In a year marked by team championships and personal milestones, The Master’s University finished among the top 15% of NAIA athletic programs on the final Learfield Director’s Cup standings (38 of 248 current members). This success is traced to nine of TMU’s 12 programs qualifying for the NAIA postseason with six of those finishing the year ranked among the NAIA’s Top 25 teams.
Below are summaries of TMU’s 12 teams and how each excelled throughout the 2016-17 athletic year…
Men’s Soccer (11-7-2, (5-4-1 GSAC):
On September 16, 26th-year head coach Jim Rickard earned his 300th victory in TMU’s 6-3 win over Bethesda. Rickard finished the year with 306 career wins and is the 17th-winningest coach in NAIA history and eighth among all active coaches.
Humphrey Mahowa scored a career-high 33 points (14 goals, five assists) en route to All-GSAC honors and NAIA All-American honorable mention kudos for the third year in a row. He was joined on the all-conference squad by sophomore Benjamin Tembo (10 goals, four assists, 24 points) and senior Zach Klindworth, who became the first four-time All-GSAC selection in program history. Based on his outstanding performance in the classroom, TMU’s Christopher Logan earned both GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors.
The Mustangs concluded their season at (11-7-2) and advanced to the postseason for the sixth year in a row.
Women’s Soccer (8-7-5 (4-4-2 GSAC):
Overcoming a slow start, The Master’s University women’s soccer team bounced back from its first losing season in nine years to post an 8-7-5 record, finish fourth in the GSAC, and reach the postseason once again.
A 4-4-2 finish in conference play slotted the Lady Mustangs in fourth place in the GSAC, good enough to earn them the home-field advantage in the first round of the conference tourney. They used every bit of that to get by Hope International in a shootout that advanced them to the semi-finals where they fell in overtime (their seventh extra-period match of the year) to GSAC regular-season and eventual conference tournament champion Vanguard.
The disappointing conclusion couldn’t obscure fine performances on and off the field by a number of Lady Mustangs. Senior goalkeeper Jessica Zubia headlined a trio of All-GSAC honorees that included sophomore Lynnae George and freshman Kayla Peterson. Proving they had the right stuff on the field and in the classroom, seniors Kinley Kane and Whitney Gomillion, and junior Taylor Rowden earned both GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete accolades.
Men’s Cross Country, NAIA National Ranking: 5th:
The Mustangs, who finished the season ranked fifth in the NAIA, claimed their seventh consecutive conference title at the 2016 GSAC Championships on November 5 in Rocklin. The Mustangs’ first place team finish was backed by a collective team time of 2:05:12. Based on his team’s performance, TMU head coach Zach Schroeder was pegged as the GSAC’s Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year for the seventh straight season.
Based on their stellar performances at the conference championship, Josh Sherfey, Alec Franco, Andrew Orona, Skyler Mikesell, and Ricky Buckelew earned All-GSAC honors. Sherfey has now earned All-GSAC accolades for four consecutive years (2013-16), while Buckelew has earned all-conference kudos for three straight years (2014-16). Repeating their all-conference honors were Orona (’14 & ’16) and Mikesell (’15 & ’16).
Two weeks later, TMU blitzed to an unprecedented fifth place finish at the 2016 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championships on the North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill., by recording a collective team time of 2:08:48.60.
At the conclusion of the national championship 8k, the Mustangs claimed 261 points and clocked an average time of 25:45.72.
As a testament to their commitment to academic excellence, Sherfey and Mikesell both earned GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors.
Finally, at the end of the season, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named Sherfey the 2016 Men’s Athlete of the Year for the West Region, while Schroeder was named the Men’s Coach of the Year for the West Region.
Women’s Cross Country, NAIA National Ranking: 10th:
The Master’s University women’s cross country program made some major additions to its overall resume after completing an impressive 2016 season.
One of TMU’s most notable accomplishments in 2016 occurred on November 5 when the Lady Mustangs placed second overall at the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship for the fourth straight year. TMU finished second out of the GSAC’s nine teams with a collective time of 1:29:51.
Abigail Frankian placed second overall after recording an outstanding time of 17:23. The junior runner’s time was the fastest individual time in TMU program history. Close behind Frankian was Morgan Pedrick who finished in fifth place in 17:39.5. Mikala Fairchild earned a sixth place finish at 17:48.4, while Rachael Ingoldsby finished ninth overall with a final time of 18:04.6.
Based on their stellar performances, Frankian, Pedrick, Fairchild, and Ingoldsby earned All-GSAC honors. Frankian earned all-conference honors for three straight years (2014-16), while Pedrick repeated these honors from last season.
Two weeks later, TMU placed 10th out of a field of 36 teams with a collective time of 1:33:04.26 at the 2016 NAIA National Championships.
At the conclusion of the 5k national championship race run on the North Farm Cross Country Course in Elsah, Ill., the Lady Mustangs recorded 369 points and clocked an average time of 18:36.86.
TMU’s team time was the second-fastest that the Lady Mustangs have recorded at the NAIA National Championships. Last year, the Lady Mustangs posted a program-best collective time of 1:32:44.
Frankian highlighted TMU’s performance as the junior runner placed 13th overall out of a field of 334 competitors at 17:35.35. Frankian earned NAIA All-American honors as the top 30 finishers at the national championships earned this accolade.
Frankian repeated these honors from last season where she finished the national championship race in 17:51.8. In the record books, Frankian’s performance eclipsed older sister and TMU alumnus Karis Frankian’s program-leading time of 17:37.7 at the 2015 NAIA National Championships.
Based on their performances in the classroom, Frankian and Rachel Rush were named GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athletes. This was Frankian’s second time receiving the academic honors on both the conference and national levels.
The Lady Mustangs finished 10th in the NAIA Top 25 postseason poll.
Volleyball (20-11 (12-4 GSAC):
Under the leadership of third-year head coach Allan Vince, The Master’s University volleyball team went 20-11 overall and 12-4 in Golden State Athletic Conference play.
Notably, 2016’s campaign marked the second time since 2012 that the Lady Mustangs have posted 20 regular-season victories.
TMU ended its season on November 8 with a three-set victory over Hope International on Bross Court. While TMU failed to qualify for the national tournament, the Lady Mustangs finished third in the GSAC behind Biola and champion Westmont.
Arguably one of the most exciting moments for the Lady Mustangs came on September 20 when they took down then-No. 13 Biola on Bross Court in a five-set (25-20, 19-25, 23-25, 25-18, 16-14) thriller.
Highlighting TMU’s efforts on the volleyball court was the trio of Morgan Koch, Aubrey Pyburn, and Kayla Sims.
Pyburn, a senior outside hitter, tallied 325 kills, 166 digs, 32 blocks, 14 assists, and posted a 0.206 attack percentage. She was named to the AVCA NAIA Southwest Region team, earned NAIA All-American honors, and was pegged an All-GSAC athlete. Based on her performance in the classroom, Pyburn was named a GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the second straight year.
Sims, a sophomore setter, was also named to the AVCA NAIA Southwest Region team and was named a NAIA All-American after posting 1,024 assists, 238 digs, 82 kills, 57 service aces, and 28 blocks. Sims’ outstanding season also earned her all-conference honors and the GSAC’s Volleyball Setter of the Week on four separate occasions.
Finally, Koch, a junior middle blocker, appeared in all of TMU’s 31 matches and tallied 249 kills, 77 total blocks, and 72 digs while posting a 0.332 attack percentage. Koch earned All-GSAC honors for the second straight year, landed on the AVCA NAIA Southwest Region team, and was named both a NAIA and a GSAC Scholar-Athlete.
Men’s Basketball (27-5 (12-4 GSAC), NAIA National Ranking: 12th:
The Master’s University men’s basketball team’s 2016-17 campaign featured a remarkable turnaround under the tutelage of first-year head coach Kelvin Starr that included a 27-5 (12-4 GSAC) finish, a GSAC Tournament championship that came about in a thrilling 79-74 double-overtime victory over Hope International on March 7 in Fullerton, and a return to the NAIA National Tournament for the first time in 17 years.
Senior Reid Shackelford and junior Lawrence Russell were named to the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball All-American squad. Shackelford, a second-team choice and an All-GSAC selection, led the Mustangs in scoring (17ppg), three-pointers (101), three-point field goal percentage (39.3%), free throws made (114) and free throw percentage (85.7%). The sharpshooter drained a school-record 10 three-pointers en route to a career-high 51 points vs. Embry-Riddle (AZ) on November 11, 2016. His 101 treys represented the fourth-highest single-season mark in program history and his free throw percentage is the 10th-best single-season mark in school history. He finished his career with 1523 points, 267 three-pointers (No. 3 all-time), and a 85.9% free throw percentage (No. 2 all-time).
Russell was an honorable mention pick after earning All-GSAC honors and being named the conference’s defensive player of the year following a season in which he consistently put up strong lines. Arguably, the club’s top all-around performer, he averaged 15ppg and paced the club in minutes played (nearly 36mpg), rebounding (7.8rpg), and steals (1.9spg). He scored a season-high 24 points against Vanguard on February 25 and pulled down a season-best 15 rebounds vs. Arizona Christian in a GSAC Tournament game on March 3.
The multiple All-American selections were the first since the 1999-2000 campaign when Joey Penberthy and Joclin Julmist earned first-team and honorable mention accolades, respectively.
The Mustangs finished their season ranked 12th in the NAIA.
Women’s Basketball (23-9, 10-6 GSAC), NAIA National Ranking: 17th:
The Master’s University women’s basketball team enjoyed its fifth-straight 20+ win season after finishing the 2016-17 campaign with a 23-9 (10-6 GSAC) record. The Lady Mustangs’ season included a fifth straight appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.
Bianca Cubello (Riverside, CA), a second-team NAIA-All-American choice for the second year in a row, led TMU in scoring (13.3ppg), field goal percentage (52%), free throws made (111), free throw percentage (81%), rebounding (276, 8.6rpg), blocks (2.2bpg), and steals (39). Scoring in double figures 25 times and pulling down 10 or more rebounds on 10 occasions, Cubello’s campaign was highlighted by a monster game against Our Lady of the Lake (TX) in a first-round national tournament game on March 15 when she posted career-highs of 28 points and 19 rebounds. During the season she surpassed the 1000-career point plateau and is currently No. 9 on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,311 points.
Meanwhile, Lindsley (Vancouver, WA), an NAIA All-American honorable mention pick for the third consecutive year, tied for second on the squad in scoring (10.1ppg) and was second with 49 three-pointers. She scored in double figures 17 times, scoring a season-high 21 points at Arizona Christian on December 10, 2016. Lindsley drained a season-high five three-pointers against Arizona Christian in a GSAC Tournament first-round game on March 3. She finished her career as the seventh-leading scorer in school history with 1,345 points.
As a result to her commitment to academic excellence, Aubrey Bekendam earned both NAIA and GSAC Scholar-Athlete honors.
The Lady Mustangs finished the season ranked 17th in the NAIA.
Women’s Indoor Track & Field:
On February 11, The Master’s University women’s indoor track & field program posted standout results at the Soka Indoor Qualifier.
Abigail Frankian, Tess Thompson, Mikala Fairchild, and Morgan Pedrick represented TMU in the DMR (Distance Medley Relay).
TMU won the event in 12 minutes and 14.29 seconds, which was one second off the meet record (12:13) and nine seconds off the school’s overall record time (12:05.77, Rossi Relays, 2016). Finally, TMU’s time met the NAIA’s “A” standard qualifying time (12:33) for the NAIA’s 37th Annual Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee, from March 2-4.
Golf, NAIA National Ranking: 11th:
On April 25, for the third straight year, The Master’s University golf team was crowned conference champions after carding a collective score of 941 (313-316-312) at the 2017 Golden State Athletic Conference Championship on the greens of the Carlton Oaks Golf Club in Santee. Earning the conference championship was an encouraging end to the Mustangs’ regular-season schedule as TMU had previously placed third on two separate occasions throughout the year.
Four Mustangs finished among the conference tournament’s top-10 competitors, highlighted by Joshua Delo’s third-place finish with a final score of 233 (76-81-76). Teammate Joey Downey finished in fifth place with a score of 235 (76-78-81). Based on their performances, Delo and Downey earned spots on the 2017 All-GSAC Tournament team.
The Mustangs’ victory punched their ticket to the 66th Annual NAIA Men’s Golf National Championships May 16-19 on the greens of TPC Deer Run in Moline, Ill. The Mustangs finished the tournament with a final score of 1232 (305-316-294-317) and an 11th-place finish.
TMU, which made its third straight (ninth overall) appearance at the national tournament, was led by Samuel Eisenhuth’s consistent play as the junior carded a final score of 303 (77-78-70-78) and a 19th-place individual finish.
Based on their excellent performances in the classroom, both Delo and Eisenhuth earned GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors.
Finally, the Mustangs concluded the season ranked 11th in the NAIA.
Baseball (41-23 (17-13 GSAC), NAIA National Ranking: 5th:
Completing the season on an amazing run, The Master’s University baseball team once again validated itself as one of the elite programs in the country.
After going 15-17 halfway through the 2017 campaign, the Mustangs finished on a 26-6 roll, winning the GSAC Tournament following five elimination games, and sweeping through the NAIA Opening Round en route to their second consecutive World Series appearance.
The club’s potent offense, which averaged nearly nine runs per game in the postseason, was spearheaded by junior All-American Jonah Jarrard and All-GSAC choices, Michael Sexton and Max Maitland.
Jarrard was the club’s most consistent hitter during the season. He led the GSAC in hitting and finished the year with a stellar .406 batting average on his way to all-conference honors. He set a single-season record with 86 hits, paced the club with 19 doubles and 152 total bases, and tied for the team lead with a .488 on-base average.
Sexton, a senior third baseman, earned all-conference kudos for the second year in a row and wound up hitting .394 with team-highs of 17 home runs and 64 rbi. His gaudy .812 slugging percentage set a single-season record and along with a .488 on-base percentage combined for a jaw-dropping 1.300 OPS. On June 14, Sexton was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in the 14th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft at pick 426.
Maitland, the club’s centerfielder and lead-off man, got on base at a .456 clip. One of three Mustangs to start all 64 games, the sophomore led the club with 73 runs scored and 38 walks, and was second with 82 hits.
Another Mustang trio, this one composed of pitchers, hurled the club to a multitude of wins. Senior Aaron Alexander earned a rotation spot and developed into the staff ace following three years of bullpen appearances and spot starts. He led the GSAC in earned-run average and complete games during the regular season and wound up 10-4 in a club-high 116 innings of work.
Sophomore Robert Winslow excelled in his first season as a starter. The righthander went 9-5 and led the club with a 2.95 ERA and 100 strikeouts.
Senior Jason Karkenny completed a magnificent career with a season that was highlighted by a milestone victory, interrupted by an arm injury, and then resurrected in the postseason. In a late-February victory over William Jessup, he became the winningest pitcher in program history (now 36 wins). In mid-May, after pitching just once since late March, he hurled the Mustangs to victory in the Opening Round championship game and then won the World Series opener.
Finally, based on his excellent performance in the classroom, TMU’s Ethan Brandt earned both GSAC and NAIA Scholar Athlete honors.
Finishing at 41-23, the Mustangs earned a No. 5 ranking in the NAIA’s postseason poll.
Men’s Track & Field:
The Master’s University men’s track & field program competed in another exciting season that featured a variety of new school records and conference championships.
On February 5, Josh Sherfey represented TMU’s men’s track team at the 2017 Surf City Half Marathon. After maintaining a 5-minute, 13-second average mile time, Sherfey won the half marathon in 1:08:24. Sherfey’s time set a new school record, breaking alumnus John Gilbertson’s 2013 mark of 1:08:41.
Based on his outstanding performances in March, Sherfey was named the GSAC’s Male Track Athlete of the Month.
Later, from April 27-28 at the GSAC Championships on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, the Mustangs made their mark by bringing home five conference championships.
Max Hudson made history by winning the pole vault after clearing 4.24m, marking him as the first-ever TMU athlete to win the event. Hudson’s performance also set a new lifetime best and a new TMU record. Finally, Hudson earned a spot on the all-conference list as All-GSAC honors are awarded to athletes who place first, second, and third in their respective final events.
In the 3,000m steeplechase, Alec Franco was named the GSAC champion after winning the event in 9:32.42, also earning all-conference honors.
Josh Sherfey won the men’s 10,000m in 32:51.58, earning All-GSAC honors along the way. Sherfey’s performance marked the third time in his brilliant collegiate career that he has been named a Men’s Track & Field GSAC Individual Champion in the 10,000m (2017, 2016, 2015). In the 5,000m, Sherfey was also named the GSAC Champion for the third-straight year after winning the event in 15:11.09.
Finally, in the 1500m, Skyler Mikesell was named the GSAC Champion and earned all-conference honors after winning in 4:00.31.
Less than a month later at the 2017 track & field season, four Mustangs competed at the 66th Annual Men’s Outdoor Track & Field National Championships at the Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Highlighting TMU’s efforts was the duo of Franco and Mikesell as both Mustangs earned NAIA All-American honors in their respective events.
Franco finished eighth in the 3,000m steeplechase at 9:32.65. In the 1,500m, Mikesell also finished the event in eighth place at 3:54.40. Notably, Mikesell became the first Mustang in program history to earn NAIA All-American honors in the 1,500m.
As a result of their commitment to academic excellence, Sherfey and Mikesell both earned GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors.
Women’s Track & Field:
The Master’s University women’s outdoor track & field’s 2017 season drew national attention as the Lady Mustangs claimed a variety of new school records.
On April 28 at the GSAC Championships on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Morgan Pedrick was named the GSAC Champion and earned All-GSAC honors after winning the 1,500m in 4:43.98. Notably, in March, Pedrick was named the GSAC’s women’s track & field runner of the month. Pedrick also earned these honors a year ago for the month of March.
Less then a month later, six Lady Mustangs represented TMU at the 37th Annual NAIA Women’s Outdoor Track & Field National Championships at the Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium, Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Pedrick, Mikala Fairchild, Ariana Sciarra, and Rylee Bishop competed in the women’s 4×800m relay trials where they finished with a time of 9:34.15. Unfortunately, the Lady Mustangs’ time in the trials did not qualify them to compete in the final.
Rachael Ingoldsby competed in the 3,000m steeplechase where she finished in 12th place at 11:30.45. Ingoldsby’s performance marked the third-fastest time in TMU program history.
Pedrick raced in the 1,500m where she finished 12th after clocking a time of 4:54.61.
Finally, in the 5,000m, Abigail Frankian placed 11th after recording a time of 18:25.79.
Based on her performance in the classroom, Frankian was named a GSAC and NAIA Scholar-Athlete. This was Frankian’s second time receiving the academic honors on both the conference and the national levels.
Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving:
On February 21, The Master’s University announced that it would be adding swimming & diving starting in the fall of 2017. Swimming & diving will be added to both TMU’s men’s and women’s collegiate sports, bringing the total number of sponsored athletic teams at the University to 14.
Gabe Woodward, bronze medalist in the 4×100 meter freestyle at the 2004 Olympics, a NCAA All-American swimmer, and 2001 graduate of USC, will lead the Mustangs in their inaugural season.
With 2016-17 in the books, the many student-athletes of The Master’s University will look to duplicate that success in 2017-18. Looking forward, the first athletic competition for the coming season will take place August 16 when the women’s volleyball team squares off against Corban of Oregon at 10:00 a.m. on the campus of Hope International University in Fullerton. To learn more about The Master’s University Athletic Department, click here.