Top 10 stories in OC athletics in 2012 (Nos. 1-5)

Members of the OC men's tennis team celebrate with the NAIA championship banner and trophy after winning the national title in May in Mobile, Ala.
Members of the OC men's tennis team celebrate with the NAIA championship banner and trophy after winning the national title in May in Mobile, Ala.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 27, 2012) – A lot happened in Oklahoma Christian athletics in 2012. Here’s a look at stories one through five on the top-10 list for OC athletics this year. Stories six through 10 were posted Wednesday.

5. Kisorio wraps up stellar career with two more titles, other honors. Silas Kisorio, the greatest runner in Oklahoma Christian’s history, closed his collegiate career in impressive fashion in 2012. In January, he became the first person induced into the OC Athletic Hall of Fame while still a student. In February, he ran fourth in a field of 13 in the prestigious, invitation-only Wanamaker Mile in the annual Millrose Games in New York, posting a school-record time of 3:55.84. At the NAIA Outdoor Championships in Marion, Ind., he was named as the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer after setting a meet record in winning the 1,500 meters in 3:41.39, then capturing the 800-meter title in 1:47.98. It was his fourth straight 800-meter NAIA outdoor title and his third straight title in the 1,500. Led by Kisorio, OC finished 10th in the team standings. During his four track and cross country seasons at OC, the Eldoret, Kenya, native won 12 NAIA individual titles (the most in school history) and one team championship (the 2011 men’s cross country crown) and earned NAIA All-America status 21 times (also an OC record).

4. Men’s golf team wins NCCAA title, just misses taking NAIA crown. OC figured to be the favorite heading into the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship in Panama City Beach, Fla., in October, but there was no predicting just how dominant a performance the Eagles would put on. Led by medalist Vilhelm Bogstrand, all five OC golfers finished in the top 10 and the Eagles rolled to a 52-shot win over runner-up Union (Tenn.) to claim the program’s third national championship. Bogstrand, Alasdair Dalgliesh, Sam Johnston, Jared Consoli and Logan Herbst all were named as NCCAA All-Americans while David Lynn was named as the NCCAA Coach of the Year. The lopsided win came five months after the Eagles let one get away at the NAIA Championship in Salem, Ore. The Eagles led after each of the first three rounds and were even with archrival Oklahoma City University with three holes left before faltering and losing the tournament by three shots. Bogstrand (third) and Herbst (10th) posted top-10 individual finishes. Bogstrand, Herbst and Dalgliesh received NAIA All-America first-team honors while Consoli and Preston Wilkins made the second-team list.

3. Men’s cross country team takes second straight national championship. With four starters back from a team that won the 2011 NAIA championship, OC was on the short list of serious contenders for the 2012 NCCAA title. On a cool, crisp November morning in Cedarville, Ohio, the Eagles made it two national titles in as many years, placing four runners in the top 10 and seven in the top 30 to hold off NCCAA power Malone (Ohio). OC had a team score of 41, with Malone posting a score of 54. Geoffrey Njonjo led the Eagles with a second-place finish, followed closely by Roberto Diaz (fourth), Brayden Barrientez (fifth) and David McWilliams (10th). All four earned NCCAA All-America honors and first-year coach Wade Miller was named as the NCCAA Coach of the Year. Although a Heartland Conference decision meant OC wasn’t allowed to run in the conference meet or receive conference honors, OC runners went 5-for-5 in earning conference runner of the week honors during the regular season and the Eagles beat conference co-champion Dallas Baptist (Texas) in three head-to-head meetings, including at the NCCAA Championship.

2. Men’s tennis team exits NAIA with improbable national championship. Although OC certainly was considered an elite NAIA tennis program, few gave the Eagles a chance of winning the 2012 NAIA title despite a No. 3 ranking entering the national tournament in Mobile, Ala., in May. But two mammoth comebacks gave OC its first NAIA tennis title in nine years. In the semifinals, OC trailed Embry-Riddle (Fla.) 3-0 after the doubles matches but roared back to win five of the six singles matches. Jaime Sanchez-Canamares capped the rally, winning the final five games of the decisive match after trailing 3-1 in the final set. In the final against top-ranked Fresno Pacific (Calif.), OC won two doubles matches in tiebreakers, one after overcoming a match point before the tiebreaker began. The Eagles trailed 4-3 with two matches remaining, but first Sanchez-Canamares, then Bruno Tiberti, rallied to win. Tiberti trailed by three games in both the second and third sets before winning both, giving OC a 5-4 decision. Tiberti was named as the tournament’s Ward-Ballenger Outstanding Player and Kris Miller was named as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s NAIA Coach of the Year for the fifth time. Tiberti and Martin Poboril received NAIA All-America first-team honors, while Sanchez-Canamares and Pier Pieracciani made the second-team list and Renardy Guelfi and Nicolas Auruccio received honorable mention.

1. OC begins NCAA Division II membership process, joins Heartland Conference and NCCAA. After 47 years in the NAIA, OC left that organization at the end of June, then learned on July 13 that the university had been accepted to begin the NCAA Division II membership process, which, if everything goes as planned, should last three years. OC also left its longtime home in the NAIA’s Sooner Athletic Conference to become a member of the Division II Heartland Conference, with OC teams playing full Heartland schedules during the 2012-13 school year. Those moves came six years after OC began studying which athletic affiliations would best serve the university moving forward. Although OC teams won’t be eligible to compete for NCAA championships until the membership process is complete, OC joined the National Christian College Athletic Association in June to provide postseason opportunities for its student-athletes. Numerous other former NAIA schools that are making the transition into NCAA Division II have done the same, lifting the quality of competition in the NCCAA. In its first semester in the Heartland and the NCCAA, OC more than held its own when it came to weekly player-of-the-week awards, capturing 22 Heartland and 10 NCCAA honors.