Lancers Land 10 Track All-Americans
Grace’s finest indoor track and field season in school history ended fittingly — with 10 All-American awards.
The Lancers ended the 2021 NAIA Indoor National Championships on Saturday on a high note with the men finishing in 19th place in the national meet (14 points). It marks the first NAIA top-20 finish in program history.
The women finished on Friday with Heather Plastow becoming the first female track athlete to earn an individual All-American award (mile).
On Saturday, the men’s 4×800-meter relay team of Luke Smith, Isaac Beatty, Maurice Macklin and Kyle Smith started the day with an All-American performance.
The foursome placed fifth in the race with a school-record time of 7:45.87.
The distance medley relay squad (Logan Rufenacht, Tyler Morrison, Tanner Sallee, Dimitri Margaritidis) finished sixth to garner All-American status. They finished with a school-record time of 10:14.18.
Additionally, two individual events picked up All-American recognition.
Isaac Brown earned All-American status in the high jump. His mark of 6-feet-9.5 was good for fourth in the nation.
Bryan Hernandez-Rios ran to an All-American finish of seventh place in the 3,000 with a time of 8:44.81.
Overall, Grace set four school records during the NAIA week (women’s mile, women’s 4×800, men’s 4×800, men’s DMR). Throughout the entire indoor season, the Lancers set 12 new school records.
“This was a special weekend for Grace track and field. The 20 athletes we qualified for the meet all performed well and made an impact,” said Grace head coach Jeff Raymond. “More than anything, I’m proud of how they competed and how they challenged themselves to reach for high goals. This group has definitely moved our program forward.”
The indoor season officially ended with Saturday’s performance. The track and field program enjoyed numerous highlights in the past few months. Grace sent a school-record 20 participants to the NAIA Indoor National Championships.
Two weeks ago, the men also placed fourth with a team-record 95 points in the Crossroads League Championships, and the women finished fifth with a team-record 81 points.
The Lancers’ outdoor season will begin March 27 with the Polar Bear Invitational at Indiana Wesleyan.
Grace Men’s Tennis 4, Martin Methodist 0
Grace’s men’s tennis team wrapped up its trip south with a 4-0 win over Martin Methodist on Saturday.
The NAIA No. 19 Lancers improved to 19-5 on the season with the win; the match was shortened after Grace clinched the team victory.
Grace won the doubles’ point in narrow fashion. Pavle Popovic and Facundo Paredes teamed up for a 6-2 win at No. 1 doubles, and Mauricio Corty and Ivan Antinori battled to a tough 6-4 victory at No. 3.
The Lancers quickly won three singles’ courts to secure the team win. Max Rozas won at No. 1 singles (6-3, 6-1), David Sandi was victorious at No. 2 (6-1, 6-3), and Galvan was a winner at No. 4 (6-2, 6-4).
The Lancers have another ranked opponent lined up next week. Grace will battle with No. 17 Northwestern Ohio in Ohio on Friday.
Grace Baseball 8, Bethel 0
Grace 14, Bethel 5
Grace’s baseball team clinched its Crossroads League-opening series against Bethel on Saturday, sweeping the Pilots 8-0 and 14-5.
The Lancers split a doubleheader on Friday but were in command throughout the twin bill on Saturday.
The wins improve Grace’s record to 6-4 (3-1 CL). The series was played at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio.
Kameron Koch threw a gem to beat the Pilots in Saturday’s opener. Koch went eight innings, allowing no runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out seven, needing 98 pitches in an effective outing.
Grace pulled ahead 4-0 after four innings behind the pitching of Koch. Chris Griffin gave Grace a boost with a two-run home run in the third inning.
The Lancers put any thoughts of a comeback to rest with a four-run eighth inning. Austin Carr and Alex Rich both drove in runs during the inning.
Bret Wilhelmi put the finishing touches on Grace’s shutout. He pitched a clean ninth inning to secure the victory.
Rich hit 2 for 5 with two RBIs, and Carr was 2 of 3 with two RBIs and a sacrifice. Jaron Mullet doubled and scored twice, and Patrick Danforth finished with 2 hits, 1 run, 1 RBI and 1 stolen base.
In the second game, Grace needed to battle back from an early deficit. And they did just that in impressive fashion.
Bethel shocked Grace in the top of the first inning, plating five times thanks to a two-run double and a two-run triple.
The Lancers patiently ate away at Bethel’s cushion. Jeff Pawlik drove in Rich in the bottom of the first to start the comeback.
Houston Haney was responsible for two more runs in the third. Haney tripled to score Griffin. Soon after, a passed ball allowed Haney to race home and cut the lead to 5-3.
One inning later, Grace tied the game. Carr and Danforth used sharp base running to tie the game 5-5.
Momentum was firmly in Grace’s corner for the rest of the game. The Lancers took the lead for good with a five-run outburst in the fifth inning. Carr drove in two runs with a single, and Danforth added a two-run triple on the next at-bat.
Grace plated four more times in the bottom of the sixth for the final 15-4 margin of victory.
Mason Meyer earned the win on the mound. He threw the final 6.1 innings and yielded just one hit and one walk. Meyer recorded seven strikeouts.
Griffin batted 4 for 5 with three runs, and Mullet scored twice, walked twice and drove in a run.
Carr and Danforth had identical stat lines – 2 for 3 with two runs and three RBIs.
Grace’s next scheduled games are against Aquinas on Wednesday, beginning at 1 p.m. in Logansport, Ind.