Jonathan Stewart wins awards for swimming achievement

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor

Jonathan Stewart, a senior business management major with an emphasis in computer information, received the Pat and Tony Jablonsky Award and the NCAA Academic All-Ameri-can for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Pat and Tony Jablonsky Award is given by the business honors society, Delta Mu Delta, to a business student each year. Stewart was inducted into Delta Mu Delta last spring and has a 4.0 GPA.

The NCAA Academic All-American Award is a prestigious honor that only 18 students nationwide receive.

In order to be considered, athletes must have a 3.50 GPA and make a significant contribution to their team.

Athletes who competed in lacrosse, tennis, hockey, fencing, men’s volleyball, rifle, golf, skiing, water polo, wrestling, gymnastics and swim were grouped together in the at-large category.

“I don’t seek awards, that’s not what I do,” Stewart said. “I just try to do my best in everything I do. So, it’s nice to get awards for your hard work, but that’s not what I started out for. What I shoot for is to have the biggest impact on campus as well as on my team to try and better our team.”

Jacob Usry, a junior journalism and mass communications major, has been swimming with Stewart for three years.

Usry said Stewart is not only a great guy to be around, but also a positive influence when others are not.

“At meets he’s always very pushing in a positive way, like you could do better and stuff like that, but very kind,” Usry said. “He’s a very interesting person to be around and very smart.”

Dr. Sam Freas, physical education, health and human performance professor and swim coach, said Stewart is an exceptional student who makes OBU proud and deserves any awards he receives.

Stewart started swimming at the YMCA in his hometown when he was 14 years old.

“I’m very grateful for my parents,” Stewart said. “Had it not been for them, there’s no way I would have been as successful as I have been throughout my college career. They gave me a great upbringing.”

Stewart has five sisters and eight brothers. He is the ninth child out of 13.

“I credit my competitiveness to my older brothers because they push me,” Stewart said. “Growing up in a big family when you’re on the younger end of things, you always want to be better.”

Stewart is taking 16 credit hours, has swim practice for at least 20 hours a week, is president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, works two jobs and owns his own business as a web developer, designing websites for private clients.

“It’s a balancing act,” Stewart said. “You have to be really scheduled, very disciplined, make sure you get everything done in advance so when things come up like they always do, you have a little bit of a cushion to work with.”

The advice that Stewart would give is to be involved in everything you can. He said going to athletic events and campus activities make for a great overall experience.

“You’re only here for four years, so enjoy it as much as you can,” Stewart said. “Memories last forever, so have the greatest experience you can.”

Men’s Tennis begins season in national spotlight, seeks first NCAA championship

By Courtlin Haygarth, Contributing Writer    (Courtesy Photo/Bison Athletics)

ITA Central Regional Championships, October first, 2017. That was the last tennis action OBU Tennis saw. This Saturday, February 10th, a new season begins when the Oklahoma Baptist University Bison meet the Washburn Ichabods in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

This contest will be OBU’s first match of the early 2018 season, where this will be Washburn’s third match, splitting their first two matches after losing to Drury University and then defeating McKendree University

The Bison enter the 2018 year ranked 21st according to the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Rankings (ITA) Division II rankings. The Ichabods of Washburn come in ranked 19th.

Last year at the ITA Central Regional Championships, OBU’s David Aguilera and Lucas Branco faced Washburn’s Alejandro Valarezo Plaza and Blake Hunter, respectively, in singles, with Branco getting the best of Hunter and Plaza defeating Aguilera.

The Washburn duo ended up winning the doubles title in that tournament, defeating the Bison duo along the way. They will have a chance at each other again come February tenth in OKC.

Entering this year, the Bison of Oklahoma Baptist were voted as pre-season favorites in the Great American Conference (GAC).

In an interview with OBU Head Coach Nick Papac, in addition to winning the conference, Papac’s goal for their men’s and women’s team is for them each to reach the Sweet Sixteen at the end of year NCAA tournament.

The first step en route to that goal begins in OKC on February tenth as the Bison of Oklahoma Baptist University take on the Ichabods of Washburn University.

 

Baseball team looks past NCCAA title towards NCAA future

By Jared A’Latorre, Contributing Writer   (Courtesy Photo/Bison Athletics)

With the season nearly in full swing, Oklahoma Baptist University’s baseball team is looking to continue their success and defend their NCCAA World Series title.

The baseball team is coming off back-to-back NCCAA (National Christian Athletic Association) championships and are looking to step up and add a NCAA title to their collection.

Seniors Josh Timms, Brett Burghammer, Juan Gonzalez, and Zane Gelphman are top hitters who Coach Bobby Cox believes that their team can succeed again this season.

“We have a real good core coming back. Returning those four core guys were extremely important to us,” Cox said.

This will be the first year that the Bison will be eligible joining the postseason for the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division II, and will no longer compete in the NCCAA tournament. Cox thinks that the past two seasons have brought the best of out his players.

“That was a really good time for us being able to win back-to-back national championships. It was a very enjoyable run both times,” Cox said.

Even though the change from NCCAA to NCAA is a big one this year, Cox still believes that the expectations for his players this year are just like any other.

“Our goals for this year are pretty much [the same] as they are every year; to win conference, make [the] postseason, and hopefully play on a national level,” Cox said.

Cox believes that he knows what to expect to see out on the field during the regular season, but not as much as on the biggest stage.

“This being our first year [in the NCAA], we’re still trying to feel our way of what to expect. I think we know what to expect on the conference level, but on the national level we’ve never been there before, so it’s kind of an unknown deal,” Cox said.

Cox still wants his players to continue play at the same level this season alike with the past two seasons.“ The last two years we finished third in the conference and we hope to continue to play at that level and get into the conference tournament and just see where it takes us. It’s definitely part of the goals and mindset of the group,” Cox said.

Gelphman is on the same page with Cox about what to expect for the upcoming season. “The great thing about this team is that we are all on board with our team goals and expectations. Every game we play [there] is the expectation of winning, no matter the opponent, and we work everyday with the hopes that all of our efforts will lead to a national championship,” Gelphman said.

Gelphman says he believes that the team chemistry is unlike any other. He thinks this special group of players had started connecting even before the season.

“The minute we all got here and started practicing, we all knew that this team was different. By the start of the season, we had probably grown closer as a team than most teams do in a full season.”

Gelphman, like his coach, believes that the challenge of competing for a World Series will be tougher now than ever before, but the team’s chemistry will be key to another possible World Series title.

On the other hand, while injuries have set back the baseball team on the pitching side, the team is looking to fight through that and execute as much as possible on offense and on coaching.

“One thing we’ve had to overcome as of late is four of our pitchers being sidelined with injury, leaving only seven active pitchers. Even though it will be a grind, we all have faith in our pitching staff to pull through,” Gelphman said.

Gelphman believes that if there ever was a team to compete to win an NCAA championship in their first year, it would be his team.

“I don’t think any of us have ever been on a team like this, where every single person is pulling for each other towards one common goal. It’s hard to all be on the same page with so many guys from so many different backgrounds, but out team has something special and we’re definitely not going to I take it for granted,” Gelphman said.

The baseball team will be in action this weekend at home with games against GAC rival Ouachita Baptist on Friday and Saturday. The Bison will be home again on Tuesday versus the River Hawks of Northeastern State.