Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Record Enrollment Strengthens Atlantic Sun Conference Institutions

Nearly every institution in the Atlantic Sun Conference enjoys record enrollment as the academic calendar rolls into its second month. In addition to unprecedented numbers of students around the league, new facilities and new programs provide a boost across campuses.

Belmont University saw its dramatic enrollment increases continue in the final year of this decade as it welcomed over 5300 students to campus. The institution’s enrollment has grown by more than 81 percent since 2000.

A new law school facility debuted in September at Campbell University. Over 5700 students will call Campbell home this fall.

East Tennessee State University eclipsed the 14,000 student mark for the first time in school history this fall. One of the highlights of the new numbers is nearly 2000 first time freshman enrollees in Johnson City.

New faculty, two additional degree programs, more instructional and residential space and a major environmental initiative will enhance the learning experience for Florida Gulf Coast University's students this fall. A record-setting 11,000 students, including 2,050 freshmen have been welcomed to the Fort Myers, Fla., campus.

A new program focused on campus visits for high school students is being touted as one of the major factors in Jacksonville University’s record enrollment. Sparking the increase are 700 new freshmen roaming the campus, an increase of more than 20 percent from last fall alone.

The largest student population in the A-Sun grew again this fall as Kennesaw State University will claim over 22,000 students on its rolls this year. In just five years, the north Atlanta campus has grown by over 4000 students.

A fourth consecutive year of record enrollment has the Lipscomb University campus excited about the future of the institution. Over 3400 students call Lipscomb home this year, capping a 35 percent increase in student enrollment over the previous four years.

As fall classes got under way for undergraduates on the Macon campus, Mercer University’s first-day enrollment figures topped the 8,000 mark, a 6.8 percent increase over opening day numbers last fall and an all-time record for the 176-year-old institution. Record retention rates and the largest freshman class in four years helped contribute to the significant enrollment increase.

While the University of North Florida enrollment numbers leveled off, the campus cut the ribbon on a pair of projects that officials hope will lead to even more students calling UNF home. A $50 million Student Union opened adjacent to Osprey Fountains, a new 1000-bed residence hall that features a swimming pool, lazy river and putting green among its amenities.

The largest freshman class in school history padded USC Upstate’s record enrollment of 5628 students this fall. Every measureable category of new student enrollment increased this year leading to a nearly six percent increase in overall student population.

First-year President Dr. Wendy B. Libby will usher in a new era at Stetson University. U.S. News and World Reports ranked Stetson third among the South’s top regional universities for academic quality. Strong growth in the College of Law helped bolster Fall 2009 overall enrollment by nearly three percent.

Signs of growth and vitality permeate the Atlantic Sun Conference and its member institutions.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Sept. 25, 2009

Cross Country:
• In a light weekend for A-Sun cross country where only three teams run, the spotlight shines on Macon, Ga., at the Mercer RunFit Sports Invitational where Mercer and Kennesaw State return to the venue of the 2008 A-Sun Championship. The Owls’ women took third led by a runner-up finish from Mackenzie Howe. Since that race, the junior has not lost a cross country race as she has placed first at all three meets this fall. She also took second at last year’s running of this particular meet. The Kennesaw State men matched the women’s standing at last year’s championship. Scott Burley took eighth with Piotr Witczak finishing in 18th.
• Lipscomb, fresh off winning its first team win in the NCAA era, travels north to Minneapolis, Minn., to compete in the Roy Griak Invitational.

• Two tournaments feature a total of five A-Sun schools this weekend. Belmont and Lipscomb will stay in town to tee it up at the Mason Rudolph Championships from the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin. For the Bisons, it will be their first tournament of the fall. The Bruins placed sixth at the Yestingsmeier Invitational held earlier this week.
• Jacksonville and Stetson hit the links for the first time along with Campbell at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate in Sunset Beach, N.C., hosted by Elon University. The Hatters competed at the event last year and took 10th.
• The lone women’s event of the weekend featuring an A-Sun school takes place in Lexington, Ky., where Kennesaw State take on 14 other schools at the Bettie Lou Evans Fall Invitational hosted by the University of Kentucky at the University Club. At the season-opening Lady Paladin Invitational, freshman Ket Preamchuen tied for fourth.
• USC Upstate makes the long flight to Carvallis, Ore to Trysting Tree Golf Club for the third annual Giustina Memorial Intercollegiate. The tournament features a unique format in which men and women teams play together in the same foursomes during each round.

Men’s Soccer:
• Stetson looks to stay undefeated and untied with matches against the College of Charleston and Jacksonville in the JU Nike Invitational. The Hatters and the Cougars battle Friday in the Atlantic Sun game of the week 5:00 p.m. on Friday in Jacksonville, Fla.
• Belmont and the A-Sun’s leading goal scorer Brandon Tarr hit the road this weekend to take on Wofford on Friday and Furman on Sunday. The Bruins are 5-2-0 all-time against Wofford, and they are 1-4-0 all-time against Furman.
• Lipscomb looks to build on a 3-2 win last Sunday against Alabama A&M. The Bisons’ and current A-Sun Player of the Week Garret Pettis travel to Furman on Friday and then head to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on Wofford.

Women’s Soccer:
• This weekend marks the first full weekend of conference play for the A-Sun women’s soccer teams. Campbell and Kennesaw State sit atop the A-Sun Conference standings as they have each already claimed an A-Sun win entering the weekend.
• Stetson and Kennesaw State meet in the A-Sun Game of the Week with lot of interesting matchups as the 2008 Preseason A-Sun Player of the Year (Catlin Dingle, Kennesaw State), the 2008 Player of the Year (Tessa Gavilsky, Stetson) and the 2009 Preseason Player of the Year (Maylee Attin-Johnson) will all be action in this match.
• With two A-Sun Player of the Week awards under her belt, Katelin Swift leads UNF on the road for a matchup with ETSU on Friday and a road match with USC Upstate. Swift leads the A-Sun in points with 17 and goals with seven.

• Stefine “Jake” Pease, the Atlantic Sun Volleyball Player of the Week and the quarterback of the Lipscomb’s Lady Bisons’ offense, deftly distributed the ball in an effective inside-outside attack in the sweeps against FGCU and Stetson. She passed the 3,000-assist mark last weekend, pushing her total to 3,037 for her career, and ranks eighth in the nation in assists per set with 11.71.
• The Lady Bisons are climbing the records charts on levels ranging from program highs to national rankings. In NCAA Division I through games of Sept. 20, the Lady Bisons as a team average 13.54 assists per set, sixth best in the nation; 14.54 kills per set; seventh best; and 26th in digs per set, 16.71.This week in the conference, junior middle hitter Alex Kelly ranks eighth overall in digs and senior opposite Erin Pierce ranks 10th. Kelly also ranks 12th in the nation in kills per set with 4.49 and is only three kills away from 1,000 for her career.
• The Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball Match of the Week features Campbell and ETSU, a pair of teams fairly even in conference play, at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. With three straight A-Sun wins, Campbell improved to 8-5 on the season with a 3-1 league record. ETSU picked up two big conference wins this past weekend defeating Kennesaw State and Mercer on the road to move into third place in the Atlantic Sun. Last season, the Bucs took both matches with the Camels after ETSU won the lone contest between the two in 2007. Since the start of 2007, ETSU owns a 15-9 mark at Brooks Gymnasium. The match airs on ASun.TV.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Sept. 18, 2009

Cross Country:
· Two races feature a combined seven Atlantic Sun cross country teams with some of the first head-to-head meetings for the league’s top teams. Jacksonville, the freshly-minted No. 1 women’s team faces Stetson, FGCU and UNF at Friday’s Gator Invitational. On the men’s side, the spotlight meet figures to take place on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Crimson Classic where No. 1 ETSU, No. 2 Belmont and No. 3 Kennesaw State lock horns. Other meets on the slate include USC Upstate at the Virginia Tech Invitational, Lipscomb staying close to home at the Vanderbilt Invitational and Campbell running at the East Carolina Invitational.

Women’s Golf:
· Seven A-Sun women’s golf teams take to the links this weekend with five competing at the Lady Paladin Invitational in Greenville, S.C. The reigning conference champions, Stetson, lead the field along with Campbell, ETSU and Kennesaw State – the three schools that finished immediately behind the Hatters last April. The Hatters return First-Team All-Atlantic Sun performer and 2009 Medalist Lauren Jackson, A-Sun Freshman of the Year Lauren Cate and Second-Teamer Danielle Jackson. Belmont and USC Upstate head to Waynesville, N.C. to partake in the Great Smokies Intercollegiate.

Men’s Golf:
· After an opening week that saw three A-Sun golfers capture Medalist honors in season-opening events (USC Upstate’s Josh Gallman, Rutgers Invitational; UNF’s Sean Dale, Wolf Run Intercollegiate and Kennesaw State’s Jeff Karlsson, Sam Hall Intercollegiate) the schedule offers up only a couple of teams teeing it up this weekend. Belmont opens its fall season at the Yestingsmeier Invitational in Muncie, Ind., and FGCU travels to “The Little Apple” – Manhattan, Kan., for the Jim Colbert Intercollegiate.

Men's Soccer:
· UNF takes on Georgia State in the A-Sun Game of the Week at 7:00 p.m. on Friday in Jacksonville, Fla., live on ASunTV.
· Stetson looks to stay unbeaten this weekend as they take on Saint Joseph and Hofstra in the Stetson Soccer Classic.
· Current A-Sun Player of the Week Griffin Gilstrap ranks 11th in the nation in points per game (2.33). USC Upstate’s Timo Roerster makes an appearance in the national ranks tied for fifth in assist per game.

Women's Soccer:
· Sunday UNF welcomes The Citadel at 1:00 p.m. Sunday to Hodges Stadium. The matchup features two high scoring teams as UNF leads the Atlantic Sun in goals per game at 2.00 while The Citadel boast an impressive 3.80 goals per game.
· Kennesaw State looks to build on its conference win over Mercer. Friday the Owls welcome Samford to the KSU Soccer Complex and then Sunday the Owls welcome Alabama A&M.
· Goalkeeper Stephanie Powers has not allowed in 289:53 minutes, and ranks first in the A-Sun in goals against average and save percentage.
· Campbell is off to its best six-game start (3-3-0) since the 2004 squad was 2-1-3 after six matches en route to a 12-2-7 year that included the A-Sun regular season and tournament crowns.

· Senior libero Shelley Walroth reached yet another mile­stone and is setting her sights on cracking the top 25 spots in NCAA history. With 17 digs against Belmont, Walroth passed 2,000 in her career and her next targets are family bragging rights and the NCAA Top 25. Walroth needs just 39 digs to become the undisputed head of the family. In the NCAA career standings, Walroth needs just 163 digs to crack the top 25 all-time and has a chance to etch her name in the record books for some time. On Wednesday night, Walroth led the JU volleyball team to a 3-0 victory against cross-town rival UNF, in front of 1,012 fans in the first installment of the SunTrust River City Rumble at Swisher Gymnasium.
· Asjia Stokes, the Atlantic Sun Volleyball Player of the Week, ranks first in the A-Sun in kills per set in conference matches. Stokes led the Owls in kills with wins against Mercer and USC Upstate. The senior, from North Chicago, Ill., notched 17 kills in a 3-1 win against Mercer, giving the Owls their first win against the Bears in program history. In Spartanburg, S.C., Stokes tallied 19 kills to lead KSU to a 3-1 win against the Spartans. Overall, Stokes collect­ed 36 kills (4.50 kills per set), a .364 attack percentage, 19 digs (2.38 digs per set) and six total blocks. Picked eighth in the preseason poll, the Owls have started 2-0 in A-Sun play for the first time in program history.
· The Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball Match of the Week features Lipscomb and FGCU, a pair of teams undefeated in conference play. The Lady Bisons started off the conference portion of their schedule with 3-0 match sweeps of Belmont, UNF and Jacksonville and will face FGCU on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. The Eagles, last year’s reigning regular season cham­pions, finally play in front of their home crowd after opening the season with a 10-game road trip. Last season, the Eagles took both matches with the Lady Bisons after Lipscomb won the lone contest between the two in 2007. Since the start of 2007, FGCU owns a 19-1 mark at Alico Arena, the venue for the 2009 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championships. The match airs on ASun.TV.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jacksonville and UNF "Battle" for the Barrel in SunTrust River City Rumble

After opening Atlantic Sun play in Nashville, the JU volleyball team (3-5, 0-2) will host its Swisher Gymnasium home opener against cross-town rival UNF (4-5, 0-2) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. for the first installment of the SunTrust River City Rumble.

The SunTrust River City Rumble is a season-long series between Jacksonville's two Division I institutions - Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida - that was founded in fall 2005. It was officially named and announced on Jan. 23, 2006, at a press conference on the UNF campus. The University of North Florida and Jacksonville University battle annually for the "SunTrust Old Wooden Barrel," which is awarded to the school with the most victories over the other during a school year. The "SunTrust Old Wooden Barrel" will be housed in the winning school's athletic department until the conclusion of the final event of the following year.

How The SunTrust River City Rumble Works
Jacksonville and UNF both field teams in 14 sports. Each time the Dolphins and Ospreys face each other, the game will count toward the River City Rumble standings. The exception is individual sports, where the team that finishes higher at the A-Sun Championship will earn one win for its school.

In 2008-09, the teams faced each other 20 times. To claim the "SunTrust Old Wooden Barrel," The school with most wins will receive the "SunTrust Old Wooden Barrel" at the end of the year. Any tie in the standings will keep the trophy at the previous year's winner.

Previous Results
2005-06: JU wins, 11-9
2006-07: UNF wins, 11-9
2007-08: Tied at 10, UNF retains the Barrel
2008-09: JU wins, 13-7

Friday, September 11, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Sept. 11, 2009

Cross Country
• It’s a light weekend of action for A-Sun cross country teams with only four competing. ETSU, Mercer and Kennesaw State racing in Chattanooga, Tenn., at the PowerAde Invitational. The women will run a two-mile course while the men's race will be a 5K. The Owls’ men and women both placed third at the meet in 2008. The event will begin at the Moccasin Bend Race Course at with the women's race at 5:45 p.m.

• The Buccaneers will also send competitors to Sunday’s Irish Brigade Commemorative 5K. Campbell, the fourth school racing this weekend head to Wilmington, N.C. for the Seahawk Invitational.

Men’s Soccer
• FGCU travels to Greenville, S.C. Friday to battle with Furman at 7:00 p.m. in the Atlantic Sun Men’s Soccer Game of the Week. Goalkeeper Matthew Smith lead the Eagles, he holds a 0.65 goals-against average with 12 saves and one shutout on the season.

• Unbeaten Lipscomb heads to Ann Arbor, Mich. To battle with Big Ten foes Michigan State (Friday) and Michigan (Saturday). The Bisons and the Spartans, both enter the weekend unbeaten and open the Michigan Invitational with a match Friday at 5:00 p.m. Lipscomb will face a tough test against Spartan goalkeeper Avery Steinlage, who has not allowed a goal in 998:43 (An NCAA record) of play and has not allowed an opposing team to find the net since Oct. 15, 2008.

• USC Upstate welcomes cross town rival Wofford to Spartanburg, S.C., the game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start and can be seen live on ASunTV. The two schools are 3.5 miles apart and both enter the game without a win. Upstate dropped games to Georgia State and Davidson in week one while Wofford came away with ties ETSU and UNC Ashville.

Women’s Soccer
• Conference action opens this Saturday as Mercer welcomes Kennesaw State to Bear field Saturday in the Atlantic Sun women’s soccer Game of the Week. Both the Bears and Owls have taken on some tough foes in non-conference play as Mercer has challenged No. 12 Indiana, No. 17 Georgia and an undefeated Vanderbilt team. Kennesaw State opened its season with Georgia and has followed with contests against nationally-ranked Minnesota and Auburn out of the SEC.

The two Georgia schools have performed as the class of the conference the last two years combining for a 30-5-3 record against conference foes. The two have won the last three regular-season titles (Mercer last season, Kennesaw State in 2006 and 2007) and met in the 2007 A-Sun Championship title game, a contest won by the Owls on their home turf, 2-1. The Owls have dominated the series, winning all six meetings.

• UNF’s Michele Larringa and Katelin Swift lead the Lady Ospreys into Boca Raton, Fla to battle with FAU. The Owls have only found the net three times in 2009 while Larringa and Swift have each found the net four times this season.

• ETSU faces a tall order as they travel to Ole Miss Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Oxford, Miss. The Rebels have dominated early competition outscoring opponents 10-0 this season and 9-0 in Oxford.

• From the Jacksonville Dolphins, with 21 digs against Sam Houston State, Shelley Walroth reached yet another milestone in her illustrious career as she passed Ann Mullins of Lipscomb as the A-Sun Conference all-time digs leader with 1,991. Walroth now needs just nine digs to become the 27th player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 in a career. To crack the top 25 all-time, Walroth needs 230 digs, where she would have a chance to etch her name in the record books for some time. The Division I record for career digs is 3,176 by Lara Newberry of Chattanooga from 2005-08. The Dolphins open against tournament champion Belmont (2-7, 0-1) on Friday.

• With the win against Mercer on Tuesday, the Kennesaw State Owls improved to 6-1, tying the program record for victories in a season. Senior Asjia Stokes continued her solid play with a match-high 17 kills to go along with 12 digs. Defensively, the Owls collected 96 digs, setting a new program record. Senior Chelsey Denesha tallied a career-high and KSU record-tying 23 digs, while senior Selina O’Leary managed 20 in the four-set match.

• Leading Lipscomb’s sweep in the first round of volleyball’s version of the “Battle of the Boulevard” Tuesday night, Stefine “Jake” Pease stepped up and played an almost flawless match. It was the first time in the history of the program that the Lady Bisons have beaten the Bruins on their home court.

Preseason coaches picked Lipscomb and Belmont to finish first and second in the A-Sun, respectively. Pease tallied 33 assists, eight digs and a service ace. The Lady Bisons play home matches at Allen Arena this weekend against UNF and Jacksonville.

Men’s Golf
• One of the Atlantic Sun’s growing and more nationally competitive sports, men’s golf begins its fall season defending league champion Campbell heading out west to the Tucker Intercollegiate in Albuquerque, N.M. In 2008, the Camels took 10th at the event. Vaita Guillaume finished as low golfer for the Camels, placing 26th

• ETSU, the conference’s second NCAA participant in 2008 opens at the Carpet Capital Collegiate hosted by the Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga. The Buccaneers return a strong core from last season, headlined by Player of the Year Seamus Power, 2009 A-Sun Medalist and Freshman of the Year Michael Stewart and First-Team All-Atlantic Sun performer Rhys Enoch.

• UNF, second to Campbell at the 2009 A-Sun Championships after winning the title in 2008, take on 16 other schools at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate on Saturday in Zionsville, Ind. USC Upstate, led by Michael Lawrence and Josh Gallman head north to the Rutgers Invitational for the third straight year. In their two prior visits, the Spartans have first- and second-place finishes. Lawrence, a senior on this year’s team, won the individual championship at the 2007 event.

Women’s Golf
• Only one A-Sun golf program begins fall play this weekend as ETSU partake in the Golfweek’s Conference Challenge on the Primm Valley Golf Club’s Desert Course. The Buccaneers, along with 17 other schools from 17 different conferences make up the field for the event. ETSU returns four golfers named to 2009 All-Conference teams (Sinead O'Sullivan – First Team, Laura Jansone – Second Team, Nina Muehl – Second Team and All-Freshman Team, Mayte Vizcarrondo – All-Freshman Team ). A full Golfweek.com preview can be found here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Blog Entry Sponsored by the Number Nine

In honor of 9-9-09 the A-Sun insider has decided to take a look at all the fall sports “Nines” in the conference. Take a look and get to know your “A-Sun Nines” a little better.

Men’s Soccer - Will Moorad - The sophomore looks to improve on a 2008 season in which he earned Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team honors. A Brentwood, Tenn. native, Moorad played in 20 matches a season ago with starts in 15. The Bruins forward finished ’08 with seven goals, which ranked him seventh in the conference. Moorad led Belmont in assists and ranked sixth in the league in helpers with five.

Women’s Soccer - Elizabeth Bublis - The senior, a Norman, Okla. Native, boasts starts in all four of Belmont’s game this season and she played in all of the Bruins 23 matches in 2008 and earned A-Sun All-Academic honors and passed out assists in each of Belmont’s first two Atlantic Sun Tournament game in ’08.

Volleyball - Katie Marshall - The redshirt sophomore enters her first season in the Atlantic Sun after spending the 2007 season at Cornell, where she was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week on November 14. The Glencoe, Ill native led the Big Red in points and kills in ’07 and after sitting out a year as part of the NCAA transfer rules she looks to be a key contributor for the Bruins in ’09.

Men’s Soccer - Hector Moreira - The native of Moterrey, Mexico is the first freshman to adorn the number nine. The freshman forward for the Camels has not seen action yet but the rookie entered as an accomplished high-school star, winning the Mexican high school national title in 2008 and 2009.

Women’s Soccer - Kristen Baker - The Camels make it a pair of freshman “Nines” with Baker. The rookie forward from Fuquay-Varina, N.C. was the embodiment of a “student-athlete” in high school as she scored 168 goals with 64 assists and she also played varsity tennis and basketball and was named her senior class valedictorian.

Volleyball - Allyson Goldbach - The junior outside hitter is the second transfer on our list of “A-Sun Nines”. The Jupiter, Fla. native played her first two season of college volleyball at Florida CC - Jacksonville where she earned NJCAA Division I Second Team All-American honors twice. This season, Goldbach ranks third on the Camels in kills per-set and has seen action in eight matches for Campbell.

Men’s Soccer - Andrew Brown - The junior forward is the first international nine we have some across as he hails from Montego Bay, Jamaica. A member of the U20 Jamaican national soccer team in 07-08, Brown has played in both of the Bucs first two games, once as a sub and once as a starter. Undefeated ETSU takes on Radford and Virginia Tech this weekend.

Women’s Soccer - Jen Altimier - The junior defender played in all of the Bucs 18 matches in 2008 and posted an assist in a 2-1 win against Morehead State. The Cincinnati native has earned a spot on the A-Sun All-Academic team in each of her first two seasons.

Volleyball - Erin Ryan - Ryan leads ETSU in kills per set with 2.44 and kills with 66. She led the Bucs to a win against USC Upstate in the conference opener with 19 kills. The junior outside hitter/middle blocker led ETSU a season ago on the attack with 247 kills. The Davie, Fla. native earned A-Sun All-Academic honors in ’08 and posted a career-high 21 kills against USC Upstate on Nov. 11.

Men’s Soccer - Taylor Sullivan - The junior midfield has yet to see action for the Eagles this season but does have 21 games of experience for FGCU.

Women’s Soccer - Stacey Payne - The Coral Springs, Fla. native enters her sophomore season with FGCU following a freshman campaign in which she saw in 14 games. The forward found the net once and also passed out two assists en route to a four point freshman season.

Volleyball - Keishla Negron - The junior outside hitter earns the title of first female international “A-Sun Nine” as she is a native of Caroline, Puerto Rico. She saw action in four matches in 2008 for the Eagles and earned conference all-academic honors.

Men’s Soccer - Nedim Hrustic - The junior forward is becoming a regular in the A-Sun Insiders Blog as he also came up in the A-Sun Family Athletic Connections entry. Hrustic ranks tied for first on the Dolphins in points with two. The Jacksonville, Fla. native finished fourth on the team in 2008 in goals scored with four.

Women’s Soccer - Tamara Cormier - The junior forward earns the honor as the first Canadian on our list as she is a native of Coquitlam, British Columbia. She has not seen action in 2009 but Cormier found the field in 18 matches a season ago including four as a starter. She earned A-Sun All-Academic honors in ’08.

Volleyball - Nicki Kent - The senior middle blocker has started all six matches this season for the Dolphins and leads Jacksonville in blocks (28) and blocks per set (1.33). The Vancouver, Wash. native finished 2008 ranked third in the A-Sun in blocks per set in second season since transferring from Wyoming.

Kennesaw State
Women’s Soccer - Maylee Attin-Johnson - The senior midfielder earned Preseason Player of the Year honors for 2009. Attin-Johnson, a native of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, missed all of the 2008 season with an injury, but in 2007 she earned First Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors.

Volleyball - Rachael Albright - The sophomore setter for the Owls has appeared in all seven matches this season and leads the team in assists per game (5.32).

Men’s Soccer - Garret Pettis - The sophomore forward has yet to see action in 2009 for the Bisons. As a freshman earned Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year honors, the first Bisons’ soccer player to receive the award. The Elizabethtown, Pa. native was the only unanimous selection to the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team and picked up Second Team All-Atlantic Sun honors.

Women’s Soccer - Emily Longden - In her first collegiate game Longden, the native of Jacksonville Fla., scored the lone goal in the Lady Bisons’ 1-0 home victory against Austin Peay. The freshman forward earned conference Player of the Week honors following her first two matches with the Bisons.

Volleyball - Amy Trykowski - The senior concluded 2008 ranked 153rd in NCAA Division I in hitting percentage (.298). The Dumfries, Va., native finished seventh overall in A-Sun in hitting percentage and sixth in A-Sun matches only in hitting percentage (.314).

Men’s Soccer - Richard Wimsatt - The sophomore has started all three matches for the Bears this season. The Warner Robins, Ga. native posted one assist in 2008 in a 2-1 loss to Lipscomb in the A-Sun Tournament.

Women’s Soccer - Emerald Phillips - The sophomore forward for the Bears ranks third on the team in points this season with three.

Volleyball - Chelsea Gebben - The senior setter leads the Bears in assists this season (126) and assists per set with 5.48. In 2008, the Jacksonville, Fla. native dished out double-digit assists in 24 of Mercer’s 29 contests and handed out a career high 25 assists and added eight digs against Presbyterian (9/5).

Men’s Soccer - Peter Lauer - The freshman is the first (or “Erst”) German on the list of “A-Sun Nines” as he is a native of Weiskirchen, Germany. The communications major made his collegiate debut against UCF in the UCF Fall Classic.

Women’s Soccer - Vladana Petricevic - The sophomore notched the first goal of here college career in the finale of the JU Invitational. The native of Dunedin, Fla. came off the bench against Furman to find the net in the 78th minute.

Volleyball - Kaley Read - The junior middle blocker earned All-Atlantic Sun Second Team honors a season ago. The Tampa, Fla. native started in all 32 matches for the Osprey in 2008 and led the team and was fourth in the league in kills per set with 3.5. Read recently picked up All-Tournament honors at the Appalachian State Invite. Read averaged 4.7 kills per set as well as 2.5 digs at the tournament.

USC Upstate
Men’s Soccer - Erkan Yildirim - The junior forward is the second German on our list as he is a native of Flensburg, Germany. He played in all 18 games and started 16 contests a season ago. The business management major finished the 2008 campaign third on the team with six points.

Women’s Soccer - Alyssa Roegner - The junior midfielder has yet to see action in 2009 but in 2008 she played in 18 games, earning six starts. The Shelby Township, Mich., native finished the campaign with one goal and one assist and tied for fourth on the team with three points.

Men’s Soccer - Giulio D'Amore - The sophomore played in 17 games with two starts in 2008 and tied for 6th on team in goals with two. The DeLand, Fla., native scored a goal in his first collegiate game against Webber International.

Women’s Soccer - Kristen Mueller - The freshman defender for the Hatters made her collegiate debut against UT Martin as a substitute. The Deland, Fla. native played 23 minutes and help Stetson shutout UT Martin, 1-0.

Volleyball - Sam Freeman - The sophomore middle blocker has found her way into four matches this season for the Hatters and currently leads the team in bocks per set (0.92).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A-Sun Family Athletic Connections - Men's Soccer

Men’s Soccer in the Atlantic Sun is back in action for 2009 with many players already putting together some great performances.

The more time you spend around Atlantic Sun soccer you find more and more that playing soccer in the A-Sun is a family affair. Just about every one player from every men’s soccer team in the Atlantic Sun has at least one close relative who either played a collegiate sport or currently competes as an NCAA student-athlete. I want to thank all of the universities that were able to get us information about their students-athletes and their families … If you are a student athlete in the A-Sun with an athletic family or a proud athletic family member of an A-Sun athlete please feel free to comment on this blog and add you family name to the list.

Eric Bowen leads the family affair for Belmont men’s soccer. Bowen’s father Sam Bowen played for the Boston Red Sox from 1977-80 and his twin sister Emily is a freshman on the North Georgia women’s soccer team.

Bowen’s teammate T.J. Brown also has also a twin sister (Taren) and she was the Ohio Valley Conference rookie of the year in 2007. Wade Wonderlin joins Bowen and Brown on the list with athletic sisters as his sibling Whitni was a cross country runner at Georgia.

Jackson Ferrell of Campbell earned a spot on CollegeSoccerNews.com’s “100 Freshmen to Watch List.” Ferrell’s father, Tony was a four-year men's soccer standout (1973-76) and his mother, Laura (Bolton) Ferrell, was a four-year basketball star for the Lady Camels. His father (1976) and uncle, Mike (1978) both won Campbell's Glen Brewster Memorial Award for leadership and courage.

Preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection Vince Petrasso has an uncle (Dave Porco), who earned All-American honors on the soccer field at Wisconsin-Green Bay. Mitchell Cardenas is the son of Alejeudro Cardenas who played 17 years in the Mexican Soccer League. Freshman Keegan Terry has quite the athletic family led by father, Kevin who played soccer at Cleveland State. Terry’s brother played for A-Sun rival Lipscomb from 2004-07 and sister Kaili is a junior with the Lady Camels.

ETSU features brothers Tyler and Sean Hoek but Jacksonville may take the cake with family connections. Nedim Hrustic has a brother Nardin who played with the Dolphins (07-08). Sophomore Kyle Johnson is the son of head soccer coach Mike Johnson, who played at Jacksonville in 1981-85. Kyle Johnson’s brother (Tyler) played football with the Dolphins in 2005-08.

Kelly Gill became the third child of John and Charlotte Gill to play college soccer following in the foot steps of brother Sean (Midwestern State University, 2004-06) and sister Erin (Hardin Simmons University, 2000-01). Jonathan Leach’s mother, Naulette played basketball at Connecticut. Conner Vogel’s brother, Eric, played as a defender on the University of Denver soccer team from 2004-07. To end the long string of Dolphin college student-athlete connections enters, Nate Binkley. His father played soccer at Maryland who then transferred to Old Dominion and became an Olympic Soccer pool player.

Lipscomb has some of the most diverse NCAA student-athlete families. Brent and Evan McGee are brothers. Mike Salmen’s father Dough played ice hockey at Miami (Ohio). Tyler Burkhardt’s dad Karl hit the college soccer pitch with Lock Haven and Ben Maxham’s father, Steve, played for Jacksonville State and then transferred to play soccer at Western Kentucky. Ben Maxham’s father is not the only athletically skilled member of the family as Ben’s uncle played football at Missouri.

It would be a good idea to avoid a dual with UNF’s Julliam Beau’s brother, as he was a member of the nationally-ranked Notre Dame fencing team. Beau’s teammate David Pollard has a sister who plays soccer and Winthrop.

USC Upstate’s Chris and Chad McCoy are the third set of brothers playing on the same team in the Atlantic Sun but the only set of twin brothers. Going deeper into the family tree John Kadane’s great grandmother was tennis pro Ann Cole. Colin Francis’ father, Robert, was a member of both the U19 and national teams for Trinidad back in his heyday.

To round the Atlantic Sun family of student-athletes and athletes of all types we have Logan Potter of Stetson. Potter’s father Gary played professional football for the Cincinnati Bengals.

That is at least all that I could find for men’s soccer at least. My next installment will feature A-Sun women’s soccer players with college or pro connections. Once again if you were not mentioned here and want to be included comment on the blog or twitter us @AtlanticSun.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pair of A-Sun Alums Shine on Diamond on Sunday

Fifteen years ago, Mike Lowell played second base for now former Atlantic Sun Conference member Florida International University. Many now know him as a two-time World Series champion third baseman for the Florida Marlins and Boston Red Sox. He won the MVP of the 2007 Fall Classic and has remained a mainstay in the Red Sox lineup.

Just three years ago, Daniel Murphy starred at Jacksonville University in winning the conference's Player of the Year award. He finished second in the conference in average, .398, and RBI 55. He made his major-league debut with the New York Mets last season, hitting .313. This season, he has been one of the few Mets to avoid the injury bug, leading the team in games played.

On Sunday, both smashed home runs and Murphy drove in all four of the Mets' runs leading their respective teams to victory.

Lowell's home run

Boston Globe recap


Murphy's home run

Murphy's two-run triple

New York Daily News Recap

Friday, September 4, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Sept. 4, 2009

What to Watch For gives you an in-depth look at what to keep an eye on during the weekend in A-Sun Athletics.

Cross Country
• Following USC Upstate’s debut on Tuesday, nine more Atlantic Sun cross country teams begin their 2009 season this weekend. The preseason favorite and defending women’s champion, Belmont Bruins host 10 other programs, including Lipscomb, while the men take on seven other teams in the Belmont Opener at the Vaughn’s Creek Course. The men enter as reigning meet champions while the women look to improve on last year’s seventh-place showing.
• ETSU, whose men ended Belmont’s six-year reign as league champion, travel to Boone, N.C. for the Covered Bridge Open. Kenneth Rotich, the 2008 A-Sun Runner of the Year, leads a strong nucleus that includes his cousin, Ben Ronoh plus senior J Penny. In addition to meet host Appalachian State, winner of the last four Southern Conference titles, Big 10 power Ohio State and ACC perennial favorites Florida State and North Carolina await the Buccaneers.
• Three A-Sun schools, Stetson, UNF and host Jacksonville make up three of the five schools participating in the JU Short Course Duals. Bethune-Cookman and Savannah State round out the five-school field competing in the event which consists of a two-mile race for the women and a 5K contest for the men. Jacksonville’s women finished second at the 2008 A-Sun Championships and UNF placed fourth in both the men’s and women’s preseason polls.
• Like Belmont and Jacksonville, Campbell hosts a meet, the Campbell Invitational, on the opening weekend. The men compete in a 4K race while the women will race in teams of two, each running a 1200 meter loop four times for a total of 4800 meters each. The women’s scores will come from the each team’s top three with the total fastest time. Tropical Storm Hanna cancelled the 2008 edition of the Campbell Invitational, but in 2007 current Junior Baillie Locke won her first collegiate race.
• Kennesaw State’s women return to the JSU Struts Season Opener as the meet’s three-time defending champions. Junior Mackenzie Howe finished the two-mile course last season in a time of 11:44 on her way to finishing first, leading four Owls finishing in the top seven. The men also took victory at the 2008 JSU Struts Season Opener led by Scott Burley’s second-place showing.

• When Jacksonville University finished its opening weekend at the Radisson-UCF Invitational Saturday evening, senior libero Shelley Walroth collected a total of 55 digs. The Dolphins are on the road as they open the Southern Miss Tournament where Walroth hopes to accumulate the remaining 44 digs to surpass Lipscombs’ Ann Mullins (1,969) for the A-Sun career record. Walroth also needs just 74 digs to become the 26th player in Division 1 history to tally 2,000 career digs.
• Freshman middle blocker Alison Loeppky joined JU volleyball this week after leading her native Manitoba to a gold medal in the 2009 Jeux Du Canada Games in Charlottetown, Prince Edward. Loeppky helped lead Manitoba to a perfect 7-0 record through the national tournament after tallying 27 kills, 11 service aces and 24 blocks in six contests.
• Named as the tournament of the week, the Belmont Invitational features teams from the A-Sun, Ohio Valley, Southland, and Big South conferences, Southeast Missouri State, Central Arkansas and Samford, live on ASunTV from the Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tenn. All four teams went a combined 90-34 in 2008. The field includes one NCAA Tournament participant and three teams that finished in the top-three of their conference.
• Another four A-Sun schools host home-turf tournaments this weekend, USC Upstate, Mercer, Stetson and Kennesaw State. USC Upstate will take to the field against the Southern Conference’s The Citadel, the Big South’s UNC Asheville and the ACC’s N.C. State in the third annual USC Upstate Volleyball Classic. Mercer is set to host its home opener in the University Center on Friday as part of the fifth annual Bear Brawl, against Furman, Troy, and Bethune-Cookman. Stetson faces Southern Illinois, Florida A&M and SIU as they host the Holiday Inn Stetson Invitational at the Edmunds Center. KSU hosts the Great 8 Volleyball Challenge Presented by Residence Inn, challenging Nicholls State, Rider and Alabama A&M.

Men’s Soccer
• ETSU welcomes VMI to Summers-Taylor Stadium at 5:00 p.m. and the game can be seen live on ASunTV at 5:00 p.m. The Bucs will be looking for their first win in Johnson City as they picked up a dramatic 2-2 tie against Wofford on Tuesday. ETSU’s Matt Reed and Tyler Hoek will have to be careful against VMI as they both enter the VMI game under caution as they picked up second-half yellow cards against Wofford.
• Jacksonville opens its 2009 season against Winthrop in Boiling Spring, N.C. in the A-Sun Game of the Week on Friday at 4:00 p.m. The Dolphins were scheduled to open the season against FAU on Tuesday but the game was cancelled after one half of action due to rain. Jacksonville led at the half 3-0 on a pair of goals from junior forward Nedim Hrustic and a score from freshman midfielder David Santa Maria.
• Defending regular season champion, Campbell looks to claim their first victory of 2009 on Saturday against William and Mary. The Camels fell in their season opener against UNC Wilmington, 3-1. Campbell entered the second-half tied against the Seahawks, but the Camels fell victim to two second-half goals from UNC Wilmington.
• FGCU looks to knock off No. 11 USF on Friday in the Eagles home opener. FGCU and USF kickoff at 7:00pm and the first 150 fans in attendance will receive free white t-shirts as FGCU will look to “White Out” the Bulls.

Women’s Soccer
• The Coaches for a Cure Classic opens tonight in Jacksonville, Fla. at the Ashley Sports Complex with UNF battling Georgia Southern at the Ashley Sports Complex.
• Mercer looks ride the wave of moment it gained with its 1-1 tie against No. 16 Georgia. Mercer opens the weekend Friday in a match with Presbyterian and then welcomes Indiana to Bears Field on Sunday.
• Stetson travels to the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. to battle with Army and UT Martin. The Hatters have been led in offensively this season by Tessa Gavilsky, the 2008 A-Sun Player of the Year. Gavilsky has found the net four times in four games in 2009.
• Jacksonville battles Georgia Southern in the A-Sun Game of the Week on Sunday at the Ashley Sports Complex at 2:00 p.m. live on ASunTV.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Inside a Coaches’ Committee Business Meeting

Ever wonder what happens when a bunch of coaches get together on a conference call? Well, Atlantic Sun Insider will give you a peek into the baseball coaches’ business meeting conducted via teleconference on Tuesday morning.

Prior to the call, some work goes into preparation. Coaches’ Committee Chair Jeff Forehand of Lipscomb works with his peers to collect agenda items for the call and shares them with A-Sun baseball liaison Matt Wilson. About a week out, all the coaches, Directors of Athletics (ADs) and Senior Woman Administrators (SWAs) from around the league get a copy of the agenda to prepare for the call.

On the day of the call, Commissioner Gumbart gave the group a brief welcome and acknowledged the recent announcement from UNF’s Hall of Fame coach Dusty Rhodes about his retirement at the conclusion of the 2010 season. After the pleasantries, we jumped right into the business of the day. Tony Thompson, the A-Sun’s Coordinator of Umpires gave a report on officiating issues and the conference office followed up by discussing policy changes that will affect baseball for the upcoming year. Most of those related to some one-year cost containment measures that will expire at the end of the season.

Among the big topics discussed included the baseball schedule and enhancing the conference championship.

Scheduling always presents a challenge in the sport as our institutions place a high priority on year-ending academic activities such as exams and graduation. As a result each school gets an opportunity to block one date and request a preference for a second date in the 12-week schedule. These issues make putting the schedule together a bit like playing Tetris … sometimes everything falls in place and sometimes you hit the reset button. Another unique feature of the A-Sun schedule is that since there are 11 schools, one team will have a bye each week during the season. These dates become rather difficult to fill especially as the calendar moves into April and May when other conferences are in full swing of league play.

While making scheduling a smoother and timelier process is always on the agenda, recent actions by the NCAA elicited some conversation as well. The Association has seen the schedule expand and contract as the group seeks to establish competitive equity, particularly between schools in warmer climates versus those in cooler climates. The basic idea is that the earlier the start date for baseball, the bigger the advantage for teams in the warmer climates. Due in large part to our geography and our commitment to academics, the A-Sun strongly supports an earlier start date. All of our schools can begin play in early February without a huge financial burden and by starting that early, mid-week games are cut down which in turn limits missed class time. Long story short, Conference USA introduced legislation last year to add a week to the season beginning in 2010 and it was approved and sustained by the Legislative Council in late July. As part of the governance structure in the NCAA an override can be petitioned for and granted if certain benchmarks are met. These benchmarks were achieved and the Association will vote on whether to overturn the legislation in January.

The conference championship will be held at Lipscomb this year, the first time that the event has reached Tennessee. A discussion about the amount of teams that should participate and some format issues ensued. I believe we are on the right track at this championship and it will be a great experience for the student-athletes and all our fans.

After bouncing around a few more NCAA issues ranging from bats to practice regulations, the committee finished their call with a discussion on the RPI. The elusive RPI is still a mystery to many, but under Commissioner Gumbart’s leadership, the A-Sun is looking for ways to enhance the RPI of each conference team regardless of sport with the final goal being to increase NCAA championship appearances and earn higher seeds once we get there.

That gives you a quick (or not so quick) peek at a conference coaches business meeting. I hope you have enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look. Leave a comment if you liked this sort of information as we try to figure out how best to utilize our blog.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Inside Interviews with the A-Sun Cross Country Coaches

The final of the Atlantic Sun's fall sports begins on Tuesday with the first cross country meets of the season. ETSU's men and Belmont's women enter as the preseason favorites, each returning last year's individual champion. Kenneth Rotich defends his men's title for the Buccaneers while the Bruins' Brittany Thune seeks to repeat as the conference's top female runner. The head coaches from two programs sat down for interviews to preview the upcoming year.

Men's Cross Country Preseason Favorite - ETSU
Head Coach Dave Walker

Women's Cross Country Preseason Favorite - Belmont
Head Coach Seth Sheridan