Wingate Honored For Athletic Excellence

Rock Hill, S.C.----For the first time in 21 years, the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award has ended in a tie. Three-time defending champion Wingate University using a strong push in the spring to catch Carson-Newman College, the conference announced today. Both Wingate and Carson-Newman finished the year with 94.5 points. The Bulldogs win for the fourth consecutive year. Wingate is the first current SAC school to win four Echols Athletic Excellence Awards in a row.

“This is a great accomplishment for everyone involved in athletics at Wingate University,” Wingate president Dr. Jerry McGee says. “All of our fans join me in offering congratulations to our coaches and student-athletes.”

The second-place school after the fall and winter sports seasons, the Bulldogs won the conference championship in baseball and finished second in men’s tennis. Wingate also posted third-place finishes in women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf in the spring. Earlier, Wingate also won its fourth-consecutive conference regular season title in volleyball. The Bulldogs earned a second-place finish in football.

“We believe this award is a testament to the overall quality of our athletic program at the University,” Wingate vice-president and director of athletics Steve Poston says. “Our victory supports our commitment to the fact every student-athlete and every sport is extremely important (to us).”

Poston believes the SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award belongs to the entire Wingate family. “I consider this an institutional honor,” Poston asserts. “It is not limited to athletics. We share the SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award with our faculty, staff, fans and friends.”

Carson-Newman had a 5.5 point lead after the winter championships, but Wingate picked up 43 points in the spring’s six championship sports. Carson-Newman had the third-best point total in the spring with 37.5 points. The Eagles win the award for the fourth time in school history. Carson-Newman won the trophy in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

Carson-Newman won conference championships in football and men’s and women’s soccer. The Eagles had second-place finishes in volleyball, women’s cross country, softball and women’s golf.

Seventh in the overall standings heading into the spring, Lincoln Memorial University jumped to third place by picking up 39 points to finish with 73.5 points overall. It is the best finish for the LMU Railsplitters since joining the league in 2006. Lincoln Memorial had championships in men’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis.

The second-place team in the Echols Athletic Excellence race the past two years, Tusculum College stands in fourth place with 70 total points. Tusculum shared the women’s tennis title with LMU; the Pioneers had second-place finishes in women’s soccer and men’s basketball.

Lenoir-Rhyne University is in fifth place with 66.5 points. The Bears won championships in women’s cross country, women’s basketball and softball. LRU earned a second-place finish in men’s cross country.

Catawba College grabs sixth place with 65.5 points. The Catawba Indians won the men’s basketball championship and tied for second in baseball. Newberry College is seventh with 64 points. Newberry won the women’s golf championship; the scarlet-and-gray finished second in men’s golf and women’s basketball.

Mars Hill College is eighth with 57 points. The Lions won the men’s cross country championship for the 13th consecutive year. Mars Hill tied for second place in baseball. Brevard College finished with 42.5 points. The Tornados tied for second in men’s basketball for their best finish.

The South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award is presented annually to the member athletic department that earns the highest overall finish based on final regular season standings. Points are based on final tournament standings in the sports of men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s golf and women’s golf. The trophy is presented at the SAC Annual Business Meeting at the conclusion of each year. The trophy is named in honor of former SAC Commissioner Doug Echols.

Founded in 1896, Wingate University is a private four-year co-educational institution of 2,159 students offering active learning opportunities through personalized instruction, world travel, career discovery and community service.

Wingate offers more than 40 undergraduate majors in arts and sciences, business, communication, education, fine arts, music and sport sciences. It also offers graduate degrees in business, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration. In addition, the school awards the doctor of pharmacy and the doctor of education degrees.

Bulldog student-athletes compete in 19 NCAA Division II sports. Wingate University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past three years.