Slideshow: Winter Sports Saluted at Season-Ending Event
Members of the Antelope cheer and dance teams also were honored at the reception, which wrapped up a highly successful season for GCU. Television sports personality Brad Cesmat served as master of ceremonies, briefly interviewing each coach and a few of the athletes.
“This beats talking about the Suns,” Cesmat quipped.
In closing remarks, Mueller had special words for the senior athletes.
“We appreciate that you came to Grand Canyon and represented us the way you did,” he said. “We hope this is the beginning and not the end. Whether you stay (at GCU) or move on, we will stand behind you. It’s a partnership, and we want to support you.”
Some of the evening’s highlights:
● Wrestling: Coach R.C. LaHaye disclosed that senior All-American Todd Wilcox will stay on as a graduate assistant coach. Wilcox, from Sacramento, Calif., was the program’s first national champion, finishing with a 38-3 record at 133 pounds. He also carries a 3.8 grade-point average in psychology. Of the team’s prospects for next season, LaHaye said, “We’re returning a lot, and we’re bringing in a lot.”
● Men’s and Women’s Swimming: Coach Steve Schaffer singled out senior All-Americans Charlie Woodruff and Caiti Hoffman for special recognition. Hoffman has taken only three years to complete her graduation requirements, and Woodruff will go on to dental school. Woodruff, who was a freshman on the Antelopes’ inaugural swim team, came to faith at GCU and was baptized in the campus pool. “You’ve been a huge influence on my life,” Director of Aquatics Randy Bellah told Woodruff.
● Men’s Basketball: Coach Russ Pennell said plans are being finalized to play Arizona State University in early November in the new GCU Arena. The Antelopes’ recent season included conference victories over Brigham Young University-Hawai’i (on national TV), Chaminade University and Dixie State College — all qualifiers for the NCAA Division II tournament. “The success of the other teams here tonight motivates us,” Pennell said.
● Women’s Basketball: All-American Samantha Murphy, fresh from two days of working out with the Phoenix Mercury, said she plans to keep playing and will consider opportunities in the U.S. or overseas. Coach Trent May praised the fans who followed the team during its 29-3 season and traveled to the West Regional. “To see those buses roll into Pomona, Calif., it was remarkable to have such support,” he said. “A lot of the people who made that trip are here tonight. It was fabulous, and we don’t take it for granted.”
Photos by Ruth Nsubuga