The COVID-19 pandemic may have paralyzed the sports world, but Westmont College’s recruiters have remained busy.
Coaches Mark Basham of men’s tennis and Jill Jones Lin of women’s swimming announced this week that they’ve received commitments from several high school stars.
Basham is adding three players to his roster including Callen Hein, the first four-star recruit in his 11-year coaching tenure at Westmont. He noted that Hein, who hails from Mount Pleasant, S.C., had originally planned to attend another school before switching to the Warriors.
“Callen is a talented lefty with lots of passion for the sport, while also being a strong student,” Basham said.
Hein was ranked No. 8 in South Carolina’s boys U-18 division and in the top-40 for the entire South Section. He plans to major in biology and minor in religious studies.
“I was drawn to Westmont because of the Christian values that are at the center of everything, whether academics, athletics, or community,” he said. “I am looking forward to being a part of a healthy, positive environment with many great opportunities to make long-lasting friendships.
“The professors and faculty have been very helpful and friendly, and the small class sizes appeal to me. I felt a strong connection to coach Mark Basham and assistant coach Christian Mathis. They were genuinely interested in me, not just as a player, but as a person.”
Basham, who previously received a commitment from Cate School’s Ethan Ha, has also recruited a pair of high school stars from Oregon: Logan Thompson of West Linn and Michael Hopkins of Newberg.
Thompson, who plans to major in economics and business, was set to qualify for Oregon’s state championships for the fourth straight year when the coronavirus halted his senior season. He also previously qualified for the Pacific Northwest Zonal team tournament, posting a record of 7-3 in Southlake, Tex.
Hopkins also played four years of varsity tennis, serving as Newberg High’s team captain. He earned first-team all-league honors and won a district championship. He plans to major in political science.
“I am very excited about all four of these recruits,” Basham said. “I believe they are all a good fit for our Westmont community and our tennis team.”
WARRIORS ADD SWIMMER
Aisa Jurado, a recent graduate of La Serna High School, has committed to swim next season for the Westmont women’s team, coach Jill Jones Lin announced.
“Within 30 minutes of talking with her I knew she was going to be a great addition to our growing program,” said Jones Lin, who has recruited six high school athletes for her second-year program.
Jurado swam for three years on La Serna’s varsity and served as team captain this past season. She was a finalist at the Chino Hills Husky Invitational every year and twice qualified for the CIF Finals.
“Swimming for Westmont is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I have dreamed about swimming for my dream school ever since I was a little girl,” she said.
In consecutive years, Jurado earned the Most Improved Award at La Serna. Her best events are the 50 and 100 freestyle as well as the 100 butterfly.
“Aisa’s ability to pick up swimming quickly and improve a considerable amount during her first two years of high school tells me that she still has plenty of room to improve and I’m very excited to support her,” Jones Lin said.
Other high school swimmers who previously committed to the Warriors are Bridget Hoth, Emma Washam, Morgan Shattuck, Cayla Won and Rachel Peden.
NAIA CHANGES FORMAT
The NAIA’s National Administrative Council voted this week during a virtual meeting to make permanent changes to the format for its national championships, one of which could impact the Westmont men’s soccer team.
The designated host team for NAIA national championships in sports that have opening-round matches will no longer receive an automatic berth to their own final site. The host team will still receive an opening-round spot but must win in order to advance to the final rounds.
Westmont’s league, the Golden State Athletic Conference, will be playing host to the NAIA Men’s Soccer Championships next fall for the third-straight time in its four-year cycle. The old format allowed last year’s Warriors, the GSAC’s regular-season champions, to advance directly to the 2019 final site.
The NAIA Council reduced its National Tournament in men’s and women’s soccer from 46 teams to 40. The tournament format is also changing, from 15 opening-round sites of three teams each to 10 sites of four teams. The top-six seeds that advance to the final site will all go straight to the quarterfinals while the other 10 will play in the Round of 16.
Those changes were originally to go into effect in 2021. NAIA director of championships Mike Higgins said they were moved up a year because of the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. He estimates the changes will save the NAIA nearly $250,000 this year.