The next week is truly historic for the Spring Hill College athletic program, which is in its first year of competition in the NCAA Division 2.
The women’s volleyball and cross country teams, and the men’s soccer squad have all won conference championships and are beginning NCAA Tournament competition in the coming days.
The women’s cross country and men’s soccer teams were the first to capture conference titles (on Nov. 2 and Nov. 4, respectively). SHC’s Lady Badger volleyball team followed up with a championship run that concluded on Nov. 7 in Atlanta.
On Saturday night at 7, Spring Hill’s soccer Badgers play in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in Miami against Barry University. The Badgers are ranked #10 nationally and boast a record of 17-1. They are the only team from the Gulf South Conference chosen for the 38-team national tournament and come into the event as the second-seeded team. The Badgers' performance this year has been so strong that the team was highlighted as one of five teams to watch heading into the national tournament.
On Sunday night, SHC’s volleyball players will be tuned in to an NCAA Division 2 Tournament selection show, during which they will learn the next step in their post-season run. The team could possibly leave Tuesday for post-season matches that begin on Thursday.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, the Lady Badgers cross-country team will compete in the 2018 NCAA Division II South Region Championship at Holloway Park & Nature Preserve in Lakeland, Florida, for a chance to compete in the 2018 NCAA Division II Fall Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hosted by Slippery Rock University.
Each team got this far by claiming conference championships.
The Lady Badger runners won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Women's Cross Country Championship in Rock Hill, South Carolina. According to the SHC Athletic Department, Freshman Mary Shelton led her team with a 5K time of 20:24.03 to finish third individually. Meghan Sullivan (20:55.46), Kimberly Atkinson (21:00.06), Grace McCann (21:09.55) and Erika Nageleisen (21:19.43) finished fifth through eighth, while Caroline Weisinger (21:51.48) rounded out the Top 10 in 10th place.
All six performers were named All-Conference by finishing in the Top 10. Freshman Meredith Tuttle also competed for the Badgers, placing 12th with a time of 22:08.68.
The SHC men’s soccer team defeated West Florida, 3-2, in the Gulf South Conference Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama. The win was the Badgers' 14th-straight and 10th one-goal win of the season.
Alex Lipinski, the Tournament MVP for the Badgers, scored his team’s first goal. He assisted Matthew Moreno for his team’s second goal. Lipinski added a penalty-kick goal later in the game to cap off the scoring for the Badgers. SHC goalkeeper Barou Ndaw collected his only two saves of the championship in the first half.
In volleyball, SHC dominated the SIAC Tournament, placing three athletes on the first team, all-conference squad: freshman middle blocker Kassandra Fairly, junior libero Cassidi Sterrett, and junior setter Emmarose Neibert. Neibert also won setter of the year in the conference. Sterrett was named libero of the year, and Fairly won freshman of the year honors. For the tournament, Fairly was named the most valuable player, and Sterrett joined sophomore Alison Weimer on the all-tournament team.
SHC volleyball coach Peggy Martin was named the conference’s coach of the year, adding to a long list of accomplishments. During her years with the Badgers, Martin has built a 249-60 overall record and a 124-9 record in regular season conference games. Martin is one of only two collegiate volleyball coaches to reach 1,200 wins at any level of competition. The Badgers have enjoyed four undefeated conference records collecting only one loss in their five year tenure in the league.
Statistics and many facts from this article are courtesy of the SHC Athletic Department.