Fall favorites: Wildcats who led, inspired their teams

SPORTS COMMENTARY
Jordan Jacobo
Sports editor
With the fall season wrapped up and winter basketball and swimming action on hiatus for finals week, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to recognize a few of Linfield’s most outstanding
fall athletes.
This list is by no means flawless, but it is my interpretation of the people who had the largest role on each team in helping his or her group find success or persevere through frustration.
Men’s cross country:
junior Shawn Fisher
One of the most seasoned runners on the team, Fisher was a consistent performer, and his blistering time of 26 minutes, 39.44 seconds at the Linfield Open set a new course record. Fisher
finished in 6th place at the West Region Championships and 112th in the national championship race.
Women’s cross country: junior Marci Klimek
She carried the load early on in the season, winning her first four races. Klimek was untouchable before she fell to Willamette University senior Maddie Coffman at the Willamette Open. She placed 13th at regionals before moving on to nationals for the second year in a row, where she finished 45th, the highest finish ever by a Linfield woman at nationals.
Football: senior defensive end Taylor Summers
The plague of quarterbacks around the conference, Summers was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year by the Northwest Conference.
While the team struggled to find an offensive rhythm, Taylor’s tenacious pass rush kept the opposition at bay. He totaled 36 tackles this year, including 12 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Men’s golf: junior
Tyler Nelson
After helping the ’Cats win their first conference title in more than four decades last year, Nelson’s proved himself to be a reliable and motivational co-captain. His fine-tuned stroke helped the team win all of its meets this fall; Nelson finished second with 145 strokes over 36 holes at the NWC Fall Classic.
Women’s golf: sophomore Brynn Hurdus
She placed second at the NWC championships as a freshman, and she has continued to shine this season. Highlights for her include a double eagle at the Linfield Invitational that helped the team place second and finished fifth with an 88 at the fall finale.
Men’s soccer: junior
forward Kurtis Wong
A solid offensive threat, Wong put pressure on the opposition’s defense almost every game. He scored nine goals, second-most in the conference, four assists and always made his presence known on the pitch with leadership and offense.
Women’s soccer:
sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Hasselblad
With a conference-best 149 saves, Hasselblad kept the ’Cats within striking distance consistently. While the offense struggled to score, the team was never quite out of it with Hasselblad in the net. She allowed an average of 1.77 goals per game, and she started all 20 contests.
Volleyball: junior middle blocker Emily Vuylsteke
Earning All-America recognition in the process, Vuylsteke led the conference with a .325 hit percentage and posted a team-best 212 kills. Her performances helped the team recover after a slow start to go on to a five-game win streak at the end of the season.
Freshmen of the fall:
volleyball outside hitter Samantha Lau and men’s soccer forward Kyle Wallace
Lau successfully filled the role left open after standout Katelyn Baker graduated last year. Lau totaled 166 kills throughout the season and started 19 of 20 games.
Wallace switched from midfielder to forward at the start of the season, and he found his niche in the process. He went from setting up goals to scoring them. Wallace was second-best on the team with six goals, also providing one assist. His fiery, tough play helped him score a lot of goals this year, but it also made him draw a handful of yellow cards.
Team of the fall:
Men’s golf
Without so much as a single faltering moment on the links, the team made good on its anticipated first-place finish. They won all the competitions they participated in and set themselves up to finish off the rest of the NWC and win a second-straight conference championship in the spring.
Coach of the fall:
Shane Kimura
In his 31st year as head coach of the volleyball team, not much rattles Kimura. Faced with the prospect of replacing several all-conference athletes from last year, his team struggled early on but came to life in the end. The team won five of its six final games to finish 13-7 overall, notching Kimura’s eighth winning season in the past nine years. It was a bright end to a hard-fought season.

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