Over the last weekend, Centre’s athletic teams had a strong finish to their time in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), claiming two conference championships and finishing the year in second place in the SCAC President’s Trophy standings.
Over the 2011-12 academic year, Centre’s athletic teams accumulated 750 points, finishing 40 points behind Trinity for the President’s Trophy, a 300-pound railroad bell which goes to the school with the top combined performance across the SCAC’s 21 league-sanctioned sports. After winning SCAC championships in women’s cross country and women’s basketball earlier in the year, Centre added a championship in men’s track Saturday and another in women’s golf on Sunday.
Those four titles, along with six runner-up finishes throughout the year, helped Centre reach its highest finish in the standings since winning the bell in 1992. This season is Centre’s last in the SCAC before joining the newly formed Southern Athletic Association along with six other former SCAC members and Berry College.
“This is an amazing finish for Centre College and all of our athletic programs, considering we have one of the smaller enrollments in the SCAC,” said Brian Chafin, Centre’s director of athletics. “And winning four conference championships is very impressive considering the competition. We look forward to having continued success in the SAA as we face both new and old challenges in all competitions.”
A highlight of last weekend came from the women’s golf team, which won its first SCAC title by dominating the tournament from start to finish. The Colonels won by 33 strokes while setting SCAC records for lowest tournament score and lowest single round. All five of the Centre’s golfers earned All-SCAC honors, led by Emily Bachert ’12, who recorded the lowest individual score since the tournament was expanded to 54 holes.
The victory assures the team an appearance in the NCAA Championships, which will begin May 8 at Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Ind. According to Head Coach Bruce Brown, after qualifying the last two years, his team is not simply happy to be there, but ready to compete to win.
“It was a special accomplishment for us to win our first SCAC Championship and to qualify for the NCAA for the third straight year,” Brown said. “We’ve been building the women’s golf program, and this is the strongest team we’ve ever had. We feel like we have a chance to compete for a national championship.”
The men’s track team had to go through a bit more suspense, but the result was the same. Centre trailed Birmingham-Southern with two events to go, but a total of 21 points over those events, including a victory in the 5K by Willie Polio ’12, helped Centre edge Birmingham 168.5 to 164 for the Colonels’ second straight title. Also at the meet, Emily Niehaus ’12 was league champion in the women’s hammer throw and shot put, Hannah Ellis ’15 won the steeplechase and Jacob Carter ’12 won the men’s shot put.
Both Centre teams will have individuals competing in two more meets with hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
“I am so proud of our men’s and women’s track and field team,” said Head Coach Lisa Owens. “They competed hard and represented Centre and our programs in the best way possible. Our young women’s team battled Rhodes and Trinity to the end, but came just short. However, we were able to score more points than any other Centre women’s track team in school history. Winning a second consecutive conference title with our men’s team was just as sweet as the first title. It took a total team effort to bring home the title once again this spring and I am so pleased with our young men.”
In other spring sports, the women’s track and men’s golf finished third in the conference championships while both lacrosse teams set school-record win totals and advanced to their respective SCAC semifinals. Men’s tennis finished fifth while women’s tennis took tenth place. Baseball and softball each finished fourth in the conference’s East Dvision.
For more information about athletics at Centre, visit www.centreathletics.com.