By: GCU Staff
This is Part 2 of a three-part series showcasing what to look for in GCU Club Sports for the 2019-20 season. Today, we’ll focus on Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Lacrosse, the three newly added club sports for 2019-20 (MMA, Powerlifting and Wrestling), GCU Men’s and Women’s Bowling, and the student-led growth of Triathlon Club, Club Ultimate, Club Flag Football and CrossFit Club.
Take a look back at the beginning of the series with Part 1.
2018-19? An aberration. Time for 2019-20 to show how the growing pains of last year will be put to good use.
For a program that has put two Men’s Lacrosse Collegiate Association Division I National Championship trophies into GCU Club Sports’ trophy case within the last five years, suffering through an eight-loss season in 2019 and a final national ranking of No. 22 was hard to swallow for GCU Men’s Lacrosse.
The Lopes understood why, though.
Last year, they had as many as nine freshmen on the field during a game. The Lopes still reached the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference Playoffs, and even upset the University of Arizona in the first round, but it still wasn’t close to the national championship quests they’re used to.
“Hopefully, all these failures this year result in success in the future for everybody,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Manny Rapkin last April. “This was a rough year, and we are going to learn from that. The main thing is that we have to keep on fighting.”
With the year of hard knocks now in their collective rearview mirrors, Rapkin’s expectation is for the sophomores and upperclassmen to translate that experience into more victories and a deeper run in the playoffs.
Several milestones have been hit by the Grand Canyon University Women’s Lacrosse program over the past two years, including reaching the Division I level of the Western Women’s Lacrosse League in 2018-19, and flirting with a WWLL playoff spot last year. The Lopes finished 2019 with a 3-9 record overall and 1-4 mark in WWLL play. Like their male counterparts, though, last year’s team was freshman-heavy, and Lopes’ Head Coach Tracy Gallihugh sees the chance to turn that year of experience into a stronger record in 2020.
Three New Club Sports
GCU Club Sports is proud to announce the addition of three new co-ed club sports for the 2019-20 school year: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Powerlifting and Wrestling. In GCU MMA, students will learn how to defend themselves properly through learning martial art forms and will learn the importance of the martial art values including respect, courage, self-discipline and leadership. GCU Powerlifting will teach students how to apply proper lifting techniques to their training sessions and will teach students the importance of setting goals. Finally, GCU Wrestling is a multi-semester sport that will teach students proper grappling techniques with the option of being in competitive tournaments in Arizona and adjoining states. Click on the links above to learn about the date, time and location for the 2019 informational meeting on each sport.
Men’s and Women’s Bowling
Building on history.
This past season was the first time the GCU Men’s Bowling team qualified for the 2019 Intercollegiate Team Championships National Tournament by placing fourth at the ITC Sectionals. They followed that up with a ninth-place finish among the 16-team national tournament field.
As for GCU Women’s Bowling, they posted five top-10 finishes, including bringing home the Sin City Open and Rebel Classic titles back in January.
How “Student-led” Has Paid Off
GCU Club Sports has provided students the opportunity to lead in a variety of different ways. Such is the case for GCU students Jacob and Nick Windauer (Triathlon), Carter Senechal (CrossFit), Justice Guerrero (Flag Football) and Micah Gross (Club Ultimate), who have taken the reins of those programs and brought them to prominence.
Jake and Nick Windauer literally built GCU Triathlon from the ground up upon their arrival to the GCU campus three years ago, and are grooming the next student coaches for when they graduate this December.
“This team is definitely something that I’ll remember and continue to support and grow after I leave campus,” said Jake Windauer.
Meanwhile, Senechal was also an inaugural member of the CrossFit program since its inception in 2017, and has taken over the solo head coaching duties this year from his brother, Grant, who graduated from GCU last May.
Former U.S. Army Airborne Infantry man Justice Guerrero entered 2018 as just a member of the GCU Flag Football team, but became a leader midway through their fall season, and when Tre’ Stevens stepped down after their last game in November, Guerrero took over and made history for the program in the spring.
Along with the recently graduated Adam Barth, Micah Gross has taken GCU Ultimate from just another USA Ultimate team ‘in the crowd’ to a team that has focused on increasing their competitiveness threefold, and it’s paid off.
The student coaches haven’t been content to just celebrate forming the teams, since all took their programs to historic feats last year, and continued to show what student empowerment in club sports is all about. GCU Triathlon ran their first races as part of USA Triathlon’s Mountain Collegiate Triathlon Conference this past March, while GCU Crossfit’s Jalen Smith placed among the top 1,500 athletes worldwide in last spring’s CrossFit Open. Guerrero’s direction at the semester break last winter motivated GCU Flag Football to join a spring league for the first time ever, which led to their second playoff berth of the 2018-19 season. Finally, a renewed focus to begin last year in GCU Ultimate led to a progressive fall schedule, then their first title last March (the SoCal Mixer Tournament) and their first-ever win over rival Arizona State University.