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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Western claims 8th consecutive GNAC All-Sports title

Alumna forward Catherine Miles is grabbed by the Trinity Lutheran University goalie on October 3, 2015, at Harrington Field. // Archive photo by Caleb Galbreath
Alumna forward Catherine Miles is grabbed by the Trinity Lutheran University goalie on October 3, 2015, at Harrington Field. // Archive photo by Caleb Galbreath

The Vikings have won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Sports Title for the eighth year in a row.

Western finished the year with 203 total points, 22 ahead of the second-place finisher, University of Alaska Anchorage. The comprehensive award recognizes schools combined regular season success in 16 sports and awards points in two-point increments. The Vikings have won 12 out of 15 titles since the conference was created in 2001.

“This award is a validation of an excellent comprehensive athletic program. Our program as a whole has overcome some adversity to once again have an outstanding year,” Athletic Director Steve Card said. “I am very proud of all of our student-athletes, coaches and support staff for representing Western at the highest level.”

This year, Sam Carver Gymnasium was renovated, it is a building that not only hosts sporting events, but also contains various other facilities used by student-athletes and coaches.

“When great people are together, great things happen. You can see that in the success of the athletics department.”

Women’s soccer head coach Travis Connell

“The gym renovation has had a really big effect on us although we don’t really want to talk about it,” said men’s basketball coach Tony Dominguez. “We don’t want to have excuses.”

Maintaining success in the GNAC is challenging, Dominguez said.

“The other schools are all grinding and have the same amount of resources we do,” Dominguez said. “Every year everyone wants to beat Western, we’re everyone’s biggest game.”

Women’s soccer and volleyball were instrumental in helping Western win the title, Sports Information Director Jeff Evans said.

Both teams advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four.

Women’s soccer fell one goal short of advancing to championship game in Pensacola, Florida. The team contributed 18 points to the the All-Sports Title tally, the maximum points available for the sport.

“We take the all-sports award very seriously for our conference,” said women’s soccer head coach Travis Connell. “The coaches and players have a lot of pride in how they represent our school. We feel like we have our whole campus community behind us and we take a great deal of pride in competing for them.

Connell said the quality of Western as a whole plays a large role in its sustained success.

“Western is a wonderful place, so it attracts wonderful people,” Connell said. “When great people are together, great things happen. You can see that in the success of the athletics department.”

Despite Western’s perennial domination of the all-sports title, Dominguez said players and coaches remain hungry to keep the title every year.

“Everyone’s coming at you. Anytime that we lose a game the GNAC goes crazy and gets excited,” Dominguez said. “You don’t have time to be complacent, you gotta get ready for that next game and next week.”

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