After a year where Webster University did not win a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) tournament, the Gorloks started the offseason with a bang.
Thirty-five Webster athletes were named to the SLIAC All-American Team for the spring semester, the most in the conference.
Webster volleyball won its eighth straight American Volleyball Coaches Association team academic award by maintaining a team average 3.58 GPA. Men’s and women’s tennis, golf, women’s track and field and men’s basketball also won academic awards.
The baseball team tallied up the offseason awards with seven Conference All-Americans. Pitcher Jack Bensinger, outfielder Blake Thomas and DH Kyle Uhrich were all named SLIAC First Team All-Americans.
Bensinger went on to be named the American Baseball Coaches Association Pitcher of the Year in the central region.
The success on and off the field has led some in the athletic department to have high hopes for this upcoming season.
“I think we’re going to pop this year,” Webster University Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon said. “As you know, we were just out of the mix on NCAA tournaments and SLIAC tournaments. I just get a sense that we are going see some pretty good things happen here.”
Kilgallon believes that the track and cross country teams will continue to improve due in large part to their new facilities agree.
Webster University and St. John Vianney High School agreed to a deal allowing the Gorloks access to the newly renovated track in exchange for the usage of the Webster University Center pool for Vianney’s swim team. The agreement was announced in January.
“That’s helping out big time,” Kilgallon said “Not only for our student athletes, but as a recruiting tool as well. It’s a nice facility to show potential recruits… It helps get you more serious student athletes.”
Kilgallon also said that they are going to continue to discuss further expansion with other facility agreements, but can’t mention anything at this time.
The Gorlok coaching staffs have put more of an emphasis on going after blue chip recruits Kilgallon said, and it is already showing on the field.
Men’s and women’s soccer brought in large recruiting classes, including 12 new players on the men’s team and 13 new players on the women’s. Volleyball brought in six new players and men’s basketball brought in 10.
“I just think the coaches are very good at recruiting, they work morning, day and night doing this and it’s just a result of their efforts,” Kilgallon said. “I’m a big believer in the more competition you have the better teams get.”
Men’s basketball was at risk to losing out on its junior varsity season because of lack of depth. With 10 new players coming in, the team is still expected to play both seasons.
Kilgallon said that having the JV team is beneficial to the program because it helps develop players and gives the coaches something to offer students who are interested in playing at Webster.
Webster University athletics also said goodbye to Provost of Student life and Athletics Paul Carney. Carney retired at the end of last year.
As of now, Carney’s position will not be filled. Kilgallon said he will report directly to Webster University Provost Julian Schuster and President Elizabeth Stroble, which he says will be a benefit to the program to have a good relationship with the administration and help put a bigger emphasis on athletics.
“I’m expecting good things this year,” Kilgallon said. “As I said to the coaches and I said to the student athletes, they should expect great things. Let’s work hard, let’s expect great things because if you don’t, you’re never going to get there.”