The Bulldog wrestling team celebrated its 50th anniversary this past season and it was a freshman that led the charge.
Sam Reeves led the team in wins (23-12 record) while competing at the 197-pound weight class. Reeves had the deepest run of any Bulldog wrestler at the NCAA regional tournament, which took place in Sioux Falls, S.D. He won two of his first three matches, with his only loss coming to top-seeded Ryan Beltz of Maryville (Mo.) University by a 3-1 score that had Beltz scoring the final two-point takedown as time was expiring in the match.
As a team, Truman went 8-11 in dual matches and was a perfect 4-0 in Pershing Arena. After Reeves, Ethan Rentschler was second in wins with 18, and three Bulldogs, JJ Dorrell, Steven Serbinski and Roark Whittington, all finished with 16 victories.
Freshman Cassidy Smestad accomplished something that no other Bulldog had done in more than 30 years. Smestad was the Bulldogs only individual conference champion this year as she won the shot put at the GLVC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May. She was the first shot putter since Marlene Frahm to win the conference shot put in 1985. She earned a provisional mark during the indoor season in the shot and was 16th in the spring on the NCAA Division II outdoor performance list. She finished the season with a 15th place finish at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Bulldog women finished fourth as a team at the conference outdoor meet with junior Karina Critten earning All-GLVC honors with a second-place showing in the hammer throw. Critten earned a spot on the medal stand with a third-place finish in the discus, as did senior Marie Arnett in the hammer and junior Laura Tarantino in the 10,000-meter run.
Freshman Tahj Gayfield had his hand (or legs) in four third-place finishes for the Truman men at the GLVC outdoor meet. Gayfield was third in both the 110 and 400 hurdles, then was among three freshmen on both third-place 4×100 and 4×400 relay squads.
Senior Dominic Kacich ran provisional times in the 400 during both the indoor and outdoor season with freshman Elijah Farrales nipping at his heels. Kacich was fifth to Farrales’ fourth at the indoor meet, but in the outdoor meet Kacich was fifth and Farrales was sixth.
Junior Brice Pavey was the lone all-conference indoor Bulldog with a second-place finish in the mile.
The first Great Lakes Valley Conference title for the women, and a combined nine qualifiers between the men’s and women’s teams, highlighted the 2015-16 edition of Truman swimming.
After a strong regular season that saw the squad pick up dual victories against Division I programs Illinois State and Western Illinois, the Bulldog women rode a strong final day at the 2016 GLVC championships to surge past long-time rival Drury and capture the league championship. Truman trailed DU by 52 points before racing past the Panthers to win by nearly 40 points overall. In addition to the women’s team title, both programs earned individual laurels as Will Shanel and Evyn Spencer were each named the GLVC’s Swimmer of the Year on their respective sides while Emma Barnett captured the league’s women’s Freshman of the Year Award. Head coach Ed Pretre was voted as the conference’s women’s swimming Coach of the Year.
At the national championships, the Bulldog women scored 119 team points and finished 12th overall, while Shanel scored 25 total points on the men’s side as Truman’s lone representative.
Truman will return to the pool in mid-September for season-opening events in the Pershing Natatorium.
Sophomore Nicolle Barmettler became the first Bulldog to qualify for the NCAA Division II tournament in eight seasons as she was the top individual for the Bulldogs all season long.
Barmettler placed 18th out of the top golfers in the East region and found herself in the top 20 for the 10th time in as many tournaments this season. She had a scoring average of 78.75 and has landed in the top 20 in 18 of her 19 career tournaments through two seasons as a Bulldog. She won the season-opening William Jewell Fall Tune-up with a pair of 75s, tied for second at William Penn and third in the rain-shortened Missouri-St. Louis Invitational.
As a team, Truman placed 10th at the GLVC Championships in late April with Barmettler leading the way with rounds of 77, 79 and 81.
The Bulldogs softball team returned to NCAA regional play for the third-straight season and 17th overall time in school history.
Truman finished the regular season with a 30-18 record and garnered the No. 6 overall seed in the Midwest Regional. However, the offense that had propelled the Bulldogs all season went cold against some of the toughest pitchers in the region at the tournament, and they lost two games by scores of 3-0 and 2-0 to see their season come to an end.
Freshman Christa Reisinger was named the GLVC Freshman of the Year and was part of six All-GLVC selections for coach Erin Brown’s team. Reisinger hit .402 in 49 games with six doubles, four triples and nine home runs. Reisinger stole 42 bases out of 48 attempts to lead the GLVC by 15 steals. Senior pitcher Kindra Henze was the other first-team all-conference selection and posted a 1.93 ERA with a 12-9 overall record.
Fellow pitcher and senior Kelsea Dorsey earned second-team All-GLVC honors for the fourth straight year. The third team was dominated by infielders in senior third baseman Cate Simon, junior catcher Lex Van Nostrand and sophomore first baseman Ashley Murphy. Simon led the team in home runs with 11 and Van Nostrand was first in RBIs with 35.
For the fifth time in program history, the Truman women’s basketball team reached the 20-win plateau as Amy Eagan’s Bulldogs finished 20-10 while advancing to the quarterfinal round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference postseason tournament.
The Bulldogs did it with a strong defensive effort as they held opponents on average to 55 points per game and set a school record with 130 blocked shots in a season. Of the 130 blocked shots, 59 came from senior Michalina Tomczak. She earned third-team all-conference honors and led the league in blocks. Her season total was the second-most by a Bulldog player, and she finished her career as one of only three Truman players to block more than 100 career shots.
Joining Tomczak on the all-conference team was senior guard Courtney Strait on the second team. Strait led the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game and will leave Truman with the most games played in a Bulldog uniform (115) and highest free throw shooting percentage ever at more than 86 percent.
As a team, Truman set a new school record in conference wins with 13 as they finished third in the GLVC West Division. They defeated Missouri-St. Louis 59-51 in the home tournament game Feb. 28 to set up their quarterfinal game against Quincy (Ill.) at the Family Arena in St. Charles. It was the ninth meeting between the Lady Hawks and Bulldogs over the course of three seasons, and this time Quincy got the upper hand with a 62-49 win over Truman.
It was a tough year on the courts for the Bulldog tennis teams. The Truman women were 1-10 overall and the men were 1-11 in duals while both squads went 0-5 in the GLVC.
Freshman Gavin Hatter led the men in singles victories with five, and had half of the team’s doubles match wins with four. Sophomore Paul Province was second in wins, having registered four.
Sophomore Lindsey Schlichting had the top win total on the women’s side with four.
The squads were relatively young as only three seniors dotted the roster between the two programs.
The 2015-16 version of Bulldog men’s basketball logged the fourth-most wins in program history, finishing with a 21-9 overall record under the direction of second-year head coach Chris Foster.
Truman, which also advanced to the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament for the third time in as many seasons as conference members, landed four players on all-conference teams: junior Cory Myers (first-team and all-defensive team); senior Cole Myers (second-team); junior Kyle Kanaskie (second-team); and junior Dwight Sistrunk Jr. (all-defensive team).
Truman came out of the gate with just a 4-3 mark through the first seven games before stringing together an eight-game winning streak – capped with back-to-back double-digit home wins against McKendree (Ill.) and Illinois Springfield to sit at 12-3. After two losses on the road, the Bulldogs won eight of their final 11 to earn the No. 6 overall seed in the GLVC tournament. Truman picked up a 90-84 home win against Missouri-St. Louis in the opening round before coming up just short against the region’s No. 1 team, Wisconsin-Parkside, in the quarterfinal round in St. Louis.
This year’s group completed the first back-to-back-to-back 20-plus win seasons in program history. The Bulldogs graduate two seniors, Andrew Vander Zwaag and Cole Myers, while returning Cory Myers, Kanaskie, Sistrunk Jr., and 10 other squad members for the 2016-17 season, set to begin in November.
For the third-straight season, the Truman baseball team won 20 games. The Bulldogs were 20-30 after last year’s run to the Division II World Series.
Junior transfer Nick Agliolo provided the early offensive spark as he hit above .400 for the better part of the first half of the season. Agliolo finished with a team-leading .360 batting average with eight doubles and three triples.
Senior T.J. Wood led the GLVC in stolen bases with 24 and finished his Truman career fourth in steals with 43. As a team, Truman again was near the top of the league in steals with 73 out of 103 attempts. Senior pitcher Mark Roberts wrapped up his Truman career as the all-time leader in innings pitched and tied for first in career starts with 42. Sophomore reliever Peter Young eclipsed both the career and season record for saves. Young had a 3-1 record with eight saves and finished his second season with 14, breaking the previous record by four.
Consistency was the issue with the Bulldogs this year as they had three, three-game winning streaks, and out of the seven GLVC West Division series, won one, lost three and split three with no four-game sweeps by either team. The Bulldogs played a record 31 games at home including 22 straight running from March 4 through April 3.
Former Bulldog director of athletics and legendary track and field coach Kenneth Gardner has been selected for induction into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in June.
Gardner is one of the founding fathers of both Truman Athletics and the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Association. He attended the University from 1939-1947, pausing to serve in the United States Army during World War II. He was an All-MIAA football and track performer, and also served the Army as a major in North Africa and Europe, earning the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
After finishing his degree in 1947, Gardner coached at Marceline High School from 1947-1951. He returned to Kirksville as an assistant football coach in June 1952, and also assisted with basketball and track and field. He became the head track and field coach and led the Bulldogs to a decade of dominance. From 1959 until 1968, the Bulldog track and field team won every indoor and outdoor MIAA championship contested. The Bulldogs won a total of 19 indoor titles from 1959-1980 and 15 outdoor titles from 1959-1979, all under Gardner’s leadership.
Gardner coached 39 individual NCAA Division II All-Americans and had 11 win individual national championships. He was a two-time recipient of the College Track and Field Coach of the Year award, served as college division referee at both the Drake and Kansas relays, was on the games committee for the Division II National Track and Field Championships, a chair of the Midwest Region for the Division II Football Championships and sat on the Division II Football National Committee. He was a charter member of the Truman Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983 and inducted into the Missouri Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1984.