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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Fall Sports Preview: Go Pioneers!

The women’s tennis team practices on Wednesday before their next match against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Photo by Xiaoxuan Yang.

By: Steve Yang & Candace Mettle,

As the 2016-2017 school year kicks off, so too does the fall sports season, which combines high hopes and superb talent in the pursuit of athletic excellence in the next few months. Among the dominant teams, it’s hard to pick out one that stands out so much more than the others, but we have taken the opportunity to highlight each of them below. Go Pioneers!

Editor’s Note: A full athletic calendar for all these teams can be found at

Men’s Cross Country

Next Competition: Sept. 3, 2016 at Dutch Invitational

Forecast: The men’s cross-country team is expected to do quite well in the fall 2016 season, according to a preseason coach’s poll. The poll predicted the team to win the Midwest Conference title, which would be their twentieth in the last three decades. Beyond achievement on the course, however, the men have also been outstanding in representing Grinnell on the All-Conference academic team, with sixteen members (the most in the Conference) qualifying for the honor.

Led by long-time Head Coach Will Freeman, the Roos will be competing next on Saturday, Sept. 3 in Pella at the Dutch Invitational and later at home on Sept. 10 in the Les Duke Invitational. Last year, Grinnell finished second out of twelve schools and will be looking for a better repeat performance with return runners Pieter Hansen ’19, John Lennon ’19 and Matthew McCarthy ’17, among other standouts.

The women's tennis team practices on Wednesday before their next match against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Photo by Xiaoxuan Yang.
The women’s tennis team practices on Wednesday before their next match against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Photo by Xiaoxuan Yang.

Women’s Cross Country

Next Competition: Sept. 3, 2016 at Dutch Invitational

Forecast: Led by Head Coach Evelyn Freeman, the women’s cross country team will be returning a significant number of promising young runners who placed consistently last season, such as Emma Zimmerman ’18, Emma Luhmann ’18 and Alosha Southern ’17. Their talents do not go unnoticed by their fellow teammates.

“Going into the season, I think a lot of returning runners knew we graduated a really fantastic class of womyn,” wrote Meta Williams ‘18 in a message to The S&B. “With that said, I could not be more excited by the group of womyn we have this year. Emma Luhmann, Emma Zimmerman, Alosha Southern and Whitney Teagle are up for big seasons, but beyond them, I think we have a very deep, healthy team this year.”

Last year, the team placed fourth at the Les Duke Invitational. In addition to their running abilities, 23 athletes qualified for the All-Conference academic team last year.

A coach’s poll taken in the pre-season shows that the women are expected to perform very well in the conference, and are anticipated to place second behind St. Norbert’s College. However, Williams is aware that it will not be easy sailing from here on out, which means they will be giving it their all.

“The conference will be tough, but one thing that our team has going for us is that we’re smart runners, we’re dedicated runners and we’re coached so wonderfully,” she wrote. “We have absolutely no doubts that, come October, ‘the hay will be in the barn,’ and we’ll be ready to go.”

Women’s Tennis

Next Competition: Sept. 3, 2016 at University of WisconsinWhitewater

Forecast: The women’s tennis team will be looking to improve on last year’s 15-9 record, the seventh-highest number of wins in the program’s history. Led by Head Coach Paige Madara, the team has already been selected by Midwest Conference coaches to win the 2016 Midwest Conference title. The title quest will start on Saturday, Aug. 27 versus Augustana College at home, with another match the next day at Saint Ambrose University.

The team is strengthened by an outstanding number of returning players, including Syndey Banach ’18, Amelia Cogan ’19, Judith Fan ’19, Lily Hamilton ’19, Anushka Joshi ’18 in both singles and doubles roles.


Next Competition: Sept. 3, 2016 versus St. Olaf

Forecast: With new Assistant Coach Scott Brade joining the football team as an offensive coordinator and all of the offensive and defensive lines returning, the Pioneer football team is both veteran and young. Offensive lineman Matt Medrano ’17 wrote in an email to the S&B that the O-line “will do a strong job protecting our new quarterback, Tony Bergida ’18.”

Medrano wrote that Bergida “has looked good all camp,” and he expects him to “shock the conference and make plays down the field.”

On the other end of the field, all defensive line starters and a majority of the linebackers are returning as well, which establishes high hopes that the team will exceed expectations this season. After a disappointing 2-8 season last year, Head Coach Jeff Pedersen and his team are looking to leave a mark this season with big plays all season long. Other stars include Ryan Slager ‘19, who finished last year ranked 3rd in tackles in the country, and additional leadership will come from the team’s in-season captains who will be announced on Friday. Their first game of the season will be on Sept. 3 at home against St. Olaf College.

Men’s Soccer

Next Competition: Sept. 1st, 2016 at Coe College

Forecast: The men’s soccer team has high hopes this year to make it to the conference tournament and beyond, led by Head Coach Brian Jaworski and captains Josh Lavin ’17, Major May ’17 and Antonio DiMarco ’18. The team is also looking to draw on “an immediate impact from its first years,” according to defender Jeffrey Li ‘18, and to combine tidiness on defense with a strong attacking core. For reference, the men’s attack scored an average of 2.47 goals per game in contrast with the opponents’ 0.88 goal per game average, a trend that they would definitely like to see continue.

Although the team is coming off back-to-back seasons of disappointment on missing out on the conference tourney, its cast of returning players reinfused with strong new talent has a great opportunity to improve on its 7-3-0 win-loss-draw record. They will play Luther College at an exhibition on Saturday, Aug. 27 in Decorah, Iowa.

Women’s Soccer

Next Competition: Sept. 1, 2016 at Simpson College

Forecast: The women’s soccer team, which boasts 20 All-Conference academic team members, will be looking to improve upon their record from last season with a group of experienced senior leaders “ready to take on big roles on the team,” according to co-captain Carolyn Silverman ’17. Surrounded by a large and talented group of first-years, there are high hopes to exceed the team’s preseason rankings and qualify for the conference tournament.

With Head Coach Kirsten Koester at the helm, the team’s first match will be at home against Wartburg on Saturday, Aug. 27. Silverman added that the team is “all on the same page on what it means to be a part of Grinnell Women’s soccer and have the same goals which are to win the conference, host the tournament, and win the tournament to move on to regional play.”

This has led to better practices, which will hopefully produce better results in the long run for the team and through to the conference tournament.

“Because we are all on the same page, our practices have been really productive, and we are making strides toward reaching that goal everyday,” Silverman concluded.

Women’s Volleyball

Next Competition: Sept. 2, 2016 versus Hamline University

Forecast: Enjoying a huge influx of new talent combined with experienced seniors like Evelyn Weidman ’17 and Olivia Fromm ’17, the Pioneer volleyball team is “hoping for a better season than last year, and our schedule this season looks promising to that effect,” according to Weidman. Although the previous season’s 2-19 record was disappointing, new Assistant Coach Scott Chaney will join Head Coach Jackie Hutchison in guiding the team towards better performances both at home and away.

Weidman is optimistic about the team’s options, and counts teammates Emily Friedman ’19, Margaret Giles ’18 and Sydney (Tink) Vrecenar ’18 as a familiar part of the Pioneers’ effort at attaining more wins this fall. The team will test its mettle next at home against Central College in an exhibition game on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Women’s Golf

Next Competition: Sept. 3, 2016 versus William Penn University

Forecast:  Having limited out with six first-place votes as voted on by league coaches to win the Midwest Conference golf championship, Grinnell’s women’s golf team will defend its title with a few rounds at the Mount Mercy University Invitational in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Aug. 28. A majority of the team’s core golfers are coming back, accompanied by two new first years from Belgium and Chicago.

“We did pretty well last year and our goals this year are mostly to cut down our stroke average and qualify for nationals, other than having a good time and just building as a team,” Anisha Agarwalla ’19 wrote in a message to The S&B.

Coach David Arseneault will lead four returning all-conference players: respective champion and runner-up Vidushi and Vrishali Sinha (both ’19), Sam Nakahira ’19 and Samanike Hengst ’18.

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