Wayland Baptist University's Championship Traditions Still Going Strong
PLAINVIEW, TEXAS --- The recent second place finish by the Pioneer men at the NAIA Cross Country Championships was the 50th time that a team representing Wayland Baptist University and online Christian colleges has completed a season as one of the top two teams at a national championship event, keeping the Christian college’s championship traditions going strong.
Wayland athletic teams have captured 23 national championships. Ten of those championships were earned on the hardwood as the Flying Queens captured the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national title five times in the 1950s. The Wayland women, who continue to own the longest winning streak in collegiate women's basketball history, won four straight titles from 1953 to 1957 and 131 straight games. They played in the title game eight times during the decade.
The Queens also succeeded in obtaining the AAU crown in 1959 and 1961, and then brought home back-to-back titles in 1970 and 1971, and again in 1974 and 1975.
Caddo Matthews was on the bench for the start of the long winning streak and the first two championships. Women's Basketball Hall of Fame member Harley Redin took over in 1955 and coached eight of the teams, and Dean Weese, another WBHOF member, was at the helm for the final two.
Thirteen NAIA track and field championship trophies are prominently displayed in the lobby of Hutcherson Center. Five of those belong to the Pioneer men's indoor team and were won from 1985 through 1989. Five more represent the accomplishments of the Pioneer women's indoor team and were secured in 1986, 1988, 1994, and in 2008 and 2009.
The Wayland women also earned the outdoor national title in 2008 and 2009. The latest track banner was acquired by the Pioneer men's outdoor team last May.
John Creer coached both the men's and women's track teams during their runs from 1985 to 1988. Rick Beelby took over and led the men's team to the indoor title in 1989 and the women in 1994. Brian Whitlock, the current head of the WBU track and cross country teams, won NAIA Women's Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and 2009, and Men's Outdoor honors in 2010.
Eleven Flying Queens teams have finished as the national runner-up, nine of which came in the AAU. Sam Allen coached the teams in 1951 and 1953; Redin was in control in 1960 and in the five years between 1961 and 1966. Dean Weese's team came in second in 1976, and Floyd Evans was at the helm in 1986 at the NAIA Championship Tournament. Sheryl Estes took the 1992 team to the NAIA finals.
Mark Adams' Pioneer basketball team fell in overtime in the NAIA Championship game in 1986, the only time a Wayland men's team has advanced to the title game.
The Pioneer men's golf team has qualified for the NAIA Men's Championship eight straight years. Coached by Tom Harp, the Wayland golfers have landed in the top ten four times and brought home the runner-up trophy in 2007.
The remaining 14 national finalists are all a part of the Wayland track and field and cross country programs. The WBU men finished second at the 1984 and 2010 NAIA Indoor championships, while the women just missed the indoor national title in 1987, 1993, 1996, 2007, and in 2010. During the outdoor season, the Pioneer men came in second in three consecutive years from 1985 through 1987, while the women were the runner-up in from 1986-1988.
The latest top two finish in Wayland history occurred on November 20 when Whitlock's men's team came within 19 points of winning the school's first cross country national title. Freshman Kennedy Kithuka came away with Wayland's first cross country individual champion, and three other Pioneers were among the top 16.
Dr. Greg Feris, Director of Athletics at Wayland since 1990, says that winning one national championship or national runner-up trophy is a great accomplishment in itself, and one that many collegiate athletic programs never achieve, "but having won 50 such honors over the course of time is a testament to the energy, effort and dedication of coaches, athletes, and the university's continuing commitment to excellence.
"We are extremely proud of Wayland's athletic heritage and sincerely believe that we will continue making a difference for good in the lives of those young men and women who choose to participate as a student-athlete on the Plainview campus."
For additional information on WBU, visit www.WBU.edu.
About Wayland Baptist University:
Wayland Baptist University exists to educate students in an academically challenging, learning-focused and distinctively Christian environment for professional success and service to God and humankind. Wayland offers a wide variety of undergraduate degree programs at campuses around the country and world, and is also one of the fastest growing Baptist colleges online. The university was among the first online Christian colleges in the country to design accelerated Christian education programs for their students.
Wayland Baptist University