Soccer, Pixler Headline Season
Lonely in the lead, Jessica Pixler keeps on winning
It was a notable autumn for Seattle Pacific University athletics. Although some programs this season were in rebuilding/growth mode, others have never looked better. Only a third of the way through the school year, the Falcons have both an individual and a team national championship to their credit.
On December 6, 2008, the Seattle Pacific women’s soccer team won its first national crown in a 1–0 overtime game against West Florida. Two weeks earlier, junior Jessica Pixler notched her second consecutive national Division II cross-country title in a 6,000-meter race at Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.
With snow falling and the temperature in the mid-20s, Pixler shattered the course record and finished 28 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. “I had a great time running in the snow,” said Pixler, a graduate of Eastlake High School in Sammamish, Washington. “Cross country is a guts sport, and adverse conditions are the best to compete in.” But snow wasn’t the only adversity she faced in 2008. This was a comeback season for Pixler, who missed the entire spring track schedule with a broken femur and fractures in her lower back, and spent three months recovering.
As a team, women’s cross country under Coach Erika Daligcon ’98 won its fourth consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship, finished second at the West Regional meet, and placed fourth at nationals. Pixler also earned her third straight GNAC individual title. After the season, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Pixler the women’s Division II Athlete of the Year, in addition to All-America honors. For the second year in a row, she’s also been nominated by the Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards for its prestigious Honda Award. Just for being nominated, Pixler earns a cash award for the SPU Athletic Department. (The prize from her nomination last year enabled four of her teammates to join her at this year’s Stanford Invitational.)
Meanwhile, the men’s cross country team finished fifth in the GNAC, while a young men’s soccer team under first-year coach Mark Collings earned a second-place conference berth. Women’s volleyball finished 8–18 and seventh in the GNAC, but loses only two players to graduation and will field a more experienced squad next fall.
In women’s basketball, the Falcons started 5–1 and were ranked 18th nationally early in the season, despite returning only one starter from last year’s GNAC championship squad. The men’s team, also returning just one starter, rolled out to a 6–2 mark to begin the season, including a 10-point upset against Southern Utah — SPU’s first victory over a Division I team in 22 years.
—Photo by Andrew Towell
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