By Nolan Baker
The men’s indoor track and field won their second consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship in Nampa, Idaho on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The two-day championship meet at Jacksons Indoor Track saw the Viking men earn their fifth GNAC title since 2005. Both the men’s track and field and cross country teams have now won the last four conference championships in their respective sports, dating back to the 2019 indoor title.
The Vikings were led by senior Cordell Cummings, who won the 60-meter hurdles and sophomore Ethan Sterkel who won the long jump.
“It feels really good,” said Cummings, who won his sixth career individual GNAC title on Saturday. “I always strive to try and win obviously, but it feels good to do it twice in a row.”
Head coach Pee Wee Halsell, in his 33rd year, had nothing but praise for his men’s team after their championship performance.
“It was a great team effort on the men’s side with everyone contributing and battling all the way until the end,” Halsell said. “We had several team members step up that gave some amazing performances. It was really great to see.”
Women’s basketball made their final trip of the season to Alaska, beating the University of Alaska Fairbanks 81-64 and just barely losing to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who sit atop the GNAC standings.
In their win on Thursday, Feb. 20, the Vikings secured a spot in the six-team GNAC Championships that are set to be played March 5-7 at Royal Brougham Pavilion on Seattle Pacific University’s campus.
“[With] how quick of a turnaround we’ve had and the work this whole team has put in, it feels good that it’s finally paying off and it’s finally all making sense,” senior guard Lexie Bland said.
The Vikings lead the GNAC in shooting percentage, and their first game of the road trip was no exception, where they shot a superb 48.3% from the field and sunk 20 of their 26 free throws.
In their Saturday, Feb. 22 game against the No. 7 nationally-ranked University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, the Vikings came painfully close to handing the Seawolves their second conference loss of the season. The Seawolves only other conference loss came at the hands of the Vikings earlier in the year.
Despite taking a 40-38 lead into halftime and forcing Anchorage to play from behind in the second for only the third time this season, the Seawolves broke out with a 10-0 run to start the half, never looking back on the third-place Vikings.
Junior forward Kelsey Rogers scored a season-high 19 points, while grabbing a game-high nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough for the Vikings to clinch the season sweep over Anchorage.
Men’s golf had an up-and-down performance in the Coyote Classic at Canyon Crest Country Club in Riverside, California. They started the two-day event with a rough showing in the first two rounds, finishing 11th out of 12th with a team score of 39-over-par.
“We showed a lot more rust than I expected after the winter break,” head coach Luke Bennett said. “We had a hard time adjusting to the green speed which was too bad because they are in great shape.”
By the second day of the event, Western improved from 11th to 8th place, led by two top-10 performances from junior Brody Bonfilio and senior Ethan Casto, each finishing at 9-over-par to tie for 10th place.
The Vikings now head to the Bay Area Invitational in Pleasanton, California on Feb. 24 and 25. The two-day, 54-hole tournament is co-hosted by Holy Names University and the Academy of Art.