The Crusaders took home significant honors at year’s end after capturing the Heartland title.
Senior Julia Garcia was the most valuable player in the Heartland Conference, as well as being all-conference. Other UIW players to be voted to the first team Heartland squad were sophomore Cara Carlucci, freshman Shamsi Arian-Nejad, junior Jamie Gunthorp and sophomore Deanna Pyatte. Arian-Nejad was named Heartland freshman of the year.
Numerous post-season honors came the way of Crusader athletes as the fall seasons concluded and the winter events hit full stride on campus.
Senior Ricardo Lara achieved the highest levels of honors both on the field and in the classroom. With his 3.91 grade point average, he was voted CoSIDA Academic All-America as well as being a Scholar All-American with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
On the field, NSCAA also elected Lara to its All-America team as well as its All-Midwest Region team. And, he was the Heartland Conference most valuable player.
Lara was not the only Crusader soccer player to be greatly honored. Sophomore Lubomir Bogdanov was a CoSIDA Academic All-District performer in the classroom. On the field, he was NSCAA All-America and All-Region and was All-Heartland Conference.
Senior Ray Parra and sophomore Terry Alvino both were All-Region and All-Heartland, while the Heartland honored junior Ohad Ron, and freshman Pat Thomas as All-Conference. Thomas was voted Heartland freshman of the year, while Dennis Currier won his third straight Coach of the Year award. At the end of the season, the Crusaders posted a final 16-2-2 record, a no. 10 ranking in the nation, a Heartland championship and a bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament. They lost, however, in the first round of play.
For the volleyball Crusaders, at year’s end, three individuals received conference awards. Senior Michaela Settlemeyer was voted to the league’s all-conference first team while senior Amanda Carrejo and sophomore Jackie Napoles were named second team. In the classroom, volleyball junior Lori Rektorik was voted to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team.
In cross country, at year’s end, two Crusaders were voted to the All-Heartland Conference team. Senior Gabriel Carlin on the men’s side and senior Cecilia Iniquez for the women were named among the elite runners.
Both Crusader basketball teams posted winning records for the 2003-2004 season and both teams earned their way into the Heartland Conference post-season tournament.
The women’s team was seeded No. 3 in the tournament and in the semi-finals it defeated St. Mary’s to earn a berth in the final game. UIW lost that contest to Drury, the nation’s No. 2 ranked team. Drury ultimately reached the national final game before losing. The Incarnate Word women finished the season with a record of 18-11, and, for the fourth straight season under the direction of Coach Angela Lawson, improved their win total. Junior guard Amy Mueller was voted first team All-Heartland Conference while senior Blair Redmon and junior Morgan Bridgers both received honorable mention honors.
On the men’s side, the Crusaders traveled to No. 1 seeded Drury in the semi-finals of the Heartland tournament. They lost that game to Drury, which ultimately reached the finals of the Division II regional tournament. The men’s record for the year was 16-11, the 14th consecutive season for a winning mark. At the end of the year, Paul Connolly was voted the most outstanding freshman in the Heartland, while senior Chris Johnson was first team all-conference. Senior Robert Tovar was second team and junior Anthony Jackson and senior D’Hudson both were honorable mention.