Westmont Magazine Warrior Watch
For the third straight year, the Westmont athletic program has finished in the top 15 (out of 300 schools) in the NAIA Sears Director’s Cup standings, tying for 14th. The contest awards points for regional and national finishes in up to 12 sports. Westmont was 10th in 1996 and 13th a year ago.
“Consistently finishing in the top echelon of NAIA schools speaks volumes about the quality of coaches we have and the type of student-athletes we are able to attract,” said Athletic Director Dave Wolf. “This is not a feat accomplished by just one or two sports, but by our entire department.”
In September, all five fall sports teams were nationally ranked in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics polls: women’s soccer was second, men’s soccer was fourth, women’s cross country was 10th, men’s cross country was 13th, and women’s volleyball was 14th.
A year after setting a school-record 21 wins, capturing a fifth straight GSAC title, and making a semifinal appearance in the NAIA national tournament, the women’s soccer team is poised to repeat those accomplishments. With a core of seven returning starters, including three All-Americans, Coach Mike Giuliano has the makings of another fantastic team.
The 1997 men’s soccer squad won seven straight matches, captured the GSAC tournament title, and advanced to the NAIA national tournament. Coach Dave Wolf must replace a pair of All-American performers and recreate the team chemistry that played a big part in last season’s success.Twelve players return, including seven starters.
For the past three years, the women’s cross country team has placed among the top four teams in the country, including a third-place national finish last season. To keep that streak alive, the Warriors will have to replace four runners, including two All-Americans.
A year ago, the men’s cross country team surprised many by winning the GSAC title for the first time in 10 years and running to a 14th-place finish at the NAIA national championships. With five of the top seven runners returning, the 1998 season could be a repeat performance of last year’s success.
A year ago, the volleyball team ended 19-13, ranked 16th in the NAIA polls. It was a good season, but not quite good enough to advance to the NAIA national tournament. With five conference teams ranked in the top 25, Westmont played its own version of a national tournament almost every GSAC match. Four starters return as the Warriors take aim on the school’s fourth-ever trip to the nationals.
Jim Smoot, the new women’s volleyball coach, previously served as head women’s coach at the University of South Alabama and earned Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1995. He was also an assistant at LSU and Michigan State, and has coached men’s teams as well, serving as head coach at the University of Hawaii, Ohio State, Loyola Marymount and El Camino Junior College. In 1982 and 1983 his Ohio State teams advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
For the first time since 1980, Westmont will field a women’s basketball team, coached by veteran Curt Pickering. A former head coach at Texas Wesleyan University and John Brown University (Ark.), he has led three international teams, worked with two Continental Basketball League (CBA) teams, served as director of player personnel with four organizations, and spent four years as a scout for the New Jersey Nets.