After an undefeated Northwest Conference season, there was only one fitting finish to this story: a NWC tournament title.
This past weekend, the Whitman men’s tennis team finished what they started by winning the 2012 NWC tournament championship at the outdoor courts on the Whitman campus.
Whitman started the weekend off right with a 5-0 win in the semi-final over rival Whitworth University. The fourth-seeded Pirates provided little opposition for Whitman, who swept all three sets of doubles and left four of six singles matches unfinished. Junior Jeff Tolman, who earlier in the week was named to the All-NWC First Team, clinched the team victory with a 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 2 singles.
Dozens of Whitties surrounded the courts for the Sunday final, basking in the sun and cheering on the men as they marched to the championship to earn the NWC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament field. Once again, Whitman swept all three doubles matches and clinched the 5-0 win over three-seed George Fox University when senior Conor Holton-Burke (who was also named to the All-NWC First Team) was victorious 6-2, 6-0 at No. 3 singles.
Sophomore Andrew La Cava, the NWC’s Player of the Year, teamed with Tolman for an 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles. La Cava also played at No. 1 singles but his match was left unfinished after Whitman clinched the team win.
Whitman stretched its win streak to 90 consecutive wins over NWC foes, the team’s last conference loss coming six years ago. The team has to wait until May 7 to find out its seed and matchup for the NCAA DIII National Championships.
Tennis women pull upset, headed for Nationals
As the men’s tennis team was wrapping up a conference tournament title, the Whitman women’s tennis team was doing so in similar fashion.
The difference? The Whit women were matched up in the final with top-seeded and undefeated Linfield College, playing on Linfield’s home courts. The Wildcats had already beaten the Missionaries twice during the regular season, making Whitman’s victory a definite upset.
After cruising past Whitworth in the semi-final 5-0, Whitman took to the courts on Sunday to face Linfield. Whitman won two of three doubles matches before taking three straight singles matches to clinch the team victory and tournament title.
Senior Emily Rolston’s 6-1, 6-3 win at N. 6 singles decided the match, leaving the final three singles matchups unfinished.
NWC Player of the Year and junior Alyssa Roberg teamed with first-year Courtney Lawless to win 8-6 in a competitive match at No. 1 doubles. Roberg’s No. 1 singles match was left unfinished, while Courtney and Morgan Lawless won their singles matches at No. 2 and 3, respectively. All three Whit women were named to the All-NWC First Team leading up to the conference tournament.
Now Whitman gets to sit back and wait until May 7 to find out its seeding for the NCAA DIII National Championships. Whitman is currently ranked eighth in the West Region with new rankings due May 3.
Women’s golf maintains lead, earns trip to Nationals
Chalk up another conference tournament title for Whitman spring sports, as the Whitman women’s golf team built a lead it would not give up in securing the 2012 NWC championship and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament field.
Heading into the NWC championships, Whitman trailed first-place George Fox by two points and needed to win the final conference tournament to guarantee a spot in postseason play. The Missionaries had already come up short twice against the Bruins this season in NWC tournaments but found themselves leading by one stroke after the first of two days of competition.
After carding an 85 on the first day, sophomore Elaine Whaley shot the second-best round (76) on day two to help the Missionaries pull away and clinch both the NWC Tournament and regular season titles. Whitman finished the two-day tournament with a team score of 629, five strokes ahead of second-place George Fox.
Four Missionaries finished in the top eight, led by junior Tate Head (third place, 155, +11), first-year Kelley Sweeney (fourth place, 156, +12) and junior Catelyn Webber (fifth place, 157, +13). Whaley rounded out Whitman’s top four competitors by finishing in eighth place (161, +17).
In the week leading up to the tournament, Head and Webber were named to the All-NWC First Team while Sweeney and Whaley earned All-NWC Second Team nods. Head coach Skip Molitor was named the NWC’s Coach of the Year.
Whitman will turn its focus to the NCAA DIII National Championships May 8-11 at Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Ind.
Men’s golf comes up short
The Whitman men’s golf team saw its season end with a sixth place finish at the NWC Tournament. Leading up to the weekend, the Missionaries held second place overall in the NWC standings, just two points behind first place Linfield and positioned to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a victory at the NWC championships.
However, a dismal day one and marginally improved day two ended Whitman’s season perhaps prematurely. Whitman scored a two-day total of 632, 36 strokes back of first-place and conference champion Linfield.
First-year Scott Martin, who was a standout all season for the Missionaries, finished tied for 15th place after carding a two-day total of 154 (+10), 12 strokes back of first place. Junior Peter Clark shot nearly matching rounds of 78 and 77 to finish with a score of 155, good enough to tie for 17th place overall.
Earlier in the week, Martin was named to the All-NWC First Team. Selection to the all-conference teams were based on individual scoring from the three NWC tournaments (Fall Classic, Spring Classic and Championship Tournament).
Baseball goes 0-3 on California trip
The Whitman baseball team tried to turn its luck around with a trip to southern California for a three-game series with Chapman University this past weekend, but came up empty in all three matchups (13-1, 7-0, 8-1).
Chapman was yet another high-profile opponent on the Missionaries’ schedule, which was the toughest in the nation in DIII. Although the Panthers are just under .500 this season, they were the national runner-up last year.
Whitman seemed to get the series off on the right foot, scoring the series’ first run in top of the first inning of game one. Facing two-time All-American pitcher Brian Rauh, the Missionaries put two hits and one run on the board, as well as a stolen base. First-year Johnny Chow led off with a single and scored on a base hit RBI by sophomore Jimmy Madden to take a 1-0 lead but that was the last of the scoreboard that Whitman saw in game one.
The Missionaries put together four hits in each of the next two games but were held scoreless in game two and scored only one run in the series finale.
Eighth-place Whitman’s record drops to 5-31 overall (5-16 NWC) with three games remaining. The Missionaries are tied with the University of Puget Sound and are only two games behind sixth-place Willamette University.
Whitman travels to Spokane, Wash., next weekend to close out its season with a three-game series against rival Whitworth. The Pirates are in second place overall in the NWC at 16-5 and trail first-place Pacific University by one game.