Proving ourselves in the Crossroads League

December 11, 2015

     The Mount Vernon Nazarene University Cougars joined a very competitive Crossroads League on November 30, 2010 and started competing in the 2011-2012 season. The Cougars continue to compete with some of the top teams in the country as a member of the Crossroads League.

     With a combined nine national championship victories throughout 55 seasons of competition, the Crossroads League continues to be one of the top athletic conferences in the NAIA.

     In the most recent NAIA Men’s National Preseason Top 25 Poll, the Crossroads League saw four teams ranked in the top 15 teams. Indiana Wesleyan University came in second in the nation, the University of Saint Francis came in at fourth, Grace College picked up the 14th spot and Bethel College squeezed in at 22nd in the nation. The Cougars received votes in the poll, but did not place. Bethel College has won three national championships in their 35 years of Crossroads League competition. Since joining the Crossroads League, Grace College, the University of Saint Francis and Indiana Wesleyan University have all won national championships.

     The Crossroads League also saw four women’s basketball teams make it into the NAIA Division II Women’s National Preseason Top 25 Poll. Indiana Wesleyan University picked up fifth place in the nation, Marian University sits at ninth in the nation, Huntington University came in at 17th and the University of Saint Francis squeezed in at 22nd in the nation. In the 55 seasons of Crossroads League Competition, Indiana Wesleyan University and the University of Saint Francis have both been crowned NAIA National Champions.

     In the final poll of last season, the Cougars came in 22nd place in the 2015 NAIA Baseball Top 25 Poll. While no other Crossroads League teams were among the top 25 teams, the Crossroads League is a very competitive league for baseball. MVNU finished the regular season with a record of 37-12, while three other Crossroads League teams finished with an overall record of above .600. Huntington University finished by winning 27 out of their 42 games. The Spring Arbor University Cougars won the 2015 Crossroads League Championship and finished with a record of 30-18. Taylor University ended the season at 32-21. The University of Saint Francis Cougars have won one national championship as a member of the Crossroads League.

     Keith Veale, MVNU athletic director and head baseball coach, said that he could not think of a better league that is more in line with MVNU’s values.

     “We are like-minded, faith based programs, and the very basis of our existence is to honor Christ through our competition,” Veale said. “There are not many leagues that value that.”

     Veale explained that while the intercollegiate environment is always changing, the quality of administrators, coaches and players in the Crossroads League is very unique.

     “This is a very competitive conference internally,” Veale said. “ If you look up and down our sports, there is outstanding competition.”

     The 2015 fall season of MVNU sports saw the men’s and women’s soccer teams compete in the Crossroads League Tournament. The women’s volleyball team won the Crossroads League Championship and won the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round. The ladies beat Ashford University in the Opening Round, but went on to lose against Columbia University, Hastings College and Lourdes University in Pool Play.

     “Our MVNU teams continue to improve in the Crossroads League standings,” Veale said. “We aspire to be excellent and to be as good as we can be. I think the Crossroads League has challenged us to become that.”

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