Spring Sports Preview

A year ago, Chaifetz Arena was abuzz. With COVID-19 forcing all 18 varsity sports to be played at once, it was humming with incessant activity. Now, however, we have returned to a traditional schedule, which means that only six sports will be center stage for administration and teams. Many of the Billikens’ sports teams came out of a shortened season triumphant. 

The six sports that will happen this spring are baseball, softball, women’s and men’s tennis and coed track and field. All six show promising beginnings for a stellar season. 

Danny Hopkins

Track is fortunate, being able to come off the indoor season and head directly into their outdoor season. Already, two names on the men’s team stand out for imminent success throughout the 2022 season. Myles Gascon, a senior sprinter and hurdler, broke the school’s indoor record for the 60-meter dash on Jan. 15, 2022. He ended the 2021 season with a silver medal at A-10s in the 100-meter dash. Undoubtedly, he will be hungry to take the top podium spot this season. After breaking a school record, he is in a poised position to feed off his success and use that to fuel himself into a championship. This past week, his teammate Danny Hopkins saw success by posting the second fastest time in the A-10 400 meter sprint all year. Hopkins has a silver medal for his 200-meter performance in his sophomore year. Clearly, the Nebraska Graduate Classic was the tip of the iceberg for the Billikens’ men’s track season. With a great number of newcomers, and a successful backlog of throwers, the season is sure to hold more records. If last season was any indication, there will be plenty of medals around Billiken’s necks at the end of the season. 

Katie Wissing

On the women’s side, fifth-year returner Katie Wissing will look to have a repeat performance of her gold medal meet at the A-10 Championships last year. It was her third triple jump gold. Senior distance runner Megan Kress has had a career full of personal bests. As the Billiken’s top place finisher at the conference meet for cross country season, the distance group will look to her in order to anchor their group. The women’s team will also put forward an impressive group of sprinters and throwers. The individuals span all four years of university competitive experience and have rivaled one another consistently to put forward some of the team’s best times. The team will spend this next season looking to send more Billikens to the podium along with Wissing. 

Cam Redding

Billiken baseball enters the 2022 season after a 17-31 record in 2021. With wins over big names like Kansas, Oral Roberts and Cincinnati, the 2022 Billikens will look to overtake some of those same competitors once again. Oral Roberts is back on the schedule along with a difficult A-10 group. In order to overtake these competitors, the team will look to Cam Redding to perform for the team in the same way he has for the past three years. An infielder and catcher, his athleticism is a necessity for the Billikens’ rotation. Last season, he started every game. His stats prove his experience has surmounted to something close to expertise. Just last season, he topped the Billiken statistics with a .377 batting average and .537 slugging percentage. He also held the top spot for total hits (57) and bases (95), 35 runs scored, 47 runs batted in, singles, doubles and triples. The roster also welcomes eight transfers with four coming from the University of Missouri, who battled the Billikens for a 2-1 win last season. While those new Billikens will not have an opportunity to play their old school, the group certainly brings expertise garnered from intense SEC play. 

Sadie Wise

The softball team will look to build on a 19-27 season and continue their ability to defend home base. Their home record last year was 15-13, and they held a 10-12 conference record. Coach Connyer added seven freshmen to the roster, which will add some much needed numbers to the program. Graduate student Sadie Wise leads the Billikens’ offense. She holds the top spot for SLU’s record list with her batting average (.378), slugging percentage (.664), 33 home runs, 48 double hits and 365 total bases. She was named Saint Louis University’s Outstanding Female Senior Student Athlete and was even nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year. On the defensive end, Chole Wendling leads the Billiken’s pitching staff with her statistics: from starts to appearances, wins, innings, earned runs average, fewest walks, shutouts, saves and complete games. The young Billiken team will need the pair’s expertise on the offensive and defensive ends in order to best some of their opponents this spring. Games to watch will be played against Omaha, Ole Miss, Iowa and Mizzou. 

Oscar Alvarez

Finally, men’s and women’s tennis will look to improve upon a wildly successful 2021 postseason. Senior Oscar Alvarez leads the men’s side of the court. This past season he saw success into the second round of the A-10 Championship meet. He led the team in total wins with 21, 9 singles and 12 doubles wins. He tied his doubles partner, Adam Behun, for doubles wins. A likely pair again this season, the two will look to make a further run in the tournament both independently and with their partner.

Elizabeth Mintusova

On the women’s side, junior Elizabeth Mintusova leads the team with 12 singles wins, a .857 singles winning percentage, 10 doubles wins with a .769 doubles winning percentage, 22 total wins and a .815 overall winning percentage. After her performance she was named the team’s Outstanding Player. Senior Mariona Perez, her doubles partner, follows her statistics, and the two will likely be paired again in order to see another championship run. 

Overall, the Billikens’ 2022 spring season holds much promise. As the teams battle familiar opponents and new competitors, they will bring with them staples of the athletic department. Competitiveness, excellence and success are all pillars which the department strives to instill in its athletes. This next season will see plenty of all three on the national stage thanks to an impressive Billiken standard.