The University of the Cumberlands Patriot athletic department strives for excellence each and every year. This didn't change as they continued to show the nation why they are one of the top athletic programs in the country as the 2015-2016 season wrapped up this spring. Claiming another 3rd place finish in the Mid-South Conference President's Cup and a 20th place finish in the 2015-2016 NAIA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup, the Patriots captured five Mid-South Conference Regular Season and Tournament Championships while numerous athletes were awarded MSC as well as national recognition from the NAIA. The Patriots, throughout the year, showed more than just their winning talents on the field, but their sportsmanship along with their willingness to compete.
Kicking off the fall line-up in 2014 was football, cross-country, volleyball, and soccer. After finishing 3-7 during the 2014 season, the Patriot football program looked to rebound and make their way back toward the top of the MSC East Division standings. Behind second year Head Coach Matt Rhymer, the Patriots would make a great turnaround from the previous season, going 7-3 overall on the year with their only losses coming at NCAA D-II Carson-Newman 59-56, at #1 ranked Lindsey Wilson, and in the final game of the season to the Tigers of Georgetown College. A win over the Tigers in the final game of the season would have earned the Patriots a bid to the NAIA Football Championship Series. UC would play their first four games at night including a win at Campbellsville, but its first games ever at home under the lights in September, earning two big wins under those lights against Cumberland University 49-41 and regaining the Brass Lantern by defeating Union College 42-29. UC added wins against Bethel, KY Christian, Pikeville, and Bluefield to cap off their season.
Cumberlands was honored with numerous conference awards this year. Seven Patriots were named 1st Team All-Conference including MSC East Division Co-Offensive Player of the Year Adam Craig. Joining Craig on the 1st Team were Zach Balusik, Seph Burke, Hunter Lewis, Tor Peterson, Corey Washington, and Wendall Williams. Four others were named 2nd Team All-Conference including Jamaria Patterson, Jimmy Preston, Erico Smith, and Mathew Smithers. UC also had 11 athletes earn Academic All-Conference honors including Matthew Brooks, Seph Burke, BJ Chancey, Adam Craig, Thomas Crews, Josh Everhart, John Hughes, Connor McJunkin, Joe Rose, Erico Smith, and Corey Washington. Wendall Williams was also honored as a 2nd Team NAIA All-American for his efforts this year as a wide receiver and kick returner. Williams went on to sign an undrafted free agent contract with the Houston Texans, where he currently is still on the roster.
On the court, the volleyball Patriots ended a remarkable 2015 season with a 27-10 overall record, which was the most wins since 2002. They also finished 9-7 in the MSC, finishing 4th in the conference, heading into the MSC Tournament. The highlight of the Patriots season came on September 1st, as they defeated #7 ranked Lindsey Wilson College in five sets at home. This was the first time UC had ever beaten a NAIA Top 10 team in school history. Unfortunately, the Patriots would lose in the MSC Quarterfinals in a five set defeat to Campbellsville. Head Coach Kathryn Hart and her girls look to be getting stronger and UC Volleyball continues to rise in the ever-dangerous MSC. The Patriots had five players earn Mid-South Conference honors this year. Juniors Megan Ganser and Jennifer Philpot earned the vote for All Mid-South Conference First team for their outstanding performance this season. Philpot was also 2nd on the team in digs with 385. Seniors Samantha Stuckwisch and Morgan Schlatter along with junior Sydney Beck earned 2nd Team All Mid-South Conference honors. The Patriots not only excelled on the court, but also off of it as well as they had 6 players make the Academic All-Conference team which included senior Morgan Schlatter, juniors Sydney Beck and Jennifer Philpot, and sophomores Jessica Severs, Keely Borden, and Tipmana Tanajantaporn.
On the pitch, the men's soccer team finished their season with an overall record of 11-8-1 and a MSC record of 3-4. In conference play, they earned the 5th seed in the MSC Tournament, taking on #4 seed St. Catharine in the MSC Quarterfinals. The Patriots were triumphant as they won their first round game 4-1. The second round proved to be tougher as they played #1 seed Campbellsville. The Patriots would battle, but fall 1-0 to end their season in the MSC Semifinals. Members of UC's team were honored highly by the MSC at the end of the season, including Cam Philpot who was named MSC Freshman of the Year and 1st team All-Conference. Alfred Lundholm, Jack Cousin, and Jack Hutton were all named to the MSC 2nd Team for their on-field efforts as well. Ten members were awarded with MSC Academic All-Conference honors for their hard work in the classroom: Colton Flynn, Joey Fiefhaus, Seth Hale, Lucas Lay, Stephen McCoig, Felipe Almeida, Dage Spinning, Seyia Takahashi, Joshua Thomas, and Andrew Witt. Flynn also earned NAIA Scholar Athlete honors for the 2015-16 season.
The women's soccer team would make a huge turnaround this year under the tutelage of first year Head Coach Steve Hamilton. The Patriot ladies finished their 2015-2016 season with an overall record of 10-5-3 and 3-3-1 in MSC play. The Patriots entered the year hoping to surpass the 2014-2015 season, and did just that by outshining previous seasons with numerous players showing bright spots. Coach Hamilton and staff helped turn the program back around, winning more games in his first year than the Patriots had in the last three seasons combined. UC would fall in their season finale in the MSC Tournament Quarterfinals against Cumberland University by a final of 3-1, but it was a successful season for UC as a whole. Freshman forward Asha Vilaythong was named 1st Team All-Conference for the Mid-South Conference while four other Patriot ladies also earned MSC honors for their hard work off the field. Kellie Ball, Marki Hall, Sarah Rainous, and Amerah Dixon each earned MSC Academic All-Conference awards while Rainous and Dixon earned NAIA Scholar Athlete honors as well.
Rounding out the fall season were the Men and Women's Cross Country teams, both finishing with successful seasons in 2015 under new Head Coach Randy Greer. The Patriot men pulled together to finish 3rd in the Mid-South Conference as Benjamin Call would earn All-Conference 1st Team honors with his 5th place finish at the meet. Dalton Walden, a freshman for UC, would earn 2nd Team All-Conference with a 10th place finish as well for UC, giving the Patriots two finishers inside the Top 10 of the 74 man field. Four Patriots also were awarded for their work in the classroom as Clay Bowling, Benjamin Call, James MacPherson, and Josh Moon earned Academic All-Conference honors. Brent Logan was also named the MSC Champions of Character award winner. Call would qualify and compete in the NAIA National Championships as he finished 128th of 326 runners with a time of 26:01.
The Women's Cross Country team earned a 4th place finish at the MSC Championships. Madison Peace, Maureen McGaha, and Sydney Freeman were all named 2nd Team All-Conference while Peace qualified for the NAIA National Championships with a 9th place finish in a time of 19:36. All three ladies would finish inside the Top 16 in the event. Academically, three Patriot ladies would earn honors for their efforts in the classroom. The Academic All-Conference award winners were Kaitlyn Barger, Annmarie Lake, and Julia MacPherson. Lake was also named the MSC Champions of Character award winner this season. Peace would perform at the NAIA National Championships where she finished in 203rd place of 321 runners with a time of 19:46.6.
After a solid fall season, the Patriots looked to be just as competitive in the winter seasons. The UC Women's Basketball team had a tough year in 2015-2016, but strived to succeed in both conference and non-conference play. The season ended with Head Coach Melissa Irvin and her team failing to earn a trip to the NAIA Division I National Tournament and being eliminated in the first round of the MSC Tournament, going 11-16 overall on the season and 2-12 in MSC play. UC would enter the MSC Tournament as the #7 seed overall, drawing the #2 seeded and NAIA #6 ranked Campbellsville Tigers in the opening round and falling to CU in a 61-50 loss. Although their overall performance was solid throughout the season, it was the play of a few Patriot ladies that caught the attention of the MSC as they earned conference honors and NAIA awards as well. Patriot point guard LaTeesha DeLoach earned MSC 1st Team All-Conference honors along with NAIA Honorable Mention All-American honors. Cheyenne Madden would bring home MSC 2nd Team All-Conference honors for her play this season as well. Seven Patriots earned Academic All Mid-South Conference honors, tying for the 2nd most in the MSC. Those women receiving the academic honor were Kellie Ball, Alisha Durbin, Kirstin Handshoe, Sarah Kelton, Brandi Smith, Jovana Stojanovic, and Caroline Straw. Stojanovic would also be named a NAIA Scholar-Athlete.
On the men's side of the court, the Patriot basketball team had a historic 2015-2016 season. The Patriots finished with an overall record of 24-12 and 10-6 in MSC play, receiving numerous individual awards and accomplishments. UC made it to the MSC Championship game as well as the NAIA Championship Tournament, making it all the way to the National Quarterfinals for just the 4th time in school history. After falling in the MSC title game to Georgetown 79-69, UC would eventually be eliminated in a 77-73 loss to Mid-America Christian, who would defeat two more MSC teams on their way to winning the NAIA National Title. While the Patriots were disappointed not to reach their ultimate goal this season, their overall performance throughout the year was recognized by the Mid-South Conference and NAIA as multiple players were honored for their hard work and success on and off the floor. Patriot Senior Xavier Owens was named MSC 1st Team All-Conference and 3rd Team NAIA All-American. D'Lando Carter was also named MSC 2nd Team All-Conference. There were 11 Patriots that earned Academic All Mid-South Conference this season, the most in the MSC. Those men honored were Jared Barton, Joshua Dow, Michael Dow, Andrew Elam, Kaashif English, Taylor Gover, Kirtley Kinman, Aaron Petrey, Andrew Tarrence, Matthew Uchedike, and Kelsley Wilkinson. Dow and Gover were also named NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
While the basketball teams were competing on the court, the Patriot swim teams were in the water attempting to reach even higher goals than in the past. The Patriot men went 3-3 overall this season in duals including wins over Bethel, Campbellsville, and Asbury. They would go on to finish 2nd at the MSC Championships behind Lindenwood-Belleville. The team would earn a bid to the NAIA National Championships where they would earn a Top 5 finish, coming away in 5th place of 21 competing teams. UC also had their first male diver in school history in David Groh, who finished runner-up in both the 1 meter and 3 meter diving events at the NAIA National Championships, earning All-American honors. Two Patriots would earn 1st Team All-Conference honors in Igor Dozortsev and Vladislav Khoroletec. Nicolas Alves, Dozortsev, Stefan Johnson, Khoroletc, Bryce Pierce, Brenden Rodgers, Carl Rogne, and Jacob Smith also earned 2nd Team All-Conference honors for finishes in particular races at the MSC meet. Seth Garner and Michael Monday also received MSC Academic All-Conference honors this season. Head Coach Eric Skelly was also named the MSC Men's Swimming Coach of the Year. Dozortsev and Khoroletc were also named NAIA All-Americans along with David Groh for their efforts at the NAIA National Championships.
The Patriot ladies were also very successful this season in the pool, coming away with numerous honors and awards. The women's team went 6-1 on the season in duals including wins over Union College, West Virginia Tech, Campbellsville, Asbury, and a double dual win over Bethel and St. Catharine. UC would go on to win the Mid-South Conference Championships, winning by 77 points over Lindsey Wilson. Christina Klouda would show her dominance over the three days as she was named both the MSC Freshman of the Year and the MSC Women's Swimmer of the Year. Coach Skelly was also named Women's Coach of the Year while senior Lauren Leever received the MSC Champions of Character award. Six Patriot ladies earned 1st Team All-Conference honors (Anna Clayton, Christina Klouda, Brittany Litke, Morgan Plowman, Katy Smletzer, and Grace Van Ryckeghem). Clayton, Klouda, Daria Korstina, Litke, Courtney Pethers, Plowman, Victoria Tornelli Santana, and Van Ryckeghem were also named to the 2nd Team for finishes in particular races during the meet. For their hard work in the classroom, four Patriot ladies earned Academic All-Conference honors including Leever, Litke, Jessica Pope, and Van Ryckeghem. Of those, Leever and Van Ryckeghem both earned NAIA Scholar Athlete honors. The Patriot ladies would earn a 5th place finish as a team at this year's NAIA National Championships, marking the first time in school history that both the men and women's teams finished in the top 5 at the event. Six Patriots (Clayton, Klouda, Litke, Smeltzer, Blandine Tantart, and Van Ryckeghem) would all earn NAIA All-American honors for their performances at the event.
The Patriot wrestling teams had another exciting season as well in 2015-16. The Men's Wrestling team finished out the 2015-2016 with select members competing at the NAIA National Tournament in Topeka, Kansas. The Patriots would advance three representatives in three different weight classes to the NAIA National Tournament for a chance to compete for a National Championship: Jake Sinkovics at 125 lbs., Hunter Bell at 141 lbs., and Ramsey Bloy at 197 lbs. At the conclusion of the season, UC would receive votes in the postseason NAIA Top 20 poll. The Patriots ended the year with a 5-9 record in duals, but had several wrestlers place well in most of the open and classic events. Three Patriots earned top 4 finishes at the NAIA East Qualifier including Sinkovics, Bell, and Bloy. Sinkovics would earn a 2nd Team MSC All-Conference award while John Williams was named a Co-MSC Champions of Character Award recipient. Four Patriots also earned high academic honors by making the MSC Academic All-Conference team. This year's recipients were juniors Andrew Buschbacher, Andrew Frisco, John Williams, and sophomore Devin Morrow. At the NAIA National Tournament, Sinkovics wrestled at 125 lbs. for a 5-2 record and a 7th place finish, earning NAIA All-American status.
The UC Women's Wrestling Team faced tough competition in the 2015-2016 season, but many individuals still managed to find success on the mat. The Patriot ladies, as a team, placed 9th of 25 at the Women's College Wrestling Association (WCWA) Nationals. The Patriots also had 4 All-Americans named on their roster this season. This status was earned by placing in the top eight at Nationals. The ladies that made this list include Sarah Allen at 101 lbs., Jessika Rottier at 155 lbs., Clarc Walker at 170 lbs., and Alyssa LaFrancis also at 170 lbs. UC also had four ladies qualify for the Olympic Team Trials while one Patriot would win her weight class at the Body Bar Junior World Team Trials. None of the Patriot ladies would qualify for the Olympics at the trials, but numerous Patriots would go on to be very successful on the mat, earning spots for the US National Teams. UC had seven wrestlers compete in the 2016 Body Bar Women's National Championships which included Maia Phanthadara, Jessica Rodriguez, Maya Nelson, Ismileyna Valles, Avery Sims, Jessika Rottier, and Clarc Walker. Maya Nelson would be the standout competitor at the event at 63 kg. as she went 6-0 to win her division and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. Nelson, along with teammate Jessika Rottier and new Patriot signee Hannah Gladden, all earned spots on the US National Team. Nelson also will represent USA at the Junior World Championships in France and at the University World Championships in Turkey later in 2016. Gladden will represent Team USA and UC at the Junior Pan American Championships in Venezuela.
Without the hard work and support from the Patriot Cheerleading squad, UC wouldn't have the energetic school spirit that it is known for. The Patriots would compete well, but would come up short as they would finish in 5th place overall in this year's MSC Championships. Although the Patriots did not win the team championship, several individuals would come home with honors from the MSC. Seniors Paige Edwards and Emma LeMaster would earn spots on the 1st Team All Mid-South Conference squad. Sophomore Krista King and junior Jade Scott would also earn spots on the 2nd Team All Mid-South Conference squad. UC led the way with 10 honorees including seniors Paige Edwards, Tracy Taphouse, BJ Chancey, juniors Maggie Ballou, Alexandria Knuckles, and sophomores Darci Arnett, Abby Carter, Mariah Hall, Maggie Moore, and Ashton Rector.
Both the Men and Women's Bowling teams showed success this year as they both qualified for the NAIA National Championship tournament. This was the 3rd time for the men to qualify with the two previous years taking them into the round of 16. This was the women's 2nd time qualifying for Nationals with their run in 2014 taking them into the round of 12. The men would go 1-2 at the NAIA Tournament to finish their year with an overall record of 26-18, finishing 6th of 12 in the MSC. The Patriot ladies would go 0-2 at the tournament, completing their year with an overall record of 26-14 and finishing 4th of 11 in the MSC. For the men, junior Brad Paynter was named a MSC Academic All-Conference selection while Shannon Jones, Amanda Kelly, and Megan McReynolds all earned the Academic All-Conference award for the Patriot ladies.
The spring season would set in on Williamsburg, but yet again this year, many schedules would have to be altered due to the amount of inclement weather in the area. The University of the Cumberlands Baseball team concluded their 2015-16 campaign with two losses at Lindsey Wilson in the MSC Tournament Play-In Series, one by a 5-2 score and the other by a 15-9 margin. UC would end a successful season with an overall record of 33-23 and 9-12 in MSC play. UC would cruise through the early part of their schedule, garnering a 16-4 record before heading into conference play. After a strong start to the season, the tough conference schedule would slow the Patriots down a bit, bringing their record back towards .500. The Patriots would then rebound, winning 9 of their final 12 games of the regular season to close the regular season out 33-21 overall entering MSC Tournament play. UC would earn the 7th seed and draw a first round matchup against 2nd seeded and eventual MSC Tournament runner-up Lindsey Wilson, who defeated UC in two straight games.
Numerous players along with Coach Brad Shelton would earn recognition this season. Coach Shelton would earn his 500th win at UC on March 29th when the Patriots defeated the Berea College Mountaineers in a single game matchup by a score of 7-5 on the road. On April 6th, just over a week after earning his 500th career win at UC, Shelton's team would come home to sweep the Cavaliers of Montreat College in a mid-week doubleheader giving him wins #502 and #503, making him the all-time winningest coach in UC history. He later on would earn his 700th career win in game one of a three game MSC series against Pikeville. Jose Alonzo and Kevin Pantoja were the two Patriots who earned the honor of 1st Team All-Conference. The 2nd Team All-Conference selections were packed with Patriots players with UC garnering five spots including Noah Gapp, Zach McRoberts, Stone Osborne, Jeff Rivera, and Chase Schmittou. Chase Schmittou would also earn a MSC Gold Glove Award playing 1st base while pitcher T.J. Campbell also earned the Gold Glove Award. Academically, the Patriots were a leader in the conference with 12 honorees on the MSC Academic All-Conference squad. Those earning the award were seniors Mathias Brewers, Zach McRoberts, Logan Simpkins, Cameron Smith, juniors Joe Braun, Jacob Pardue, Jeff Rivera, Chase Schmittou, Dexter Wilson Jr., sophomores John King, Reed Spata, and Matt Wehrle.
On the other diamond, UC's Softball team ended their 2016 campaign in the MSC Tournament at the hands of the St. Catharine College Patriots. After losing to Lindsey Wilson in the opening round, the Patriots would defeat Georgetown College for the first time since 2010, eliminating them from the MSC Tournament. Cumberlands would fight to keep their season going, but couldn't keep up after a tough season as they fell to St. Catharine in an elimination game. UC would finish the season at 21-31 overall and 7-21 in MSC play. The Patriots started off their season on the right foot, winning 10 of their first 13 games including their home opener on February 18th against Milligan College 1-0 on their new field in the newly built UC Athletic Complex, which houses UC's own softball and lacrosse fields. The biggest problem for the Patriots was situational hitting and errors as in the case with most young teams trying to gain experience throughout the season. The Patriots hit a rough patch after having to reschedule several of their games due to weather. Because of rescheduling, UC would have a tough time getting back on their feet as they dropped 15 of 20 games in April.
UC did have some bright spots in their lineup this season. Sophomore Kaylee James was one of three Patriots to earn Mid-South Conference recognition as she garnered 1st Team All-Conference honors along with NFCA All-Region Midwest 1st Team honors. Teammates Keli Bruning (Jasper, TN) and Mindy Jo Britt (Flat Rock, AL) earned MSC 2nd Team All-Conference Awards as well. There were nine Patriots that were recognized for their hard work in the classroom as they were named Mid-South Conference Academic All-Conference. Those that were recognized were Cheyenne Brown, Keli Bruning, Mariah Hall, Marki Hall, Amber Hiller, Laurel Hopf, Kaylee James, Shannon Jones, and Elisa Mauldin.
On the courts, the Men's Tennis team finished the season with a 13-8 record overall and 4-2 in the MSC, finishing the regular season in 2nd place in the conference. The Patriots would defeat Pikeville in the MSC semifinals before being knocked off by Lindsey Wilson in the MSC Championship match. UC would qualify though for the NAIA National Championship Tournament for the first time since 2003. In the first round, UC would take on NAIA #13 ranked Reinhardt University. The Patriots would outperform the Eagles to win 5-3, moving on to the 2nd round of play, but was upended by NAIA #4 ranked University of Northwestern Ohio by a final score of 5-1. Their hard work and effort throughout the season would not go unnoticed though, and the men would receive the honor of being ranked #18 by the NAIA for the final poll of the season.
Several of Cumberlands' athletes were recognized for their hard work and dedication throughout the season both on and off the court. Ariez Heshaam and Daniel Butcher were both named MSC 1st Team All-Conference. Daniel Fraser was also named MSC 2nd Team All-Conference. Kenny Wilson was named the Mid-South Conference's Champion of Character while Butcher, Fraser, Heshaam, and Wilson were all honored with MSC Academic All-Conference awards as well. Fraser and Wilson were also named NAIA Scholar-Athletes this year for UC.
The Women's Tennis program finished the season with a 10-10 record overall and 4-3 in the MSC where they finished the season in 4th place. The Patriot ladies had some success in the MSC Tournament, defeating the Tigers of Campbellsville University in the opening round 5-2 to move on to the MSC Semifinals against NAIA #3 ranked Lindsey Wilson College. The ladies played with heart but fell to Lindsey Wilson College 5-0.
Isabella Dale was named MSC 1st Team All-Conference after a very successful season, especially in singles competition. Sydni Grimes and Chanel Williams were among the Patriot ladies named MSC 2nd Team All-Conference. Marie Bozeman and Kaylyn Collette were honored with MSC Academic All-Conference awards as well.
Turning focus to Track and Field, the Patriot teams ended both of their seasons with people competing for NAIA National Championships. The Patriots had one NAIA All-American Indoor athlete and saw numerous Patriots post personal records and school records in both indoor and outdoor track seasons. During the indoor season, the Patriots participated in four meets before sending junior Madison Peace (Walton, KY) to compete at the NAIA Indoor National Championships. Throughout the indoor season, several school records were broken by three Patriot lady athletes. At the NAIA Indoor Nationals, Madison Peace would represent the University of the Cumberlands (UC) in fashion as she posted a time of 2:18.96 in the preliminaries qualifying her for the finals. In the finals, Peace would achieve a personal record with a time of 2:16.93 and finish in 7th place, earning NAIA Indoor All-American honors in the 800 meter race. The indoor season also ended up being one for the records as Ashli Pope (Columbus, OH), Elizabeth Olive (Prospect, KY), and Courtney Rhodes (Riceboro, GA) would all set new school records. Pope would set a new school record in the indoor 60 meter event with a time of 7.96. Olive would start off her track and field career at UC on a high note as she would set a new indoor school record in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 9.67. Rhodes would start off a successful senior campaign with two new indoor school records, setting a new school record for shot put by breaking her own record with a throw of 12.43 meters. She would also set the indoor record for the weight throw with a throw of 14.13 meters.
The Patriots looked to perform well and capture the MSC Championships. Unfortunately, UC would fall short of this goal, but still had success as several athletes brought home hardware. The Patriot ladies captured runner-up honors, falling to the Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson. The men would finish as a team in 3rd place, falling to runner-up Campbellsville and MSC Champion Lindsey Wilson. Several Patriot athletes won their respective events at the MSC Championships. Madison Peace would finish 1st in the high jump and 3rd in the 800 meter run. Courtney Rhodes would win the hammer throw and the discus event while finishing runner-up in the shot put. Ashli Pope would finish 1st in the 100 meter dash and 2nd in the 200 meter dash. For the men, Cameron Smoak would clinch 1st place in the javelin, 2nd in shot put, 3rd in hammer throw, and 4th in discus on his way to being named the Co-MSC Athlete of the Year. Travis O'Dell would come back from a season full of injuries to win the 3000 meter steeplechase. Rickey Lee also took 1st in the shot put and discus. Clay Bowling would finish 2nd in the race walk, setting a new school record with a time of 27:57.26.
The efforts of the Patriots were noticed and recognized through numerous awards and honors. On the men's side, the Patriots had three 1st Team All-MSC honorees (Rickey Lee, Travis O'Dell and Cameron Smoak), three 2nd Team All-MSC honorees (Clay Bowling, Nathan Hepburn, and Cameron Smoak), four MSC Academic All-Conference members (Andrew Johnson, James MacPherson, Jacob Nathanson, and Taylor Waddle) and one NAIA Scholar Athlete (Clay Bowling). For the women, there were some great individual performances as they ended the year with six 1st Team All-MSC selections (Hannah Henegar, Elizabeth Olive, Madison Peace, Ashli Pope, Courtney Rhodes, and Nahtae Thompson), seven 2nd Team selections (Alisha Durbin, Julia MacPherson, Elizabeth Olive, Madison Peace, Ashli Pope, and Courtney Rhodes), eight MSC Academic All-Conference selections (Blair Barger, Alisha Durbin, Sydney Freeman, Annmarie Lake, Samantha Moses, Bonnie Nutt, Madison Peace, and Courtney Rhodes), and three NAIA Scholar Athletes (Annmarie Lake, Bonnie Nutt, and Courtney Rhodes).
Two Patriots qualified for the NAIA Outdoor National Championships in Madison Peace for the Women's 800 Meter Run and Jacob Nathanson for the Men's Marathon. Peace would fall short of qualifying for the finals, finishing in 9th place just 0.23 seconds off the time of the 8th place finisher. Nathanson would battle humidity and the fatigue of a long season in a grueling 26.2 mile marathon event. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete the event, dropping out due to the fatigue and humidity.
The Patriot Archery program had yet another fantastic finish in 2015-2016. After winning the USIAC Outdoor National Championship last season, the Patriots would win the USIAC 3D National Championship in October before finishing in 2nd at the USCA Outdoor National Championships in May.
At 3D Nationals, UC would come away with three individual national titles along with four team titles. Caleb Kirby would win the Men's Bowhunter 3D National Title while the team of Kirby, Aaron Cook, and Jayson Byrd would win the Men's Bowhunter Team National Title. The team of Courtnie Carr, Ellie Yocum, and Haley Haygood would come together to win the Women's Bowhunter Team Title. Madeline Brown would win the Women's Compound National Championship while Brown, Katie Fladzinski, and Kayla Dowell would team to win the Women's Compound Team National Title. Lakin Crum would win the final individual National Title in the Women's Recurve division. Crum along with teammates Alice Buswell and Shannon Coleman would win the team National Title in the Women's Recurve division.
In total, UC had eight 3D Nationals Academic All-Americans and 18 All-Americans. The eight Academic All-Americans were Caleb Kirby, Jayson Byrd, Jeremiah Brown, Haley Haygood, Aaron Daniels, Dylan Martin, Katie Fladzinski, and Shannon Coleman. The 18 All-Americans were Caleb Kirby, Aaron Cook, Jayson Byrd, Haley Haygood, Ellie Yocum, Courtnie Carr, Dylan Martin, Korey Snyder, John Whalen, Cole Likins, Katie Fladzinski, Kristen Swords, Kayla Dowell, Madeline Brown, Shannon Coleman, Lacey Reliford, Alice Buswell, and Lakin Crum.
At Indoor Nationals in March, three Patriots would earn National Championships including Alice Buswell in Women's Recurve, Haley Haygood in Women's Bowhunter, and Caleb Kirby in Men's Bowhunter. UC would continue their success at the USCA Outdoor Nationals where they would earn seven National Championships. The Patriots would nearly sweep the Bowhunter division, winning the men's individual title (Caleb Kirby), the women's team title (Courtnie Carr, Nicole Nivison, and Haley Haygood), the men's team title (Kirby, Aaron Cook, and Jayson Byrd), and the mixed team title (Kirby and Carr). UC would also win the women's compound team title (Madeline Brown, Kristen Swords, and Kayla Dowell) and the mixed compound team title (Brown and John Whalen). The final title came in women's recurve as Alice Buswell would win the individual division championship.
The Patriots had numerous members named Academic All-Americans as well as All-Americans. Haley Haygood, Courtnie Carr, Kayla Dowell, and Alice Buswell were all named Academic All-Americans. To be named Academic All-American, you must hold at least a 3.3 GPA and be in the top 25% of your class. Alice Buswell, Lakin Crum, and Hannah Blevins were named All-Americans for Women's Recurve. John Whalen, Korey Snyder, Cole Likins, and Clint Moore were named All-Americans for Men's Compound. Kayla Dowell, Kristen Swords, and Madeline Brown were named All-Americans for Women's Compound while Caleb Kirby, Aaron Cook, Jayson Byrd, and Josh Owen were honored as All-Americans for Men's Bowhunter. Finally, Courtnie Carr, Haley Haygood, and Nicole Nivison were named All-Americans for Women's Bowhunter.
UC's newest addition to the athletic department was lacrosse for both men and women. The men's team finished their inaugural 2015-2016 season with an overall record of 7-5 and an Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) record of 3-3. The Patriots, in their first year of competitive play, were looking to set the bar high for following years and did a solid job, posting a winning record for the year and nearly knocking off numerous top 10 opponents. The Patriots would open up their season on the road, but would earn their first victory in game one of the year, knocking off Montreat College in AAC play 22-8. After back-to-back losses in AAC play to move to 1-2, UC would open its new home facility in the UC Lacrosse Complex with three straight wins over Benedictine, Davis & Elkins, and Saint Ambrose University to move to 4-2 overall. UC would finish the season going 3-2 in their final five regular season contests to go to 7-4 (4-1 home). The Pats would fall to St. Andrews College in the AAC Tournament to finish their season at 7-5 overall.
Head Coach Pete Campbell was named the Co-Coach of the year in the AAC for leading his first year team to a spot in the AAC tournament and a winning inaugural season. Two defensive players along with two midfielders were named AAC 2nd Team All-Conference. Defenders Nick DiFranco and Bryan Morgan along with midfielders Jake Mitchell and Kody Swann all earned the yearly awards. Kyle Bellis was named to the AAC Champions of Character team as well.
The UC Women's Lacrosse team finished their inaugural 2015-2016 season with an overall record of 4-8 and an AAC record of 3-5. The Patriot ladies were looking to get their program off the ground even though they were outnumbered for the majority of the season on the field. UC started their inaugural season off right with a victory in their first ever contest at home against the University of Pikeville 11-6. It would take a few losses before the Pats would return to the win column against St. Andrews on the road. UC added an overtime victory over Truett McConnell 15-14 and a win in their final home contest against Montreat 15-2. Freshmen Mernyse Bruce and Becan Henninghan both would earn the honors of being named 1st Team AAC All-Conference.
Both lacrosse programs look to 2016-2017 to be even more successful as they bring in a number of incoming freshmen and transfers to couple together with a large core of returners from the inaugural season.
Finally on the links, the UC Golf programs had seasons filled with victories and success. On the men's side, the Patriots won four regular season tournaments including the Bill Sergent Invitational, the Battle on Beale Street, the 24th Annual SEKI Tournament, and the Mid-South Conference (MSC) Spring Invite. The Patriots had Top-5 finishes in nine out of the 11 tournaments participated in this season, including postseason play. After winning the MSC Regular Season championship, the Patriots would grab the lead early in the 1st round of the MSC Tournament and never look back as they dominated the competition winning the tournament by 23 strokes. The team would set a multitude of records during the week, including a new school record for best 36 hole score (569) for a team and 54 hole score (857) for a team. They also broke MSC records for best 36 hole score and 54 hole score for a team.
Ben Kendrick (Danville, KY) would have a record setting performance at the MSC Tournament, winning the tournament in convincing fashion with a final score of 205 (-11). Kendrick would break the school record for 18 hole (64) and 54 hole score in a tournament. He would card a 205 (-11) over the three-day event to break the school records. His 18 hole score, 36 hole score (135), and 54 hole score were also good enough to break the MSC Tournament records as well. The MSC tournament victory would earn the Patriots the automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship Tournament. UC would go on to finish 9th overall at the NAIA National Championships.
Individually, the men's team garnered numerous MSC honors. Three Patriots would earn high honors this season. Ben Kendrick, Florian Loutre, and Callum McGuigan would earn All Mid-South Conference 1st Team. Kendrick would also go on to be named MSC Men's Golfer of the Year. Michael Murphy would earn All Mid-South Conference 2nd Team honors for his play this season. Loutre would add honors from the NAIA as well as he was named a 2nd Team NAIA All-American.
The Patriots would lead the conference in Academic All-MSC Conference honors with eight golfers earning the distinction and honor. Martin Jacobson, Kendrick, David Kreuger, Loutre, Kevin McCracken, Murphy, Lee Robinson, and Matt Thomsen were all recognized for their excellence in the classroom. Coach Kraftick, in his last season as head coach for the Patriots, would earn the recognition of MSC Coach of the Year.
For the women, the Patriot ladies made a historic run. UC continued their play after graduation ceremonies as they participated in the NAIA National Championship Tournament. After winning both the MSC Regular Season Championship and the MSC Tournament Championship, the Patriot ladies would make their mark on the weather-shortened NAIA National Tournament, tied for the lead heading into the final round of the tournament. UC would end up finishing tied for 4th place, marking the highest finish ever by the Patriot ladies in the program's history at the NAIA National Tournament. One Patriot lady made history as Kaitlyn Riley would become the program's first NAIA National Tournament Champion. The Patriots were consistently ranked all season in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches Poll, staying in the top 10 the entire season.
The Patriot ladies had one of its best seasons in the history of the program, winning three tournaments in the fall including the Bill Sergent Invitational, the MSC Fall Invite, and the MSC Fall Round Up. UC added a 3rd and 7th place finish in the other two fall tournaments. UC would dominate the competition in the spring, winning four more tournaments including the Tennessee Wesleyan Invite, TPC Deere Run Women's Invite, MSC Spring Invite, and MSC Tournament Championship. The Patriot ladies would garner a 2nd place finish in the Callaway Gardens Invite, the only spring regular season tournament not won by the Patriots. UC carried their momentum after winning four straight tournaments into the NAIA National Tournament where they were tied for the tournament lead heading into the final round and would finish in a program best 4th place at the NAIA National Championship Tournament.
Sophomore Kaitlyn Riley would lead the way for UC as the NAIA Individual National Champion with a final score of 140 (-4), tying the NAIA National Tournament Championship record for the lowest 18 hole score at 68. Individually, the women's team earned a plethora of honors from both the MSC and the NAIA. Four ladies would earn MSC All-Conference 1st Team honors including Annabeth McKay, Constanze Sieker, Riley, and Taylor Church. Sieker had a stellar freshman season and would earn the MSC Freshman of the Year award. Candice Lindeque and Rachel Pingleton would also earn MSC All-Conference 2nd Team honors. Four Patriot ladies would earn MSC Academic All-Conference honors as well for their dedication in the classroom. Those earning that honor were LaToshia Davis, Lindeque, Pingleton, and Riley. Coach Kraftick, in his last season as the head coach of the Patriots' golf programs, would earn MSC Co-Coach of the Year honors on the women's side. Riley was not done yet as she earned NAIA All-American 1st Team honors for her historic sophomore season. Sieker also earned 2nd Team All-American honors for her solid freshman season. Lindeque and Pingleton were honored as 2016 NAIA Scholar-Athletes for their dedication in the classroom.
The Patriots had an eventful year of sports, doing everything in their power to put their stamp on all sports in the MSC and NAIA. Although the Patriot family lost many seniors to graduation who have contributed greatly to their respective programs, Cumberlands looks forward to the many new faces next season who will help carry on the winning Patriot tradition. Long time Athletic Director Randy Vernon retires from his position, but is replaced by former golf coach Chris Kraftick, who will continue a long term outlook of success for the Patriot athletic programs.