Through hard work and dedication, anything is possible; Graceland Athletics exemplifies that every day on the field and court. While those on “the Hill” are aware of the outstanding success of the Yellowjackets this past year, the men’s volleyball, cheer, and track and field athletes were able to display their skills on a national front.
Track and Field
“We had a fantastic Outdoor Nationals with some great performances. It was a great end to a fantastic season!”
~Coach, Reece Vega
Track and field sent six athletes to Nationals this year, including three freshmen: Montae Spiller, Champagne Anderson and Jamaica Lovan, junior Tirell Brooks and seniors Paul Hill and Julian White. After a promising first day of the decathlon, White scratched in the second day of competition. Hill and Brooks were named All-Americans, the third time for both. Brooks reached a length of 7.23 meters in the long jump, and Hill reached 4.70 meters in the pole vault.
“This was such an unforgettable experience, and I couldn’t be more thankful to take all of this in as a freshman,” said Graceland’s Jamaica Lovan. “I am extremely excited to represent Graceland for another three years and bring back even more national qualifiers and All-Americans!”
“We had a fantastic Outdoor Nationals with some great performances,” said Head Coach Reece Vega. “We had three freshmen make their National debut and brought home two All-Americans. It was a great end to a fantastic season!”
“I am immensely proud of the depth of character we displayed throughout the year, and we couldn’t ask for a better group of men.”
~Coach, Mark Lau
The Men’s Volleyball team excelled this season, reaching national recognition and success. Finishing the year 25-8, the best season record for the Jackets since 1998, the men played at an elite level, ranking as the #3 team in the nation during the season. Ultimately, the team finished second in the Heart of America Conference Playoffs, and fifth at the NAIA National Invitational. Senior DJ Wong was recognized for his individual play all season and was named to the First Team All-American, the first from Graceland since 2012 and one of just two in two decades.
“It goes to show you the strength of what we face in the Heart of America Athletic Conference,” said Head Coach Mark Lau. “I am immensely proud of the depth of character we displayed throughout the year, and we couldn’t ask for a better group of men to be around.”
“Nationals was an amazing experience with great energy and talent. We left it all on the mat, finishing with a clean routine and amazing showmanship.”
~Coach, Julie Rivera
After wonderful showings at the Baker Invitational and the Heart of America Conference Championships, the competitive cheer team, Graceland’s only coed team, excelled at the NAIA Regional Qualifier, finishing second and earning an at-large bid for the National Invitational, where they finished seventh.
“I was surprised we improved so drastically in the competition season, but that is only a testament to the character of this team,” Graceland senior Brickell Dotson explains. “If it wasn’t for this group working so hard to improve every day, we would have never been as successful as we ended up being. It was a great year!”
“Nationals was an amazing experience with great energy and talent,” said Head Coach Julie Rivera. “We left it all on the mat, finishing with a clean routine and amazing showmanship. I am so incredibly proud of all our accomplishments!”