The fall athletic season at William Jewell College, like many in the U.S. has been altered for many sports. Football, volleyball and soccer have been pushed to the spring season while golf, cross country, swimming and tennis have continued their fall season as they are lower risk for COVID-19.
Both men’s and women’s tennis have been competing in tournaments since September. The men’s team boasted their first overall win against Baker University Oct. 3 with a score of 5-2. Followed by their second win Oct. 10 against Doane University with a score of 2-2. Cutter Sanders, senior nursing and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry major, and Pedro Braga, junior civil engineering major, have had an impressive showing in doubles matches this fall, with a current record of 4-1.
“Cutter is just a great person, partner, friend and brother. Ever since I rushed [FIJI] two years ago we got really close, and that clearly reflects on how we are inside the court. I would say our connection is amazing,” Braga said, on how he and Sanders have maintained such a strong record.
The team has been practicing for a few months now, which is creating a chemistry that Braga says keeps the team energized.
“I am always trying to improve, both on or [off] the tennis court. I would say I am in a nice spot right now, feeling confident again and ready to keep it going… I am loving the energy of the team right now. Everybody is just happy to be there and be with each other, I think that is incredible,” said Braga.
Women’s tennis boasts two individual wins at their last match Oct. 3. Michaela Esau, junior Oxbridge literature & theory and communications major, and Gillian Evans, junior nursing major, both won their respective matches. Esau won in No. 3 singles while Evans won at No. 4.
Julia Yamate Geminiano de Almeida, junior civil engineering major, commented on the different restrictions of playing a low-risk sport during a pandemic.
“Being a non-contact sport [everything] is pretty much the same for us,” Almeida said. “We did have a scary period when, after our second match, we found out that one of the girls on the other team tested positive for COVID-19. The [chances] any of us could have gotten [it] from her were close to none, but it was still scary.”
Almeida continued to discuss what precautions have been taken at home matches.
“We’ve had three matches so far. One was at home and each player could only have two people come watch. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s nice that we get to play and still have friends and family come watch,” said Almeida.
On Oct. 5 the men’s golf team finished their first tournament of the season, the KC Cup, coming in second place with an overall team score of 617. Cayden Yourdon, senior business administration major, earned a score of 145 – the fourth best score in a 36-hole round in the NCAA era.
The women’s golf team also finished in second place in the KC Cup against Rockhurst, where Katye Vausbinder earned her first collegiate win with a score of 163.
Brenden Day, first-year civil engineering major, commented on how he’s enjoyed being on the Golf team this season.
“The season has been great. Everyone on the team meshes very well and it’s super enjoyable being with them… we had our first tournament this week which was a cool experience with it being my first college competition,” Day said. “It’s definitely a little weird playing with Covid because of the precautions, but overall it’s not too different.”
Men’s and women’s cross-country competed for the first time in over six months at the GLVC Triangular hosted by Truman State University. Two underclassmen led their respective teams during the meet. Christian Santiago, sophomore history and political science major, led the men’s team with a 4K time of 13:57.96. Jenna Schwager, first-year nursing major, finished the race with a time of 16:24.27.
Schwager commented on how her first season as a collegiate athlete is going.
“I love the team. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive of one another,” Schwager said. “During difficult workouts, we all help each other pace and push one another on.”
In regards to how COVID-19 has influenced the team’s overall season, Schwager noted small differences in how they compete.
“The meets are definitely a lot quieter because we cannot have spectators, but you can definitely hear your coaches and teammates cheering you on… We haven’t run in many meets this season because of COVID-19, but it’s nice to be competing again,” said Schwager.
Men’s and women’s swimming competed in a meet against Truman State University Oct. 9. The men’s team won nine events over Truman State for a total win of 132-72. The women’s team won only one event – the 200 freestyle stroke, won by first-year Oxbridge major Audrey Duchscherer with a time of 2:13.68. Overall, the women’s team lost 127-78.
Low-risk sports will continue through the fall – with golf, cross-country and tennis participating in their respective competitions. Football, soccer, volleyball, softball and baseball have been practicing during this offseason and will likely play in the spring.