Evangel Crusaders Year-In-Review A look back at 2016-17


Evangel football opened its 40th season of football in 2016 under first-year head coach Chuck Hepola. Hepola was named the seventh head coach in Crusader football history March 22, as football also moved to Ozark, Missouri, and Tiger Stadium.

Brock West was one of four Crusaders to earn NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors for his hard-work on and off the field. West also was named CoSIDA Academic All-District and Academic All-America.

Seven Crusaders earned All-Heart South Division Honors in 2016 including First Team honorees Josh Evans and Brady Burke.

Junior Josh Evans was a First Team All-Heart linebacker and was also a finalist for the Cliff Harris Defensive Player of the Year award. Evans set the single-season school record for tackles for a loss and had the fourth most sacks in a single-season as he led the league in both categories. He is also the all-time tackles for a loss leader and ranks fifth in school history with 19 total sacks.

Sophomore defensive back Dalton Taylor returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and blocked another field goal to help the Crusaders capture a Homecoming victory on October 22 vs Central Methodist. Taylor was not only named the Heart Special Teams Player of the Week, but earned national honors being named the NAIA National Player of the Week as well.

2016 Evangel Soccer

Coryell FIeld

Coryell Field was completed in September as the new home for Evangel men's and women's soccer and future home of Crusader football. The Evangel women's soccer team played the first ever match on Coryell Field September, 20.

The Crusaders fell, 2-0, in the first ever match played on Coryell Field.
Both Evangel men's and women's soccer teams won their first match at Coryell Field on Oct. 15 vs. Clarke University. The women won 1-0 before the men claimed a 2-1 victory.

In year two for Evangel men's soccer, the Crusaders finished the year 5-13 and also earned their first Heart victory. Kyler Moore paced the Crusaders with eight goals scored on the season and 17 points.

The Crusader women's soccer team captured the program's first ever win on the opening weekend of action at Stephens College on Aug. 26, with a 4-1 win.

Evangel started the season 3-0 including the program's first ever shutout, a 2-0 win over Williams Baptist. Lesleigh Fenton and Brooke Todd scored four goals each to lead the Crusaders offensively in 2016.

The Evangel Volleyball team finished the season 20-15 marking the 14th consecutive season with 20 wins.

Morgan Kensinger finished second in the nation in blocks as she set the all-time Evangel blocks record. Kensinger and Jackie Fugate were named to the All-Heart First Team while four other Crusaders earned all-conference accolades.

Senior Allie Dunton-Moss joined Morgan Kensinger as NAIA Scholar-Athletes. She also set an Evangel single-match record with 47 digs on September 9, and tied her own record on November 3, in the first round of the Heart Postseason Tournament.

Senior Devon Colegrove finished one of the best cross country careers in Evangel history. Colegrove earned his third consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championships after a sixth place finish at the Heart Championships.
The Evangel women were led by Leslie Perona who finished 21st at the Heart Championships. Perona also helped the Crusader women capture the title at the St. Louis XC Fall Classic as she crossed the finish line in fourth.

Devon Colegrove, right, races at the 2016 NAIA National Championships.

The Evangel women captured first place at the 2016 St. Louis Fall XC Classic.

September 2016 Evangel Athletics inducted five new members into the Hall of Fame. One of the most decorated classes the 2016 Class included: Micah Cravalho (football), Matt Linehan (men's basketball), NaTasha (Neal) Moore (women's basketball), Demetric Phillips (football) and Kelly (Hartley) Richardson (volleyball)

The Evangel men's basketball team ended 2016 as one of the hottest teams in the Heart. Starting with a win over rival College of the Ozarks, the Crusaders picked up upset victories over #13 Grand View and Vanguard.
After scoring nine points and adding six assists, Dylan Bekemeier posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists to help the Crusaders sweep Vanguard and Shepherd at the Assemblies of God Classic in Costa Mesa, California.
Senior Nick Yocum joined fellow senior Richard Chapman as 1,000 point career scorers. Yocum finished the year as one of the top three-point and free throw shooters in the conference earning Second Team Honors. Junior Cody Geiger was also honored being named All-Heart Honorable Mention.
Senior Richard Chapman finished his career at Evangel as one of the top scorers in school history. Chapman scored 1,377 points to finish 18th on the all-time scoring list at Evangel.
The Crusaders made a late surge to claim a spot in the Heart Postseason Tournament. Starting with a road win at 5th-ranked and defending national champion MidAmerica Nazarene the Crusaders finished February 5-2 before a tough exit in the conference tournament.
The Crusader women also continue their outreach in the Evangel and Springfield community. In addition to a summer trip to the Philippines to provide a basketball clinic and served in a variety of settings during their trip. You can read to full story here.
Head Coach Leon Neal and assistant coach Dawn Neal have continued to help serve in Springfield during the season. The Crusaders volunteered at the Miracle League Ball Field through September.
The Crusaders donated Thanksgiving baskets to all of the children in Bailey Irvine's class at Watkins Elementary school. Bailey was a wonderful student-athlete at Evangel and an excellent student assistant coach for two years.
Coach Neal and Evangel women's basketball also delivered Christmas presents to the Watkins Elementary School students.

Allison Swanson and Taylor Longley were named to the 2017 All-Heart Second Team.

Swanson led Evangel in both points at 12.2 and rebounds with 8.2 per game this season. She ranked in the top 20 most of the season with 1.7 blocks per game and ranked top 50 nationally in total rebounds (239) and rebounds per game.

Longley led the Crusaders with 2.5 assists per game and was the second-leading scorer behind Swanson averaging 11.8 points per game which also ranked 19th in the Heart. Her 1.8 steals per game also ranked in the top 15 in the conference.

Senior Mairead Cleary finished the fall season with the Consolation Championship at the Wheat State Fall Classic.

Cleary also earned All-Heart First Team honors in singles during the 2017 season. A native of Sydney, Australia, the senior finished 4-3 on the season at the No. 1 singles position. She lost just once to a NAIA foe as the other two losses came against NCAA Division II opponents. She also played at No 1 doubles for the entire season with Alina Schweizer as the duo finished 4-3 this season. Cleary finished her second season with the Crusaders after transferring to Evangel.

The Crusader men's golf team saw junior Dylan Bekemeier win the 2016 Evangel Fall Invitational. Evangel earned back-to-back second place team finishes to end the season.

Grant Seifried and Dylan Bekemeier finished fifth and eighth respectively. Bekemeier earned five top 10 finishes on the season with a team best 76.3 average while Michael Fuehne was second after earning two top 10 finishes. Grant Seifried earned three top 5 finishes while Brain Cauldwell finished in the top 20 three times.

Blake McKnight is called up to Double-A Springfield

Blake McKnight was called up to Double-A Springfield on August 26, 2016. McKnight was the first Evangel baseball player drafted by a major league team when he was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 38th round of the draft on June 8, 2013. With the Palm Beach Cardinals, McKnight posted a 3.11 ERA in 33 appearances and a 3-6 record with two saves. The O'Fallon, Missouri native graduated from Evangel in 2013. During his time in Springfield, McKnight made four appearances in the Cardinals postseason stretch run going 1-0 with four strikeouts.
Evangel baseball set a school record in February and March with 14 consecutive wins. The Crusaders earned a spot in the 2017 Heart Baseball Tournament after finishing the season with five straight wins including a dramatic walk-off victory over Missouri Valley.

Junior catcher, Dustin Hargus, was joined by senior second baseman, Stevin Cisneros as Heart Gold Glove Award winners. Hargus was also named All-Heart Honorable Mention along with junior pitcher Dustin Eby, junior outfielder Ryan Frye and junior designated hitter Tanner McVey.

Seven Crusaders earned All-Heart South Division Honors in 2016 including First Team honorees Josh Evans and Brady Burke.

Junior Ryan Frye was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team for his hard-work on and off the field. Frye was tabbed to the District 3 Team after posting a 3.78 GPA in mathematics at Evangel and advances to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team ballot. The Normal, Ill., native hit .352 on the season for the Crusaders and finished with seven doubles. He was also perfect in the outfield finishing with no errors in 39 starts and 45 games played.



The Crusaders turned in an impressive home record going 17-3 while posting a 22-14 mark in conference play to claim the Heart South Division Title. Evangel took 3-of-4 from Avila to earn the Division Title while also winning 31 games. Seven different Crusaders also broke into the top 10 in several categories during the 2017 season.

Senior Megan Washam ended her career tied for the most triples (17) in Evangel history. Washam also finished in the top 10 all-time in hits (7th/195), runs batted in (2nd/138) and runs (10th/106). She also finished sixth in a single-season in hits (66), third in RBIs (53), ninth in doubles (14), third in triples (7) and 10th in stolen bases with 19.
Junior Cassidy Gillihan finished the season and her career in the top 10 in several offensive categories including: 4th in career hits (208) and 4th in career runs (141) after recording the third most runs (49) and sixth most hits (66) in a single-season.
Junior Kiara Carrier finished the season with seven home runs to move her career home run total into the top five at Evangel. Carrier ranks fourth all-time with 22 home runs.
Junior Caitlin Buckalew also capped a red-hot offensive season entering the all-time list for doubles. Buckalew moved her career total to 35 and is tied for fifth all-time at Evangel.
Sophomore Michelle Sheppard was able to make opposing teams nervous as she moved into the top 10 all-time for triples in just her second season. Sheppard ranks eighth all-time with eight triples as she also recorded 30 stolen bases, fifth most in a single-season at Evangel.
Senior pitcher, Michaela Tolliver finished her career as the third winningest pitcher in Evangel history. Tolliver won 49 games during her career and finished with 308, fifth most in the Evangel record books.
Senior Kyra Parker quickly etched her name in the Evangel record books in just two short seasons. Parker won 33 games in two season finishing her career in eighth as she was also 12th all-time with 201 strikeouts. She finished her career with a 1.88 ERA ranking sixth best in Evangel history. Her 17 wins during the 2017 season were also tied for fifth most in a single-season.

Seven Crusaders were honored during the 2017 season being named to either the all-Heart Team or Heart Gold Glove Winners.

Senior Cassidy Gillihan was recognized as one of the nation's top student-athletes for her combined performance athletically and in the classroom as part of the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team. Gillihan was named to the District 3 First Team after posting a 3.80 GPA in psychology as also advances to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team ballot. A native of Sterling, Ill., Gillihan entered the postseason hitting over .400 and leads Evangel with 62 hits.

The Evangel track and field teams got off to an impressive start under first-year head coach Edward Sands. Two records fell during the season while three athletes earned NAIA Qualifying marks.

Freshman Terrell Posada earned NAIA-A Qualifying marks in the both the 100-meters and 200-meters. Posada also broke the Evangel record in the 200-meters on April 8 at the Central Methodist Open with a time of 21.40. Posada also moved into second with a time of 10.60 in the 100-meters in the same meet.

Allison Newport broke her own school record with a personal best in the javelin on April 1 at the Baker Relays. Newport's mark of 132'3" (40.32m) also earned a NAIA-B qualifying mark.

After an impressive cross country career, Colegrove has finished his track and field career with a NAIA-A Qualifying mark in the half marathon with a time of 1:10:36.00. The time was the second best in Evangel history as Colegrove also earned a personal best in 2017 in the 1,500-meters.

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