Athletics

    Men’s Cross Country Cap 2011 Season with Nationals Run

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    • Armed with a history of success and a solid core of returners, the Berea College Cross Country team hit the trails this fall determined to write yet another chapter in the storied tradition of the program.  With six national qualifiers returning on the men’s side, the reigning KIAC champions had little trouble claiming their seventh straight title at the conference meet in early November.  The men’s squad claimed seven of the top 10 finishing spots, including the top spot, captured by conference Runner of the Year Austin Houchens.  National qualifiers included:

      • Austin Houchens (2014) – Bowling Green, KY
      • Darryll Patrick (2013) – Hamersville, OH
      • Scott Kenney (2013) – Russellville, KY; 2011 NAIA Scholar-Athlete
      • Jeffrey Johnson (2013) – Austin, IN
      • Jakub Lonsky (2014) – Dolny Kubin, Slovakia
      • Tarrance O’Connor (2014) – Warsaw, KY

      The conference championship earned the Mountaineers an automatic berth in the NAIA National Championships, which was held November 19th at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington.  They were joined by female individual qualifier Shaina Mason (Pisgah Forest, NC).  While the path to qualify for the trip to Vancouver proved easy for the team this season, actually arriving there became very difficult.  An early morning flight from Louisville was delayed by engine problems and caused the team to miss their connecting flight in Chicago.  Forced to split up, the group arrived out west in waves, making a long trip even longer and disrupting the squad’s pre-race routine and training.  The lack of sleep and increased levels of stress wore slightly on the eight runners but, upon arriving in Vancouver, they quickly turned their attention to the “rolling, European-style” loop ahead of them.

      On race day, the Mountaineers finished just shy of a top 25 spot, posting a team time of 2:18:25.  That time proved good enough for 27th place and a jump of two spots from their 2010 finish.  Senior Jarrett Blankenship (Bowling Green, KY) feels this is an indication of just where the program is headed.  “I think that we are transitioning Berea College Cross Country into a national powerhouse,” said Blankenship in an interview shortly after the team returned from Washington.  “Despite only jumping 2 spots from nationals last year, we are making leaps and bounds for our program.”  Blankenship is quick to credit the work ethic of the team’s members, pointing out the fact that the seven national qualifiers put in “50-90 miles per week” during the summer.  Those workouts were enhanced this fall by assistant coach Shawn Jakubowski, who Blankenship says designs “workouts that others can only dream of”.

      Blankenship will graduate this May with a degree in Physical Education.  He plans to coach cross country and lead recruiting efforts at a collegiate-level program, following in the footsteps of Berea Head Coach Mike Johnson who, he says, has been like a father to him.  The team will miss Blankenship’s leadership; however, Coach Johnson now looks to a stockpiled group of talented runners he has been grooming for several seasons to continue his program’s success.  This youth movement keeps the future bright for the Mountaineers.  Six of this year’s national qualifiers will return next season, with five of those runners having repeat national experience.

    Athletic Department to Partner with Berea Fire Department for Toy Drive

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    • BEREA, Ky – The Berea College Athletic Department has announced a partnership with the Berea Fire Department for their annual toy drive.  During the Wierwille Classic college basketball games on December 2nd and 3rd, any person that donates a new toy or book to the Fire Department’s fund will receive free admission to that day’s tournament games.  For fans that pay the admission price, the Athletic Department will donate all ticket proceeds to the Toy Drive.  There will also be a donation box at the ticket tables for anyone wishing to give above and beyond the price of admission.

      Berea College Athletic Director Mark Cartmill looks forward to the opportunity to help support the Fire Department’s annual Christmas campaign.  “As part of the NAIA’s initiative, we constantly encourage our student-athletes to be Champions of Character and to demonstrate the values of Berea College,” says Cartmill.  “A partnership like this provides a perfect example of how to give back to our communities.  Berea College Athletics is proud to help the Fire Department’s efforts to provide joy to the children in our city.”

      Program organizer Lieutenant Jake Lake knows what this program means to the children and families who benefit and says it means a great deal to the members of the Fire Department to give back to the community where they serve.  Each year, at Christmas, the Fire Department supplies toys, books and clothing to approximately 100 kids in southern Madison County.

      For more information on this program or how you can give, you can contact the Athletic Department by email (hessr@berea.edu) or phone (859.985.3423).

    Berea College Named a Champion of Character Institution

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    • BEREA, Ky. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has released the annual list of recipients for its flagship program, the Five Star Champions of Character designation, and, for the first time, Berea College has achieved this distinction.

      To receive this distinguished designation, each participating school is judged on their commitment to character training, conduct in competition, academic focus, character recognition and character promotion.  According to the NAIA website, the “Champions of Character process is designed to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student-athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits.” (NAIA)  The program was first introduced in 2009.

      In an email to President Shinn and various supporters of Mountaineer athletics, Dean of Enrollment and Academic Services Joe Bagnoli shared the “tremendous pleasure” he feels in Berea receiving “this distinction reserved for the highest performing NAIA schools.”

      Berea Athletic Director Mark Cartmill echoes this same sentiment, saying in an interview with Blue Crew News, “This designation has been a goal of our Athletic Department and a real focus for much of the past 2 years.  I applaud our coaching staff and student-athletes who understand the importance of being good character representatives and commit themselves to displaying such strong character traits.”  In the 2010-11 academic year, Berea athletic teams participated in 29 service projects and worked with over 500 individuals.

    Runners Race Past Santas to Win Half-Marathon Hustle

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    • On a crisp December morning, 1575 runners from across the country dressed in Santa hats, beards and customized t-shirts took over the streets of Sevierville, TN, for the inaugural Santa Hustle Smokies event.  Three Berea College runners were among the field of participants that started from the Wilderness at the Smokies Hotel and Waterpark Resort this past Sunday.

      Each of the three Mountaineers were running their first half marathon, yet entered the race prepared and confident.  Junior Scott Kenney (Russellville, KY) said after the race, “It wasn’t as hard as I was afraid it might be.  We were trained well and got a lot of good advice from some great runners that made our first half-marathon experience both fun and successful.”

      The race was indeed successful for the trio.  Junior Jeffrey Johnson (Austin, IN) won the event, finishing with a time of 1:14:21.  In an interview with Blue Crew News after the race, Johnson had to this to say about the experience, “It was a fun race to see almost the entire field wearing their Santa beards, red Santa shirts and hats.  We had to do an out and back loop.  When I turned around at the half-way point, all I could see was a sea of red shirts and Santa Clauses coming my way.  The participants were very encouraging as we ran back towards the finish.”

      Kenney came in second place (1:14:51), followed by sophomore Tarrance O’Connor (Warsaw, KY), who finished fourth at 1:20:44.  Despite cool temperatures in the 20’s, Johnson and Kenney hit the national qualifying mark, assuring they will represent Berea College at the NAIA Track and Field National Championships (Marion, IN) in May.  This will be the second national championship appearance for both Johnson and Kenney this year, as both were also key members of the Mountaineer cross country team that competed in the NAIA Cross Country Championship last month in Vancouver, WA.

      The Santa Hustle Smokies event, sponsored by Adrenaline Sports Management, featured two separate races, a 5K and a half marathon, benefitting the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee and Harvest Field Ministries.  Race information, including photos and results, can be found on their website:  Santa Hustle Smokies.

    Seabury Center to Host 2012 KIAC Basketball Final Four

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    • The Seabury Center at Berea College has been selected as the site for the 2012 KIAC Basketball Final Four.  Opening round games for the tournament will be played at the home of the higher seed, with the final four teams remaining on the women’s side and the men’s side descending upon Berea next Monday and Tuesday. (more…)

    Golf Team to make Battlefield Home Course for 2012-2013 Seasons

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    • The Berea College Athletic Department is pleased to announce a contract has been reached with Battlefield Golf Club to make the course home to Berea College Golf through June of 2013. (more…)

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