WATERTOWN, Wis. -- 212 combined competitions. Hours of actual playing time. Countless plays. Memorable moments. All in a short span of time.
This is what sums up a competitive NCAA DIII college sports season, and the 2016-17 season for the Maranatha Baptist University Sabercats was no exception. Truly, the season produced an abundance memorable moments, so we at mbusabercats.com compiled our list of Top 10 Moments from the year.
These moments were selected based on competitive importance, record-breaking significance, uniqueness, and difficulty of accomplishment. Do you agree with our list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter, and Go Sabercats!
#10 - Yooper Dingers
This made the list because, for the first time in recorded program history, Maranatha Softball recorded back-to-back home runs as homers from Hannah May (Rudyard, Mich.) and Harmony Bailey (Rudyard, Mich.) cleared the left field fence at nearly identical locations. The fireworks from the U.P. duo were part of a four-game sweep of North Central on Parents' Day Weekend:
#9 - Wama Overtime Winner
Wira Wama's winner at regionals made our list for its "clutch" effect. In sudden-death overtime against Providence University College, Wama evaded a couple of defenders and launched a shot into the far corner to win the game 1-0 with just four seconds left. The game-winning goal put the Sabercats through to the regional semifinal against North Central (Minn.), where they would lose a hard-fought 1-0 game to the eventual NCCAA DII National Runners-Up.
#8 - Burdett's Career-Closing Shutout
This performance made our list for its perfect timing and sentiment. In his final game in the Blue & Gold, Micah Burdett pitched a two-hit shutout as the Sabercats ended their year on a high note with a 13-0 defeat of Finlandia University. The shutout was Burdett's first, and it concluded the careers of six seniors as the Sabercats won five of their last six games. This catch from Caleb Prigge (one of those seniors) ensured the shutout for the in-command Burdett:
#7 - "Why Not?" Baseball Posts Epic Comeback
It seemed as if the game was over, but the Sabercats would not throw in the towel. Down 2-11 in their final at-bat against Universita of Minnesota-Morris, the Sabercats strung together an unprecedented 10-run rally to take home a 12-11 win over the Cougars on the road. The comeback was the biggest comeback known in program history and marked the first win for the Sabercats in the season.
#6 - Holbrook Breaks her own Record
Just two weeks after posting a blistering 24:20 6K in sultry conditions at the Brissman-Lundeen Invitational, Katie Holbrook (pictured below) broke her own program record to record a 24:13 6K at the Lucian Rosa Invitational hosted by Wisconsin-Parkside on October 8. Holbrook finished 35th in a hyper-competitive field of 172 runners.
#5 - Women's Basketball's Regional Upset
Matched up against the favorited Lions from Trinity Bible College from Ellendale, N.D., the Sabercats stayed strong through a pressure-packed regional finale to secure the regional title and another trip to the NCCAA DII National Tournament. The 58-53 win was one of five in the season that was decided by two possessions or less, and Hanna Glaze (18 points) and Alexis Johnson (15 points) were key difference-makers in the game for MBU.
#4 - GP4L Recipients
The Game Plan 4 LIFE Award is given by the NCCAA to one athlete from each divisional sport who best exemplifies the characteristics of Love, Integrity, Faith, and Excellence. Audrey Risma (Women's Soccer) and Wira Wama (Men's Soccer) were both selected as the recipients of the GP4L Award in 2016, as they each concluded their four-year careers in memorable fashion.
#3 - Players of the Year
Maranatha Baptist University frequented the list of Players of the Year, as the Sabercats swept the award in the newly-formed NCCAA North Region. Alison Renz (Volleyball), Audrey Risma (Women's Soccer), and Wira Wama (Men's Soccer) were all voted as the players of the year by the regional selection committee, and Renz and Wama went on to be named NCCAA DII National Players of the Year for the 2016 season.
Renz's accolade marked the second time she was named as the national MVP, and it was the fourth time in Maranatha Women's Volleyball program history that the award was won. For Wama, it was the first time for both he and the Men's Soccer program.
On the NCAA side, MBU had two athletes received Division III recognition, as a duo from Lake Mills, Wis. led the way between the lines. Renz was named Player of the Year for the Association of Division III Independents (AD3I) and Ben Schulz - a four-year senior linebacker - topped the nation in forced fumbles. Schulz's statistical champion season was the fifth and final time that a Sabercat led the nation in a statistical category.
#2 - Renz wins Player of the Year Quadruple
It was truly incredible. Alison Renz's dominant performances during her senior year did not go unnoticed, as the four-year player out of Maranatha Baptist Academy earned four "Player of the Year" titles: NCCAA North Regional Player of the Year, NCCAA DII National Player of the Year, AD3I All-Independent Player of the Year, and AVCA Player of the Year for the NCCAA.
Renz ranked fourth in the NCAA DIII in blocks per set (1.36) and was fifth in points per set (5.57). Renz led the AD3I and was second in the NCCAA DII in both of those categories.
#1 - Deja Vu: Volleyball Sweeps Nationals Again
For the second year running, the Sabercats swept all comers at the NCCAA Division II National Tournament, as they once again completed the title run without dropping a set. Their 3-0 topping of Providence University College marked their 27 consecutive NCCAA win - a run that spans over two years. Alison Renz (tournament MVP) and Katie Bender were named to the all-tournament team as the Sabercats closed a 26-5 season in some style.
More about MBU Athletics: The mission of the Athletic Department of Maranatha Baptist University is to develop leadership skills in the student-athlete through skilled training, godly mentoring, and intercollegiate competition.