Monthly Archives: April 2012

Senate 4/30

Alum revives Bruin football

Linfield alumnus coach Chris Casey announced at a press conference his new position as the head coach of George Fox University’s newly revived football program, which is set to kick off in fall 2014 as part of the NCAA Division III and Northwest Conference after a 45 year hiatus of the sport.

Casey, who is currently the coach for Aloha High School football, will finish one more season with the team this fall before his transition to George Fox.

“It’s a win-win deal to be able to coach my last year at Aloha and take the job at George Fox, I couldn’t ask for a better situation as a coach,” Casey said in a “Bald-Faced Truth” radio show interview with John Canzano, sports columnist for The Oregonian.

The transition will be a return home for Casey, as the Newberg local is no stranger to the Bruins’ campus.

“My brother and I were ball boys for the baseball and the last football team. We literally grew up on campus,” said Casey in a phone interview.

All seven children of the Casey family were born in Newberg and many family members, including his parents, still live there. Casey’s brother, George Fox alum Pat Casey, served as the Bruins’ head baseball coach before leaving to coach OSU baseball while another brother serves as Newberg’s police chief.

Casey was a four-sport student athlete at Newberg High School. Graduating with the class of ’76, he went on to play for Mt. Hood Community College during the ’76 and ’77 seasons and began his Linfield career in 1978. Although a shoulder injury and surgery made ’78 and ‘79 red shirt years for Casey, he returned to play the defensive side of the ball as a strong safety in ’80 and ’81.

After graduating from Linfield, he went on to coach at Dalles High School before returning to his alma mater as an assistant football coach, recruiting coordinator and baseball coach from 1985-94.

Casey then took his experience to Whitworth in Spokane, Wash., to serve as an assistant football coach until 2004.

When Casey played as a Wildcat, defense coordinator Mike Riley (1977-82) and head coach Ad Rutschman gave Casey what he described as “a very positive experience.”  Casey remarked that his attraction to small college teams prevails in their value of athletics.

“My coaching philosophy and mentorship come from coach Rutschman. He is such a moral, ethical person and very successful on top of it,” Casey said in a phone interview.

In addition to his time working with coach Rutschman, Casey’s ties to the community were some of the strong considerations for George Fox Athletic Director Craig Taylor.

“GFU and the Casey family go back a long way,” Taylor said in a phone interview.

“Chris is a person of very strong faith, I think there’s a real strong connection.”

Reportedly, a number upward of 80 candidates showed interest in the position, but Taylor was drawn to Casey’s football traditions.

“Chris rose to the top of a very strong candidate pool for a variety of reasons,” Taylor said.

With a total of 30 years as a player and coach, and 22 years in the NWC, Casey’s experience in the football community is extensive. His “play to excellence” attitude has earned him a reputation that has been widely recognized.

Casey was titled 6A Coach of the year in 2010, as he guided the once struggling football program of Aloha to the Oregon High School Class 6A Championship; a story that Taylor calls “amazing.”

Aloha wasn’t the only down-and-out program Casey invested in. During his 10 years coaching at Whitworth, he brought the team to a league title after it had been falling flat in the conference.

“Wherever he’s been, the program has risen,” Taylor said.

Casey plans to do the same with the revival of the Bruins football program, fully aware of the challenges ahead.

“We have to develop an identity, develop tradition and player leadership, those things are all going to take time,” Casey said.

“It’s not the challenge, but how you approach the challenge,” he said.

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Chrissy Shane/
Staff writer
Chrissy Shane can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Track shines brightly at Titan Twilight meet

With nationals drawing closer, seven Linfield track athletes competed April 27 at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., in the Titan Twilight.

On the men’s side, senior Eric Weinbender finished second in the 1,500-meter run, crossing the finish line in four minutes, 2.31 seconds. In mid-distance, freshman Colin Nelson took third in the 400, finishing 50.70.

For the women, junior Melany Crocker was runner-up in the 100, finishing at 12.59, and placed third in the 200 with a time of 26.18.

Freshman Audrey Lichten managed to shave a full five seconds off her career-best time in the 800, finishing fifth in 2:19.05.

Seniors Catherine Street and Misty Corwin finished 1-2 in the pole vault, with Street clearing the bar at 13 feet, 1 inch and Corwin achieving a season-best at 11 feet, 7¼ inches.

Head coach Travis Olson said he is optimistic about the upcoming meets.

“I feel like the season has gone very well. I certainly expect [Street] to contend for a national title,” Olson said.

In other field events, sophomore Anna LaBeaume won the hammer throw with a heave of 151 feet, 9 inches and also placed third in the shot put with a throw of 36 feet, 2.75 inches.

“I am really proud with the way the team competed this year,” Olson said. “They really worked hard and I feel like it has paid off.”

In the end, the meet was scored with the Linfield women taking fifth of 10 teams and the Wildcat men finishing sixth of nine.

The Wildcats will host the Linfield Twilight on May 4 at Maxwell Field.

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Caleb Goad/
Staff writer
Caleb Goad can be reached  at  linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

Records, streaks and playoff berths in spring

Hey ’Cats. There’s been a whirlwind of activity in the last few weeks as spring athletics wind down and begin getting geared up for the playoffs. An impressively high number of Linfield spring teams have captured post-season berths or remain close in the hunt, so I’d like to dole out a few shout-outs and take a look at who’s playing through and who’s staying home.

The men’s golf team wrapped up a fourth Northwest Conference title in the past five years April 22. Senior Alex Fitch putted his way to first place in the tourney, his staggering seventh individual tournament title this season. A pair of promising freshmen in Connor Mangnuson and Taylor Klopp also netted fourth and sixth-place finishes, respectively. The team will take its talents to Orlando, Fla., to play for the NCAA title later in May. On the other side of things, women’s golf played hard at the NWC tourney but couldn’t climb any higher than fifth on the second day.

On the same day that the Linfield softball team dropped the NWC tourney crown to Pacific Lutheran, the women’s tennis team took its 13-0 conference record into the NWC Championship match against Whitman and got swatted 5-1. Besides ending an impressive 13-game conference winning streak, it also put the team in jeopardy of staying home for the playoffs despite its solid overall record of 13-5. The NCAA’s most recent release of regional rankings has Linfield slotted at eight, with senior ace Abby Olbrich individually ranked eighth and her doubles team sophomore Caroline Brigham ranked sixth. Keep in mind that the top 12 teams will be selected for regional berths. The regional selections will be announced May 6 for tennis and May 7 for softball.

Meanwhile, senior pole vaulter Catherine Street has captured another record, this time breaking the Division-III national record for outdoor pole vault with an impressive clear of 13 feet, 9.75 inches. The clear secured her fourth consecutive NWC crown and earned her a chance to claim the NCAA outdoor crown to go with her previously earned indoor championship earlier in the semester. While Street was soaring, sophomore Anna LaBeaume tossed her way to a repeat title in the shot put and a first-time championship in the hammer throw. Overall, the ’Cats finished third in the NWC meet and have a few opportunities to qualify individuals and the team for the NCAA championships in May.

Finally, the Linfield baseball team appears to have hit free-fall mode. The team is 2-8 during its past 10 games and currently sits on a five-game losing streak heading for what looks to be its final four games of the season. At fourth place in the NWC and with a 21-15 overall record, things aren’t looking so great for a regional berth. Last week, Linfield dropped out of the NCAA’s Top 30 rankings as well as www.d3baseball.com’s Top 25.

With only a few precious games or meets left on the docket, now is the time to get out for some Linfield sports. Our men and women will be on the road come playoff time, so give your love now while you still can.

Good luck in the playoffs to our post-season qualifiers, and congrats to all for a successful spring season.

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Chris Forrer/
Sports columnist
Chris Forrer  can  be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

The what-ifs of Wildcat baseball

When looking back on the season for the Linfield baseball team, I was left with a bunch of what-ifs, wondering why it didn’t do as well as expected with the team that it had this year. Was it the coaching? Or, was it the attitude of the players?

The ‘Cats were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation this year. This, however, did not last, and now the baseball team is no longer in the top 25 in the Division-III rankings. As I poured over the games I had watched, I tried to understand why they were unable to be the dominating team the polls had predicted they would be.

At the end of last season, the Wildcats had a team batting average of .315 with 44 games under their belt. This year, however, after 34 games, their team batting average was .285. Not only was team batting average lower, but its runs scored average was also lower. In 2011, their average runs per game was 6.95, but in 2012, this statistic dropped to 6.24. In 2011, the Wildcats never lost a best of three series, while in 2012, the ‘Cats lost the best of three series against Pacific University, George Fox University and Whitworth University.

Another scoring statistic that haunted the team was that if it was trailing this year beyond the fourth inning, it only won three of those games. So, before I blame it all on their batting, the pitching staff must bear some of the fault if the hitters averaged six runs a game. Opponents’ batting average against the pitching staff was .232 in 2012, while in 2011 it was .241.

The ERA of the Wildcat pitchers was 2.92 in 2012 and 2.81 in 2011. Although the pitchers’ ERA was 2.92, the defense in the field behind them faltered this year. The average runs per game against Linfield in 2012 was 3.76. In 2011, it was 3.63. Due to errors, Linfield, on average, gave up one more run a game in both years.

When breaking down the averages of the season, it’s hard to understand what went wrong for the Wildcats. They played similarly to 2011, but instead of taking first in the NWC with 20 wins and 4 losses, they ended in fifth place with 15 wins and nine losses.

The difference this year was that the ‘Cats didn’t score in games where they needed to score. Due to errors, pitching stayed in innings longer then they should have, and when they had to string hits together to score runs, they failed to do so. It wasn’t that they lacked talent or that the coaches ruined the games for them, instead, it was just unfortunate circumstances, such as great pitching and poor hitting or great hitting combined with poor pitching and fielding against teams they had to beat.

Perhaps the most shocking statistic from the two years was not what the team did, but the fan turnout.  In 2011, total home attendance was 2,435 averaging 202 people a game. In 2012, however, total home attendance dropped to an average of 97 people a game.

So, perhaps for success the ‘Cats just need a little more fan support to get them through next year.

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Carson Crepeaux/
Staff writer
Carson Crepeaux  can  be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.