Barry McNamara  |  Published August 07, 2019

Sports Teams Expect Another Bountiful Fall Season

Football expects to make another run for conference title. Cross country and women’s soccer also look to have big fall seasons.
In football, the Fighting Scots led the nation in scoring defense in 2018.
In football, the Fighting Scots led the nation in scoring defense in 2018.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Nine Fighting Scots fall sports teams will soon be on Monmouth College’s campus, and in less than a month the fall sports season will be underway.

The football and women’s golf teams begin practice Aug. 15. The following day, six other squads will start their preseasons: volleyball, women’s tennis, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s cross country. Men’s water polo practices start Aug. 22, the day after the fall semester begins.

Women’s golf will be the first team in intercollegiate action, opening its season Aug. 25 at Gibson Woods. Volleyball, women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s soccer will all have home events over Labor Day weekend.

Here’s what to expect this fall. More information is available at


Monmouth was picked to repeat as South Division champs when the 2019 Midwest Conference Football Preseason Poll was released Aug. 1.

The Fighting Scots’ offense will feature a new backfield, and the new starters will need to get up to speed quickly as Monmouth’s first four opponents all won at least seven games last season. That includes 10 victories by reigning MWC champion St. Norbert College, which is entering its final year in the conference.

Opening-day opponent Wheaton College is riding a four-game winning streak, capturing those victories by a combined score of 205-6. The Scots’ other non-conference foe, Wartburg College, made last fall’s NCAA Division III playoffs.

But Scots coach Chad Braun has faced challenges before, and all he’s done in his first four seasons is post an overall record of 35-7 and won two conference titles. Other reasons for optimism include the return of five all-conference players: kicker Joey Biel; offensive lineman Joe Krall; and three players from the unit that led Division III in scoring defense last year – linebacker Clark Gaden and defensive backs Mason Castricone and Nick Miyler.

First home competition: Sept. 7 at April Zorn Memorial Stadium vs. Wheaton College. Homecoming: Oct. 19 vs. Illinois College.


Coach Nick Rizzo’s squad is always in the conversation for a Midwest Conference playoff berth, and it will be again this year thanks to the return of 1-2 scoring punch Jacie Reis and Kara-Jade Gordon, who last season netted 17 and 14 goals, respectively, good for first and third in the league.

Rizzo is also excited about the return of center defender Devin Cross, who missed the final half of last season because of an injury but was a key part of the 2017 team that reached the MWC championship game.

First home competition: Aug. 30 at Peacock Park vs. Rockford University.


Coach Jon Welty made news over the summer when he completed a marathon as part of the Boulder Ironman, a grueling triathlon that totaled 140.6 miles. Welty’s men will have it much easier, only having to cover eight kilometers in most races.

The low time for that distance among the squad’s returners was the 26:45 mark posted by Riley Dulin, who earned all-conference honors as a freshman for last year’s fourth-place team. On the women’s side, Welty has high hopes, as Monmouth returns a trio of all-conference performers from last year’s meet, where the Scots placed second. Those runners include Julia Sterr, Arika Hofmann and Caroline Young.

First competition: The Scots open the season Aug. 30 at Illinois Wesleyan University. No home meets this fall, but the MWC meet will be held in Galesburg on Nov. 2.


Haley Hoekstra looks to become Monmouth’s first women’s golfer since Amy Rassman (2000-03) to record four consecutive all-conference finishes, but it won’t be four straight All-MWC honors. This year, both Monmouth golf teams will begin competition in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC).

Another new development is that men’s coach Cory Bizarri will lead the women’s squad. The roster cupboard was by no means left bare, as all five golfers who scored at the Midwest Conference meet return. Bizarri will also be busy on the men’s side during the fall, taking the Scots to seven events in advance of their traditional spring season. Monmouth native Sam Gillen is one of the team’s top returners.

First home competition for women: Aug. 25 at Gibson Woods vs. Augustana College.


Coach Brian Jordan welcomes back both his No. 1 singles player and his top winner from last season in Emma Johanns and Rachel Leifheit. Playing at No. 4 singles, Leifheit posted a winning record, and she was also above .500 in doubles. As a team, Monmouth was 4-5 in Midwest Conference play, good for sixth in the league.

First home competition: Aug. 30 at Monmouth College Tennis Stadium vs. Wartburg College.


Experience will be a strong suit for Kooten Johnson’s squad. Not only does the seventh-year coach welcome back nine starters from last year’s team, but six of those players were also regular starters in 2017. Monmouth has proved it can play with the league’s top four teams, and the Scots could very well be a playoff-caliber squad this fall, especially if they hold their own when three of last year’s playoff teams visit Peacock Park in October.

First home competition: Sept. 1 at Peacock Park vs. University of Dubuque.


Several of the faces in the lineup will be familiar, as the Scots return statistical leaders Laura Dulee (549 assists, 35 aces) and Renee Rude (588 digs). Hitters Lauren Sperry, Ashley Farris and Riley Cook, who combined for almost 600 kills, are also back. But there will be a new face in charge, as Emily Thebeau takes over from Kari Shimmin, who coached the Scots for 21 seasons.

First home competition: Aug. 31 at Glennie Gymnasium vs. Lincoln Christian University and Principia College


It was a hard-luck season for the Scots last year, as evidenced by a three-game stretch that saw an overtime loss and two other setbacks by a combined four goals. Coach Peter Ollis’s team had just one home match last year, but the Scots will open the season in Pepper Natatorium and will host three more games in October as they look to get over the hump.

First home competition: Sept. 9 at Pepper Natatorium vs. Salem International University.

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