By Alex King
(Webster Groves, MO) The spring semester is winding down, which means sports teams are heading for the tournament season. Each team has a burning question they must answer as they get ready for postseason play.
Will the golf team continue to be better than ever?
The golf team easily won the SLIAC tournament and gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championship, which begins May 10. The golfers shot a SLIAC-record score of 886, 30 strokes better than the runner-up.
This will be the golf team’s second ever appearance at the national tournament. In 2008, the Gorloks placed 28th in the tournament. By placing higher in the national tournament this year, the golf team would become better than ever — the best in Webster history.
Can the men’s tennis team get over the hump and qualify for its first national tournament?
To get to the national tournament, the Gorloks will have to beat Greenville in the SLIAC tournament semifinals. If Webster makes it to the SLIAC championship, the Gorloks would most likely face Westminster, which beat the men 8-1 earlier this season. If the tennis team avenges their loss to Westminster, they will be the first Webster tennis team in history to enter the national tournament.
Does the women’s tennis team have a shot at upsetting Principia in the conference tournament?
The first-place Principia Panthers are a huge favorite to win the SLIAC tournament. The Gorloks have had a solid season and are currently in second behind Principia. In their matchup on April 23, Principia won 7-2, which is Webster’s only conference loss of the season.
If the teams once again face off in the SLIAC tournament championship, the Gorloks would qualify for their second straight national tournament if they upset Principia.
Will the men’s track team continue their improvement?
Despite the fact that the track program is only in its third season at Webster, both teams have continued to improve by breaking both personal and school records this season. The Gorloks can show how much they have grown by breaking even more school records in their final meet of the season.
Will junior Gretchen Rieger become the first track and field athlete to qualify for nationals?
Rieger is very close to qualifying for nationals in javelin. Her best throw of the season, 38.94 meters, is just 31 centimeters short of provisional qualifying for NCAA Division III nationals. Rieger has one chance left, the SLIAC Invitational on April 30, to try to hit this milestone.
Can the softball team stay hot and get back to the NCAA Division III tournament?
The Gorloks have been on fire since starting the conference season 4-2. They have won nine conference games in a row and are half a game behind Fontbonne for first place. The winner of the SLIAC tournament gets an automatic berth into the national tournament.
Will young pitchers continue to be successful down the stretch for the baseball team?
The baseball team is young this season, with 13 freshmen on the roster. The pitching staff has been very solid so far, as freshmen Dylan Dean Smith and Zach Schneider have provided the spark.
Smith is 4-0 this season with a 1.53 ERA. Schneider is 3-4 and has been the hard-luck loser a few times. He sports a 2.33 ERA and leads the team with 51 strikeouts.
Each spring team has achieved success in its own way. If each team can answer these questions in the final phases of the school year, history may continue to be written for Webster University athletics.
Alex King is the Sports Director of The Galaxy Radio. You can read his bi-weekly column in “The Journal” by picking up the most recent copy every Wednesday at Webster University main campus or by visiting www.websterjournal.com.