Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rotich Turns Disappointment into Victory

by Matt Wilson

Harkening back to a similar scene a year ago, Kenneth Rotich glanced back over his left shoulder and saw … nothing. Runner-up Gilbert Kemboi trailed by as many as 10 seconds late and no kick would make up the distance over the final 100 meters.

Rotich slowly lifted his right hand in victory.

Flashback to October 27, 2007. Then a sophomore, Rotich dominated the first three-quarters of the A-Sun Championship. However, his body started working against him in the final stretch. De-hydration set in and he limped home to the finish in seventh place.

“I was winning in 2007 but unfortunately I became de-hydrated,” said Rotich. “I just could not run anymore and definitely not fast enough to compete for the win.”

The disappointment of 2007 transitioned into the dominance of the last two years.

“I think about it (2007). Sometimes when you mess up running, some things give you more motivation than others,” stated Rotich. “That was one of those things that makes me say ‘come on’.”

Redemption came last year as he led ETSU to its first conference title in cross country. This year as the favorite, he did not disappoint.

Dolphins Make a Fall Splash

by Matt Wilson

Dominance. That has been the easy way to describe the Jacksonville University women’s Track & Field team. The Dolphins have won four straight outdoor titles and four straight indoor titles.

Hurdle. Belmont’s women’s cross country squad owned seven of the last eight A-Sun championship trophies.

“Belmont University has set the standard and the reason that the whole conference is getting better in cross country is because of how good Belmont’s women have been forever,” said A-Sun Coach of the Year Ron Grigg. “We aspired to meet that level and that is why you saw such fast times today.”

The Dolphins cleared that hurdle with ease at the 2009 Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championship as six runners finished in the top-14. What some spectators may have seen as a one-trick pony without the depth to compete in cross country can now claim an unprecedented trifecta: owning all three track related conference titles in one calendar year.

“We want to be a balanced team with great throwers, great jumpers, great sprinters and great distance runners. Our middle distance kids have performed on the track all along. We just haven’t put it together in cross country,” Grigg said. “We were close last year. I guess there is a learning curve to winning championships and that is what we told the team. They were ready last year and we finally got it done this year.”

Senior Elsabeth Goshu led a pod of Dolphins across the finish line, placing third in her final championship.

“I am happy to be part of it. We worked really hard,” added an animated Goshu. “We were excited before the race started and are now very happy. We are proud to bring this trophy to our University and our great head coach.”

Running 5000 meters around winding turns, across gravel roads and through soccer fields can be mentally grueling and sometimes lonely. The JU track & field contingent was determined not to let their distance teammates endure that extra challenge. Nearly 15 student-athletes made the just over one hour drive down to Stetson.

"Cross country is a really hard sport and it is crucial to have people there to support you. Having that support gives you the extra push you need to pass the next person,” said Unique Singleton, a junior sprinter.

They were among a large number of enthusiastic supporters at the Sterling Sports Complex and may have made a difference.

“It was awesome. I heard them at every corner and it is a great feeling to hear them,” Goshu said.

When Goshu and her teammates came across the finish line with plenty of room to spare to claim the title, it was special for their track & field teammates as well.

“We were so excited. Some of us even got teary eyed and almost cried. We hope that this will carry over into track season,” said Singleton.

Singleton and her track teammates’ chance to continue the title streak and build towards winning all three titles in a single academic year takes place at the Indoor Track & Field Championships on Feb. 26 - 27, 2010 from the Memorial Center in Johnson City, Tenn.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Oct. 23, 2009

Cross Country:
• In the final week before the Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships, two schools host meets with a total of four running. Lipscomb and Mercer join the hosting Kennesaw State at the Owls Invitational from Noonday Park in Kennesaw, Ga. Down south, FGCU hosts its first invitational in school history.

Men's Golf:
• In a busy weekend on the links, eight men's golf teams tee it up at various tournaments across the south. A trio of the league's Florida schools, FGCU, Jacksonville and Stetson travel to Daytona Beach, Fla., for the Bethune-Cookman Fall Invite. Stetson's David McAndrew and the rest of Hatters look to defend titles from last year's event. McAndrew won a playoff with teammate Tommy Parker. As a team, the Hatters won the event by two strokes.
• In Windermere, Fla., ETSU joins 14 other prestigious programs competing at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational from Isleworth Golf & Country Club. The tournament, conducted on a course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, and later redesigned and enhanced by Steve Smyers features seven of the 15 teams in the field are ranked among the top 10 nationally, including top-ranked Oklahoma State.
Arizona State (2/2), Illinois (3/6), Washington (4/3), TCU (5/8), Stanford (6/5) and Florida (10/11).
• The conference's Georgia schools, Mercer and Kennesaw State cross the state line into Tennessee for the Scenic City/Aldila Invitational from the Council Fire Golf Club in Chattanooga. The host Mocs took second at Mercer's Brickyard Invitational, held earlier this month.

Women's Golf:
• On the women's side, three schools, Campbell, ETSU and Kennesaw State head to Kiawah Island, S.C. for the Palmetto Intercollegiate. The Buccaneers took second at the event last year, while the Camels placed sixth. Individually, ETSU teammates Mayte Vizcarrondo and Sinead O'Sullivan shared low honors in tying for third.
• FGCU and Stetson stay in the Florida for the FIU Pat Bradley Invitational. A year ago, the Hatters finished fourth, led by Danielle Jackson's sixth-place showing. Elsewhere, USC Upstate and Mercer partake in the Boscobel Invitational from the Boscobel Golf Club in Pendleton, S.C., along with five additional schools.Men's Soccer:
• Campbell knocked off Stetson on Thursday night in the A-Sun Game of the Week to extend their conference unbeaten streak to 18 games. The Camels have a shot to lock of the No. 1 seed in the A-Sun tournament if they can knock off FGCU in Fort Myers, Fla.
• Belmont looks to continue its winning ways coming off of their first winning streak of the season after defeating Jacksonville on Friday and UNF on Sunday. The two wins moved the Bruins up four places in the Atlantic Sun standings.
• FGCU goalkeeper Matthew Smith (Cape Canaveral, Fla.) has played every minute in goal for the Eagles this season and has a chance to led them to the A-Sun regular season title. The Eagles can take a big step toward that goal if they can knock off Campbell on Saturday.

Women's Soccer:
• Belmont travels to Jacksonville in pivotal match up in the Atlantic Sun Game of the Week at 6 p.m. Friday at the Ashley Sports Complex. Both Belmont and Jacksonville remain in contention for the A-Sun title. Jacksonville can claim the A-Sun title with wins versus Belmont and Lipscomb. Belmont will capture the conference title with a win against Jacksonville and win against UNF. Belmont can also win the league title with win against Jacksonville and a tie or against UNF but only if Kennesaw State fall to Campbell on Saturday.
• Stetson’s Tessa Gavilsky scored the game-winning goal against the Bisons and assisted on the equalizer against the Bruins. With 69 career points she is now just one point shy of becoming Stetson’s all-time scoring leader. She also currently leads the A-Sun in scoring (25 pts), goals (9), and game-winning goals (5).
• Senior forward Jordan Monty earned her third career A-Sun Offensive Player of the Week honor Monday, as the Mesquite, Texas native picked up seven points during the week. Monty and the Bucs need a big weekend to make it to the A-Sun tournament as they enter the weekend one point out of the final tournament spot.

• Senior libero Shelley Walroth, a Cincinnati native, holds single season and career dig marks at Jacksonville, sur­passing Cheryl Rothwell (43 at Stetson - Nov. 12, 1996) for the program’s single match record (46 – Oct. 17). Walroth moved into 16th place on the NCAA all-time digs list with 2,267 and needs seven to move into the top 15 and 77 to crack the top 10. The psychology major also earned a Top Performer selection from the Col­legiate Volleyball Update for her performance this past week.
• Senior Chelsey Denesha tallied 18 kills while junior Sabrita Gulley made 17 kills and 11 digs to lead Kennesaw State to one of the biggest wins in program history; a 3-1 win against Belmont in an A-Sun match, Saturday afternoon at the KSU Convocation Center. Gulley's play from her back and subsequent block in the fourth set of the match earned her a nomination for the AVCA Play of the Week. AVCA member schools have the opportunity to submit up to three plays per week to be voted on by coaches, players, fans and the general public for the chance to be named Volleyball Market/AVCA Play of the Week. Watch Gulley’s play HERE and vote HERE by Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.
• Lipscomb (15) and Jacksonville (12) enter the week looking to extend double-digit win streaks. No other conference in the country features two schools with concurrent win streaks of at least 10 matches. The Lady Bisons (18-3, 13-0 A-Sun) placed 57th in the NCAA RPI rankings, up 14 places, and represent the highest ranking in team history. Lipscomb enters the week with a 15-match winning streak overall and a perfect 13-0 Atlantic Sun record. In 12 of those 15 victories, including each of the first eight, they won without dropping a set. The Lady Bisons are at home this weekend, hosting FGCU at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday night and Stetson at 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena. After being shut out in straight sets against Belmont and Lipscomb to open A-Sun play, Jacksonville (15-5, 11-2 A-Sun) has won 12 straight matches. The winning streak represents the longest under head coach Shaun Kupferberg, as well as the longest winning streak for the Dolphins since joining the A-Sun in 1998. The Dolphins have won six consecutive road matches and boast a perfect 3-0 record in five-set matches as compared to a 0-5 mark last year. Jacksonville will return to action on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. as the Dolphins travel to USC Upstate.
• The battle for championship seeding headlines Saturday’s contest between ETSU and Kennesaw State - two schools locked in a bat­tle for the sixth and final spot. The last time the Owls and Lady Buccaneers met, ETSU held on to defeat Kennesaw State, 3-2, at the KSU Convocation Center. Junior Erin Ryan led the way offensively for the Bucs with a team-high 17 kills, while junior outside hitter Desiree Dyck posted a double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs. Junior middle blocker Alysa Long and sophomore middle blocker M­cKayla Barber each posted 11 kills and five blocks in the match. ETSU owns a 5-1 series advantage with Kennesaw State since 2006. Gulley, the Owls’ Top Performer of the Week, led Kennesaw State to a 2-1 week in the A-Sun and moved the Owls into the coveted sixth-place standing. The Lady Bucs have emerged victorious in 18 of their last 31 home contests in Brooks Gym. The match airs on ASun.TV.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lipscomb and JU Look to Extend Volleyball Win Streaks

Lipscomb (15) and Jacksonville (12) enter the week looking to extend double-digit win streaks. No other conference in the country features two schools with concurrent win streaks of at least 10 matches.
One of the preseason goals for the Lady Bisons (18-3, 13-0 A-Sun) - to end the season in the top 50 in the national RPI ratings - moved within reach. The Lady Bisons placed 57th in the NCAA RPI rankings, up 14 places, representing the highest ranking in team history. The Lady Bisons enter the week with a 15-match winning streak overall and a perfect 13-0 Atlantic Sun record.

Featured in The City Paper’s “Triple threat's been a treat for LU volleyball team,” three of Lipscomb’s top players hail from the “Show Me State.” Missouri natives Alex Kelly, Stefine Pease and Meghan Hinemeyer played club volleyball together for three years before they embarked on their respective college careers. Kelly and Pease came to Lipscomb as freshmen and have played in integral role in the program’s steady rise, which now is in its seventh season under head coach Brandon Rosenthal. Hinemeyer transferred from Clemson in the spring and immediately added a devil-may-care attitude as well as a devilish ability to attack.

In 12 of those 15 victories, including each of the first eight, they won without dropping a set. Led by that trio, the Lady Bisons carry their 15-match win streak into this weekend. The Lady Bisons are at home this weekend, hosting FGCU at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday night and Stetson at 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena.

After being shut out in straight sets against Belmont and Lipscomb to open A-Sun play, Jacksonville (15-5, 11-2 A-Sun) has won 12 straight matches. The winning streak represents the longest under head coach Shaun Kupferberg, as well as the longest winning streak for the Dolphins since joining the A-Sun in 1998.

The Dolphins have also won 13 straight home matches, the longest streak in the Division I era (1985-current). Jackson¬ville’s 6-0 mark at home this season accounts for the best start since the Dolphins joined the A-Sun. The Dolphins have won six consecutive road matches and boast a perfect 3-0 record in five-set matches as compared to a 0-5 mark last year.

Senior outside hitter Brooke Singleton was a major factor in extending Jacksonville’s winning streak to a record 12 straight matches, earning her first A-Sun Player of the Week honor for her efforts in a 3-0 week on the road. The Roseville, Ill. native joins senior libero Shelley Walroth (Sept. 8) in receiving the weekly honor this year. The duo are the first multi-award winners for the Dolphins since outside hitter Radka Dimitrova earned the accolade in consecutive weeks during the 2002 season.

Walroth, a Cincinnati native, holds single season and career dig marks at Jacksonville, surpassing Cheryl Rothwell (43 at Stetson - Nov. 12, 1996) for the program’s single match record (46 – Oct. 17). Walroth moved into 16th place on the NCAA all-time digs list with 2,267 and needs seven to move into the top 15 and 77 to crack the top 10. The psychology major also earned a Top Performer selection from the Collegiate Volleyball Update for her performance this past week. Jacksonville will return to action on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. as the Dolphins travel to USC Upstate.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Softball Team To Hold Donation Clinic For Amanda Littlejohn

BUIES CREEK, N.C. - Members of the Campbell softball team will be hosting a clinic on Nov. 7, 2009 to benefit redshirt junior catcher Amanda Littlejohn. The clinic will be open to the public and will be held at the Eakes Athletic Complex from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The team will be accepting donations for a fund to directly aid in the medical bills incurred by Littlejohn in her fight against cancer.

Littlejohn was the starting catcher for the Camels during the 2007 and 2008 season. In the summer of 2007 she was diagnosed with melanoma. She fought the disease while continuing to play the game of softball during the spring 2008 season, a season in which she had a historic campaign with a .367 batting average, 84 hits, 15 home runs and a school-record 72 RBIs and ended with Campbell making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years.

The cancer was thought to be in remission until November 2008 when Littlejohn got the tragic news that the cancer had returned and a malignant tumor was found in her brain. Littlejohn, a California native, flew back home to fight the disease once again with the support of her family. Over the summer, after surgery in her brain to remove the tumors, Littlejohn was cleared by her doctors to play and given a clean bill of health in July 2009. The joy was short-lived though as this past September two more tumors were found in her brain. Littlejohn is currently living back in California and will begin radiation treatments later this month.

Campbell's softball team is now raising money for a fund to aid the Littlejohn family defray the medical costs for the surgeries and radiation treatments that she will be undergoing and are running this clinic to aid in the process.

"Amanda is one of those rare individuals that you can't help but love and look up to for her positive approach to life, and the way she treats others," head coach Drew Peterson explained. "She is a true inspiration to our team, and we look forward to celebrating her victory over this newest opponent in the future. We are constantly thinking about her and her family, and lifting them up in prayer. This fundraiser is just one small way we want the Littlejohn family to know how much we love them."

For any questions about the clinic or to make a donation please contact Peterson at 910-893-1355.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Midnight Madness Comes to the A-Sun

Lady Bucs Hit the Hardwood for First Time

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 16, 2009) – Basketball season is upon us in Johnson City.

The Lady Bucs began their official start of the 2009-10 season inside Memorial Center on Friday evening with a three-hour long practice.

“The first day of practice is always an exciting day for both the coaching staff and players,” commented head ETSU women’s basketball coach Karen Kemp, who returns for her 16th season and looks to guide the Lady Bucs to a program best fifth straight winning campaign. “The first couple days of practice are always a learning curve for everyone, since this is the first time the coaching staff can see the team play together. Overall, day one was a success, and we look forward to the upcoming weeks ahead as we prepare for our season-opener.”

ETSU, who returns eight letterwinners (including all five starters) from last season’s squad that made the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, also brought in seven fresh faces to the team this off-season.

ETSU was tabbed the Atlantic Sun Tournament favorite last week in both the coaches’ and media polls, while senior Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) was listed as the Preseason Player of the Year. Along with Evans, fellow senior leaders TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) and Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.) were also voted to the preseason all-conference team.

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Basketball Practices Tip-off Friday Night

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Along with over 300 Division I programs in the country, FGCU's third-year D-I basketball teams are set to begin organized practices on Friday night.

FGCU Women's Basketball Head Coach Karl Smesko returns all five starters -- including preseason all-conference first-team forwards Adrianne McNally and Chelsea Lyles -- from last year's Atlantic Sun regular-season championship team that advanced to the second round of the postseason WNIT, losing to eventual WNIT champ USF in overtime on the road.

The Eagles, who finished the 2008-09 season 26-5 overall and 17-3 in the A-Sun, were picked to repeat in the coaches and media polls released Oct. 7. They open their season on Nov. 13, when they host UTEP in a Preseason WNIT first-rounder at 7:05 p.m.

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Dolphins get 2009-10 Season Started with Friday Practice
With preseason practice starting on Friday, the JU men’s basketball team took some time away from its individual workouts this week to speak to local children at Matthew Gilbert Middle School.

The entire JU team spent time with the sixth and seventh grade at the school, while also speaking to the football team. The Dolphins discussed the importance of staying in school, doing their homework and listening to teachers, coaches and parents.

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Kennesaw State
Lady Owls Begin Practice for 2009-10

KENNESAW, Ga. - The Kennesaw State University women's basketball team took to the court in the on-campus practice facility at 8 p.m. Friday evening as head coach Colby Tilley conducted his first official practice of the 2009-10 season.

"I'm really happy with the effort tonight," said Coach Tilley. "The freshmen are learning quickly. This is all about helping the team become acclimated to what a full two-hour or two-and-a-half hour practice will be like on a daily basis so they can see what kind of work it takes to be successful."

The team went through standard instructional drills, with Coach Tilley and all of the assistant coaches interjecting helpful information during the period. After some full-team drills, the team split up into groups and worked on defensive and offensive plays with each of the assistant coaches.

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Men's and Women's Hoops Practices Open

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The University of North Florida men’s and women’s basketball teams will officially begin practice for the 2009-10 season on Friday, Oct. 16.

The practices coincide with UNF’s first Varsity Club Weekend for athletics. UNF is welcoming back former student-athletes from baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and swimming and diving for a weekend-long event starting on Friday, Oct. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

The Osprey women will scrimmage from 5:30-6 p.m. and the men will follow with a full practice from 6-9 p.m.

Media availability for men’s head coach Matthew Driscoll, women’s head coach Mary Tappmeyer and select players from both teams will take place at a media luncheon on Monday, Oct. 19, at Noon at the Boathouse in the new UNF Student Union directly across from UNF Arena.

Driscoll, who is beginning his first season at UNF and his first as a Division I head coach, likened the start of practice to one of our most famous holidays.

“I’d probably compare it to Christmas,” said Driscoll. “You know when you were a kid and every year you do it but it’s still the same excitement, even though it’s as a head coach this time. Whether it’s Midnight Madness or not, it just spurs that natural ignitability inside you to get excited and to just get after it. So I’d compare it to Christmas, first born, and how you have those kinds of excitements, though my wife wouldn’t compare it to that though.”

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USC Upstate
Spartans To Stage Upstate Midnight Madness Monday

Spartanburg, S.C. - The tradition continues as USC Upstate will hold its version of Midnight Madness to unveil the 2009-10 men's and women's basketball teams to Spartan fans Monday night at 10:00 p.m. in the Hodge Center.

Door will open at 9:30 p.m. to allow fans to get their seats for the fun-filled night. The first 500 fans through the doors will receive the official 2009 Midnight Madness t-shirt. Free food and drinks will be available for everyone in attendance. Admission to Upstate's Midnight Madness is free.

Upstate fans will be introduced to the men's and women's basketball teams, watch thrilling action during the three-point shooting contest, and get in on the action in the hot shot and Academy Sports Half Court Shot contests. Fans will also be eligible to receive free giveaways featuring a Nintendo Wii, four tickets to a Charlotte Bobcats game, 50 gallons of gas, various gift cards and $100 for Greek and/or Student organization participation.

The night, though, will end on a high note when the Air Elite acrobatic dunk team takes to the Hodge floor with an amazing aerial display. Air Elite has performed at basketball venues throughout the world, including several major professional and college arenas.

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Hatters, Students Enjoy Midnight Madness

DeLand, Fla. - Fun and exciting action was the hallmark of the evening at Stetson's Midnight Madness basketball event Friday night as Head Coaches Derek Waugh and Lynn Bria unveiled their 2009-10 men's and women's basketball squads to an enthusiastic student audience. The "White" team defeated the "Green" team in both the men's and women's intrasquad scrimmages while senior guard Brandon Williams (Miami, Fla.) outlasted freshman guard Tyshawn Patterson (Orlando, Fla.) to win the slam dunk competition.

Although most of the men's squads broke out their high-flying moves, it was Williams and Patterson that qualified for the finals. Only the senior was able to flush his final dunk through the hoop, however, giving Williams the crown.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Oct. 16, 2009

Cross Country:
• On Friday, five Atlantic Sun schools head to Florida for the Hatter Invitational. The meet features a preview of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship on October 31st. The 5k course is located at Sperling Sports Complex, about five miles north of Stetson University, the host of the championship. • On Saturday in other cross country action, Lipscomb’s men and women compete at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville, Ark. and the UE Invitational in Evansville, Ind., Campbell will compete at the Asics/Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, N.C., Belmont and ETSU race at the ISU Pre-Nationals in Terra Haute, Ind. and USC Upstate hosts the USC Upstate Invite in Spartansburg, S.C. Next week, the Owls will be back in competition as they host the first KSU Owl Invitational at Noonday Park in Kennesaw, an event that will host the A-Sun schools from the Music City.

Men's Soccer:
• FGCU travels to Spartanburg, S.C. to meet USC Upstate in the Atlantic Sun men’s soccer Game of the Week at Noon Sunday in County University Soccer Stadium live on ASunTV. FGCU looks to stay on the heels of A-Sun leading Campbell, who remains unbeaten in conference play. USC Upstate opened the season with four consecutive losses but since then the Spartans hold four wins and a tie in their last seven games. • Campbell had not lost a game during the month of October in nearly two years before falling to No. 2 UNC on Tuesday, compiling a string of 17-straight wins or draws. CU stood 15-0-2 in its last 17 games during October, since a 3-2 loss at Lipscomb on Oct. 13, 2007. During that stretch, Campbell had defeated North Carolina twice in addition to a 13-0-2 mark against league foes.
• Mercer's Ian Cameron continues to shine in his junior season at Mercer. The A-Sun Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3 leads the team with six goals and 13 points.
• UNF returns to action on Friday, Oct. 16, as they head to Nashville, Tenn. for a match against Lipscomb at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Oct. 18, the Ospreys battle in Nashville for a match at Belmont set to start at 2 p.m.
• Stetson's Kevin Munz scored a pair of goals in each win this week and was named the A-Sun Offensive Player of the Week. He is now second in the league in scoring (15 pts) and in assists (five). This week Stetson will travel north to take on USC Upstate on Friday and ETSU on Sunday. Stetson enters the week in second place in the A-Sun at 3-1-0, one point behind Campbell (3-0-1).

Women's Soccer:
• FGCU heads north to Nashville, Tenn. to due battle with Belmont in the Atlantic Sun women’s soccer Game of the Week at 4:00 p.m. CST Friday at the Whitten Soccer Complex. The Bruins and the Eagles enter the weekend second and third in the conference standings, respectfully. Belmont holds the A-Sun’s top winning percentage in league play but the Bruins sit second in the standings with a game in hand to conference leader Kennesaw State. • Campbell’s four-game unbeaten streak has boosted the Camels into second place in the league standings with 13 points and a 4-2-1 record. Campbell (9-6-1) has produced its most overall and league victories since 2005, when the Camels advanced to the A-Sun title contest. CU has not stood this high in the league table at this point in the season since ‘05.
• The Dolphins have played their first seven games of conference play with just a single loss, a streak that has not been matched since 2002. JU headed north to face Campbell on Thursday, picking up a tie and the Dolphins turn right around for the SunTrust River City Rumble against UNF on Monday.
• Monday night will feature the fifth year anniversary of the SunTrust River City Rumble between UNF and JU. Even though this is the fifth year these two teams have battled in the same conference and for the coveted, “SunTrust Old Wooden Barrel,” the Ospreys have battled the cross town rivals seven times and have come away victorious three out of the four times. Last year’s contest ended in a 1-0 win for Jacksonville after both teams ended the match with ten players due to red cards.
• Stetson's Tessa Gavilsky regained her position on top of the league scoring chart (22 points) after scoring two goals and dishing out three assists on the week. She had a goal and two assists in win over UNF. Last year’s A-Sun Offensive Player of the Year also leads the A-Sun with four game-winning goals.

Women's Golf:
• The Owls look to improve on an eighth-place finish a week ago as they head to Iowa City, Iowa for the Hawkeye Invitational. In wet conditions on the final day of the Eat A Peach Invitational, Kennesaw State shot 311, last weekend to finish in eighth place out of 12 teams, 19-shots behind No. 9-ranked Georgia who won the title after shooting a 13-over par 301. The Owls beat in-state rivals Augusta State for the 2nd straight week and also conference foe Mercer.

Men's Golf:
• Only ETSU hit the links this weekend in A-Sun play as they head to Jonesborough, Tenn for the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate Invitational. The Bucs are coming off their best finish of the season coming in third out of 12 teams at the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate Invitational in Birmingham, Ala.

• Senior libero Walroth moved into 22nd place In the NCAA career standings all-time with 26 digs at UNF and needs 26 more to move into the top 20. Walroth, who has tallied at least 20 digs in 10 matches this year, currently leads the A-Sun with an average of 5.35 digs per set. The Cincinnati native has also found her way into the national rankings by sitting 15th with her digs per set average.
• Against ETSU on Tuesday, both sophomores Kelsie Queen and Morgan Thomas became the third and fourth players at USC Upstate to reach 200 career kills in A-Sun matches. Thomas also needs just one block to become the first player in the D-I era to reach 150 rejections.
• The Owls (10-8, 5-6) are coming off what statistically ranks as one of the best defensive matches in the four-year history of the program. Kennesaw State recorded a program-record 109 digs in a four-set win at Mercer Tuesday night. Senior libero Selina O’Leary set the school record for digs in a match with 27, with sophomore setter Rachael Albright just behind with 26. The Owls play host to Lipscomb on Friday night, followed by Belmont Saturday afternoon at at the KSU Convocation Center.
• FGCU looks to extend its four-match winning streak this weekend when they entertain UNF and Jacksonville this Friday and Saturday. The Eagles have been dominant at home during the five plus years of the program, posting a 48-4 record in Alico Arena. FGCU has been equally dominant conference competition, going 41-5 against league foes since joining the A-Sun in 2007. • The Camels are 13-8 overall on the season after a 3-0 sweep of Winston-Salem State last Tuesday, a match that saw Campbell set season-bests in aces (13), points allowed (38) and opponent hitting percentage (-.052). By the start of October, Campbell racked up an 11-5 overall record that included a 5-1 start in A-Sun play, second in the league. These marks have not been seen by a CU team in nearly a decade. This weekend, Campbell welcomes ETSU and USC Upstate inside the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center. • After pushing their winning streak to 13 matches with a 3-1 victory against Belmont in the Match of the Week, the Lipscomb Lady Bisons (16-3, 11-0) make stops at Kennesaw State and Mercer this weekend. On Tuesday, a new edition of “Battle of the Boulevard” was played in front of a record crowd of 1,379 fans, a new record for a volleyball match at Allen Arena. Lady Bisons Head Coach Brandon Rosenthal directed his team to a record 50th win in the Atlantic Sun. Reigning Player of the Week Alex Kelly leads the A-Sun and the Bisons with 4.32 kills per set, while setter Stefine “Jake” Pease leads the conference with 11.54 assists per set.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A-Sun Professional Baseball Update

MACON, Ga. - As the Major League Baseball regular season wraps up, A-Sun Insider takes a minute to look at the former members of the A-Sun that continue to perform well for their minor and major league squads.

Former FGCU Eagle Casey Coleman picked up Chicago Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year honor as he finished the year with a record of 14-6 for the Cubs Double A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies. Coleman, in his second season in the Cubs system, posted a 3.68 earned-run average in 27 starts while recording 84 strikeouts.

Daniel Murphy, a Jacksonville baseball product, posted solid numbers in his first full season with the New York Mets. Murphy led the Mets in home runs, 12, and games played, 155. He hit .266 with 38 doubles, second to David Wright and tied for 12th in the National League.

Murphy Highlights

Murphy also showed his skills in the field in one of the best defensive plays of 2009

Former Stetson outfield standout, Chris Johnson spent most of 2009 with the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Round Rock. While with the Express, Johnson posted a .281 batting average with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Johnson picked up his first major hit against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 10.

Johnson Highlights

Caleb Joseph, a former catcher for Lipscomb, spent 2009 with the Frederick Keys posting a .284 batting average with 12 home runs and 60 RBI. Joseph, the MVP of the 2008 Atlantic Sun Championships, posted 37 extra-base hits and a .450 slugging percentage. Joseph’s accomplishments were not just on the field as he also accepted the Elrod Hendricks Community Service Award on behalf of Orioles’ minor league system. Joseph also recently received an invitation to the Orioles’ Major League camp in Feburary.

After being drafted in the first-round (34th overall) of the 2009 Amateur Entry Draft, former Lipscomb left hander Rex Brothers split time between the Asheville Tourists and Tri-City in the Colorado Rockies organization. The Shelbyville, Tenn. native appeared in 17 games between the two teams posting a 2-0 record with a 3.38 ERA all in relief appearances. Brothers, who led the A-Sun in strikeouts in 2009 with 132, continued to rack up the “K’s” fanning 28 in 21.1 innings.

Kyle Heckathorn posted a 4-1 record in 13 starts in his final season with Kennesaw State before being chosen in the first round of the 2009 MLB amateur entry draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. After signing, the Ringgold, Ga., native made five starts with Helena. In 16.1 innings pitched, Heckathorn struck out 11 batters and surrendered 13 earned runs.

Former Hatter pitcher, Lenny DiNardo came up during September with the Kansas City Royals. DiNardo, in five games, posted 12 strikeouts and only surrendered two home runs in over 20 innings pitched.

In his second season in the Detroit Tigers, former UNF right-handed pitcher Tyler Stohr spent the year with the West Michigan Whitecaps appearing in 52 games all in relief appearances and posting a 3.54 ERA in 61 innings pitched with 55 strikeouts. He ranked second in the Midwest League in saves, recording 19.

C.J. Lee, formally of ETSU, finished his third season in the Atlanta Braves system. Lee spent a majority with Myrtle Beach Pelicans and in 89 games drove in 19 runs, while racking up 22 extra base hits.

Former Belmont Bruin, Carlo Testa, finished his second season with in the Kansas City Royals system spending the season with Idaho Falls Chukars. Testa posted a .305 batting average with six home runs, 20 RBI and 19 extra base hits in only 32 games.

Richard Bleier posted a 7-1 record with a 2.09 ERA and four complete games in his final season with FGCU in 2008. In 2009, Bleier spent most of the season with the Bakersfield Blaze in the Texas Rangers system posting a 7-11 record with a 4.51 ERA in 22 starts and 143.2 innings pitched. He finished 10th in the league in innings pitched.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Oct. 9, 2009

Cross Country:
• Four Atlantic Sun schools head to Florida for three different races. The only meet featuring multiple A-Sun schools takes place in Orlando, Fla., when Kennesaw State and Mercer partake in the Walt Disney World Cross Country Classic. The Owls enter following an off week. Mackenzie Howe, owner of four victories, four A-Sun Runner of the Week honors and most recently a spot in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd, attempts to continue her undefeated season. At this same meet last year, she turned in a fifth-place showing.
• In other cross country action, UNF’s men and women compete at the FSU Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla., and Stetson races at the Embry-Riddle Invitational in nearby Daytona Beach, Fla. Next week, the Hatters host their own invitational, an event that will host four other A-Sun schools.

Men’s Golf:
• Two A-Sun schools host men’s golf tournaments this weekend. Mercer hosts 14 of the top golf programs in the country for the Brickyard Collegiate Golf Championship. The tournament begins Saturday morning and features ten of the nation’s top 50 teams including No. 14 UNF. Georgia has won the event each of the last two years. On Sunday, FGCU welcomes schools in for Men’s Invitational in Estero, Fla. at the West Bay Beach and Golf Club. Stetson will also tee it up at the event.
• In other action, Campbell plays at The Big Five Invitational beginning Saturday. On Monday Belmont and Lipscomb square off at the UTM Skyhawk Classic while ETSU participates in the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. Seamus Power shared Medalist honors at the event in 2007 joining the list of champions that includes Stanford’s Tiger Woods, 1994 and LSU’s David Toms, 1988.

Women’s Golf:
• Four Atlantic Sun schools head to Daytona Beach, Fla. for the LPGA International Xavier Invitational contested on the Legends Course. Campbell, Jacksonville, Mercer and Stetson make up part of the field. For the third time this fall, the Camels and Hatters, last April’s top two finishers at the A-Sun Championship, meet in the same event. Campbell has bettered Stetson at both events.
• Also the weekend, USC Upstate heads north for the at Rutgers Invitational and Belmont travels to Jonesboro, Ark., for the Lady Indian Classic.

Men’s Soccer:
• Belmont freshman Brandon Tarr added to his goal total against Campbell. Tarr now has five goals which tie for second most in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He is also second in the league in points per game with 1.43, and is tied for second in total points with 10.
• Stetson split with the Jacksonville teams on the road over the weekend defeating JU 4-2 and falling to UNF 2-0. The loss to UNF was the first blemish on the Hatters’ record this season.
• Lipscomb has struggled to score goals, but they hold down the top three spots in the conference in shots. Garrett McLaughlin leads with 36 followed by Andrew Chamberlain with 35 and Garret Pettis with 31.

Women’s Soccer:
• Belmont’s Sari Lin takes her 269 minute shutout streak on the road this week as the Bruins will travel to battle Mercer and Kennesaw State. Belmont and Kennesaw meet at 2:00 p.m. Sunday live on ASunTV in a rematch of A-Sun tournament semi-final a year ago.
• Not only has Campbell (7-6, 2-2 A-Sun) already eclipsed last year’s overall wins total (5-10-3), but with 16 goals through 13 matches, the Camels have also passed last season’s tally of 13 goals scored in 18 matches.
• Stetson goalkeeper Andrea Garavaglia picked up her fifth shutout of the season against Campbell. The only other team to shut out Campbell this season was NC State. She is now tied for the A-Sun lead in that category.

• Senior libero Shelley Walroth reached yet another milestone and is setting her sights on cracking one of the top 25 spots in NCAA history. The Cincinnati native needs 82 digs to crack the top 25 all-time and has a chance to etch her name in the record books for some time. Walroth currently leads the A-Sun with an average of 5.24 digs per set.
• The Lady Bisons rank in the top 10 as a team nationally in NCAA Division I in two categories. They rank fifth in kills per set with 14.66 and sixth in assists per set with 13.55. Lipscomb is one game match away from sweeping the first round of the A-Sun round robin. They play USC Up¬state at Allen Arena on Friday. Junior middle hitter Alex Kelly, the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week, ranks 12th nationally in NCAA Division I with 5.18 per set.
• The Owls are nearing the end in a stretch of four consecutive matches against schools from Florida with a 2-1 week, defeating Stetson 3-1 on Thursday, defeating UNF 3-0 on Friday, but falling 3-1 to Jacksonville. In KSU’s 16 matches this season, only two have ended after three sets. The Owls lost to Lipscomb 3-0 on Sept. 26, but swept UNF 3-0 on Friday.
• USC Upstate sophomore middle blocker Morgan Thomas needs just seven blocks to become the first player in the D-I era to reach 150 rejec¬tions. Junior libero Megan Healey ranks ninth in school history with 945 career digs, just 55 digs from becoming the eighth in school history to reach 1,000.
• After pushing its winning streak to seven matches, Jacksonville (10-5, 6-2) returns home to Swisher Gymnasium beginning with ETSU (6-10, 5-3) on Friday at 7 p.m. The match, named the A-Sun “Match of the Week”, can be viewed on ASun.TV.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Local Newspapers Collect Responses to A-Sun Basketball Preseason Releases

Several media outlets in Atlantic Sun markets followed up on yesterday's preseason releases with further analysis, quotes and reactions from head coaches and the student-athletes.

From Jeff Elliott, Jacksonville Times-Union

The media is convinced, but the league coaches are split on whether Jacksonville University's men's basketball team will be the best in the Atlantic Sun Conference this season.

That was the result of the preseason poll announced Wednesday by the A-Sun office.

JU was an overwhelming choice to finish first in voting by the media, capturing 24 of 31 first-place votes and beating Lipscomb by 41 points.

Read his full article here

From Mike Lough, Macon Telegraph

The A-Sun basketball tournaments are four months off and practice doesn’t start for a week, but the host men’s team already has some momentum.

Mercer is the consensus pick to finish third in the A-Sun’s regular-season race, behind Jacksonville and Lipscomb.

Those two teams were picked by the media (Jacksonville) and coaches (Lipscomb) to win the A-Sun tournament, to be played in March on the University Center floor at Mercer in conjunction with the women’s conference tournament.

“With the senior team that we have and the guys and what they were able to accomplish — we had some good wins and some bad losses last year — the guys have worked hard,” Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. “It’s nice to be appreciated for what those players have accomplished.”

Read his full article here

From Kelly Hodge, Johnson City Press

The balance of basketball power has shifted in the Atlantic Sun Conference. At least, that’s what the men’s preseason polls say.

Belmont and East Tennessee State, which have combined to win the last four championships, were more toward the middle of the pack in balloting by the league’s coaches and media released Wednesday. Defending champion ETSU was fourth and feeling a bit underestimated, while the Bruins were fifth.

“Certainly as a team we don’t think that’s where we’ll finish,” said coach Murry Bartow. “I can see why they’d pick us there, when we lose Greg (Hamlin), we lose Courtney (Pigram) and lose Kevin (Tiggs). But we’ll see.”

Jacksonville is the popular pick to win the title, followed by Lipscomb and Mercer.

“Those are logical picks,” said Bartow. “These polls are almost always based on who has a lot of guys back.”

Read the full article here

From the Tennessean, articles on Belmont and Lipscomb

From the Naples News, articles on FGCU's men and women

Publications Begin Releasing Preseason Basketball Prognostications

Preseason basketball publications have hit the newsstands and several Atlantic Sun hoop stars and coaches have earned special recognition

In the 2009-10 Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview Edition, the A-Sun's last two Coaches of the Year, Belmont's Rick Byrd and Jacksonville's Cliff Warren, landed on the publication's Top 10 `Under the Radar Coaches'

On Byrd: After enjoying a great run as one of the nation's elite NAIA programs in the 1990s, Belmont emerged as a top program in the Atlantic Sun in the 2000s - all under Byrd's watch. Over the past seven year, the Bruins are 96-34 in league games, with NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006, '07 and '08.

On Warren: Warren, a former assistant at Georgia Tech, has done a phenomenal rebulding job in three years with the Dolphins. His first season was a debacle (1-26, 1-19 Atlantic Sun) but he is 51-41 since with records of 11-7 (T-3rd), 12-4 (2nd) and 15-5 (1st).

The publication also listed five among the "Top 40 Non-Major" players. Campbell's Jonathan Rodriguez and Mercer's James Florence rank seventh and eighth. The A-Sun and the Big South (Radford's Artsiom Parakhouski and Coastal Carolina's Joseph Harris) are the only two conference with multiple players in the top 10. Further down the list, ETSU's Mike Smith played 25th, Mercer's Daniel Emerson landed 27th and Jacksonville's Ben Smith took 35th.

The magazine tabbed Smith and his Jacksonville Dolphins as the preseason favorite followed by Mercer, Lipscomb, ETSU and Belmont. Mike Smith, Rodriguez, Florence and the Bisons' Adnan Hodzic make up Athlon's First Team. FGCU, Stetson, UNF, USC Upstate and Kennesaw State round out their poll.

From's Best of the Rest ShootAround, ESPN analyst By Fran Fraschilla listed his 10 Players To Keep An Eye On:

James Florence, Mercer: This 6-1 senior from Atlanta has something in common with current NBA players Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. As freshmen three years ago, they all led their conferences in scoring. Florence is still around and is easily on his way to 2,000 points this season. And while he has done most of his damage in the lightly regarded Atlantic Sun, he has saved some of his best performances as a Bear for wins over USC, Alabama and Auburn.

The Blue Ribbon's forecast shows some similarities to Athlon. Both place the Dolphins atop the league. Blue Ribbon flips Lipscomb and Mercer, placing the Bisons ahead of the Bears and did the same with Belmont and ETSU, putting the Bruins in front. The two agreed on Campbell, with Stetson, Kennesaw State and UNF rounding out the Blue Ribbon predictions. The magazine did not recognize FGCU and USC Upstate. Mercer's James Florence earned Blue Ribbon's nod as the preseason Player of the Year.

Rivals has unveiled its rankings from 347 to 1 and ranked the A-Sun schools in the following order:

QUICK TAKE: Coach Cliff Warren has done a great job rebuilding the program, and JU is the conference favorite.
BUZZ: The Dolphins won the regular-season title last season but fell in the league tournament. This season, they should make it back to the NCAAs for the first time since 1986, when current Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith was a JU star. Smith is a nice fit in the fast-paced attack, and forward Lehmon Colbert is the team's best big man. Warren has done a great job in near anonymity; JU won one game in his first season (2005-06).

BEST PLAYER: G James Florence
QUICK TAKE: Florence and forward Daniel Emerson have a chance to be the most productive scoring duo in the nation this season.
BUZZ: Four starters return, including Florence (23.2 ppg in league play) and Emerson - who averaged a double-double (13.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg). Will that duo get enough help? The four returning starters are seniors, so there are no excuses.

BEST PLAYER: C Adnan Hodzic
QUICK TAKE: Four starters are back for the Bisons, led by the burly Hodzic, a Bosnian native who played high school ball with Eric Gordon in Indianapolis.
BUZZ: Hodzic (17.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) is a beast in the lane. If George Washington transfer Johnny Lee comes through at guard, Lipscomb could win the league and go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

BEST PLAYER: F Scott Saunders
QUICK TAKE: The Bruins lost four starters, but coach Rick Byrd will coax a winning record out of an overhauled roster.
BUZZ: The Bruins are the league's steadiest program, but the loss of all those starters will be too difficult to overcome. But weep not for Byrd, a good friend of country music star Vince Gill. Belmont has some talent, most notably the 6-10 Saunders, a Rice transfer. The Bruins also add G Kerron Johnson, who was Alabama's "Mr. Basketball" last season.

BEST PLAYER: F Jonathan Rodriguez
QUICK TAKE: The Camels - great nickname, huh? - return all five starters, and they have a legit shot at the league title.
BUZZ: The Camels are as athletic as any team in the league. Campbell was second in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage (35.5) but needs to improve its overall accuracy (43.2 field-goal percentage). The Camels also need to play better defense. Rodriguez and sophomore guard Lorne Merthie should be a productive duo.

QUICK TAKE: ETSU gave Pitt a first-round scare in the NCAAs last season, but the top two players from that team are gone.
BUZZ: The Bucs won the league tournament last season. Smith has a chance to average a double-double, but he must get some help from a solid recruiting class and some holdovers who didn't have to do much last season.

Florida Gulf Coast
QUICK TAKE: The Fort Myers school will be counting on a Michigan transfer, sort of like that area's economy counts on Midwest transplants.
BUZZ: The Eagles still are in a transition stage to full-fledged Division I membership and are ineligible for the league tournament. But they could do some damage in the regular season. Baker, who began his career at Michigan, has good range and is a solid passer. F Kyle Marks is good on the boards and on defense.

USC Upstate
BEST PLAYER: C Nick Schneiders
QUICK TAKE: As far as we know, this is the only Division I program that originally started as a nursing school.
BUZZ: As with Florida Gulf Coast, the Spartans won't be full-fledged Division I members until 2011-12. They play good defense but have to get better offensively. Three starters return, but no double-figure scorers are back. One returning starter is the 7-foot-3 Schneiders; while he is a good shot blocker, he still has a ways to go offensively and on the boards.

North Florida
QUICK TAKE: New coach Matt Driscoll is a former Baylor assistant, so he knows all about tough rebuilding jobs.
BUZZ: Driscoll was hired off the staff at Baylor, where he helped oversee a massive rebuilding job. He has one of his own with the Ospreys, who are eligible for the league tourney for the first time this season. Four starters return, but UNF was awful on both ends of the floor last season. The first job for Driscoll is increasing the talent level.

Kennesaw State
BEST PLAYER: F Jon-Michael Nickerson
QUICK TAKE: The Owls finally are eligible for the NCAA tourney after a transition period in the Atlantic Sun.
BUZZ: Kennesaw is eligible for the league tourney for the first time. The Owls started 5-2 last season, then won just two of their remaining 22 games. They were a young team last season, and coaches hope the added experience helps this season, especially on offense, where Kennesaw has struggled.

QUICK TAKE: The Hatters were pitiful on offense last season - and they've lost their best offensive player.
BUZZ: The Hatters shot just 38.4 percent from the field last season and lost their best offensive player, forward Garfield Blair. Guard A.J. Smith has some skills, and he'd better show them off this season because he is the only proven offensive player. There is a five-man recruiting class, with two from Australia.

The A-Sun announced the coaches' and media preseason polls on Wednesday with Lipscomb and Jacksonville sharing the top spot from the coaches and the Dolphins placing first in the media poll. Jacksonville's Ben Smith earned Player of the Year honors.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Former Bruin Drops Out of a Race to Propose

CHICAGO, ILL. - - Former Belmont men's cross country and track student-athlete Ryan Snellen ('07) was a newsmaker this weekend at the annual Bucktown 5K. Just ask his new fiance why.

Snellen, an All-Atlantic Sun performer who remains a competitive distance runner, was pacing the field late in the race before he suddenly stopped, grabbed a bouquet of flowers and proposed to his girlfriend, Lauren Peck.

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The story has gained traction throughout the country, with media hits in Chicago, Boston, Nashville among others, in addition to the worldwide web.

NOTE: Many thanks to Joe Dubin of WKRN News 2 for his assistance in local placement.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A-Sun What to Watch For - Oct. 02, 2009

Cross Country:
• Three of the top for Atlantic Sun men’s cross country teams, based on Wednesday’s coaches’ poll, head to Louisville for the Greater Louisville XC Classic. Belmont and ETSU, tied for first in the poll, along with fourth-place Lipscomb as well as Mercer take part in the meet. When ETSU and Belmont last both competed at the same race, the Bruins placed two spots higher than the reigning champions at the Crimson Classic. At last year’s Greater Louisville XC Classic, ETSU’s Kenneth Rotich led the 20 competing A-Sun runners, taking sixth.
• Elsewhere on the men’s side, FGCU and Stetson head to Titusville, Fla., for the Invitational; USC Upstate runs at the Charlotte Invite and Campbell competes in the Great American XC Festival in Cary, N.C.
• The conference’s three regionally-ranked teams all race this weekend, however, the three - Jacksonville (11th, South Region), Belmont (15th, South Region) and USC Upstate (12th, Southeast Region) all head to different events. The Dolphins, along with FGCU and Stetson partake in the Invitational. The Spartans join the men at the Charlotte Invite and the Bruins run in Louisville along with ETSU, Lipscomb and Mercer.

Men’s Golf:
• Two of the Atlantic Sun’s pre-eminent golf programs, UNF and ETSU, meet in Tampa, Fla. as part of 15-team The Gary Koch Intercollegiate. The Ospreys enter the tournament ranked No. 11 in the nation and sophomore, Sean Dale will tee off on Saturday as the nation’s No. 1 golfer. Eight other top-35 teams, No. 7 Florida State, No. 8 Florida, No. 10 North Carolina, No. 21 Auburn, No. 27 Augusta State, No. 31 Virginia, No. 34 LSU, No. 35 Texas Tech as well as Georgia Southern, UAB, Kentucky, Ole Miss and USF make up the field.
• In other men’s action, FGCU and Stetson head to the Mission Inn Intercollegiate from Howie-In-The-Hills, Fla., and on Monday, Lipscomb and Belmont battle at the Murray State Invitational with Kennesaw State, Jacksonville and Mercer tee it up at the Rees Jones Intercollegiate from the Haig Point Signature Course in Daufuskie Island, S.C.

Women’s Golf:
• Mercer hosts nine top-100 teams, including No. 67 Kennesaw State at the Eat A Peach golf tournament from at Idle Hour Country Club, beginning on Sunday. Augusta State won the 2008 event. On Monday, three schools, Campbell, FGCU and Stetson travel to Bradenton, Fla. for the USF Waterlefe Invitational. The Camels enter hot after winning the UNCG Starmount Fall Classic, led by Mary Mattson, the Medalist at the event. The Camels (No. 43) and the Hatters (No. 51) enter as the conference’s top ranked teams, according to the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

Men's Soccer
• Freshman Brandon Tarr leads Belmont as he has scored four goals so far this year. Tarr’s goals tie for the most scored by an A-Sun athlete. He also leads teh league in points per game with 1.6, and is tied for second in total points with eight.
• FGCU goal keeper Matthew Smith is third in the A-Sun with 30 saves through seven games. Smith is also second in the conference in goals against average (1.21) with a save percentage of .769 in 668 minutes played.
• Lipscomb suffered a major blow defensively as senior defender Kezi Lara, an All A-Sun Preseason selection, sidelined indefinitely. He left Friday’s loss at Furman and did not play against Wofford Sunday. The Bisons lost 3-0 at Furman and 4-1 at Wofford in the South Carolina-Tennessee Soccer Challenge.

Women's Soccer:
• Campbell's Olga Ekblom scored just 33 seconds into last Thursday’s 3-2 win over Lipscomb, marking the second-fastest goal scored by the Camels this year (Hanna Salmen scored at 0:14 in the opener vs. Francis Marion) and third-fastest to start a game in the program’s history (Ellen Price scored 26 seconds into a 1995 A-Sun semifinal win against FIU).
• FGCU's Amber McCall earned Player of the Week laurels by netting two game-winning goals for the Eagles while teammate Stephanie Powers allowed only one goal in two matches to earn conference defensive honors. McCall shares the league lead with three game winners, while Powers leads the A-Sun in goals against average (0.78), save percentage (.830) and shutouts (5). • Stetson have spread out the scoring this season with eight different
players scoring at least one goal and 12 players registering one point or more.

• With 17 digs at Belmont, Jacksnville’s senior libero Shelley Walroth, surpassed 2,000 in her career and her next targets are family bragging rights and the NCAA Top 25. Walroth’s sister, Julie, tallied 2,095 career digs to set the program record at Evansville (2004-07). The younger Walroth already holds the family single-season record, and surpassed her elder sibling with 12 digs against Stetson, to become the undisputed head of the family. In the NCAA career standings, Walroth needs 100 digs to crack the top 25 all-time and has 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. Walroth currently leads the A-Sun with an average of 5.23 digs per set. She has also found her way into the national rankings by sitting 19th with her digs per set average.
• After a five-ace effort against Wofford, Spartan junior Megan Healey needs two service aces to become the 19th player in school history and the first in the D-I era to record 100 career aces. The St Louis, Mo. native became the 12th player in school history to reach 900 career digs with her fourth of 12 against Presbyterian. Healey is currently ninth in school history with 935 career digs, just 65 digs from becoming the eighth in school history to reach 1,000. Senior setter Morgan Bucciferro needs just 14 assists to become the first player in the D-I era to reach 1,250.
• The Bruins extend their season-best winning streak to five matches, improving to 9-8 on the season. After starting the 2009 campaign with a 2-7 record against a competitive schedule, the Bruins now own a winning record for the first time. Belmont ends a three-match homestand as they prepare to face Campbell and East Tennessee State on the road this weekend.
• The Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball Match of the Week features Campbell and Lipscomb, a pair of teams currently placed first and second in the standings, at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday in Buies Creek, N.C. Campbell currently holds a 5-1 A-Sun tally for only the third time in program history. With their win on Saturday against ETSU, the Camels picked up their first-ever victory against ETSU in seven tries. The Lipscomb Lady Bisons have backed up preseason expectations as the conference favorites, winning all seven of their league contests in straight sets. The Lady Bisons won their seventh straight Atlantic Sun match Saturday afternoon against Kennesaw State at Allen Arena. The Lady Bisons swept the match 3-0, extending their streak of set wins to 21. Last season the Lady Bisons swept both matches with the Camels after Lipscomb won the lone contest between the two in 2007.