The 2016-17 year was full of achievements across the board for the Roosevelt Athletic Department as the Lakers continue their pursuit to be one of the most well-rounded venues for student-athlete success in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
The Roosevelt men’s soccer team entered the fall with high expectations following last year’s CCAC regular season and tournament championships. Ranked 22nd in the 2016 NAIA Preseason Top 25 Poll, the Lakers got off to a strong start with a huge 3-2 overtime road win over nine-time national champion Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky.
Injuries to key players, including 2015 CCAC Player of the Year Evan Trychta and All-CCAC First Team catalyst Jose Garcia, slowed down Roosevelt’s momentum and led to a double-overtime quarterfinal ouster in the CCAC tourney. However, with Garcia back from injury this fall and head coach Graham Brennan’s 52-21-6 record in the past four seasons, there is optimism for even more men’s soccer success to come once the 2017 campaign rolls around.
Head Coach Roland Hahn continues to lead the Roosevelt women’s soccer team to progress on and off the pitch. Newcomer Anna Agboola had a debut season to remember in fall 2016, as she led the Lakers with eight goals and 19 points. Sophomore dynamo Monica Munoz proved to be a key offensive cog as well, netting six goals and accounting for 15 points. Junior Chelsea Olson directed play in the midfield and continued to show leadership for a young squad. Despite losing all-time leading scorer Jamie Beniac (26 goals) to graduation, Roosevelt returns a large contingent of its scoring along with goalkeepers Kara Jones and Maria Narcisi, the latter having earned the first CCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors in program history due to her wall-like presence between the posts.
There is no doubt that one of the best volleyball players in the CCAC is Roosevelt’s Brooke Lee. The rising soon-to-be senior out of Dodgeville, Wisconsin is a 6-foot-1-inch leaping force who averaged 3.45 kills per set last year, ranking second in the conference and accumulating 455 kills to rate among the nation’s top 30 offensive producers. Lee, who also plays on the softball team, became the first repeat All-CCAC First Team selection since Vanessa Owusu earned the nod three consecutive years from 2012-14. Along with Lee and Maddy Cysewski, a junior transfer from McHenry County College who garnered All-CCAC Second Team recognition for her first year in green and white, team captain Abby Petroelje will have plenty of talent to guide as the Lakers seek a return to postseason play.
Cross Country/Track & Field
Alena Pacheco nearly became the first Roosevelt runner to return to the NAIA National Cross Country Championships. While the greatest female distance runner in Roosevelt’s young team history is off to pursue a teaching career now that her athletic eligibility has ended, Pacheco’s young teammates are carrying the torch that she lit and exhausting themselves in a variety of distance and sprint events.
Gina Narcisi is attempting to become the first Roosevelt student-athlete to qualify for the NAIA marathon, while Wuraola Sosina continues to be one of the fastest runners in the CCAC, posting winning finishes throughout the indoor track season. On the men’s side, veterans Troy Harness (distance) and Dan Lim (hurdles) wrapped their solid careers while rookies Kwesi Ayekumi and Edwin Renteria gained valuable experience during outdoor and indoor running endeavors.
Another new face on the coaching staff for the Lakers was Greg Couch, best known for his journalistic work with the Chicago Sun-Times, FOX and Bleacher Report. His passion for the game of tennis is as mighty as his pen, and his experience covering the game at its highest levels — in the press box and his time instructing at local clubs — give Couch a unique edge in working with the Lakers on the court. Twins Michelle and Claudia Beczarski and men’s standout Serj Kiyasov conclude their college careers with hopes of leaving a strong foundation for next season.
Jake Myers became the first Roosevelt player to finish as the runner-up at the CCAC Championships last year in what was the culmination of a splendid rookie campaign, and this season the second-year standout is poised to lead the deepest group of golfers that Head Coach Peter Pougnet has fielded in his tenure. Veterans Matthew Spahr and Charlton Zimmerman, and newcomers Matthew Heesemann and JT Polinski, join Myers in a potent quintet that has the potential for a record team finish this year and beyond.
The Roosevelt baseball team was on the cusp of its first CCAC tournament bid last year, and the Lakers are looking to break through the door and compete in postseason play for the first time in Head Coach Steve Marchi’s seven years as skipper. All-CCAC First Team slugger Colten Trager continued his rampage against baseballs at the start of the spring, and fellow catcher/infielder Tyler Ward was off to a scorching-hot start at the dish along with junior college transfer Jonah Meidl-Zahorodny. With a pitching staff headlined by ace Matt Dunne and a stout defense led by the likes of shortstop Logan Fleener, second baseman Matt Kozlak and Gold Glove outfielder Andrew Bohlmann, Marchi’s RU 9 aim to extend 2017 for as long
A new era began this spring as Roosevelt brought in Aaron Moore, previously the general manager of the two-time defending National Pro Fastpitch champion Chicago Bandits, as the new head softball coach. Moore is a respected mind in the sport, and the architect of successful pro teams on the diamond has shown an equally adept acumen for coaching on the collegiate level in a short amount of time.
Moore had the Lakers off to a school-best start, as second-year shortstop Haley Huss and senior outfielder Bethany Hart captained a young team with nine freshmen on the roster. One of those rookies, Taylor Sterkowitz, displayed a powerful bat with exceptional defense at first, while Moore’s pitching staff features a rookie core of local talents Brinn Arwood (Wheaton-Warrenville South), Maddy Janssen (Plainfield Central), Caitlyn Santiago (Oak Park and River Forest) and Brianna McCormick (Fenwick).
After becoming the CCAC Freshman of the Year in 2015-16, Jake Ludwig demonstrated his immunity to a sophomore slump. The 6-foot-1-inch guard out of St. Charles, Illinois led the Lakers in scoring for the second consecutive season by pouring in 15 points per game. His team-high of 113 assists ranked fourth in the conference, cementing his status as Roosevelt’s go-to guy and an honorable mention All-CCAC selection. Don’t mistake his ability for being above the fray when it comes to doing the little things that win games. “He is one of the toughest guys on the team, always mixing it up, diving on the floor, and taking charges,” Head Coach Joe Griffin said. “It’s not often you find the high scorer on a team as being one of the grittiest, and that’s what makes him special.” Ludwig returns with senior big men Joshua Dillingham and Adam Alexander, and a cast of contributors hungry to take Griffin’s squad to the next level.
There is no doubt that guard Paige Gallimore is the engine that makes head coach Keisha Newell’s Roosevelt women’s basketball team go. The three-year starter out of Antioch, Illinois is a 5-foot-7-inch bundle of on-court fury who can drive at will. In a game often dominated by giants, Newell says that Gallimore “is so versatile on the offensive end because she is stronger than most guards and quicker than most post players.” The versatile backcourt star, who was named an Honorable Mention All-CCAC player for the first time, stuffed the stat sheet during her junior campaign this past season by leading the Lakers with 18 points per game, ranking fourth in the CCAC and 18th in the country. Gallimore didn’t just stop at scoring the rock; she was equally adept at corralling misses off the glass by averaging eight rebounds per contest, ranking sixth in the conference despite being the shortest player among the CCAC’s top 10 rebounders. In 10 of Roosevelt’s games this season, including a stretch of five consecutive games, Gallimore reached double figures in both points and rebounds for double-double performances, a feat made even tougher when every opposing team knew who the primary weapon was for the Lakers.
Away From Competition
Amid all of the athletic success achieved by the Lakers, their classroom accolades continued to impress. The fall 2016 Athletic Department grade point average was 3.1, the best in program history, and Roosevelt is already on pace to surpass its previous best for Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes in a single year. In addition to excelling academically, Roosevelt’s student-athletes continued to prioritize community service, volunteering at a bevy of area non-profits and events.