Mustang Minutes

Branch Races to All-America Status; Men’s Golf Earns National Tournament Berth

 Track & field’s Bri’anna Branch earned All-America honors, the men’s golf team qualified for the NAIA national tournament for the second time in school history, and the Mount Mercy athletics department set a new standard in the classroom to conclude another successful season in 2015–16.

After setting a school record in the preliminary round of the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.7 seconds, Branch nearly matched that in the finals, crossing the finish line in 11.77 seconds to finish sixth at the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The freshman became the seventh woman in school history to earn All-America status at the NAIA outdoor national meet.

A pair of Mustangs joined Branch at nationals in May. Senior teammate Dana Ewan placed 17th in the marathon with 3 hours, 44 minutes, 16 seconds, while men’s track & field junior Evan Bowman set a school best (2:45:46) during a 10th-place finish in the marathon in Gulf Shores. Bryant Rader (2:48:11) set the previous record at the NAIA outdoor championships in 2012.

 Also in May, after a runner-up finish at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship, nationally-ranked Mount Mercy earned an at-large berth in the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. Led by junior Pedro Velasco, who tied for 63rd with a 228 total over 54 holes, the Mustangs placed 24th in their second-ever appearance at the national tournament.

George Long, an NAIA Second Team All-American and 2015–16 Heart of America Conference Player of the Year, headlined a group of five Mustangs to make the All-Heart of America team. Long, a sophomore who led the team in scoring at 73.2 strokes per round, was a top-five finisher in seven of 10 events and set a school record with a seven-under-par 64 at the Deer Park Classic.

Joining Long on the All-Heart of America team were Pedro Velasco, freshman Will Bruyeres, junior Chad Nitz and senior Warren Bynoe.

All four were within half a stroke of each other in scoring average.

Velasco was second on the team in strokes per round (74.5), Bruyeres and Bynoe were third (74.6), while Nitz ranked fifth (74.9). Velasco and Bynoe each posted three top-five finishes, while Bruyeres and Nitz had two a piece.

 Mount Mercy, which had a record number of teams (6) qualify for national championship events in 2015–16, also had one of the most successful academic years in school history. The Mustangs counted 10 NAIA Scholar Teams and 28 NAIA Scholar-Athletes, the highest ever in those categories.

A team must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale as defined by the institution in order to be considered for the NAIA Scholar Team award. The team GPA includes all eligible varsity student-athletes. The 10 Mount Mercy squads honored this year were women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s basketball, men’s indoor track & field, men’s outdoor track & field, women’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field and softball.

Student-athletes who maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and achieved junior academic status are honored as NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Mustangs recognized in 2015–16 were:

Monueir Moodie, men’s soccer
Aly Schultz, Maria Welborn, women’s soccer
Leslie Hoffmann, Abbie Perez, women’s volleyball
Eric Hansen, men’s cross country
Dana Ewan, Kelsey Feldman, Katie Hoffert, Rachel Jellings, Abby Martin, Liz Mosbach, Allison Scott, women’s cross country
Meg Monson, Paige Wenger, women’s golf
McKenna Sexton, women’s basketball
Zach Berryman, Stephen Burgess, Eric Hansen, Monueir Moodie, men’s track & field
Dana Ewan, Suzanne Flexsenhar, Allison Scott, Taylor Zumbach, women’s track & field
Carson Burgart, Alexis Ferguson, LJ Putzier, Brianna Sturtz, softball