DALTON, GA (dsroadrunners.com) --- As 2015 winds down, we reflect on what has been a very good year for Dalton State athletics.
It has been a year when Roadrunner athletics served up about $525,000 in aid to our over 170 student-athletes. "Total benefit to the school's bottom line is about $1.4 million," according to Derek Waugh, DS Director of Athletics. "Our athletes are from over 25 states and countries."
Waugh said 21 student-athletes had 4.0 GPAs between the two semesters. In addition, the Roadrunner program has won over 75% of contests.
The year started with the Dalton State basketball team winning the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship by finishing the regular season with a record of 26-3 overall and 16-2 SSAC.
Coach Tony Ingle was the SSAC and NAIA National Coach of the Year and 6-10 senior Ladaris Green was SSAC Player of the Year. Green and senior point guard Sean Tate were on the SSAC All-Conference team and were later named NAIA All-Americans.
The Roadrunners fell 66-62 to William Carey in the semi-final round of the conference tournament in Montgomery, but were seeded sixth in the NAIA Tournament in Kansas City.
Dalton State opened the national tournament with a 97-86 victory over Wiley (Texas), advancing to knock-off Evangel (Mo.) in the second round, 85-74.
The Roadrunners had to come from behind against No. 3 Cal State San Marcos in the quarterfinals. Each team came into the game with 30 wins and four losses.
The Cougars had the ball and a two point (64-62) lead with 11 seconds in regulation. Sean Tate was fouled and made both clutch shots to send the game into overtime.
Dalton State never trailed in the overtime. Down by just one point, CSSM called a time out that they didn't have. They complained and received two bench technical fouls for a total of four foul shots. Tate hit 3-of-4 to complete the 80-76 overtime victory.
Dalton State sank 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch to knock-off No. 2 seed Talladega (Ala.) 64-54 in the semifinals.
The Roadrunners captured the national championship with a 71-53 victory over Westmont (Calif.) The Warriors had eliminated No. 1 seed Hope International in the Fab Four, 70-69.
Junior Jordan Bowling was named national tournament most valuable player. He and senior Preston Earle were on the All-Championship Team.
Golf Teams Soar
Dalton State's two talented golf teams are the defending Southern States Athletic Conference champions.
Erika Wardzinski and Julia McQuilken were named SSAC newcomers of the year, Caroline Griffin was Freshman of the Year and Rachel Rebne was named All-Academic going into the conference tournament in mid-April at Montgomery Country Club.
Griffin finished as medalist as the Roadrunners defeated Montgomery by 21 strokes to win the championship. She was named the SSAC Women's Golfer of the Year.
Dalton State's women went into the final day of the NAIA Championship Tournament in Pooler, Ga. down by just one stroke to Northwood University and the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.)
The Roadrunners finished tied for second place with SCAD – Savannah and William Woods (Mo.). Northwood became team champion, but Dalton State's Julia McQuilken won the individual trophy.
Sean Elliott started this fall's post season by being named the SSAC Men's Player of the Year and it only got better. He and teammate Levi Nix led the way in the first day of the conference tournament at Montgomery Country Club. Nix fired a 2-under 68 and Elliott was just behind at 69 to give DS a one-stroke lead.
The Roadrunners upped the lead to three strokes on day two. Nix carded a 4-under 66 and Elliott fired a 3-under 67.
Eliott excelled with a 6-under 64 and Nix shot a 2-under as our men finished the tournament with their best round. They needed it to clip second place Mobile by two strokes. Eventual national champions Coastal Georgia finished third. Individually, Elliott (69-67-62-64 = 200) was medalist and Nix (68-66-68 = 202) was second.
The 72-hole NAIA Men's Tournament was played at the Hills Course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach. As a team, the Roadrunners found themselves in a hole at the end of the first round and ended up 13th in the tournament.
Elliott continued to excel. He finished a remarkable 16 shots under par (68-69-65-70 = 272) to break a 32-year-old 54-hole national championship scoring record and a 60-year old 72-hole national championship record.
He would win the Arnold Palmer Trophy as tournament medalist as well as the NAIA Jack Nicklaus Award, the Golf Coaches Association of America's recognition.
Men's Tennis Finished 13th in NAIA
A strong SSAC Men's Tennis line-up had five teams in the NAIA Top-25. The Roadrunners were 15th going into the national tournament in Mobile where they defeated Oklahoma Baptist 8-1 in the first round.
They had to play No. 2 seed Embry-Riddle (Fla.) in the second round and were eliminated 8-1. The Roadrunner's first year of eligibility to play in the national tournament allowed them to move up to No. 13 in the season ending poll.
Cross Country Teams are SSAC Champs
This fall was remarkable for each of the Dalton State cross country teams.
The XC season started with the DS teams hosting a meet for the first time. Roadrunner teams both won against strong fields at historic Prater's Mill.
Freshman Emily Poole led the Lady Roadrunners to a repeat as Southern State Athletic Conference champions at Choctaw Trails in Clinton, Miss. Blue Mountain (Miss.) was four points in back of Dalton State.
Poole paced the field followed by teammate Natalie Hensley. Teammates Mallory Edwards, Olivia Bird, Jessica Brock, Kuersten Gallivan and Gloria Pascual were also on the All-Conference Team.
The Dalton State women finished 24th in the NAIA National Championship at McAlpine Park in Charlotte. Poole finished 17th individually to earn All-America Honors. This was the first tie that the Lady Roadrunners had been in the Top 25.
The DS men claimed their first ever SSAC Championship at Choctaw Trails with 25 points. Second Place Bethel had 71 points. William Carey was third. Carey's Jeoffrey Kipchumba was just ahead of Spencer Head of Dalton State to win individual honors.
Head, Paul Patterson and Paul Schupp were among the top five finishers. Joining the trio on the All-Conference team were Brody Cook, Parker Cook, Dylan Smith, Cole Thornton, Jacob Robinson and Dacosta Smith.
The Dalton State men would go on to finished 11th at the NAIA National Tournament in Charlotte. Spence Head earned All-America recognition after finishing second individually again behind William Carey's Kipchumba.
Men's Soccer Begins Play
It was exciting to see men's soccer begin this fall at Dalton State. Home games are played at Lakeshore Park.
William Carey eliminated Dalton State 6-0 in the first round of the SSAC Tournament, but the Roadrunners surprised a lot of people. Conference coaches had originally picked the up-start team to finish next to last.
After beginning the season 9-2-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference, the young team was ranked No. 19 in the NAIA Coaches Top-25. A couple of one-goal losses (1-0 to Mobile and 2-1 to William Carey) dropped them back out of the poll.
The Roadrunners finished their initial season 11-7-1 overall and 4-4 SSAC. Dalton State fans are expecting great things for 2016 when the men's squad will be joined by a first year women's soccer team.
Also this fall, the Ken White Indoor Soccer Practice Facility was completed adjacent to the home field at Lakeshore Park.
Good 2015-2016 starts
Both Dalton State golf teams had successful fall seasons and are hoping to finish their 2015-2016 season strong this coming spring.
Roadrunner basketball team has a 9-2 season record (2-0 SSAC) going into Wednesday night's final game of 2015 in Ave Maria, Fla.
The defending national champions started the 2015-2016 season with two close losses in Kentucky. They have rebounded with nine straight victories including SSAC wins over Blue Mountain College and William Carey.