National tournament bids for bowling and men’s basketball; more track & field all-Americans

The fall and winter sports seasons were filled with team and individual accomplishments, including national tournament berths for men’s basketball and men’s and women’s bowling, a conference title for women’s bowling and all-American performances in track & field.

Six Mustangs competed at a rain-soaked course at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships in November. On the women’s side, all-Midwest Collegiate Conference standouts Liz Mosbach, Anne Bruno and Dana Ewan represented Mount Mercy. Three more all-conference performers raced for the Mustang men, including TJ Mosbach, Bryant Rader and Tyler Hartley.

In volleyball, Brittney Thomas capped off an amazing career by earning first-team all-conference honors for the fourth year in a row. She had the best season in school history, breaking her own record with and NAIA-leading 691 kills. Thomas had a school record 39 kills in her final match and finished her career as the all-time leader in kills (2,156) and digs (1,915).

The men’s soccer team produced double-digit wins for the third season in a row and fourth time in five years. The second-seeded Mustangs (12-7-2) also reached the championship game of the MCC Tournament for the third consecutive season, where they lost to top-seeded Grand View, 3-1.

In women’s soccer, Mount Mercy finished fourth in the MCC and hosted a postseason match for the first time in school history. The Mustangs defeated Clarke on a Golden Goal in double-overtime in the quarterfinals before top-seeded Viterbo (Wis.) beat them, 2-0, in a hard-fought semifinal.

Mount Mercy men’s golf had one of the best fall seasons in school history, winning a pair of tournaments and finishing in the top three at three others. The Mustangs were ranked 15th in the NAIA heading into the spring season which got underway in late-March.

Bowling is the youngest sport at Mount Mercy, but that didn’t stop the Mustangs from making history in just their second season of intercollegiate bowling. The women’s team brought home its first MCC title with a four-pin victory over St. Ambrose in the match play finals at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque.

The men’s and women’s teams qualified for the sectional round of the Intercollegiate Team Championships sponsored by the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). There were four sectional sites throughout the country, each with 20 men’s and 20 women’s teams competing on site.

The Mustang men’s and women’s teams traveled to Las Vegas in March. And that’s where history was made, this time by the men’s squad. Mount Mercy jumped four spots on the final day of sectionals to earn a berth in the 16-team national championship event April 18-20 in Lincoln, Neb.

Last year it was the women’s basketball team that ended a long national tournament drought. This season, it was the Mustang men who had an historic season. Mount Mercy spent most of the season ranked in the top 10 in the NAIA Division II poll and earned an at-large berth in the national tournament for the first time since 1996.

After a runner-up finish in the MCC during the regular season and conference tournament, the Mustangs received the No. 12 seed at the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship in Point Lookout, Mo. They faced a stiff test in their opener and fell to 21st-ranked St. Thomas (Fla.), 85-72.

For the first time in school history, teammates were named to NAIA all-America teams. Chad Underwood landed on the third-team, while Lamar Wall received honorable mention. Underwood ended his career as the second-leading scorer in school history with 1,780 points. The Mustangs finished the season at 27-6 overall, the second-most single season victories all-time.

Amanda Frost, who lead the conference in scoring (18.9 ppg) and was eighth in rebounding (6.5 rpg), became the 22nd women’s basketball all-American in school history. The honorable mention all-American also joined the 1,000-point club earlier in the season and ended her junior year in 20th place on the career scoring chart with 1,131 points.

Mount Mercy’s Larissa Wilden and Mwale Kapande came home from the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships as repeat all-Americans and Jenna Higgins and Andre Moodie posted top-10 finishes, too.

Wilden was fifth and earned all-American status in the pentathlon with 3,209 points. She hit 5’-7” in the high jump for a fourth-place finish, garnering all-American honors in the event for the second year in a row. Wilden was sixth at the 2012 indoor meet and second at the outdoor national championships last spring and is now a four-time all-American.

Kapande, who was eighth and an all-American at last year’s indoor meet, improved to third this time around after a leap of 19’-3 ¼”. A third-place finisher at the 2012 outdoor meet, she is now a three-time all-American for the Mustangs.

Higgins, already a four-time all-American herself, qualified for the indoor national meet in the 60 meter dash for the third straight year. This time, she narrowly missed the finals by :00.01, placing ninth in :07.65. In his debut at the indoor national championships, Moodie broke the school record in the 800 meter run, finishing 10th in 1:55.85.