New sports seasons bring about new opportunities for success, new athletes and new competition.
But this fall season, it also brings new faces to coach women’s golf, cross country and tennis. Replacing Mike Strydom, Monica Severson and Steve Johnson are Chris Gustas, Greg Bodensteiner and Ryan Chapman respectively.
In his short time as a Knight thus far, Gustas has already been thinking about what he wants his practices to look like once the women’s tennis team begins practice.
“With such an open line-up and me not seeing most of these girls hit a tennis ball before, a lot of my goals, like when I have been writing things down and planning practices and everything, have not been focusing so much on results but just focusing on what we can do to make ourselves better,” Gustas said.
This year’s women’s tennis team returns just three players from last year’s team: Allison Birnbaum, Alex Petersen and Alexa Schmitz. The women’s tennis team starts their fall season on Friday, September 9 against Iowa Conference foe, Central at 4 p.m. on their home court.
Another new coach at Wartburg is Greg Bodensteiner, who is leading the nine-time defending Iowa Conference champion women’s golf team.
“Golf has always been my passion,” Bodensteiner said.
Bodensteiner is following in the footsteps of Monica Severson who coached the women’s golf team to nine, consecutive Iowa Conference team titles, not to mention a three-time defending Iowa Conference individual champion in Rochelle Beardsley.
That success is one thing that Bodensteiner hopes to build off of during his time as head coach.
“The fact that the program is really successful made it, to me, a little bit more inviting, just knowing that you were walking into a good situation, and you didn’t have to start from the ground level. Obviously, the expectations are there,” Bodensteiner said.
This year’s women’s golf team will be led by Rochelle Beardsley and Brooke Klostermann. In the individual competition, Beardsley and Klostermann finished first and second in the Iowa Conference tournament respectively. The Knights will start their season at the Sail Classic in Cedar Falls on September 2 and 3.
As for Wartburg Cross Country program, Ryan Chapman will be replacing Steve Johnson as head coach.
“In bigger news for me, I’m taking over a very storied program. The last time this position was open, I was watching Saturday morning cartoons,” Chapman said.
In following former head coach Steve Johnson’s footsteps, Chapman is thankful for the opportunity to fill such a special role in the Wartburg Cross Country program.
“This is a different program altogether,” Chapman said. “There is not too many programs in NCAA DIII that have had this many All-Americans in the last 20 years. Not to many programs have this sort of success. In many senses, this is the destination for distance running in NCAA Division III,” Chapman said.
The women’s cross country team is set to be led by their senior class in Gillian Feller, Kelsey Miner, Jaclyn Rittgers and Dakota Tell. As for the men’s cross country team, it will be JJ Frawley, Eli Kaczinski and Kailas Kokare leading the team.
Chapman is impressed with the leadership he has seen out of both teams this early in the season, particularly within the men’s team.
“The men’s team, if there is such thing, has too much leadership,” Chapman said. Both teams begin their season at Augsburg on Saturday, September 3.