ONU Athletics Year in Review

Highlights from the 2021-2022 season

The full article was published by ONU Athletics at onutigers.com on June 22, 2022.

The 2021-22 season was a very successful season for Olivet Nazarene University.  The athletic department saw 14 of its teams compete in the NAIA Championships, saw 11 CCAC Regular Season or Tournament titles, and had seven different coaches earn CCAC Coach of the Year honors. The season ended with ONU earning the No. 14 ranking in the 2021-22 NAIA Learfield Directors' Cup.  

 FALL

The Tiger men's and women's cross country teams had a great season as both of the teams earned runner-up finishes at the CCAC Championships.  The men's team finished 17th at the national meet while the women's team finished in 13th place.  These results were the best finishes at nationals since 2018 for either team.

The Tiger football team also saw a successful 2021 campaign, finishing with a final record of 7-3. The Tigers earned 26 MSFA All-Academic selections, 17 All-MSFA selections, and a pair of NAIA All-Americans. 

The Tiger men's soccer team had a historic season.  With CCAC Coach of the Year, Kenny Huber at the helm, ONU went 16-4-1 and 10-2-1 in the CCAC en route to their first CCAC Regular Season and Tournament title since 2016. Huber's team also advanced to the NAIA Championships and fell to Bellevue, 2-1 in the opening round.  This team consisted of a pair of All-Americans, a CoSIDA Academic ALL-America selection, and six all-conference selections. 

The ONU women's soccer team also had a strong season posting an overall record of 9-7-3 and 9-2-2 in the CCAC.  Led by Bill Bahr, the Tigers earned a pair of All-CCAC selections and an NAIA All-America selection.  

Finally, the ONU women's volleyball team finished its season with a 19-10 overall record and went 14-4 in the CCAC.  Under the direction of second-year coach, Daniel Cabrera, the Tigers earned four all-conference selections and made an appearance in the CCAC Tournament. 

 WINTER

The winter in Illinois was cold but the Tigers in Bourbonnais were red-hot as five teams celebrated a berth to the NAIA Championships.  First, the Tiger indoor track and field teams saw a combined 27 athletes qualify for the NAIA Indoor National Championships. In all, the Tigers brought home seven All-American honors from the meet. The women's team also won the CCAC Title on their home track and the men earned a runner-up finish.  The men's team saw 16 all-conference finishes while the women had 22 All-CCAC finishes.  Head Coach, Kyle Rago, won the Coach of the Year on the women's side.

In the pool, the Tiger men's and women's swim and dive teams both won the KCAC title.  The men's team celebrated their first title in school history while the women won their fourth-straight. At the meet, Allison Pearson captured the women's Freshman and Athlete of the Meet honors.  In all, Men's and Women's Coach of the Year, Kelly Essler, and the Tigers earned 20 KCAC Scholar Athletes, a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, 23 all-conference selections, and 19 All-Americans.  The women's team finished third at the NAIA Championships while the men's team finished ninth.

On the court, the Tiger men's basketball team had a historic season that culminated with their fourth-straight NAIA Tournament appearance.  They finished with a final record of 31-4 and went 21-1 in the CCAC and captured the CCAC Regular Season and Tournament Titles.  The Tigers also hosted the Opening Round of the 2022 NAIA Men's Basketball Championship where they welcomed Grace College, Lourdes University, and the University of the Cumberlands.  The Tigers defeated Lourdes in the first game and then fell to Grace in the second round.  In all, CCAC Coach of the Year, Nick Birkey and the Tigers saw a CoSIDA Team Member of the Year, four all-conference selections, a pair of All-Americans, and a finalist for the Bevo Francis Award in Alex Gross.  

Staying in hoops, the Tiger women's basketball team finished with a final record of 20-12 (16-6 in CCAC) and earned an at-Large bid to the NAIA Tournament. Although their season ended with an opening round loss at Marian, the Tigers were able to lead the nation in scoring and earn three All-CCAC selections.

 SPRING

The Spring season for the Tigers started on the court with the ONU men's volleyball team.  In their inaugural season, the Tigers posted an 8-23 record and went 6-8 in the CCAC, earning a berth to the CCAC Tournament as the six-seed. They earned the six-seed after winning four of their final six matches of the season.  Head Coach Daniel Cabrera saw two all-conference selections in the first year of action.

On the tennis courts, the Tiger men's and women's tennis teams continued to build their teams to be competitive in a loaded CCAC.  The men's team finished 6-14, including posting a 3-3 conference record.  The men's team also saw Francisco Faria finish as the runner-up in the ITA Cup in the fall and earn CoSIDA Academic All-District recognition.

The women's team finished 11-9 this season and had an undefeated 6-0 mark in conference play. After winning eight straight duels, the women's team saw their season come to an end when they lost to Cardinal Stritch in the CCAC Tournament Championship match.

On the golf course, our men's and women's golf teams both had successful seasons. The men's team, under the direction of Brent Wright, earned a runner-up finish in the CCAC Championship.  In addition, the men's golf team placed in the top-five in nine tournaments. Coach Wright's team saw three All-CCAC selections.

On the women's side, the Tigers captured their fourth-straight CCAC Championship and fourth-straight berth to the NAIA Championship. Under the direction of CCAC Coach of the Year Mackenzie Brown, the Tigers saw nine top-five finishes, including winning the CCAC Cup and ONU Bill Johnson Fall Intercollegiate. At the NAIA Championship, Margaux Catafort- -Silva made the cut for the second-straight season and earned a top-50 finish. Kiana Krahulik won the individual title at the CCAC Championships and the team earned four All-CCAC selections.

On the track, Coach Rago and the Tiger Outdoor Track and Field team saw great finishes and plenty of school records broken. This outdoor season, the women's team won their 11th-straight CCAC Championship with a meet-record 352 points. The men's team raced to a runner-up finish at the CCAC Championships. In all, the two teams saw 33 all-conference finishers.

At the national meet, the women's team finished in a tie for 11th place and saw six All-America finishers. On the men's side, the Tigers saw their 4x800 meter relay team break the school record at nationals. In addition to Coach Rago winning the CCAC Women's Head Coach of the Year, he also won the USFTCCCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year. 

On the diamond, the Tiger softball team clinched their 19th straight 30-win season as they finished with a final record of 34-15-1, including going 18-4 in the CCAC.  The Tigers finished as the runner-up in the CCAC Tournament and earned their third-straight NAIA Championship berth.  In the Opening Round of the NAIA Championship, the Tigers stumbled in their first game before defeating Lindsey Wilson in the second game.  The Tigers ended up falling to Midland thus ending their season.  This season, the Tigers saw six All-CCAC selections and saw Kori Fricke win the CCAC Pitcher of the Year honor. 

The Tiger baseball team clinched their second-straight CCAC Regular Season and Tournament titles en route to a 38-17 overall record, including going 27-3 in CCAC play.  Under the direction of CCAC Coach of the Year, Jeff Mullikin, the Tigers reached their third-straight NAIA Tournament.  This season, the Tigers were seeded in the Santa Barbara Regional and fell to both IU-Southeast and Antelope Valley in the opening round.  The Tigers brought home plenty of national and CCAC honors as they saw a CoSIDA Academic and All-District selection in Ethan Underwood, seven all-CCAC selections, five CCAC Gold Glove selections, the CCAC Pitcher of the Year award, and an All-America Honorable Mention selection. 

The Tigers look forward to more success as the 2022-23 season quickly approaches, starting with a home men's soccer game on Thursday, August 18th at 7 p.m. against Huntington University at the Snowbarger Athletic Complex. 

Republished 7/18/2022
Photos: ONU Athletics, Skyler Blanton, Erick Decker
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