The 2016-17 year within Vanguard Athletics saw the department as a whole reach new heights. Below, you will find the Top 10 Moments as determined by the VU panel. Notable acheivements that fell just outside of the list include baseball falling just ½ game short of their first GSAC Championship, Claire Lamunu (SO/Kampala, Uganda) (SR/Kampala, Uganda) and Christian Ware-Berry (JR/Pomona, CA) being recognized as Cliff Hamlow Award winners, 30 Lions reaching All-American or Scholar Athlete status, the men's track and field team with the highest ever team finish in the GSAC Meet, and the department finishing tied for second in the GSAC All-Sports Award.
NEW SOFTBALL FIELD In the Fall of 2016, the University and generous donors combined to raise over $65,000 to resurface the softball field and other necessary improvements to the facility. The laser leveled playing surface, warning track surface and improved irrigation combined to make one of the most playable surfaces in all of the GSAC. Other improvements included a newly installed backstop netting system and an industrial riding mower specifically for the softball program.
RAWLINGS GOLD GLOVES In June 2017, Brandon Sandoval (SR/Fallbrook, CA) and Michael Fuchs (JR/Irvine, CA) were honored as two of the nine players to receive the Rawlings NAIA Gold Glove. The teammates are just the third in the awards' 11 year history. Vanguard has now collected a trio of the awards over the past three seasons, putting them second in the country. Both were previously recognized as GSAC Gold Glove winners while Sandoval added to these awards by being selected in the MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels and being named Vanguard Co-Male Athlete of the Year.
CLAIRE LAMUNU The senior forward for the women's basketball team collected nearly every award possible during her final season. She was named GSAC Player of the Year, GSAC Defensive Player of the Year, WBCA Player of the Year, NAIA First Team All-American, NAIA All-Tournament Team, and collected five Conference Player of the Week nods.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SEMIFINALS Riding behind stellar play from Lamunu and timely plays for nearly every member of the squad, the Lions moved deep into the tournament for the first time since 2008 when they won the NAIA National Championship. This time, the teams incredible run in Montana ended in the Semifinals, losing to the eventual Runner-Up Lewis-Clark State College. The "Final Four" run was the fifth in school history, as the team won its 12th GSAC Championship just a month prior.
GSAC TITLES This season, the department combined to win three GSAC Regular Season Titles and additionally two titles in the GSAC Conference Tournament. Women's Soccer kicked it off by winning the Regular Season title on the final day of the season, narrowly edging out rival Biola. They went on to upset the same team in the GSAC Tournament to sweep the Championships. Next, Women's Basketball wrapped up the title with four games left to go after defeating the second placed team Westmont for the second time. Softball reached the top spot for the sixth time in program history, and the first in 18 seasons, clinching with two weeks left in the season. The team also went on to rally back and win three straight games to take home the tournament title and the automatic berth into the NAIA Opening Round.
WOMEN'S SOCCER QUARTERFINALS The Women's Soccer season tied for a program high in two key areas. First, they reached the Quarterfinal round of the NAIA National Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama. After falling down 0-2 to start the year by losing to the #2 and #8 ranked teams in the country, the Lions went on to rattle off 18 wins in their next 19 games, tying the highest number of total wins in team history. Along the way they won both the GSAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships. They won the first two rounds of the NAIA National Tournament before losing to the reigning national champion 1-0.
SOFTBALL OPENING ROUND HOST For the first time in team history, the Lions were chosen to be a host site for the 5th Annual NAIA Softball National Championship Opening Round and hosted Avila University, Oregon Tech, and Marian University. The Blue and Gold entered as the second seed with a 46-13 record on the season.
COACH RENKOSKI The head skipper of the Lions captured her third career GSAC Coach of the Year recognition adding to awards from 1999 and 2007. Along the way, Renkoski captured her 700th career win on March 14th in the second half of the double-header at the University of Antelope Valley. The game was not in doubt for very long as the team won 10-0 in a contest that ended after five innings. By the end of the season, Renkoski held a career record of 721-520-3.
WINSTON LAWSON The top performer for the track and field program, Lawson earned NAIA All-American twice this season. During Indoor Season, he placed second at the Heptathlon in Johnson City, Tennessee scoring 4,987 points. He placed first in the high jump, second in the 60m hurdles and third in the shot put. He moved up a spot after finishing in third place the year before. After turning his attention to Outdoor Season, he was named GSAC Athlete of the Meet scoring a Vanguard record 43 points in six individual events and as a member of two relays. At the NAIA National Championships, he was in first placed through seven events before eventually earning All-American status and third place after a freak injury occurred on one of the final events. Not to be outdone, he posted a person best in the javelin after the injury occurred.
SPORTS ADDITIONS During the 2016-17 year, the Lions embarked three new teams to the department. First, which began competition during this year, was the men's basketball development team which featured 12 student-athletes and went 9-1 on the season with a average margin of victory of 16.5 points per game. Additionally, women's beach volleyball and STUNT were created and they will begin completion in the following school year. Leslie Allen was hired away from Ouchita Baptist to create the new STUNT program while Kris Dorn was identified as the head coach for the beach volleyball squad. Both sports were meticulously identified as teams that would give Vanguard Athletics a new presence in the community and offer extended collegiate opportunities to female student-athletes.