Bouncing back stronger

Women’s basketball celebrates senior day, gymnastics head to Alaska

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

This Week In Falcon Sports, women’s and men’s basketball celebrated senior day, gymnastics split a pair of meets against the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Falcon athletes attempted to qualify for the NCAA Division II indoor track championships. 


With very few experienced players on Seattle Pacific University’s women’s basketball team this year, it was not expected that they would finish very high on the standings list, especially playing in such a difficult conference. 


“The conference, I think, is one of the best Division II conferences in the country,” Head Coach Mike Simonson said. “This year, with only two seniors — they both did not play a lot as young players — we didn’t have a lot of experience.” 


That inexperience showed as the Falcons were defeated 77-55 by Northwest Nazarene University, the second best team in the conference Thursday, Feb 27. 


But Saturday was senior day, and the team got the chance to celebrate the careers of Hailee Bennett and Madi Hingston. 


“My first year was both of their freshman seasons, so to connect with them and see them grow up four years … and see them come out as confident, great women of Seattle Pacific University is really impressive, and I’m so thankful that I could just be a part of their story these last four years,” Simonson said.


Bennett and Hingston combined for 24 points,  but the Wildcats made 48% of their three point shots, which proved too much for the Falcons to overcome, as they lost 81-65. 


The Falcons finished eighth in the conference overall, with a 6-14 conference record. They will return 10 players to the court from this season’s team, most of whom now have crucial in-game experience.


“Talent-wise, we do have some very great basketball players. We just need to get some experience and confidence in our skills, and we’re gonna get there,” Simonson said. 


Meanwhile, the gymnastics team made the trek to Anchorage, Alaska for the first time since 2015. The flight and the weather may have gotten to the Falcons Friday, Feb. 28 as they fell to Alaska Anchorage, losing by a score of 192.550 to 191.800. 


Even with the loss, senior Darian Burns was on her A-game, finishing second in the all-around competition, helped by wins on the vault and in the floor exercise, and a fourth place finish in the uneven bars. 


The next day, the Falcons improved their team score by nearly two points, posting a 193.750 and defeating Alaska Anchorage. Sophomore Kayla Chan had two career high scores during the meet, winning the floor exercise and finishing second in the vault.


The Falcons will take a short break before competing against the University of Washington on March 14.


The SPU track and field athletes competed at Dempsey Indoor stadium at the University of Washington Saturday, Feb. 29 for one final opportunity to qualify individually for the Division II Indoor Track and Field championships.


Junior Dania Holmberg had already posted a qualifying time in the 5,000 meters, and on Saturday she won the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:38.98, the twelfth best time in the nation. 


Meanwhile, senior Sedona McNerney finished in fourth in the mile and sophomore Madison Licari finished fourth in the pole vault. 


Junior Renick Meyer won the long jump at the meet and it looks like both she and sophomore Peace Igbonagwam will be heading to nationals to compete in that event. 


Finally, after a loss to Western Washington University Saturday, Feb. 22, the men’s basketball team had two exciting games this week as they made an epic 26-point comeback to defeat  Northwest Nazarene University 72-70 Thursday, Feb. 27. They also beat Central Washington University 63-56 Saturday, Feb. 29.


Now, if the Falcons win their two games in the GNAC tournament, they will be guaranteed a spot in the NCAA division II Men’s Basketball Championship.