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Crusader Athletics

Crusader Athletics

Undefeated and nationally ranked, the Crusaders achieved a first when they received a post-season invitation to the NCAA Division II National Tournament. And being ranked number one in the Midwest Region, Incarnate Word hosted the first round game in San Antonio. But luck ran out and the Crusaders lost that game, 3-2, to Midwestern State to finish the year at 16-1-3. They were 12th in the final national rankings.

At year's end, junior midfielder Ricardo Lara was honored twice as an All-American. He was first-team on the field according to the NSCAA/Adidas voting for Division II. And, in a vote covering all divisions of the NCAA, he was named first-team All-America Scholar-Athlete for his performance in the classroom. He has posted a 3.93 GPA while studying education.

The soccer honors were plentiful. Freshman forward Lubomir Bogdanov was voted third-team All-America by NSCAA/Adidas, and like Lara, was All-Midwest Region along with junior defender James Dyer. Those three players joined sophomore midfielder Nick Pertuit and sophomore forward Fernando Jorge as All-Heartland Conference.

In the Heartland, Lara was player of the year, Bogdanov was freshman of the year, junior Jay Mason was goalkeeper of the year, and Dennis Currier was coach of the year.

The women Crusaders also had a memorable year. They finished 11-5-2 to up the string to 13 straight years with a winning record. Two of the five losses were by a single goal as UIW played a schedule loaded with “in-region” teams that is the key to national attention and invitations to post-season play.

Incarnate Word swept through the regular season to capture a number one seeding for the Heartland Conference tournament but a crushing 2-1 loss in the tournament's final game sent the title somewhere else.

Facing a near total rebuilding project after graduation losses took five starters from the year before, the Crusaders did manage to pile up the post-season honors. Five Crusaders were All-Heartland Conference-senior defenders Elizabeth Quarve and Audrey Gould, sophomore forward Jamie Gunthorp, junior midfielder Julia Garcia, and freshman midfielder Lindsey Gramley.

Gould took the Heartland's top honor when she was voted the Conference Player of the Year for 2002.

Freshman Jackie Napoles was absolutely the bright spot for a Crusader team that suffered through adversity the entire season. Napoles once was Heartland Conference setter of the week, then she was All-Heartland at the end of the year. The highest honor came when she was voted Freshman of the Year for the conference.

The Crusaders had a quick start back in August with three straight schedule-opening wins before injuries and bad fortune set in. From that point on, it was rare when Incarnate Word had a full lineup of players with which to compete. The end result was a 12-24 record and a fifth place finish in the conference.

Another fast start has put the Crusaders back in the hunt for post-season action. Late in February, UIW had run up a 19-6 record and vaulted into the South Central Regional rankings.

This year for the first time, the Heartland Conference will conduct a post-season tournament to declare a league winner. That champion will receive the conference's first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Division II tournament. A year ago, both Incarnate Word and Rockhurst received at-large bids.

In the Heartland's pre-season coaches poll, the Crusaders were named the favorite to win the title while senior guard Jamar Love was voted the pre-season Player of the Year.

This is year three in a rebuilding program for the women Crusaders and the results have been excellent over the first half of the season. In the time frame of late December to mid-January, Incarnate Word won a series of five straight games to move well above .500 for the first time in nearly four seasons.

Those wins put UIW back into the championship picture for the Heartland Conference. A pre-season poll had picked the Crusaders to finish third in league play, up a notch from last season.

Round robin played in the Heartland and continued through February before the women, like the men, qualified to play in a post-season tournament to declare a conference champion and an automatic representative to the NCAA Division II tournament.

Incarnate Word men’s basketball program has been a unique entity this season with selected games being broadcast by KCOR Radio (1350 AM) in Spanish.

An earlier survey among NCAA Division II universities found no other school at this level currently airing athletic contests of any sport in Spanish. Incarnate Word becomes the first. And that fact has brought national attention to the University through such media as an in depth article published in the NCAA NEWS, and through a nationally televised feature story by Fox Sports Net.

While the survey did not include NCAA Division I schools, the only other institution known to broadcast basketball in Spanish is the University of Miami, also on a limited basis.

KCOR is the home for the Spanish language broadcasts for the NBA Spurs and to avoid conflicts UIW aired seven games during the season. Handling the play-by-play call for the Crusaders is veteran broadcaster Armando Quintero. He currently is, and has been for 21 years, the Spanish radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys. Quintero also called games for the Spurs for six years.

Quintero has called the action for eight National Football League Super Bowls, four Major League Baseball World Series. He has worked eight NBA all-star games and NBA finals.
The Crusaders home for English language game broadcasts is KXTN (1310 AM), the sister station of KCOR. Working mikeside in English is veteran Gary DeLaune, the voice of the Crusaders for the past five seasons.

DeLaune, too, has a lengthy list of accomplishments in broadcasting including the Cowboys and the Dallas Texans of the original American Football League. He was the broadcaster for the Houston Mavericks of the American Basketball Association and later with the Spurs. He has broadcast high school football and basketball for more than 40 seasons.