Northwestern sits seventh in the NAIA in Learfield Directors’ Cup standings after a successful fall athletics season

CLEVELAND, Ohio – After three Northwestern College athletic teams earned a berth to their respective NAIA national tournaments, plus a pair of national championship game appearances, the Red Raiders sit seventh after the fall season in the 2023-24 LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup.

“It has been an outstanding fall for Red Raider Athletics,” commented Vice President for Athletics Tony Hoops. “We are blessed to have amazing coaches who led our committed student-athletes to excellent performances this fall.”

It was an incredible fall sports season in Orange City this year, seeing both football and volleyball be ranked No. 1 in the NAIA – at the same time – and entering their respective national postseason play as the overall top-seed. Both programs extended the fall sports season into the unprecedented month of December, chasing the hopes of a national championship.

The Red Raider volleyball team broke through at the NAIA tournament at the Tyson Events Center this season, pushing through the Quarterfinals round for the first time in program history, on the way to making the program’s first-ever national title match appearance. The Red Raiders finished with an overall record of 31-3 (14-2 GPAC) with a GPAC Co-Regular Season Championship, GPAC tournament championship, and three All-Americans.

It was another exciting fall for the Northwestern football team, who set an impressive program record of 27-straight wins with their second-straight appearance, and third in the last four seasons, in the NAIA national championship game. Ranked No. 1 in the NAIA all season long, Northwestern made it back to Durham with the play of NAIA Player of the Year Jalyn Gramstad (Jr., Lester, Iowa) and five All-American selections, finishing the season with a 14-1 (10-0 GPAC) record.

Behind the play of NAIA Third Team All-American Tim Kaltenberger (Sr., Cologne, Germany), the Northwestern College men’s soccer team make their second trip to the NAIA national tournament in three seasons. After finishing second in the GPAC regular season with an 8-1-2 league record, the Red Raiders went on to earn the league’s second bid to the national tournament with a 2-1 win over Morningside in the GPAC tournament championship at the NWC Soccer Complex. Northwestern, facing the Bruins of Bellevue University (Neb.) for the second time this season, fell 2-0. NWC finished the season with a 15-5-2 overall record, finishing with the second-most wins in a season by a Red Raider team in program history.

“I’m thankful to lead a department that strives for competitive excellence in all they do. Our athletes are uniquely special,” noted Hoops. “The fall season is a great, I look forward to sustaining this excellence throughout the year in all programs.”

After a 20th-place finish at the GPAC Championships, sophomore Emily Haverdink (Orange City, Iowa) represented the Northwestern women’s cross country team at the NAIA Championships in Vancouver, Washington, earning an at-large bid. She took an 119th finish at the NAIA Championships, finishing eighth amongst GPAC runners, with a mark of 23:46.3.

The Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) saw 10 teams record points in the fall sports edition. Only Northwestern and Dordt sat inside the top-30 in the NAIA from the GPAC, with Dordt sitting 15th with 183 points. Only four schools saw scores of 100+, being NWC, Dordt, Concordia (Neb.) (120 points), and Hastings (109 points).

“The Learfield Cup is the measuring stick for all athletic programs. At Northwestern, excellence is the standard within all of our programs on the competitive surface, in the classroom, and in our faith,” commented Hoops. “Being a top-10 school is a direct reflection of how our student athletes are living out our department standards.”

The LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in NCAA (or, NWC’s case, NAIA Championships.

The 2023-24 winter standings update will begin distribution on Thursday, March 28.


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