Biola’s successful winter sports season was good enough to keep the Eagles ranked sixth in the nation in the 2016–17 Learfield Directors’ Cup, which measures the overall strength of athletic departments across the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). In their final year of membership in the NAIA and the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC), five of Biola’s six winter sports finished inside of their respective top 25 rankings — a strong finish as they prepare to compete in the PacWest Conference and begin their transition into the NCAA Division II next year.
The 2016–17 season was another banner year for men’s basketball program. The Eagles were ranked No. 1 overall in the nation for several weeks and once again made it into the NAIA National Tournament field, although they were eliminated in the opening round. The team ended the year with a 26–6 overall record as coach Dave Holmquist reached 947 all-time coaching wins and surpassed 900 wins at Biola. Holmquist’s team earned the Dr. James Naismith–Emil S. Liston Sportsmanship Award at the national championship in recognition of team character. Holmquist was also awarded the Charles A. Krigel Award for being the coach of the team that “best exhibits respect, civility, integrity and fair play.” Dakari Archer and Caelan Tiongson earned NAIA All-American and all-conference honors and Tiongson was also recognized with NAIA and GSAC Scholar-Athlete honors. Biola ended the season ranked No. 12 in the NAIA Division I.
After finishing 2015–16 with a record two games under .500, the women’s basketball team turned around in a major way in 2016–17. The team earned a spot in the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2011–12 and ended the year with a 23–8 overall record. The 23 wins tied for the third most in any season in program history, dating back to 1960.
A big reason for the Eagles’ resounding success was the play of its trio of All-American honorees, Annie Park (3rd team), DeMoria White (2nd team) and Joclyn Kirton (honorable mention). Kirton was a three-time All-American in volleyball at Biola and is now one of just four team sport student-athletes in Biola history to earn All-American honors in multiple sports. Kirton also earned NAIA and GSAC Scholar-Athlete honors and CoSIDA Academic All-American honors. Coach Alan Nakamura was also named the 2016–17 GSAC Coach of the Year as Biola made the most of its final season in the conference. The Eagles ended the year ranked No. 14 in the NAIA Division I.
Swimming and Diving
The women’s swimming and diving team set a new program-best with a third-place finish at the NAIA Swimming and Diving Championships in March. Lisa Tixier was named the NAIA’s Female Swimmer of the Year. Shane Brinson — who won both men’s diving national championships — was named the NAIA Men’s Diver of the Year, as the men’s team placed 12th overall. Tixier broke a national record, won two individual titles and earned five total All-American finishes to highlight the Eagles’ effort. The tradition of academic excellence continued for this program as eight swimmers earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors.
Indoor Track & Field
The track and field team made its way to Johnson City, Tenn., in March to compete at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships for one final time. The women’s team earned a 20th place finish, highlighted by All-American finishes by the Eagles’ 4x800-meter relay and distance medley relay. Lyndee Dawson also took home individual All-American honors by finishing second in the 3,000-meter race. She won the event last year and dropped 10 seconds during her run this season.