Mercer caps strong academic season

mlough@macon.comJune 17, 2014 

Things went well for Mercer on the fields and courts throughout the 2013-14 college season.

The Bears were pretty stellar in the classrooms and labs, as well.

Mercer athletes finished second in the A-Sun’s all-academic race with 74.8 percent of the Bears earning a 3.0 GPA or better. It was a program record, topping the 73 percent in 2011-12.

Lipscomb won the conference’s academic title with 78 percent of its athletes cracking 3.0.

Florida Gulf Coast (70.51, third place) and Kennesaw State (60.87) also set program records.

Mercer basketball player Jake Gollon and baseball player Derrick Workman were scholar-athlete winners in their respective sports during the year and were among 119 Presidential Scholars (3.8 or better). They were joined by Jordan Sink (women’s soccer) as on the list of 38 Presidential Scholars.

The Bears had seven on the 41-member Commissioner Scholar team (graduating with a 3.6-3.79 GPA): Lizzie Knapper, volleyball; Lena Hamvas, women’s cross country; Casey Barrett, women’s soccer; Brandon Barker and Michael Massi, baseball; Sony Prosper, men’s cross country; and Jamie Duffy, sand volleyball.

Another 50 Bears were Conference Scholars, student-athletes who have at least 48 credit hours and a 3.4 or better GPA. More than 600 across the A-Sun were Conference Scholars.

Overall, 1,714 A-Sun athletes made a 3.0 or better, 214 more than a year ago. Five A-Sun sports had 80 percent of its participating teams have a 3.0 or better.

Honor Roll

• Nearly two dozen athletes at Middle Georgia State earned academic honor for 2013-14.

Former Westfield standout Caleb Weaver was among the 11 on the President’s List (3.8 GPA or higher).

Marissa Hatem (women’s soccer, West Laurens) Will Jones (baseball, Crisp County), Blakelyn Budnick (softball, Dodge County) and Dylan Jones (men’s tennis, Warner Robins) were among 10 on the Dean’s List (3.5 GPA or higher).

Baseball had nine players on the two lists with six from men’s soccer.

• Two Georgia College teams earned Peach Belt sportsmanship awards for the 2013-14 year.

Women’s basketball and golf were chosen, marking the first time for both programs. Teams in each sport select the recipient.

One team per sport in the Peach Belt is selected, and the conference will also award the “institution of the year sportsmanship” award.

• Georgia College senior Rob Hogenkamp picked up a Southeast Region Gold Glove award, by way of Rawlings and the American Baseball Coaches Association.

The center fielder, who played infield last season, had a .993 fielding percentage with one error in 145 chances. He is the first Gold Glove winner in program history.

Around Georgia College/Peach Belt

Georgia College has added junior college standout Kedesha Gibbs and Columbus’ Alexia Manning to the women’s basketball roster for the 2014-15 season.

Gibbs earned junior college All-America, region and all-conference honors at Catawba Valley Community College, taking Region X player of the year. She averaged 17.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists at Catawba.

Manning scored 1,552 points, also taking GHSA Region 5-AAAA’s player of the year honor. The Georgia Sports Writers Association all-state first-teamer was the Bi-City MVP by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, covering Columbus and Phenix City. Columbus went 30-2 last year and finished second in the state.

Around Mercer/A-Sun/Southern

Mississippi State will be Mercer’s first opponent this fall in the Women’s NIT.

The Bears will visit Starkville, Mississippi, to face the Bulldogs on Nov. 14 and get an opponent with five returning starters from a 22-14 team.

Mercer went 17-14 overall and 9-9 in the A-Sun last season and returns starters Precious Bridges, Teanna Robinson and Alicia Williams, as well as Briana Williams.

The tournament goes from Nov. 14-23, and all teams get at least three games. The rest of the field is made up of Rice, Seton Hall, Towson, Penn State, St. Francis-Brooklyn, Albany, Central Arkansas, Western Kentucky, Jackson State, Arkansas State, Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, North Dakota and Colorado.

Around the state

Valdosta State has named Kennesaw State assistant Rebecca Nolin as the new women’s soccer head coach.

Nolin was with the Owls for 10 years as a coach after playing at Kennesaw State while the program was still in the Division II Peach Belt Conference.

The England native will have four Middle Georgians on the 2014 roster: senior Lauren Ingram of Rutland, junior Erin Hill of Warner Robins, senior Lauren Hale of Stratford and junior Kim Caitlin Alderman of FPD.

The Blazers finished 9-5-3 overall and 5-2-3 in the Gulf South last season.

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