Sports

A Year in Review: The Maroons of 2015–2016

This year has been full of excitement for Chicago athletics, as ten of the 17 varsity teams made their respective NCAA Championships. The women contributed six of these berths while the men's side chipped in four NCAA bids.

Football

The 2015 Chicago football season was one for the books, as the squad earned a national ranking for the first time in the program’s history. It was also the team’s first year playing in the Southern Athletic Association. Under head coach Chris Wilkerson, the squad kicked off the year with a four-game win streak, and finished 6–4 overall. Defensively, the squad was led by fourth-year All-American Vinnie Beltrano at cornerback, and third-year Jackson Garrey at linebacker. Offensively, third-year quarterback Burke Moser led the charge, supplemented by a strong performance by fourth-year wide receiver Sam Coleman, who was named team MVP. Chicago will play a similar schedule next year, playing both against UAA and SAA opponents, but it set to join the Midwest Conference as an affiliate member in the 2017 season. It is certainly shaping up to be an exciting few years for Maroon football.

Men’s Soccer

Under head coach Mike Babst, the men’s soccer squad went 12–5–3 in its 2015 season after starting the season with an impressive five game winning streak. The South Siders also qualified for postseason play for the consecutive year, and progressed to the second round of play after defeating Thomas More in a 3–0 shutout. Unfortunately, the squad fell to Kenyon in PKs to bring its season to a close; but a slew of talented underclassmen, including UAA Rookie of the Year Matthew Koh, and nine incoming first-years show promise for the 2016 season.

Women’s Soccer

The Maroons went 13–7 overall on the season and 4–3 in conference in head coach Amy Reifert’s 25th season. Second-year forward Mia Calamari garnered All-American honors after posting two goals and a school-record 15 assists on the season. Fourth-year veteran Nicole Mullen capped off her career with an impressive final campaign, helping the defense achieve 10 shutouts. The team also saw a string of impressive rookie performances highlighted by offensive midfielder Jenna McKinney, who scored four goals and recorded five assists on the season. The squad also earned its third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, where it defeated Sewanne in the first round, then fell to Thomas More.

Cross Country

The 2015 Cross Country season marked the second time in three years that both the men’s and women’s squads were selected to the NCAA DIII Championships. The women’s side was highlighted by former swimmer second-year Khia Kurtenbach’s All-American performance in her first Cross Country season. On the men’s side, fourth-year Michael Frasco also concluded his career with a strong finish at Nationals, placing 78th of 278 runners.

Men’s Basketball

Led by a slew of veteran fourth-years, men’s basketball went 17–8 on the season and 8–6 in the competitive UAA conference. Fourth-year Jordan Smith surpassed 1,000 career points in his final season, finishing with 1,160, which ranks 10th in the Chicago record books. A season highlight came with Smith’s buzzer-beater three to propel the Maroons over rival Wash U in the first game of conference play. Third-year Tyler Howard impressed at the point guard position, averaging 3.6 assists per game to lead the team.  While the team will lose six players to graduation, returners Howard, Collin Barthel, and Jake Fenlon have the potential to lead the team in a successful campaign under head coach Mike McGrath.

Women’s Basketball

Under head coach Carissa Sain Knoche, Chicago went 16–9 overall and 8–6 in UAA play.  Fourth-year Caitlin Moore finished her collegiate career by being named team MVP after posting 6.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game and providing consistent leadership to a team made up of mostly underclassmen. Second-year Elizabeth Nye’s performance as point guard earned her Second Team All-UAA status, while first-year Ola Obi made an immediate impact down low to be named UAA Rookie of the Year. An exciting season came to an even more exciting conclusion with an 82–70 win over UAA rival No. 9 Wash U in the squad’s final game. In the Midwest battle, the Maroons shot a record-breaking 63.8 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from behind the arc. Chicago will return 11 players and add six newcomers for the 2016–17 season.

Swim and Dive

Combined, the men’s and women’s swim teams picked up 16 All-American honors in the 2015–16 season. For the women, second-year Melissa Bischoff, fourth-year Karen Chu, first-year Hannah Eastman, third-year Maya Scheidl, and third-year Allison Wall all earned First Team All-American status. Fourth-year Thomas Meek represented the men’s side in the First Team All-American category. On the diving board, first-year Anna Girlich made waves in her rookie campaign to be named UAA Diver of the Year, while later placing 13th at NCAA regionals. Second-year Natalie DeMuro joined Girlich at regionals, and placed 10th.

Wrestling

The wrestling squad finished second of three teams in the UAA Conference, and went on to place 11th of 15 teams at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Third-year Paul Papoutsis and second-year Devan Richter were both seeded at the NCAA Regionals, but unfortunately fell just short of qualifying for the national championships. While the squad may have been disappointed with its performance, a slew of returning talent shows great promise for the future of the program. Papoutsis and Richter, along with first-year Mason Williams and second-year Nick Ferraro, will all return.

Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field

The highlight of the year in track and field undoubtedly came with third-year Michelle Dobbs’s first-place finish in the 800m at the NCAA Championships to make her a national champion. Second-year Khia Kurtenbach extended her success from the cross country season into indoor track and field with a school record and fourth-place finish in the 3000m at nationals. Moving into the outdoor season, fourth-year pole vaulter and former national champion Michael Bennett made his return from injury to represent the men’s squad at the NCAA Championships. Dobbs and Kurtenbach impressed again with their individual performances but the women’s season was highlighted by a school record-breaking performance by the 4x400m relay of Dobbs, first-years Emma Koether, Nicole VacaGuzman, and fourth-year Mikaela Hammel.

Baseball

While the baseball squad went 18–19 on the year, noteworthy individual performances highlighted the year for the Maroons. First-year Josh Parks came out swinging in his collegiate debut to be named Second Team All-UAA. Veteran fourth-year Lucas Friss finished his career with his best season yet, with four complete games, two shutouts and a 3.86 ERA.

Softball

Maroon softball saw its best season in years under head coach Ruth Kmak, finishing 27–10 to earn the second-most season wins in the program’s history. Fourth-year Jordan Poole capped off a historic career with two no-hitters on the season to add to her previous no-hitter recorded in her second year. Fellow fourth-year Devan Parkinson topped the record books in career stolen bases with 67. To top off an incredible senior class, Kristin Lopez finished the year with career highs in homeruns, RBI, and doubles. The squad qualified for the postseason, where they lost in the regional final. 

Men’s and Women’s Tennis

Both tennis squads experienced great success this year, which came as no surprise after a string of great seasons. The men’s squad reached the final four where they fell to Middlebury to bring an incredible season to a close. The women reached the NCAA Elite Eight where they fell to Williams.