The Wildcats have gotten off to a strong start this fall, all while facing frequent schedule changes and new safety protocols during training, competition, and travel. At the beginning of the season they also competed at home without fans. Because the number of active COVID-19 cases on campus remained low throughout the early part of the season, in October, Liston Stadium and Collins Gym were opened to a limited number of spectators. Limited family members of seniors were welcomed to Senior Day games.
One of the highlights this fall was a school record for senior running back JD Woods, pictured above. On October 3 in Dubuque, Iowa, Woods passed Ed Lierz, ’89, as Baker’s all-time leading rusher during a 57-3 win against Clarke University. Lierz’s record of 4,492 yards has stood since 1988.
On Nov. 7, the men’s cross country team won the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship, and the women were second on their home course in Baldwin City. This qualifies both teams for the NAIA Cross Country National Championship on April 9, 2021, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Head Volleyball Coach Matt Windle noted how much dedication to the sport and the mental toughness to push through obstacles have contributed to his team’s success this season, especially when the threat of canceled games or a shortened season is in the back of everyone’s mind.
“We work to focus on our skill and play development as normal with the hope that we will play. It adds to the stress, but [my players] are handling it well. They love to play and that is all that they want to do.”Volley Ball Coach Matt Windle
Athletic Director Nate Houser, ’94, agreed.
“The desire of our student-athletes to work hard and compete, and the dedication and creativity of our coaches to find ways for their athletes to train and compete safely is extraordinary, but not surprising,” he said. “I am impressed by the flexibility everyone has shown as games and cross country meets that our teams have prepared for have been postponed or canceled. Their ability to shift gears and keep moving forward is a perfect illustration of what it means to be a Wildcat.”
One of the biggest changes this fall has been the decision to move the fall national championships to the spring. Heart Conference championships for football and soccer have also been moved to the spring. Volleyball and cross country conference championships remain in the fall.
“Moving the championships to the spring creates an interesting challenge for our coaches, but they are already working on training plans to bridge the gap from the end of the fall season until the national events in the spring.”Athletic Director Nate Houser,’ 94
All Baker home events are available via livestream.