By Ben Bagley
Western’s men’s basketball team dropped both of the final two games of their road trip, losing 87-64 against Northwest Nazarene University and 82-60 against Central Washington University. The team is now 13-7 overall, 8-4 in conference play and tied for second in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“The scores have been worse than the games actually have been,” senior forward Trevor Jasinsky said. “I think a lot of it comes down to our 3-point shooting.”
Shooting from behind the arc proved challenging for the team, as they shot just a combined 7-33 (21%) from 3-point range in the back-to-back losses. From the rest of the floor, their shooting percentage was nearly 48%.
“It’s just about finding it again,” Jasinsky said. “Every good shooter goes through a slump once in a while.”
The shots will fall, Jasinsky said, but in the meantime the team has to remain confident.
“The biggest mindset is to not let the week define us. If we flush this week and learn from it, learn from our mistakes and just flush the bad shooting, we will have a perfect mindset,” Jasinsky said. “We know we are one of the most talented teams in the league, we just have to continue to trust each other.”
The men’s team will be back at Carver Gymnasium on Thursday, Feb. 6 to play the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Saturday, Feb. 8 to play the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Western’s softball team kicked off their regular season at the Concordia Kickoff Classic in Irvine, California. The team went just 1-4 in the tournament, but the weekend was capped off by a victory and a no-hitter thrown by junior Anna Kasner.
“We’re happy to have closed out the weekend with a statement,” head coach Sheryl Gilmore said. “We are all so proud of Anna. She battled so hard for this team on both sides of the ball.”
Kasner, who is now 1-2 on the year with a 3.11 ERA, threw the 10th no-hitter in program history in a 10-0 victory over California State University, East Bay in a game that was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule.
Over the weekend, Kasner also recorded her 300th career strikeout, which ranks fifth all time in Western history. She finished with 21 strikeouts on the mound and two RBIs offensively.
The tournament consisted of some of the top teams in the West Region of Division II and Gilmore took positives away from the tough competition.
“To be the best, you have to compete with the best and that’s what we are striving for,” she said. “This experience has deepened our connection on and off the field. We’re getting better every game and we are figuring out how to be successful as a team rather than as individuals.”
Leading the way offensively was junior first baseman Dakota Brooks, who is in her first year with the team after transferring from Centralia College. She led the Vikings with 5 RBIs, hit .385 and notched the team’s first home run of the season. Her performance also earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
The Vikings will next be competing in the Dixie State Courtyard Classic in St. George, Utah, playing five games from Feb. 6 to Feb. 8. The Vikings will have a chance to redeem themselves as they are set to play five games in the upcoming tournament.
“I’m actually really happy that we got those losses out of the way,” Kasner said. “If we play the way we did [in the victory], I think we are going to be unbeatable. If that same team appears in Utah, we are going to do great.”
The team will not play at Viking Field until Feb. 14, in a nonconference doubleheader against the University of British Columbia.
Track & Field
After a successful showing on Jan. 18 at the University of Washington Preview, the indoor track and field team put in a fantastic performance on Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1 at the UW Invitational.
Two school records were set in the meet. Sophomore Seren Dances set the record in the heptathlon while placing fifth overall and sophomore Aliyah Dawkins set the pentathlon record, also placing fifth.
Throughout the invitational, the Vikings recorded 13 performances that ranked in the top 10 in Western’s track and field history.
“The team absolutely went off,” said thrower Avery Lux, who is competing in his junior season.
Lux set a personal record in the weight throw, placing 14th overall. He holds the number four all-time record in the event in Western history.
“The distance runners had some great races on the first day, we had some really stellar performances on the sprint side of things and all of the throwers had a really consistently solid day,” Lux said.
Western found success against stiff competition, as the meet consisted of teams from both the Division I and Division II levels.
“It’s always beneficial to get some experience at these Division I meets. We get some higher competition and we compete in bigger venues, so it amps up everybody who gets that experience,” Lux said.
The team will next compete in the Portland Track and Field meet, which will be held in Newberg, Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Portland, Oregon on Sunday, Feb. 9.