November 2020 – May 2021
With a strong 19-6 win over Benedictine on Thanksgiving Day, the Wildcats won their sixth consecutive Heart of America South Division Conference Championship and earned an automatic bid to the NAIA Football Championship Series, which was moved to April this year.
Running back JD Woods was named the Heart of America South Division Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, and head coach Jason Thoren was named South Division Coach of the Year. In addition, 21 Wildcats earned all-conference honors. This season Woods became the all-time leader in rushing yards at Baker and sits at 4,986 career rushing yards. In the 2020 fall season, he picked up 658 yards on 121 carries while reaching the end zone nine times.
The Wildcats defeated Olivet Nazarene 59-54 in the first round of the NAIA Football Championship Series on April 17 at Liston Stadium. In the quarterfinals on April 24 in Sioux City, Iowa, the Wildcats fell to No. 1 Morningside, 45-29. The team finished the season with a record of 7-1.
Three Wildcats were honored with Heart of America Men’s Soccer All-Conference awards. Defender Massimo Salvoni and defender Rijad Osmankovic were named to the first team. Forward Antonio Salas was named to the Heart of America Third Team. In the first round of the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament in April, the Wildcats lost to Mid America Nazarene on penalty kicks.
After finishing the regular season 9-2-1 and in second place in the Heart, head coach Sara Matthews, ’09, was named the Heart of America Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, and six Wildcats earned All-Conference honors.
Defender Kaosi Ude and defender Georgia Vernardakis were named to the All-Conference First Team. Keeper Vanessa Silva, midfielder Victoria Aceves-Power, and Haleigh Harris earned second-team honors. Defender Kara Knapp earned third-team honors.
After defeating Missouri Valley in the regular season, the Wildcats fell to the Vikings in the Heart Conference Tournament semifinals on April 7. The team earned an at-large bid to the NAIA National Tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Siloam Springs bracket and fell to John Brown University, 4-3, in the first round on April 15. The Wildcats finished the season with a record of 12-6-1, after reaching the NAIA National Championships for the first time since 2016.
Two players were named to the Heart of America All-Conference list. Outside hitter Kelsey Simmons earned third-team honors, and outside hitter Taylor Kile earned honorable mention.
Competing in both Rocket League and Valorant tournaments, Carson Fitzgerald was named the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors College Player of the Month for October. The team qualified for the playoffs for NACE Valorant Competition in the fall and lost to the eventual champions, Boise State University. Fortnite duo, Owen Gonzales and Josh Smith, placed second in the Collegiate Star League tournament in November.
In the first duals in Baker University history, the women’s wrestling team made a statement on November 13 as they defeated Waldorf, 43-5, and defeated Central Methodist, 40-5.
In the first Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Wrestling Championships, Baker finished second (just 4 points behind Grand View), and three wrestlers won individual titles on February 20 in Fayette, Missouri. Elisa Robinson was named the Heart of America Wrestler of the Year after winning the 191-pound weight class, Nichole Moore was named the Heart of America Newcomer of the Year after taking first place at 116 pounds, and Morgan Mayginnes won the 155-pound weight class. Cody Garcia was named the Heart of America Coach of the Year.
Taking 12 wrestlers to the 2021 NAIA Women’s Wrestling National Invitational in March in Jamestown, North Dakota, Baker finished in ninth place. Morgan Mayginnes and Elisa Robinson earned second-place medals. Nichole Moore and Jennifer Curry took home sixth-place finishes.
Finishing fourth at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship in February in Oskaloosa, Iowa, the team qualified 11 wrestlers for the NAIA National Championships. Brett Bober won the 197-pound weight class.
The Wildcats finished 13th at the NAIA National Championships in March in Park City, Kansas, and two wrestlers earned All-American status. The Wildcats have had at least two All-Americans in each of the last 11 seasons. Isaiah Luellen finished fifth at 174 pounds, and Dominick Arellano finished sixth at 133 pounds.
The Wildcats went undefeated in the conference tournament to capture its second consecutive Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship in March in Keokuk, Iowa. Cheryl Keslar was named Heart of America Coach of the Year, Megan Carpenter was named the Heart of America Player of the Year, and Kinsey Miller was named the Heart of America Newcomer of the Year. Both Megan Carpenter and Hailey Howard earned First Team All-Conference honors, while Kinsey Miller earned second team honors.
Competing in the Inaugural NAIA Bowling National Championships in Sterling Heights, Michigan, in March, the team finished fourth.
On April 17-18 in Chicago, Illinois, the Baker team finished second at the U.S. Bowling Congress’s Intercollegiate Team Sectionals and qualified for USBC nationals for the first time in team history, where they finished in the top eight. A few weeks later, the Wildcats competed as one of the top 16 teams in the country at the Intercollegiate Team Championships May 5-8 in Wyoming, Michigan. They were defeated by tournament winner Wichita State in the first round.
The Wildcats placed fifth at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship in March in Keokuk, Iowa. Hunter Ellenburg earned Second Team All-Conference honors.
Finishing a strong season, in which the Wildcats earned their fifth consecutive National Championship appearance, the Baker dance team took home seventh place in the 2021 NAIA Dance National Championships in Davenport, Iowa, in March. Six student-athletes earned All-American Honorable Mention honors: Emma Jones, Jaila Randle, Alyssa Waller, Linnea Carlson, Mary Joan Monteclaro, and Keirstyn Reynolds.
Forward Abby Bird earned All-Conference First Team honors, and guard Kinly Grubb and guard Demi Aamold earned Honorable Mention honors.
Snapping a seven-game winning streak, the Wildcats fell to Mount Mercy in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals in March in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Guard Jalen Patterson was named to the Heart of America All-Conference First Team, while guard Braden Wiggs and forward Kobe Buffalomeat earned Honorable Mention honors.
Women’s Indoor Track & Field
In February, Elizabeth Ibidunni won the 60-meter dash and led the women to a fifth-place finish at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships in Maryville, Missouri.
Mia Wilhoit ran a personal record to finish 10th in the 1,000-meter run at the NAIA Indoor National Championships in March in Yankton, South Dakota.
Men’s Indoor Track & Field
The Wildcats finished second at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships in February in Maryville, Missouri. Individually, Baker’s top finisher was Robert Huebert, who came away as conference champion in the 800-meter run.
Nine men competed in the NAIA Indoor National Championships in Yankton, South Dakota, in March. The 4×800-meter relay team of Robert Huebert, Liam Barnsby, Grant Roesner, and Sais Ruizfinished finished14th. The 4×400-meter relay team of Jordan Weimer, Justin Moore, Kwan Brooks, and Seaver Cardoza finished 13th. Tanner Hendrix placed 9th in the 3,000-meter racewalk.
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field
Emily Chambers competed in the Rex Lane Half Marathon in Atchison, Kansas, in December and qualified to compete in the marathon at the 2021 NAIA Outdoor National Championships in May. This is her third time to qualify for the event.
At the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships, May 7 and 8 in Des Moines, Iowa, the Wildcats placed fourth, and the team won four events. Myah Yoder was part of all four winning events and was named the track athlete of the meet. Yoder was conference champion in the 200 meters and 400 meters and was a member of the winning 4×100-meter relay, along with Naomi Kilson, Lilyan Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Ibidunni. She was also a member of the winning 4×400-meter relay, joined by Ibidunni, Jordan Hawman, and Shelby Butts.
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field
Blake Nichols and Liam Barnsby competed in the Rex Lane Half Marathon in Atchison, Kansas, in December to earn spots in the marathon at the 2021 NAIA Outdoor National Championships in May. In March, Jacob Cofer competed in the half marathon in Atchison to qualify for the marathon at nationals.
At the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships, May 7 and 8 in Des Moines, Iowa, the Wildcats placed second as a team and crowned five conference champions. Liam Barnsby earned first place in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, in which he set a new school record. He was named the track athlete of the meet.
Justin Moore was the 200-meter champion and was member of the winning 4×400-meter relay, joined by Tristin McCann, Seaver Cardoza, and Jordan Weimer. Shonnardo Bodie was the discus champion.
Men & Women’s Cross Country
For the first time in Baker history, both cross country teams traveled to the NAIA National Championships. The meet, which is typically held in the fall, was scheduled for April 9 this year. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the women finished 27th and the men finished 18th.
A seven-run sixth inning to propelled the Wildcats to a 9-2 win over Evangel in the first round of Heart Conference Tournament, May 6-8 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Next, the No. 3 Wildcats beat No. 2 Central Methodist 7-6 in an extra-inning thriller in round 2. The team fell to Mount Mercy 10-4 in the semifinals, and their tournament run came to an end as they fell to No. 1 Grand View, 8-3, in the game to see who would play in the tournament championship. The team finished the season 20-14.
In the first round of the Heart Conference Tournament, May 6-8 in Ozark, Missouri, the Wildcats exploded for 21 runs as they defeated Culver-Stockton on Thursday morning, 21-8 in seven innings. Coming off the morning win, No. 8 Baker did it again that evening, knocking off No. 2 Clarke by a score of 11-8. On Friday, the team fell to MidAmerica Nazarene, 23-6, and their season came to an end on Saturday with a 10-5 loss to Culver-Stockton. The Wildcats finished the season with a record of 19-31.
Men & Women’s Tennis
Interim head tennis coach, Michael Trujillo was named head coach in January. Before being named interim coach, Trujillo served as an assistant coach for Baker tennis, while also working as a tennis pro at Genesis Health Clubs. He served as the head tennis coach at Lawrence Free State High School from 2015 to 2017.
Men & Women’s Golf
The women placed fourth and the men seventh at the 2021 Heart of America Athletic Conference Championships April 26 and 17 in Raymore, Missouri. Mia Tovkach was named the Heart of America Newcomer of the Year, and Jacy Anderson joined her on the All-Conference team.