By Aaron Siple
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University winter sports head into their 2019-20 seasons with high hopes. The men’s basketball team are coming out of the 2018-19 season being their best so far, posting the most wins and conference wins to date. With the help of five new faces on the men’s roster, they look to continue their improvements.
Returning Nick Johnson will look to lead his team through his final season with a very successful career as an Eagle. Johnson is ERAU’s all-time leading scorer, coming off a 492-point season. Johnson led the team in average points, rebounds and steals, and was voted First Team All-Cal Pac. Right alongside Johnson playing guard is returning senior Gilbert Ibarra. Ibarra is heading into this season looking to be just as productive as last year, being second on the team for scoring. Ibarra was also voted Second Team All-Cal Pac.
The Embry-Riddle women sit in a similar boat as the men, coming off three seasons of improved records. Last season was the women’s best overall and Cal Pac records to date, tying for first in conference. The Eagles only brought on two new faces for this season, but rely on the depth of their nine returning seniors.
Senior Danae Ruiz led the team in scoring and free throws last season, and holds the record for career points scored. Ruiz was the Cal Pac Player of the Year and voted First Team All-Cal Pac. Another returning senior looking to finish her Eagle career strong is Jenna Knudson. Knudson led ERAU in steals last season, and was second in Cal Pac for steals and steals/game. Knudson was also an All-Cal Pac Honorable Mention.
Both women and men have their home openers Wed, October 30 against Park University at 5 and 7 pm MST. Later that week the Eagles will be hosting SAGU-American Indian University on Sat, November 2 at 5 and 7 pm MST. Make sure to come and show your support for your home team as they kick off their seasons.
Wrestling will be one of the programs to watch in the NAIA. After winning their first Cascade Collegiate Conference Team Championship in 2019, the team is reloaded and wants to build upon their success. The Eagles finished as the fifth best team in the country prior to NAIA National Championships.
Anchoring the Eagles will be senior James Williams (157 lbs.) who was only a win away from a spot in the 157 lb national championship bout. The senior was consistently in the top five in his division throughout the season and will be one of the favorites to win a national championship. Behind him are two other All-Americans junior TJ Hall (184 lbs.) and sophomore Daniel Butler (174 lbs.). The trio will play a large role in the success of the program in 2020.
Wrestling will get their start at their annual Intrasquad on Wednesday October 30 at 7:30 pm MST in Eagle Gym.