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Thresher football ends 11-year NAIA rankings drought

September 30th, 2019

Bethel vs. Sterling, Sept. 28, 2019

After a 31-26 victory over Sterling College last Saturday, Sept. 28, Bethel football is off to its best start since 2008.

It’s been 11 years since a Bethel has seen its name in the NAIA Top 25 weekly poll, a drought that ended Sept. 30.

The Threshers entered the mix at #25 when the poll was released officially by both the NAIA and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), with 39 total points from the panel of national voters.

Bethel's win over (RV) Sterling helped solidify their spot among the nation’s best this week, as does their current 4-0 record on the season.

“We talked to our team [Sept. 22, after Bethel had beaten McPherson] about the possibility of being ranked,” said Head Coach Terry Harrison.

“Ultimately, I think it’s awesome for all the former Threshers out there that put so much effort into this program. We are lucky to have a team that is simply trying to build something that the BC community can be proud of.”

Harrison and his staff are in their second year with the program and are sitting at a 7-7 overall mark in that time.

The Threshers currently have the #1 rushing offense in the NAIA, averaging just south of 372 yards per game.

“I do think it does validate the commitment that our current players have made to Thresher football,” Harrison continued. “We have a handful of guys that stuck it out here through some pretty tough times when it would’ve been easy to quit.

“I’m so happy that those young men have been able to experience some success both on and off the field. I’m also happy and thankful for the families of our players. So many of them committed to the vision we had for Thresher football and had to take a leap of faith on our staff. It’s been awesome to share this great start with them.”

The Threshers join #4 Kansas Wesleyan University as the only other school from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference to be ranked in the NAIA Top 25. Bethel was one point shy of tying for 24th with the Baker University Wildcats.

The last time the Threshers appeared in the NAIA Top 25 poll was Nov. 3, 2008, when a 6-2 Bethel squad was picked #23. It’s also been 11 years since the Threshers have posted a record of 4-0.

Bethel had been as high as #13 in the 2008 polls. The highest ranking in this century came Oct. 15, 2007, when the eventual KCAC champions were picked #11 for the week.

“Ultimately, we have focused on getting better each day as a program,” Harrison said. “We are excited to get to practice this week to build off our success and focus on all the things we need to fix.”

Bethel is one of 17 remaining undefeated teams in the NAIA and will face their next test Oct. 5 in Winfield, when the Threshers square off with Southwestern College (2-2, 2-1) at 1 p.m., looking to avenge last season's 45-14 loss to the Moundbuilders.

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is Zippia.com’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to RNtoBSN.com; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

In sports, Bethel competes in the 13-member KCAC and the NAIA. Josh Booth

 

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.