PNW Pioneer

Athletics struggle with transition to GLIAC

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PNW athletics has a combined record of 18-77-3 so far for all team sports in its first year as a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, an NCAA Division II conference, for a winning percentage of roughly 18 percent.

Last year, as a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, an NAIA Division II conference, PNW athletics went 150-114-6, for a winning percentage of roughly 55 percent. The women’s soccer team went winless at 0-15, scoring only three goals as a team.

The women’s basketball team, led by head coach Tom Megyesi, was 7-0 in CCAC play this time last season. So far this season the team holds a 1-7 record, while the men’s basketball team is currently 0-9.

Rob Huizenga, assistant athletic director for sports information, said this season is a transition year for PNW athletics, so some struggles were expected.

“I think not only was it understandable, but also to be expected. It was going to be a year of challenging plays and opponents since it was the first time playing in [NCAA] Division II,” Huizenga said. “For some of our student athletes, especially the upperclassmen, it might have been difficult to swallow. Obviously, athletes are going to be competitive and want to win all the time but there will be times where we lose. That just has to happen because there are always going to be winners and losers.”

Some sports seasons have yet to begin, such as baseball and softball, and Huizenga believes the teams are gradually beginning to improve.

“Unfortunately, we are going to have to potentially struggle as we continue in [NCAA] Division II and GLIAC. Although, I do think that is starting to improve,” Huizenga said. “The men’s basketball team has been intense towards the end of the matches and down to the final seconds. Our women’s cross country team had some great wins. The men’s soccer team played postseason in the GLIAC tournament. The signs points to us beginning to be better off and improving.”

Brandon Davis, junior runner for the men’s cross country team, believes the challenge of competing in a more competitive conference will lead to improvements for student-athletes.

“I feel competing in NCAA is definitely a bigger challenge and a tough move to make from NAIA since the schools are a lot larger and hold plenty more resources for athlete improvement. I personally feel it is a great change because it will help us strive to become better athletes,” Davis said. “The competition is very intense, but if an athlete wants to improve they will need to take on bigger and better opponents to help push them past what they perceive to be their limits.”

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