Sunday, May 28, 2017

5 SWAC teams with something to prove in 2017

JACKSON, Mississippi -- Spring practice starts in 60 days, so it’s as good a time as any to start looking forward to the 2017 football season.

Several SWAC teams were close to breaking through last year, and seven of the 10 teams in the league could have made the conference championship by swinging the outcome of just two games.

Here’s a look at the five SWAC teams that have the most to prove, given the lay of the land.

5. Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs got off to a miserable 1-5 start last year that included a win over Mississippi Valley and losses to Prairie View, Southern, Texas Southern and Alcorn State. But they won three out of their final four SWAC games, and are hoping to carry that momentum over into this season. If A&M coach James Spady can find a way to get his team to pick off a couple of games early (they lost to Texas Southern 34-31 last year, for example) they could make a serious run at their first East title since 2011.


Chatters named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana track and field standout Drew Chatters earned an academic honor for the second straight day when she was named Friday as a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete for 2016-17.
Chatters, a junior from Lake Charles, La., and a graduate of St. Louis Catholic High School, is a biology / pre-medical major. She is a 3-time Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion in the javelin and holds school and GCAC meet records in that event.
To qualify for Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, student-athletes are nominated by their institution, must maintain a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved junior academic status.
Chatters was announced Thursday as Academic All-District 2 by the College Sports Information Directors of America. She made that team for the second consecutive year. Chatters will learn June 20 if she made the Academic All-America team.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

N.C. A&T Aggies Put On Historic Performance In Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Kentucky  –  North Carolina A&T will roll into the NCAA Division I Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., in record fashion after completing a historic NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round for a historically black college or university institution.

The Aggies will send 13 of the school-record 20 athletes they sent to the East Prelims to the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, June 7-10 for the NCAA championships. Over the past three days, the Aggies have taken down numerous school records. Saturday was another superb day of qualifying. The Aggies will have more representation than any other North Carolina institution at the NCAA championships in two weeks. They will also send more athletes to the NCAA nationals than any other HBCU in history.

The men's 4x100 meter relay team consisting of seniors Chris Belcher, Caleb Gabriel and junior Rodney Rower and freshman Jaylen Mitchell nearly took the top qualifying time for the East to Oregon with them, but were defeated by a narrow margin by Auburn (38.74) and LSU (38.75) to finish third in 38.76. The top 12 times advance to NCAA nationals. The foursome's time broke the school record of 39.44, set during this season's MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at N.C. A&T's Irwin Belk Track. It was the same runners save for junior Joel Thomas ran instead of Mitchell.

“Man, they looked awesome today,” said N.C. A&T director of track and field programs, Duane Ross. “They were right there until the end, but LSU got us at the line.”

The women's 4x1 was also impressive. Junior India Brown, sophomores Yakira Love and Kayla White and freshman Taliyah Townsend sprinted to a school record as they qualified for nationals with the 10th-best time (44.01). The previous record was established at the 2017 Aggie Invitational when the same runners except Love ran on Friday instead of Tori Ray. One more Aggies relay team saw success on Saturday when the 4x4 team qualified for nationals with a school-record time. Senior Dorian Claggett, junior Dajuan Harding, sophomore Justin Hamilton and freshman Najee Reams completed the 4x4 in 3:06.14 to be the 11th team out of 12 to qualify. They finished ahead of Clemson and Florida State to qualify. Saturday's 4x4 team out did itself as the same four guys held the previous record which was 3:07.32 recorded at the 2017 MEAC outdoor championships.

Belcher and Brown will represent the Aggies in three different events in Eugene. Both qualified on the men's and women's side in the 200 meters. A day after running the fastest qualifying time to reach the quarterfinals with a school-record 20.06, Belcher qualified for nationals in 20.31. Brown also pulled off a trifecta by finishing her 200m race in 22.92 to break her own school record of 22.98 recorded at the Tom Jones Memorial hosted by the University of Florida on April 28.

There were mixed reviews for the Aggies in the hurdles on Saturday. Kayla White is headed to nationals in the 100-meter hurdles as she qualified in 13.18 a day after breaking the school record by running 12.94. White broke an 8-year old record set by Loreal Smith at 12.97. White will try to become the Aggies first All-American in the 100mh since Smith in 2009. White had the sixth-fastest qualifying time on Saturday. The Aggies 110mh participants on Saturday – sophomore Michael Dickson and senior TeQuille Jackson – failed to qualify as both men could not reach the Top-12.

N.C. A&T's representation at the NCAA championships will be off the track as well. Sophomore Lasheon Strozier qualified in the men's triple jump with a personal-record 51-feet, 10 ½-inch jump. It surpassed his previous best which was 51-feet, 10-inches at the Duke Invitational on April 21. Strozier will be the first Aggies triple jumper since Brandon Via in 2006 to compete at NCAA nationals.

“This year we did a good job of putting them in meets where they saw some of the same competition they saw this weekend,” said Ross. “Our administration fully backed us in taking them down to (the University of) Florida and Georgia and putting them against tough competition so that when they are competing at regionals, when they are competing at nationals, it's nothing new.”

NCAA Division I Track and Field Championship Qualifiers

Men's 100m – Chris Belcher; Women's 100m – India Brown; Men's 200m – Chris Belcher; Women's 200m – India Brown; Men's 400m – Dajuan Harding; Women's 100mh – Kayla White; Men's 4x100 – Jaylen Mitchell, Belcher, Caleb Gabriel and Rodney Rowe; Women's 4x100 – Yakira Love, Brown, Taliyah Townsend and White; Men's 4x400 – Justin Hamilton, Dorian Claggett, Najee Reams and Harding; Men's Triple Jump – Lasheon Strozier.


Career best for Keith on first day of national meet

GULF SHORES, Alabama — Xavier University of Louisiana sophomore Ireyon Keithproduced a career best in the long jump Thursday on the opening day of the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
Keith's mark was 5.58 meters (18 feet, 3 3/4 inches), the best by a Gold Nugget in two years. She placed 16th out of 46 jumpers.
XULA's other long jumper was freshman Ry-Anne Riley, who placed 22nd with 5.44 meters (17-10 1/4). Sophomore Abby Stricker of Columbia (Mo.) won with 5.91 meters (18-4 3/4).
The Gold Nuggets did not advance in the preliminaries of the 400 relay. Martina WrightAlexis MiltonJustyce Riggs and Riley finished seventh out of seven in their heat in 48.59 seconds and placed 16th out of 21 teams overall. Defending champion and No. 1 seed Indiana Tech posted the fastest time, 45.83.
XULA will compete in two Friday events: Ariane Williams in the 400 trials at 3:30 p.m., and the 1,600 relay trials at 7:45 p.m. with Riley, Williams, Tramaine Shannon and Clarke Allen. The meet will conclude Saturday.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Chatters, Pace earn CoSIDA Academic All-District

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana's Drew Chatters and Brianna Pace were named Thursday to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District™ 2 women's track and field/cross country team in the college division for 2016-17.
Chatters, a junior from Lake Charles, La., and a graduate of St. Louis Catholic High School, is a biology / pre-medical major with a 3.78 cumulative GPA at XULA. She made Academic All-District for the second straight year, making her the sixth XULA athlete to receive the honor more than once. Chatters is a 3-time Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion in the javelin throw; she holds school and GCAC meet records in that event.
Pace, a sophomore from Junction City, Kan., and a graduate of Junction City High School, is majoring in computer science at XULA and has a 3.87 cumulative GPA. Pace scored a team-best 26 points April 22 to help the Gold Nuggets win the GCAC team championship. She scored in five events that day, including second in the 800-meter run and 3,200 relay, and was All-GCAC in four events. In October she finished third at the GCAC cross country meet and helped the Nuggets win the team championship.
District 2 consists of non-NCAA colleges in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee. Nominees must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. They also must have completed at least one full calendar year at their current institution and reached sophomore athletic eligibility.
Chatters and Pace are the only athletes from the GCAC to make an Academic All-District™ track/cross country team this year. They are among eight from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges or Universities) to be honored, regardless of gender.
First-team Academic All-District™ members advance to the Academic All-America™ ballot. The College Division Academic All-America™ team will be announced June 20.
During the past nine years, XULA has produced 22 Academic All-District™ selections, all but one on the first team.


Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

XULA to compete in 5 events at NAIA national meet

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana will have six entries in five events — the men's triple jump and the women's 400-meter dash, 400 relay, 1,600 relay and long jump — at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
The 3-day meet will begin Thursday at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium in Gulf Shores, Ala.
Freshman Ry-Anne Riley will be the busiest of the 10 XULA athletes. She'll compete in the long jump and will run the anchor segment of the 400 relay and the leadoff lap of the 1,600 relay.
"I feel really good about our chances here," XULA coach Joseph Moses said. "We look real fast, and we're healthy. That's the key to doing well at nationals. You can't go into this meet 80- or 85-percent healthy."
The XULA entries:
•  Women's 400 Relay (trials at 2:30 p.m. Thursday; finals at 2:40 p.m. Saturday):  Joining Riley on this team will be Martina WrightAlexis Milton and Janelle JonesJustyce Riggs is the alternate. None of the five is a senior. Wright, Milton, Jones and Riley won the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championship in this event in 47.25 seconds April 22. Defending champion Indiana Tech is No. 1 this season at 45.23. The Warriors won a year ago in 45.57.
 •  Women's Long Jump (5:30 p.m. Thursday):  Riley (5.57 meters/18 feet, 3 1/4 inches) and Ireyon Keith (5.51/18-1) both qualified for nationals April 7 at the University of Mobile Invitational, then finished 1-2 in this event at the GCAC meet to help the Gold Nuggets win the team title. Wayland Baptist freshman Telecia Briscoe (6.26/20-6 1/2) is the season leader. Defending champion is Mobile's Joniana Brinson, who jumped 5.86/19-2 3/4 last year and is No. 3 in 2017 at 6.06/19-10 3/4.
•  Women's 400 (trials at 3:30 p.m. Friday; finals at 4:30 p.m. Saturday):  Newcomer Ariane Williams set a XULA record of 56.63 April 22 at the GCAC meet. She ranks 17th in the NAIA. GCAC rival SUNO has the top three in this event, including leader Shadae Hilton at 53.50. Teammate and defending champion Orenthia Bennett is No. 2 at 53.98; Bennett won a year ago in 54.44.
•  Women's 1,600 Relay (trials at 7:45 p.m. Friday; finals at 6:15 p.m. Saturday): Clarke Allen will run anchor for the second straight year. She's the only returnee from last year's team that produced an All-America performance (seventh place) at nationals and set a school-record of 3:49.87 in the preliminaries. Williams will take the baton from Riley for the second lap, then hand off to Tramaine Shannon. The alternates are Jones and Milton. XULA is the No. 9 seed after its 3:53.83 March 17 at the Emory Invitational. Wiley is top-seeded at 3:43.71. Carroll (Mont.) won the 2016 title in 3:44.89 and is third-seeded this year at 3:47.54.
•  Men's Triple Jump (1:30 p.m. Saturday):  Keairez Coleman was the GCAC champion this year but did not qualify for nationals until he jumped 14.32/46-11 3/4 at XULA's final meet before nationals, the Southern Miss Open April 28. He ranks 27th nationally. Lindsey Wilson's Goabaone Mosheleketi (15.64/51-3 3/4) is the season leader. The 2016 champion, Eastern Oregon's Eric England (16.13/52-11), is not competing collegiately this season.
"We had a great week of practice after final exams," Moses said. "We're entering nationals with a positive outlook. I'm looking forward to seeing how well we'll do."

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Gold Rush earn No. 2 again in NAIA postseason poll

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana men's tennis, four days after its second consecutive runner-up finish at the NAIA National Championships, was ranked No. 2 in the postseason coaches poll.

The XULA men made their 86th consecutive top-25 appearance dating to April 4, 2007. It is the longest active streak in NAIA men's tennis. The Gold Rush were second in the 2016 postseason poll.

The Gold Rush finished 14-6 after a 5-0 loss Saturday to Georgia Gwinnett in the NAIA final at Mobile, Ala. Twelve XULA victories this season were against ranked or NCAA Division I teams — 10 of those were on the road.

XULA's resume got shinier Wednesday when Emory defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 5-1 in the NCAA Division III final at Chattanooga, Tenn. XULA won 5-4 at Emory Feb. 18.

The Gold Rush active poll streaks:
• 86 consecutive appearances in the top 25 . . . streak began April 4, 2007.
• 77 consecutive appearances in the top 20 . . . streak began April 30, 2008.
• 62 consecutive appearances in the top 15 . . . streak began Feb. 1, 2011.
• 56 consecutive appearances in the top 10 . . . streak began May 3, 2011.
• 18 consecutive appearances in the top 5 . . . streak began Jan. 26, 2016.
• 16 consecutive appearances in the top 3 . . . streak began March 1, 2016.
• 10 consecutive appearances in the top 2 . . . streak began May 25, 2016.

NAIA Men's Tennis Coaches' Top 25 Postseason Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses — records through May 20)

Rank Team Record Points Last
1 Georgia Gwinnett (12) 24-0 312 1
2 XULA 14-6 302 2
3 Keiser 19-4 292 3
4 Campbellsville 26-5 282 5
5 Northwestern Ohio 22-2 271 4
6 Lindsey Wilson 17-7 258 7
7 William Carey 18-6 254 6
8 William Woods 15-6 240 9
9 Cardinal Stritch 19-6 228 10
10 Arizona Christian 15-13 224 8
11 Mobile 23-5 213 11
12 Westmont 14-8 202 12
13 San Diego Christian 7-11 188 13
14 Middle Georgia 10-9 182 16
15 SCAD Savannah 9-9 162 19
16 Reinhardt 13-6 150 15
17 Asbury 17-2 146 RV
18 Coastal Georgia 14-8 143 14
19 Tennessee Wesleyan 12-5 137 17
20 McPherson 11-4 122 21
21 Lawrence Tech 20-7 118 20
22 Olivet Nazarene 12-7 102 18
23 Aquinas 17-7 88 22
24 Cumberland 7-6 78 23
25 SCAD Atlanta 11-4 75 24

Dropped from rankings: No. 25 St. Thomas (Fla.)
Others receiving votes: St. Thomas (Fla.) 60, Marian (Ind.) 41, Warner 29, Missouri Valley 20, Hastings 17, Davenport 15, Cumberlands 8, Point 6, Bethany (Kan.) 5, Cornerstone 3

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tennessee Vols Add James Daniel III, Bolster Backcourt

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee -- James Daniel, a 6-0, 175-pound guard from Hampton, Virginia, has signed an institutional aid agreement and plans to enroll at Tennessee this summer and play for the Volunteers as a graduate transfer during the 2017-18 season.

Daniel earned his degree in Sociology from Howard University this spring.

One of the best-kept secrets in college basketball during the 2015-16 season, Daniel led the country in scoring at 27.1 points per game, ultimately earning Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors and honorable mention All-America distinction. Daniel’s memorable junior season for the Bison featured nine games of 30 or more points, including a career-best 39 in a win over William & Mary.

“James gives us not only offensive production but toughness and experience as well,” Vols head coach Rick Barnes said. “He recognized that our program has a lot of positive momentum and it means a lot to us that this was an important factor for him. He has already distinguished himself individually and now wants to have an impact on team success. Adding James to our roster is significant because it gives us some really good depth in our backcourt and the potential for some potent offense.”


Top HBCU basketball coach Cy Alexander pens new book a year after resigning from North Carolina A&T

Beyond the Backboard: My Unique HBCU Experience In the Shadows of Big Time Basketball

GREENSBORO, North Carolina -- North Carolina A&T Men’s Basketball Coach Cy Alexander sent ripples through the basketball world when he resigned from his post as the Division 1 head coach citing in a statement to press, “I have decided to step away from actively coaching to pursue other interest within athletics. I look forward to pursuing those interest here at North Carolina A&T State University … I have a strong love for broadcasting, and I think being able to sharpen my skills on the Aggie basketball broadcasts will assist me in pursuing broadcasting as my next career. My decision to step down was a difficult one, but the last three years of my life have been tumultuous with the passing of my wife and mother. Therefore, I believe this decision was in the best interest of me and my family.”

He went on to thank all the young men “I’ve coached here at North Carolina A&T State University for their commitment to the program as well as their respective families who entrusted those young men to my care,” he continued. “Secondly, I want to thank Chancellor Harold L. Martin and Athletics Director Earl Hilton for the opportunity they gave me to become the head coach at North Carolina A&T, and the opportunity they are giving me to pursue my second career. I also want to say thank you to my coaches, managers and every person who has been involved with North Carolina A&T men’s basketball during my tenure.”


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Nuggets in final top 10 for 4th time in last 5 seasons

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana fell three places Wednesday to No. 10 in the NAIA Women's Tennis Coaches' Postseason Top 25 poll, but the Gold Nuggets can boast of their fourth top-10 appearance in the last five postseason polls.

The Gold Nuggets began the season 19th, and on March 14 they made their first of six consecutive top-10 appearances. A No. 7 ranking May 7 was their highest of the season.

The Gold Nuggets lost 5-4 to Indiana Wesleyan one week ago in the round of 16 at the NAIA National Championships in Mobile, Ala. IWU replaced XULA at No. 7.

XULA is in the top 25 for the 48th consecutive time. That streak began May 1, 2012. Dating to Feb. 25, 2004, the Gold Nuggets appeared in 93 of the last 103 polls. (The 2005-06 season, when XULA did not compete intercollegiately, is not included.)

Georgia Gwinnett, which repeated as national champion, is a unanimous No. 1 for the 10th consecutive poll.

NAIA Women's Tennis Coaches' Top 25 Postseason Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses — records through May 20)

1Georgia Gwinnett (14)26-03741
2Lindsey Wilson22-53622
3William Woods14-1034612
4SCAD Savannah16-43373
6William Carey18-43126
7Indiana Wesleyan37-929410
8San Diego Christian15-42875
11Northwestern Ohio19-72578
12Cardinal Stritch16-623713
15SCAD Atlanta13-721120
16Arizona Christian17-919414
17Lewis-Clark State8-1417516
19Olivet Nazarene10-1215619
20Middle Georgia13-814017
22Georgetown (Ky.)16-812523
24Tennessee Wesleyan12-77825
25St. Thomas (Fla.)4-107424

Dropped from rankings:  none

Others receiving votes:  Reinhardt 48, Coastal Georgia 37, Cumberland 36, Marian (Ind.) 35, Asbury 35, Hastings 25, Missouri Valley 17, Southwestern (Kan.) 17, Brenau 13, Southeastern (Fla.) 6

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Former UNC Tar Heel joins NCCU football team

DURHAM, North Carolina  -- Jordan Fieulleteau, a graduate transfer from the University of North Carolina, will finish his football career down the road at North Carolina Central.

Fieulleteau posted on his twitter page Friday morning “Excited to announce that I will be playing at North Carolina Central University next season for my final year of eligibility!”

Fieulleteau graduated from UNC in three years and will be eligible to play right away for the Eagles. After enrolling at UNC in the spring of 2013, Fieulleteau redshirted the 2013 season. In two seasons for the Tar Heels he caught eight passes for 129 yards. He posted a career-high in catches (4) and yards (74) versus Miami in 2015.

In high school Fieulleteau was one of the best wide receivers in the history of North Carolina prep football at Wakefield High School outside of Raleigh. He caught 111 passes (4th all-time in state history) for 1,669 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior. He ended his career with the third-most touchdowns in state history and second-highest reception total in a season. In 2011 and 2012 he had the most touchdown catches in the nation.


Delaware State QB Lain Move On To Southern Jaguars

Kobie Lain
Courtesy: Delaware State University Athletics
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Kobie Lain, Kenny Carter’s first quarterback recruit at Delaware State, announced he is transferring to Southern University for the final two years of his collegiate career.

Lain signed with the Hornets two years ago as Carter’s first recruiting class. He appeared in five games as a true freshman and started two, including the only victory of that season in the final game of the year where he had a rushing touchdown.

But Lain didn’t win the starting job for his sophomore season. He played in five contests but did not record a touchdown.

He finished the season with with 135 passing yards and was 17-of-32 passing attempts with an interception.


XULA Goreau repeats as first-team NAIA All-America

NEW ORLEANS — Sixteen months ago, Charlene Goreau succeeded Nour Abbes as the top singles player for Xavier University of Louisiana women's tennis. Tuesday Goreau joined Abbes as the only Gold Nuggets to earn first-team NAIA All-America as a freshman and sophomore.

Goreau — from Toulouse, France, a graduate of Raymond Naves School and a business sales and marketing major at XULA — was 15-12 in singles and 11-14 in doubles in 2016-17. She led the Gold Nuggets to five victories against ranked opponents and a No. 7 national team ranking.

Goreau concluded her second season of a collegiate competition last week with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory against Indiana Wesleyan's 19th-ranked Rachel Bottorff in the round of 16 at the NAIA National Championships in Mobile, Ala. Although Bottorff was 15 places ahead of Goreau in the most recent ITA rankings, Goreau was 2-0 this year against the IWU senior.

Goreau is the fourth Gold Nugget to make first-team All-America twice. Abbes, Kourtney Howell and Anastesia Opata also did it. Nine Gold Nuggets have earned a collective 16 All-America berths (first or second team); six have accounted for 10 first-team spots.

This is the fifth straight season that XULA produced at least one first-team All-American apiece on the women's and men's teams.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Gold Rush produce record number of NAIA All-Americans

NEW ORLEANS — Coach Alan Green reloaded at midterm, produced a second straight national runner-up finish in men's tennis four months later — and was rewarded Tuesday with a school-record four All-Americans on the NAIA's committee-selected team.

Catalin Fifea and Antoine Richard made the first team, and Moses Micheal and Karan Salwan were on the second team. All were XULA newcomers in 2017 except for Salwan, who was first-team All-America a year ago. Fifea, Richard and Micheal enrolled at XULA in January.

Fifea — a junior sociology major from Bucharest, Romania, a graduate of General School No. 31 and a transfer from NCAA Division I's VCU — was 11-2 this year in singles and 11-8 in doubles. He led the Gold Rush in singles winning percentage. Earlier this month he was named Louisiana Newcomer of the Year.

Richard, a freshman finance major from Laval, Quebec, and a graduate of Le Tremplin, was 9-6 in singles and 13-4 in doubles with Micheal as his partner. Previously Richard was chosen ITA NAIA National and Region IV (South) Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Louisiana.

Micheal, a freshman business major from Kaduna, Nigeria, and a graduate of Universal School, was 7-6 in singles and led in 5-of-6 unfinished matches. He recorded victories against a pair of 2017 second-team All-Americans: Lucien Samitier of William Carey and Julian Turosienski of Keiser.

Salwan, from New Delhi, India, a graduate of Modern School, and a transfer from DI Utah State, was a team-leading 17-4 singles and 16-7 in doubles. A business management major, Salwan received his bachelor's degree May 13.

Salwan joins Zach Taylor, Loic Didavi, Nikita Soifer and Kyle Montrel as Gold Rush players with multi-year All-America honors. This is the sixth straight season that the Gold Rush have a first-team All-America player.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director