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Strand and Hartl Reach Career Win Milestone – Luther College Chips

Head men’s and women’s tennis coach Adam Strand (’04) and head softball coach Renae Hartl each posted significant wins in the past month, notching their 600th and 700th career wins, respectively.

Strand marked his 600th career win as the Luther men’s tennis team secured the 2024 American Rivers Conference (ARC) title, defeating Nebraska Wesleyan University 9-0.

News of Strand’s performance was revealed to the team in a huddle by assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach Sasha Balaba. A brief celebration followed, as the team played in 90-degree weather in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“They were all kind enough to congratulate me,” Strand said. “We didn’t celebrate for too long though, because it was very cold outside!”

Strand hasn’t stopped at 600 wins as he and his teams have continued the winning trend. The Luther Women defeated Central College 5-0 on April 25 and Coe College 5-0 on April 27 to qualify for their 18th NCAA DIII National Tournament.

“Each year, both of our teams have competitive goals: winning a conference championship and advancing to the NCAA DIII National Tournament,” Strand said.

Strand coaches Louk Rijsdijk (’27) and Ricky Portilla (’25) in the doubles against Carleton on April 6. Photo courtesy of Luther College Photo Bureau.

With an overall record of 23-6 and a conference record of 8-0, the men’s tennis team used their momentum to have a successful run at their ARC Automatic Qualifying Tournament. They defeated Central 5-0 on May 2 in the semi-finals and Coe 5-0 in the final; a win at this tournament qualified them for the NCAA DIII Men’s Tennis National Tournament. Strand talked a bit about his goals for the rest of the season.

“I want our players to continue to enjoy the journey together,” Strand said. “These teams have achieved a lot and I hope we still have the best of our tennis ahead of us.”

With the continued success of both his teams, Strand is on track to join the company of Hartl, who just recorded her 700th career win.

Hartl, who also serves as Luther’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, earned this distinction when her softball team won the first game of their series against the University of Northwestern (MN) 3-1. “I’m always surprised when we get a milestone win like we did a few weeks ago with 700 (wins),” Hartl said. “For me, all matches are memorable, even the losses. It’s an opportunity to get on the field with my student-athletes and enjoy the skills they work hard on all year long.”

Like Strand, Hartl has since added to her winning streak. Most recently, the Norwegians shared their conference series with Wartburg on May 1. The team lost the first game 2-3 and won the second game 3-1 in 8 innings. The Luther softball team currently has an overall record of 27-11 and a conference record of 9-5.

During her 23 years coaching Luther, Hartl’s athletes have earned 94 all-conference honors. Five were named IIAC/ARC Conference MVPs and four were named Pitcher of the Year. 85 have become NFCA Midwest Region selections; and 26 have earned All-America honors.

Hartl celebrates with Ken Vavrichek (’25) after a walk-off home run against Loras on April 5. Photo courtesy of Luther College Photo Bureau.

This year’s softball team has had some big wins of its own, like when they defeated Central 14-4 on April 23, when the Dutch were ranked 18th nationally at the time. Luther continues to advance to ARC tournament play, which begins May 10.

“The team has had some big wins this year,” Hartl said. “I’m looking forward to the postseason with Team 56!”

Luther’s men’s and women’s tennis teams will next compete in the opening round of the NCAA DIII Women’s Tennis National Tournament on May 9 against Concordia University Texas and Kenyon College, respectively. Softball will play against Wartburg in the ARC Tournament on May 10.

Editor’s Note: The version of this story that was in print Vol. 150, No. 2 of CHIPS in May 2024 was written/published prior to the announcement of Luther’s opponents in the NCAA DIII Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships and the ARC Softball Tournament. The correct information is included in this online version of the story. For up-to-date information on all Luther sports, visit luthernorse.com.