph Smith or thanking Joseph Smith. You’re dragged into it, like how we pray at the beginning of most of our classes here,” Miclat said. “I didn’t really realize how junky it felt until after. When I was there, I thought, ‘I’m at a DI school and we have great perks, I have great connections.’ But then once I left I realized that I hated it so much. You don’t really realize it until you’re out of that situation. It’s like you’re in a box. You’re in the box and you think it’s comfortable and then you get out and realized that was the worst situation you’ve ever been in. That’s what BYU was.”

Miclat said that she witnessed her teammates being hypocritical at BYU, not taking accountability. She said that this has not been an issue at APU.

“Everyone is kind of lovely. I’m comparing this to a DI team where everyone is kind of a snoot. Everyone here is lovely and wants to improve. They have accountability. People genuinely care about you when you lose. People at BYU didn’t care like that,” Miclat said. “I’ve always been a really straightforward person. I can tell someone on the team, don’t do that, and they’ll stop, and they can do the same to me. I love everyone on the team.”

Other than the character of her teammates, Miclat said she appreciated her wins counting at APU.

“It’s nice to have your win be backed up. To an extent, you want to win individually, and of course I care about my record. I’m sitting here looking at Oliver Frank [of APU’s men’s tennis team] who’s undefeated. It’s natural to compare yourself,” Miclat said. “But it’s nice to have your win backed up. We would almost always lose at BYU and it would be counted on me and one other person to pick up the slack of someone who lost. When someone at BYU lost they would blame it on the referee. When someone here loses, they say I played bad and hit it down the middle too much. Then they work on improving that in practice. That’s really nice.”

Miclat has posted a 12-2 record on the season in singles, the best on the team, while playing the number one spot. She has also had a strong doubles season with a 10-6 record with two different partners.

“I want to win. I want our team to make history and to be the first APU [women’s tennis] team to go to NCAA’s [postseason tournament],” Miclat said. “I don’t have any big personal tennis goals right now. I’ve done basically everything I wanted to do in college tennis. My original goal was to go undefeated, but then I lost a game, so that’s over. Mostly I just want to make NCAA’s postseason as a team.”

After the season, Miclat will start working full-time at her parent’s elderly care facility. She already works there part-time.

“Once the season is over, I can work on my goal of helping my parents retire by the end of the year,” Miclat said. “I’m kind of finishing school for the sake of finishing it.”

Miclat will stay at APU for one more year, due to complications from transferring from BYU. She said that a lot of her classes didn’t transfer since BYU’s religious classes are Mormon. She also changed her major from neuroscience to business management.

Other than taking over her family’s elderly care facilities, Miclat wants to be a writer, but only on the side.

“I love writing. I’m trying to finish my book. School lets me work on my writing. I like writing about sci-fi, fantasy, and stuff like that,” Miclat said. “I’ve been working on it on and off for three years, but that’s nothing compared to my other book. It got stolen when my stuff was stolen. I had so much work put into that book, it was like 120 pages at that point. I want to publish my books after I graduate. If people like them, great, if not, it’s no big deal.”

As of right now, however, Miclat isn’t focused on writing or her parent’s business. She’s focused on winning and making history for the Cougar’s women’s tennis program.

Acro Loses First Meet Of Season Against Top-Ranked Baylor

This article was originally published on ZU News.

The acro and tumbling team lost their first meet of the season against Baylor by a score of 278.825-286.035. Despite a strong performance in the acro, pyramid and toss events, the Cougars efforts weren’t enough to overcome their NCAA Division I opponent, who posted the highest score of the season.

“Overall, the meet was going really well, up until tumbling heats. We kind of stayed with them throughout the compulsories, even though they were a little rough. Overall we stuck with them through the toss heat. It was the best toss heat round that we’ve ever had. We probably also had our best acro heats overall score. We were within .4 points going into tumbling and we felt pretty confident in our tumbling,” head coach Collen Kausrud said. “Unfortunately our quad pass got nailed with a penalty that we don’t feel is correct, but we have to go with it. We got hit hard on that and that affected the score. The team event wasn’t what it should have been as far as our performance. We have to be perfect if we’re going to beat Baylor, and that’s what it boils down to.”

The Cougars weren’t perfect, but they did score one perfect 10 in the pyramid.

“Hanna [Steffen] did a good job in that one. It was awesome to get a 10 in a tough pyramid,” Kausrud said.

Senior top Hanna Steffen helped the Cougars score the perfect 10. She said that even though the team lost, she had a lot of fun at the meet.

“It was a really fun meet. We just tried to have fun and work as a team. I really liked the dynamic we had there. I felt less pressure because we were zoned in as a team,” Steffen said. “The competition wasn’t too far apart in the first half, but we kind of fell apart a little bit when we came to tumbling.”

Steffen agreed with Kausrud that there was a mistake in the call in the quad pass event.

“They said that one of our girls did a cartwheel instead of a round off in the quad pass, but she actually did do a round off. Someone said they had a replay video, but the judges said they couldn’t look back in the video to change the scores. That was frustrating since they literally had the replay,” Steffen said.

Kausrud expressed that some of the team’s results were a bit disappointing. They had the expectation that they could beat Baylor going in.

“We watch Baylor all season, knowing that we were going to see them toward the end of the season. We felt like they were beatable,” Kausrud said. “We felt like they weren’t at the top of their game at the beginning of the season, but Baylor has cleaned it up and we have to as well if we think we can beat them in championships, if we get that far.”

One positive Kausrud took away from the event was the performance of freshmen top Katrina Gonzalez.

“Katrina had a really good toss, scoring that 10. She’s kind of a standout freshmen. We’re really excited for that, to implement that into our team event to raise our start value. She deserves some recognition,” Kausrud said.

Even with the loss, Gonzalez felt confident of her performance and was proud of the way that the team performed.

“Personally, I think that the meet went really well and It was definitely one of our best away meets that we have had this season,” Gonzalez said. “Regarding the toss, I was excited to compete with the new kick double at the Baylor meet. It’s a 10.0 start value that would benefit our team score with an extra four-tenths of a point. I felt confident in the toss because I knew that if I executed like I practiced, we could score well.”

Gonzalez said that going into the meet, she was nervous to face Baylor, the number one team in the country.

“I was very nervous coming into this meet especially because Baylor is one of the best acro and tumbling schools we have faced thus far. Competing away with their numerous fans felt very intimidating at first and it was different than our usual home meets,” Gonzalez said. “But, the adrenaline from the meet and the energy from my teammates made all my nerves go away making me more excited about the skills we’d be competing with.”

Gonzalez said she is not nervous for the Cougars last meet of the season on April 13 against Converse at home.

“I feel very prepared coming into our last meet because we have made consistent progress throughout the season. I think that we’re gonna use the next meet as a preparation for nationals and I’m excited to compete at home for our last meet against Converse University,” Gonzalez said.

Steffen said she is also excited for this final meet.

“I’m looking forward to competing with the team one last time. This is going to be the last time I do this, so I really just want to enjoy it with my teammates,” Steffen said. “By far, this is the best year. We’re all such a tight knit group, we trust each other and work really well together. Seniors don’t dominate freshmen. It’s a healthy balance.”

Kausrud said the team has some things they need to work on before this meet.

“It’s a home meet, senior night. It builds the girls confidence when they have the crowd behind them. It’s hard when it’s one sided. I’m looking forward to this home meet, having the energy there, getting them ready for championships,” Kausrud said. “We have to up our start value for championships, just really cleaning everything up and feeling confident in what we’re doing. That’s what we’ll be doing the next few weeks.”

Cougars Season Comes To An End In Emotional Game

This article was originally published in ZU News.

The Azusa Pacific men’s basketball season came to an end on Saturday night as the Cougars fell to California Baptist, 68-72, in the semi-finals of the NCAA DII West Region Tournament. The Cougars trailed by as much as 14 points at the start of the second half, before nearly completing a successful comeback.

“It’s a great college basketball game. Obviously the first half wasn’t our finest performance on either side of the ball. When we were down by 10, it seemed like a little bit too much of a hole to dig ourselves out of,” head coach Justin Leslie said.

The Cougars knew that they were capable of going head-to-head with Cal Baptist, especially after their huge first-round upset. APU beat this year’s PacWest Champion and the tournament’s No. 2 seed in Dixie State, 69-65, on Friday to advance to the second round. This loss was the Cougars’ fourth of the year to Cal Baptist, after losing to the Lancers in the PacWest tournament last week and twice during the regular season.

Cal Baptist was the only team that APU played multiple times and did not defeat this year.

Sophomore guard Mandrell Worthy led the team with 24 points, which was a season high for him.

“My teammates put me in the right position. Coach called the plays and my teammates looked out for me,” Worthy said.

Sophomore forward Selom Mawugbe had eight points, six rebounds, and a team leading two blocks. These two blocks gave Mawugbe the single-season record for blocked shots with 89, a record that was formerly held by Coach Leslie (88) when he played for the Cougars back in 2001.

“I brought him here to break that record. I told him that when I recruited him,” Leslie said.

This game was also particularly big because it was the final game for senior forwards Corey Langerveld and Petar Kutlesic.

“This loss really hurts. It’s always tough at the end of the year to be put in a position like this where they’re here because they had a good game, but I know their hearts are with the seniors who aren’t going to be here anymore. Their hearts want to be back out on that court for one more possession to have another chance,” Leslie said. “We’re going to miss Corey and Petar and their unbelievable investments they’ve made in this program as four and five-year players.”

Leslie also said that he believes the program will be in good hands due to the impact the two seniors have had.

“They’ve passed the torch off to men who are going to be hungry and are going to come back and continue to represent APU basketball,” Leslie said. “These are wonderful men that I’m surrounded with. I just couldn’t be more happy to coach this group. It hurts right now, but this is a wonderful team to be a part of.”

Mawugbe said that he’s learned from both Kutlesic and Langerveld in his time at APU.

“I learned a lot in these past two years that I’ve been honored to play with them. Corey is the epitome of a leader. All the little things that we take for granted and don’t want to do, Corey just jumps in with both hands and both feet with no hesitation and accepts that role. I learned a perseverance that I’ve never seen before,” Mawugbe said. “As for Petar, he has this fight in him that I’ll never forget. He works hard at his craft. I learned a lot from him as a freshman. He brought me in and was willing to teach me. He taught me what he was best at.”

Worthy, who transfered to APU this past offseason, said he has also learned a lot this year.

“I came here with the intentions to come to the NCAA tournament every year because that’s what this program is used to. I’ve learned from the two seniors. They were the ones with the experience so I looked to them to follow,” Worthy said.

Leslie echoed Worthy’s claim that the team wanted to be there every year.

“I could not be more proud to be a part of this program. As Mandrell said, our goal is to be here every year. The reason we do is the quality of character of these men and it carries over onto the basketball court,” Leslie said. “I brought my son on multiple road trips this year. These guys are his heroes. That’s why I do it.”