Cardinal Athletics Are Back In Action As New Semester Resumes

Senior forward Sydney Poindexter has provided late-game heroics for the Birds as they push for a national ranking. Courtesy of catholicathletics.com

By Jared Prenda

As the students and faculty return to Brookland to begin the spring semester, the student-athletes on the CUA varsity sports programs return to their schedules. Most of the teams are already a month into their season before their shortened winter break. In the first week of classes, the men’s and women’s track and field teams and the men’s and women’s basketball teams have all played events. 

Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field

The Catholic University of America men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Terrapin Invitational at the University of Maryland for their first meet of 2020. The event serves as a test of an individual’s skills as 15 different schools at varying divisions in the NCAA competed. 

The highlight of the meet came in the women’s 600-meter race, as sophomore Hannah Marino and freshman Renee Rasmussen broke the record time of 1:54.62 set in 2011. Marino finished at 1:50.63 and Rasmussen came in a close second at a time of 1:53.67.

The combination of senior Maddie Strokis, junior Natalie Troy, sophomore Anna Walcutt, and freshman Haley Daughton came in second place in the 4×400-meter relay at a time of 4:32.07. Troy, Strokis, and senior Sarah Diamond finished in ninth (1:06.77), tenth (1:08.15), and eleventh (1:09.91) place in the 400-meter dash. 

The men’s team had its own fair share of action as junior CeeJa Beckett set the school record in the long jump with a distance of 6.51-meters. The previous record was 6.43-meters. Beckett also finished in the top ten with a time of 7.27 seconds in the 60-meter dash. 

The team also saw two top-ten finishes in the 200-meter race as freshman Robert Novak finished eighth (25.03) and sophomore Patrick Maxwell came in ninth (25.06). In the 800-meter race senior Cosmo Pirozzi and freshman, John O’Rourke came in third (2:01.52) and fourth (2:03.7) respectively. 

Women’s Basketball

The women’s basketball team has gotten off to an electric start as it sits at the top of the Landmark Conference table with a 13-3 (4-1) record. The team currently sits on a three-game winning streak against conference opponents, including a 55-52 win over #11 Scranton at home on January 18th. 

The Scranton win came after a lightning start of the first quarter, where the Cardinals led for all but 46 seconds and would outscore the Royals 21-8. Despite nationally ranked Scranton’s efforts to retake control of the game, Catholic held them off until the final buzzer on great rebounding and defense down the stretch.

Sophomore forward Amanda Johnson led the Cards in scoring with twelve points, four assists, four rebounds, and three steals in the game. Senior Sydney Poindexter registered eleven points, three rebounds, and four blocks on the game. The last of those blocks came with just 5-seconds remaining to seal the upset.

The win over Scranton marks the second straight home upset over a nationally ranked opponent, as the Lady Cards beat #14 Marymount 56-51 in the Jamie Lynn Roberts Classic the prior weekend. CUA trailed 51-45 with 4:00 minutes to play when Poindexter again showed late-game poise. The forward had a game-high 15 points, 13 of which came in the fourth quarter. 

The team received 4 votes in the D3hoops.com top-25 poll last week but after another upset win over a nationally ranked opponent and the top of the Landmark Conference table, a bid is likely. The team will go on a two-game stretch of road games as it plays Susquehanna on Saturday, January 25 and at Goucher on Wednesday, January 29. 

Men’s Basketball

On the other hand, the men’s basketball team has not had an ideal start underneath head coach Aaron Kelly, as they sit with a 5-11 (1-4) record. The team is currently riding a two-game losing streak, and dropping four of its last six games. 

Kelly graduated from Catholic University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in arts in history and the team which saw two conference championships and three NCAA tournament bids as he played for the team. Since his playing days, Kelly has served as an assistant coach for thirteen years, eleven of which were at the Division I level. His most recent job was as at nearby George Mason University in nearby Arlington, Virginia, where he was in charge of recruiting and is touted as a gifted developer of players’ skills. 

The team picked up two conference losses in its last two games. On Saturday, January 18 the team dropped a home loss to Scranton University, 74-64. On Wednesday, January 22 the team fell 53-50 on the road to Elizabethtown. Senior center Riley Hayes lead the team in the nailbiter on the road, scoring twelve points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals on the night. Hayes reached the 900-point milestone with his twelve points and will look to be the 45th player to reach the 1000-point plateau in program history. 

The team will stay on the road as it travels to Susquehanna University on Saturday, January 25 and will return home to face Goucher on Wednesday, January 29. 

Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving

The men’s team gathered a dominant victory over the Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets, 176-86 on Saturday, January 18 in Richmond, Va. The Cardinals are the current reigning Landmark Conference champions for the third straight year and show no sign of slowing down. The victory over the Yellow Jackets brings the team to a record of 5-2 (3-1) in their meets on the season.

The Cards got points in the first event of the meet as senior George Isaacs combined with juniors Chris Grunbok and Gregory McCarthy and sophomore Jeffrey Scholes-Flores for a time of 1:40.53 in the 200-medley relay. Junior Matthew Mahon had an impressive meet as he took two top place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:51.47) and the 100 freestyle (50.44). Mahon finished second (23.26) in the 50 freestyle behind teammate Isaacs (22.38).

The women’s team was less prosperous in their clash with the Yellow Jackets, falling 134-127. The team now sits at a record of 4-3 (3-1) and will look to capture the elusive Landmark Conference championship this season as they have finished in second each of the past two seasons. 

The Cards took early control of the meet as they swept the top three spots in the 1000-freestyle, the longest race of the meet. Sophomore Kelly Smith finished first (11:24.90) while freshman Claire Laux and senior Elizabeth Spernal finished second(11:28.72) and third (11:45.37) respectively. The team also had a first, second, and third-place finish in the 200-freestyle as sophomore Kat Von Heeringen (2:04.92) came out on top followed by freshman Emma Gould (2:06.81) and sophomore Colleen McDonald (2:07.41). 

The meet was decided in the final relay of the day as the Cards were defeated by less than a second to lose the meet to the hosts. The teams return to action on Saturday, January 25 as the Birds host the Division I Howard Bison. The crosstown rivals will faceoff against Catholic at 2:00 PM in the Dufour Center. 

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