After almost two years since the last conference-sanctioned competition, Lumberjack athletic teams will finally gain the opportunity to compete for conference championships and national qualifying after the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced it would return to play for the first full seasons since 2019.
Below are previews for each fall sport and what to expect when the ‘Jacks take the field again this fall.
Head Coach Kelly Wood returns seven women and welcomes 13 newcomers in the squad’s first official season since 2019. A new rotation and fresh faces will be crucial to help revitalize a program that has only won a single conference game in the last two seasons.
The team returns it’s top offensive weapon in junior outside hitter and 2019 all-CCAA honoree Lenox Loving, who led the team and finished fourth in the conference in kills last season. Setter Riley Tishlarich will look to manage the offense as the teams top returning assists leader. On the defensive side, libero Carla Crespo will anchor the team in digs alongside Loving. Malia Coyle returns as the team’s lead blocker.
The Lumberjacks begin their 2021 campaign on the road with a scrimmage match against Sonoma State on Friday, August 27 in Rohnert Park, CA. From there, they will play the next eight matches away, not returning to the friendly confines of Lumberjack Arena until a CCAA match against Stanislaus State on September 24.
New coach Grant Landy will have his first crack to help the Lumberjacks climb the CCAA ladder after a short exhibition season in spring of 2021. The team faces no shortage of experience, with 19 returning players this season. Coming into the pre-season rankings tied for eighth in the conference, they will look to qualify for the six-team CCAA tournament in November.
The graduation of key players such as Lindsey Stoner and Sabine Postma, who both finished in the top 10 of the conference in multiple offensive statistical categories, opens up opportunities for multiple players to fill in. Seniors such as Tana Eri, Poppy Cartledge, Claire Bareilles, Mia Castaneda and Kendal Spencer will offer experience and leadership. Defensively, the Lumberjacks will have to fill in for goalkeeper Katie Talbert, who ranked fourth in the conference in shutouts per game and saves per game in 2019. She currently plays professionally in Iceland.
The women began their season with a pair of exhibition matches against National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech. They play a final exhibition game against Santa Rosa Community College on Saturday, August 28, before starting their regular season on Friday, September 3 at home versus Dominican.
Much like the women, the men’s soccer team comes off a successful spring exhibition season in which the team finished 4-1-1. After finishing 10th in the CCAA in 2019, they enter this season ranked ninth in the conference.
Marco Silveira and Devin Hauenstein return as the teams top offensive outputters from a 2019 squad which finished third in the conference in shots and goals. They will be bolstered by new young talent such as Thomas Augee and Gou Nitta, who both played well in the shortened spring season.
The team began the season with an exhibition match against Southern Oregon on Saturday, August 21. They will begin the regular season on the road against Westminster College in Salt Lake City on Thursday, September 2. They return for their first home match on Friday, September 17 against visiting Simpson University. This also marks the beginning of the team’s 50th anniversary season.
Men’s Cross Country
Men’s cross country comes off a 2019 campaign that saw its best team finish at the conference and regional levels since head coach Jamey Harris took the reins in 2017. The men finished sixth in the CCAA and 11th in the West Regional Championships. It also saw senior Daniel Tull qualify as an individual to the national championships, the first Lumberjack male to do so since 2012. With only a few graduates from that team and an impressive recruiting haul, the Lumberjacks will look to improve and crack into the top half of the conference.
The team returns a handful of fifth year seniors, such as Carson Cohn and Michael Gengo, which the team will rely on for leadership and experience. Junior Shane Burton also returns from the 2019 squad as one of its top finishers. Beyond that, a fresh crop of athletes will also look to make their mark in their first official cross country season since Covid. Sophomore Carson Smith had an impressive spring season where he broke the 15 minute 5k barrier as a freshman.
Women’s Cross Country
The women’s team returns three runners from its 2019 team, as well as a handful more from 2020, when no competition occurred. The team had a few opportunities to compete on the track this past spring, and they hope to carry this momentum into the fall in efforts to improve their 2019 performance, which saw the ‘Jacks place seventh in the conference and 13th in the West Region.
Returners from that squad include graduate student Rosa Granados who finished one spot out of all-Conference honors in 2019, and juniors Saedy Williams and Lucy Atkinson.
Both the men and women will host their lone home invitational on Saturday, September 18 at the Humboldt Invitational at Baywood Golf and Country Club in Arcata.
*Full disclosure: the author of this piece is a member of the men’s cross country team at Humboldt State University.