Esvelt dashes to national ranking

Women’s basketball loses two consecutive games, men’s basketball wins two

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor


Annika Esvelt at the UW Invitational this weekend. (Rio Giancarlo)

The men’s and women’s track teams once again competed at the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Track Facility for the UW Invitational on Friday, Jan. 28, and Saturday, Jan. 29. The competition was fierce as the Falcons raced against fellow Division II athletes, as well as Division I athletes. The tough competition forced Seattle Pacific University to put all they had into the weekend’s events. 

On Friday, sophomore runner Annika Esvelt rose to the occasion and let the challenge fuel her as she ran in her first-ever 5000-meter run on the track. Esvelt ran her race primarily among Division I athletes and was only one of four Division II athletes competing in this particular event. During the race, Esvelt stayed close to the pack leaders and did not fall behind. 

Junior David Njeri (jumps/hurdles) leaps through the air during the triple jump at the UW Invitational. (Rio Giancarlo)

On the final lap, she broke free from the pack and clocked a finishing time of 16:31.74, which earned her second place. This race was not only her inaugural introduction to the 5000-meter run, but it also put her into the SPU record books. She now holds the record for the second-fastest 5000-meter time in SPU history. 

She was only 19 seconds off of the current record time of 16:12.65, which was established by Falcon Hall of Fame athlete Jessica Pixler in 2009. 

Her time not only established her as an up-and-coming track star at SPU but helped her achieve a new national Division II ranking in the 5000-meter run. She is now in second place for the fastest time this year and is only eight seconds off from beating the fastest time of 16:23.46 set by Lee University’s Celine Ritter.

The only other Falcon to place within the top ten of their respective events on Friday was sophomore runner Jeff Gordon. He ran in the men’s 200-meter dash and placed sixth among 23 other competitors. 

On Saturday, the Falcons continued to participate in the action of the weekend and placed within the top ten in four events. Junior David Njeri accounted for two of those placements. Njeri competed in both the long jump and the triple jump. In the long jump, he placed in sixth place and landed a new personal best of 22’7”. In the triple jump, Njeri secured third place with a distance of 47’1½”. 

The other two top ten placements were achieved by sophomore pole vaulter Kainoa Lee and sophomore runner Julius Shepard. Lee landed swiftly over the bar at a peak height of 14’3¼’ and earned him fourth place. Shepherd raced in the 400-meter dash and broke 52 seconds. His official time was 51.14 which secured him sixth place. This was a personal record for Shepherd and beat his previous record of 52.09 seconds. 

The Falcons’ next meet will be held at The Podium Indoor Facility in Spokane, Washington for the Whitworth Invitational on Saturday, Jan.12. The team will also be attending the Husky Classic at the University of Washington beginning on Friday, Jan.11. The competition will continue on Saturday, Jan. 12 after the Whitworth Invitational. 


Senior guard Divant’e Moffitt celebrates his winning basket with teammates Harry Cavell and Sharif Khan. (Rio Giancarlo)

The men’s basketball team began a busy week of competition as they took on the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Thursday, Jan. 27. This entirety of the game was played well by both teams as the scores stayed relatively close. Neither team was able to pull ahead by much during any point of the game. 

In the first half of the game, the Falcons were the first to score as sophomore guard Zack Paulsen completed a jumper within the first minute of play. Paulsen’s first basket would set the tone of the half as SPU held tight to their slim lead over the Nanooks. Both teams continued to score, but Alaska Fairbanks was never able to pull ahead of SPU. The Falcons ended the half up by only three points, 34-31. 

The Falcons tried to stay ahead of the Nanooks in the second half and were successful until only six minutes of play remained. After a late-game three-pointer by Alaska Fairbanks’ Quin Barnard, the game was tied up at 56-56. SPU was no longer able to hold onto their small lead over the Nanooks. 

Alaska Fairbanks quickly took control of the situation and broke the tie with another three-pointer, which allowed them to take the lead for the first time in the game, 59-56. They held this lead over the Falcons until the last minute and a half of the game. 

With only 50 seconds remaining, senior guard Divant’e Moffitt took the score from 64-62 to 64-64 with a game-saving layup. Moffitt’s efforts forced the game into overtime where the Falcons regained control of the game and beat the Nanooks, 74-72. 

On Saturday, the men played their second game of the week and explosively defeated the University of Alaska Anchorage, 91-59. The Falcons played relentlessly against the Seawolves and maintained a hefty lead over them throughout the game. SPU ended the first half of the game with a lead of 21 points and held onto that lead for the remainder of the game until they won.

Moffitt led the team in scoring during the game and accounted for 31 of the 91 points scored. The next highest scorer was Paulsen who only scored 13 points. Moffitt still holds the current SPU scoring record for the season, but his total has gone up to 367. Following the last two games, he has incurred a total of 51 points.

The team’s next game will be on Thursday, Jan. 3 against Western Oregon University. 


Sophomore guard Anna Eddy advances the ball up court. (Rio Giancarlo)

The women’s basketball team also had a busy week as they competed in three games, one of which was a makeup match from Dec. 30. 

In the first game of the week on Thursday, Jan. 27, the women faced off against the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks and beat them, 68-48. This was the Falcon’s first win since returning to the courts after their unexpected 16 day break due to COVID-19 regulations. 

SPU played well both defensively and offensively in the first half as they kept a consistent lead over the Nanooks and only allowed them to score a total of 27 points. The Falcons ended the half with 45 points.

In the second half, the Falcons held tight to their lead. For the majority of the match, SPU led Alaska Fairbanks by 20 points and did not allow for their opponents to gain any momentum. The game ended with a three-pointer from Alaska Fairbanks’ Savannah Huerta at the 27-second mark, but it would not be nearly enough to save the game for the Nanooks. 

SPU’s second game of the week did not end as positively as the game against Alaska Fairbanks. On Saturday, Jan. 29, the Falcons lost their game against the University of Alaska Anchorage in overtime, 60-58. 

The lead swayed back and forth between the Seawolves and Falcons during the first quarter of the game. Neither team was able to keep definitive control of the game, that was until the quarter ended in a tie, 7-7. The second quarter of the game was quickly captured by the Seawolves, who pulled ahead of the Falcons by nine points by the end of the first half. 

The Seawolves maintained their lead for most of the third quarter, but the Falcons soon began to battle back to the lead. The battle began in the fourth quarter of the game after two consecutive free throws from senior guard Kaprice Boston. Her free throws were soon followed by two more points scored by sophomore guard Anna Eddy, which tied the score, 55-55. This sent the game into overtime where the Falcons would be outscored by the Seawolves. 

In the final game of the week on Sunday, Jan. 30, SPU played against the Seawolves again and lost their second game in a row. However, the Falcons looked to be in good spirits despite the loss the previous day as they swiftly took control of the game. 

Unlike the game prior, SPU was able to maintain a solid lead to end the first half with a score of 37-28. In the third quarter of the match, the Falcons held onto the lead and did not allow the Seawolves to pull ahead of them at any moment, despite their best efforts. Unfortunately for the Falcons, their control would slip out from under them in the last quarter. The Seawolves would gain the upper hand quickly and win, 69-61. 

Their next game is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 3, against the Western Washington Vikings.