Sports (1050)

The Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team placed two members on the 2019 Academic All-America Division II football team. Ronnie Clifton earned a spot on the first team, while Clayton Horn was named a second team selection. Clifton becomes the first LR football player to ever be selected as a First Team Academic All-American.

For Clifton, this marked his second consecutive Academic All-American award. The graduate student was a Second Teamer in 2018 and owns a 3.85 grade point average. Clifton was also an All-Conference performer and helped Lenoir-Rhyne to a 13-1 season and a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Clifton's versatility helped LR be one of the best offenses in the nation as the senior started at both center and left tackle. Thanks to Clifton, LR ranked in the top 10 in Division II in rushing yards per game and points per game.

Horn led the team with 86 total tackles and was named South Atlantic Conference First Team as well as All-Southeast Region First Team. The LB had seven tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles for an LR defense that ranks eighth in Division II in rushing yards allowed per game and 16th in the nation in points allowed per game.

Lenoir-Rhyne is the only South Atlantic Conference team to have multiple players represented on the Academic All-American team.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 14:40

Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Tabs Seven to Recruiting Class

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First-year Head Coach Chris Ramirez has announced the addition of seven players to his recruiting class. The Bears added four players from North Carolina, one from Georgia, one from Massachusetts and one from Wisconsin.

"I am very pleased and excited with how this recruiting class has come together," said Ramirez. "Obviously every recruiting class is important but there is something special about that first one as a new coaching staff. I have to thank my coaching staff for their work in bringing this class together. Led by coach Adam Skonieczki, it was truly a team effort, with each coach using their own recruiting and regional ties to have a direct impact in signing these guys. I feel like we have been able to address some of our biggest needs in this early signing period. First and foremost, we were able to sign some strong character and strong academic individuals that will represent Lenoir-Rhyne University at the highest degree. We also feel we landed some high impact players on the field that will be able to help elevate this program to compete at the National level."

Jacob Bebber | Freshman| Catcher | Alexander Central HS | Taylorsville, NC | 5'10 |190
Rated the 17th best catcher in the state of North Carolina according to Prep Baseball Report
Played for nearby Alexander Central HS and Five Star Carolina in the summers
Defensive catcher but can also play the corner infield positions
Was named All – League following the 2019 campaign

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "We are fortunate to have Jacob joining our family. He is a gifted athlete, excels in the classroom and is a great character guy. We will have four great years with Jacob and we think he will be able to contribute to our program very early in his career. He is physically mature for his age and I think that will make his transition to the college game easier."

Call Verlanic | Freshman| Outfield | Bay Port HS | Green Bay, WI | 6'0 | 190
Rated the 45th best prospect in the state of Wisconsin according to Prep Baseball Report
Excelled in Baseball and Football at Bay Port HS
Named All-State Football Player in 2018 and 2019
All – Conference as a Sophomore and Junior on the baseball diamond
Played summer baseball for the prestigious GRB Rays

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "We are thrilled to have Call join our family. Not only is he a great baseball player but he is an outstanding kid. What intrigues us about Call is his overall size, strength and athleticism combination. Call will be primarily an outfielder for us and we are excited to watch him grow in his time in Hickory."

Josh Lanham | Sophomore | RHP | USC – Sumter | Evans, GA | 6'1 | 230
Currently entering his Freshman Season at USC-Sumter as a weekend arm
Was a first team all-region selection as a utility player at Evans HS
In two years at Evans HS had over 150 strikeouts and four 10+ strikeout games his senior year
Named a "High Follow" by Perfect Game

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "Josh was a huge sign for us in the early signing period. We are going to have three seasons to work with Josh and we believe he has a very high ceiling. Josh currently is an 88-92 MPH arm with some good off speed offerings. He will make an immediate impact on our program and will challenge for a weekend starting spot the moment he steps on campus."

Austin Blevins | Junior | RHP | Catwaba Valley CC | Granite Falls, NC | 6'3 | 250
Graduate of South Caldwell HS and current student-athlete at Catawba Valley CC
Used as both a starter and bullpen arm his freshman campaign
Had nearly a strikeout per inning in 2019
0.98 ERA for the 23-4 South Caldwell Spartans as a Senior

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "Austin is another guy that we are going to be able to keep in Hickory for 2 more years and we cannot be happier about it. He is a big, physical RHP that will be an upper 80's arm with a solid breaking ball. Austin is another guy that has held multiple roles in his career as he has been a starter or a reliever. We believe he can excel in both capacities at LR and we are really excited to work with him."

Hayden Laws | Junior | LHP | Louisburg College | Creedmoor, NC | 5'10 | 160
Currently entering his second season at Louisburg College
Helped team to a 26-17 record mostly as a bullpen arm
Was 2-1 as a Freshman with over seven strikeouts per nine innings
Had the third most appearances and third best ERA for the Hurricanes

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "Hayden is a great guy to have in our program. He is a lefty that pitches in one of the premier junior college programs in the state. What excites us is that he can help us in nearly any capacity. Hayden has been a bullpen arm, match-up guy or a starter. He is going to be a very dynamic arm for us moving forward and we cannot wait to have him on campus."

Andrew Patrick | Junior | RHP | Catwaba Valley CC | Catawba, NC | 6'3 | 200
Graduate of nearby Bandys HS and currently at Catawba Valley CC
Freshman year helped team to a 33-21 overall record as a starting pitcher
Was 4-1 on the year with 49 strikeouts and a 3.48 ERA
Logged third most innings on the team in 2019 with 44 innings pitched

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "I am extremely pleased that Andrew wanted to stay in Hickory for the next couple years to pursue his academic and athletic career. Andrew already has proven that he can start at the collegiate level, pitching for a great CVCC team. He has a fastball that sits in the upper 80's and will get into the low 90's with a really good breaking ball and change-up. We are confident he has the "stuff" that will make him an elite pitcher in the SAC.

Nick Spyropolous | Junior | INF | Niagara County CC | East Bridgewater, MA | 6'0 | 190
Played freshman season at Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, NY
Helped lead team to a 38-10 record in 2019
Hit .353 on the year with an impressive .413 on base percentage
Named a Pre-season All-American going into 2020 campaign

Coach Skonieczki's comments: "We are really excited to get Nick down to Hickory. We expect Nick to have an immediate impact in our line-up. He has a chance to be a middle of the order hitter for us with his athletic and physical frame. Nick is athletic enough to play nearly anywhere on the field but we believe his future is as a third baseman."

For the second consecutive season, Lenoir-Rhyne Head Football Coach Drew Cronic was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Regional Coach of the Year. Cronic led the Bears to a 13-1 overall record and a second consecutive South Atlantic Conference Championship. Cronic's Bears appeared in an NCAA Quarterfinal game for the second straight season and the 13 wins match a program record.

LR was the only 13-0 team going into last weekend in NCAA Division I, II or III. Cronic guided LR to the nation's longest home winning streak at 15 games which also broke a team record of 14 straight which stood since 1961.

LR was ranked in the top 10 all season long under Cronic, peaking at No. 6 in the final regular-season poll. The second-year Head Coach also had a program-record 15 players selected to the All-Conference team and senior DE Jaquan Artis was named conference and regional Defensive Player of the Year.

This marks the fourth Regional Coach of the Year award for Cronic in his four years as a head coach. Previously, he won two while coaching at Reinhardt. He is one of three repeat winners in Division II and five nationally.

The AFCA will announce the 2019 National Coach of the Year on Tuesday, January 14. The regional winners are finalists for National Coach of the Year which Cronic won in 2018.

2019 AFCA FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA Regional Coaches of the Year

Division II
Region 1: Jim Clements, Kutztown University
Region 2: Drew Cronic, Lenoir-Rhyne University
Region 3: Jim Svoboda, University of Central Missouri
Region 4: Todd Knight, Ouachita Baptist University
Region 5: Todd Hoffner, Minnesota State University

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 14:38

Lenoir-Rhyne Volleyball Signs Three for 2020 Class

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The Lenoir-Rhyne Volleyball Team has announced three additions to their 2020 recruiting class, Tegan Allan from Watauga High School, Hannah Watson from Bristol, TN and Parkley Hennings from Forbush High School.

Tegan Allan
Hometown- Boone, NC
Position- Middle Blocker
Height- 5'11"
High School- Watauga High School
Club Team- Twin City Volleyball Academy
Accolades- Northwestern 3A/4A All Conference 2018 and 2019
Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Defensive Player of the Year 2018 and 2019
Member of the National Honor Society

Hannah Watson
Hometown- Bristol, TN
Position- Middle Blocker
Height- 6'2"
High School- Dobyns Bennett High School
Club Team- TriCities Extreme Volleyball Club
Accolades- District 1- 3A All Conference Team 2017, 2018, and 2019
District 1- 3A Big 6 Tournament Team 2019
District 1- 3A Big 7 Tournament Team 2017 and 2018
All State Team 2019
Athletic Academic team 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019

Parkley Hennings
Hometown- East Bend, NC
Position- Outside Hitter
Height- 5'10"
High School- Forbush High School
Club Team- Twin City Volleyball Academy
Accolades- 2017 WPAC All-Conference
2018 WPAC All-Conference
2018 WPAC Conference Tournament MVP
2019 WPAC All Conference
2019 WPAC Co-Player of the Year
Beta Club Member
2019 Department of Public Instruction Student Leadership Institute

App State Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Monday that he has commenced a search to find the next leader of the Mountaineers’ football program. Eliah Drinkwitz is leaving the university to accept a head coaching opportunity at Missouri.

"Appalachian State wishes Coach Drinkwitz all the best," Chancellor Sheri Everts said. "Under his leadership, Appalachian State Football has enjoyed unprecedented national rankings. We know he will continue a successful career, and we will always call him a Mountaineer."

“Our football team has made history all season long, and we thank Coach Drinkwitz for leading this program to new heights as we aspire to be the best Group of Five program in college football,” Gillin said. “We wish Eli, Lindsey and the girls all the best.

“I look forward to identifying our next head football coach and introducing him very soon.”

Shawn Clark will serve as the team's interim head coach, effective immediately, pending Board of Trustees approval. App State (12-1), which has hosted and won each of the first two conference championship games in Sun Belt history, faces Conference USA runner-up UAB (9-4) in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21.

“Our student-athletes have given their all for Appalachian State on the field, in the classroom and in the community during this historic season, and we will make sure they have an amazing bowl experience,” Gillin added.

“I would like to thank Chancellor Everts and Doug Gillin for trusting me with the opportunity to coach this team,” Clark said. “I love our team, and we will do everything we can to send off our seniors in the right way and give our young men a great bowl experience.”

In Drinkwitz’s one season at the helm, App State made history as the first 12-win Sun Belt team and the first 12-win FBS team ever from the state of North Carolina. The No. 20 Mountaineers won their fourth straight Sun Belt title after defeating Louisiana 45-38 and finished the regular season with the highest national ranking in school and league history. With wins over North Carolina (34-31) and South Carolina (20-15), App State became the first Sun Belt school to beat two Power Five teams in a season and was the only Group of Five team with two Power Five road wins in 2019.

Interim head coach Shawn Clark is a 1998 graduate of Appalachian State University and has spent the last four seasons as the offensive line coach at his alma mater. He was named assistant head coach by Drinkwitz prior to the 2019 season after serving as co-offensive coordinator for the running game in his first three seasons under head coach Scott Satterfield.

Lenoir-Rhyne is third in the 2019-20 South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award standings after the conclusion of the 2019 SAC Fall Regular Season. The Bears won the football and women's soccer championship and trails first-place Wingate and is just 12 points behind Queens.

The Echols Athletic Excellence Award is presented annually to the member athletic department that earns the highest point total based on cumulative final standings in each of the Conference's 20 sports. Regular season finish is used in the sports of men's and women's soccer, volleyball, football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball and softball, while SAC Championship results are used for men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf and men's and women's indoor and outdoor track.

In the Echols Athletic Excellence Award formula, the champion will always receive 100 points and last place will receive 10 points regardless of the number of schools that sponsor that championship sport. The points earned for all other place finishes will vary based on the number of schools that sponsor that particular sport.

2019-20 SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award Standings – Fall 2019

Rank School Points
1. Wingate 531.5
2. Queens 447
3. Lenoir-Rhyne 435
4. Carson-Newman 424
5. Anderson 354.5
6. Tusculum 328.83
7. Catawba 264
8. Lincoln Memorial 244
9. Mars Hill 215.83
10. Newberry 205.83
11. Coker 94.5
12. UVa-Wise 62

Sunday, 08 December 2019 23:38

App Football to Return to New Orleans Bowl

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The Sun Belt Champions are headed back to the Big Easy.

The 20th-ranked App State Mountaineers (12-1) have accepted an invitation to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21 and will play on ESPN against UAB (9-4) of Conference USA at 9 p.m. ET/8 CT.

App State won 45-38 against Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship Game on Saturday, setting the stage for a return to the New Orleans Bowl. The Mountaineers were victorious over Middle Tennessee, 45-13, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last year after defeating Louisiana in the inaugural league championship game.

Since joining the FBS ranks, App State has had five opportunities to earn a bowl berth and has done it each year. Only Marshall, which made six straight bowl games after its FBS transition, can claim the same feat. The Mountaineers are the only team to win each of their first four bowl games in consecutive seasons.

The 2019 season has been the best yet.

A few of the team's most notable achievements include:
First 12-win team in Sun Belt history
First 12-win FBS team from the state of North Carolina
Fourth straight Sun Belt championship
Highest national ranking in App State and Sun Belt history
First Sun Belt team to beat two Power Five teams in the same season
Only Group of Five team with two Power Five road wins this year
Best road record (6-0) in Sun Belt history and among all FBS teams this year
Most nationally televised games in school history (7)

BOWL TICKETS: Tickets are available by visiting App State's Bowl Ticket page. The deadline for priority seating is Wednesday, Dec. 11 (phone or in person by 4 p.m.; online by 11:59 p.m.). For additional information or help with purchasing tickets, contact the App State athletics ticket office at 828-262-2079. If you cannot attend the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, please consider donating your tickets, which will enable App State to provide opportunities to students and charity organizations that will showcase the pride of App Nation. You can donate by selecting the "Donate" ticket type under the "Premium" selection or call the ticket office at 828-262-2079.

For additional information on tickets, bowl week events, game day information, travel and lodging, visit Bowl Central and throughout the next two weeks.

BOWL TRAVEL: App State Athletics has partnered with Sports & Entertainment Travel (SET) to provide a turnkey bowl travel and lodging experience for Mountaineer fans. Please visit for packages. Bowl tickets must be purchased separately.

Headlined by Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year and Championship Game MVP Darrynton Evans, as well as Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Akeem Davis-Gaither, the Mountaineers are top 25 in the nation in both scoring offense (ninth, 39.4) and scoring defense (22nd, 20.2).

App State's historic season has included its first win over North Carolina (34-31 in Chapel Hill) and its first win against an SEC team with a 20-15 victory at South Carolina. It rolled through the league slate with a 7-1 record, suffering only a three-point loss to Georgia Southern while claiming the East Division title and earning the opportunity to host the Sun Belt Championship Game for the second straight year.

The Mountaineers, who have won 18 of their last 19 games, are 43-7 in their 50 games against Sun Belt teams since joining the league in 2014. Since the 2015 season began, App State is No. 5 nationally in win percentage (81.5) and tied for No. 5 in total wins with its 53-12 record. The win total trails only Clemson (68-4), Alabama (65-6), Ohio State (61-6) and Oklahoma (57-9) and is tied with Georgia (53-15).

The only FBS programs besides App State with streaks of four or more straight conference titles are Clemson (ACC) and Oklahoma (Big 12).

UAB appeared in Conference USA's title game Saturday after winning the league's West Division with a 6-2 record. The Blazers lost 49-6 against FAU in the title game.

App State and UAB have one common opponent this year, as the Mountaineers won 30-3 at South Alabama and the Blazers posted a 35-3 home win against the same team.

Bill Clark has a 34-18 record as the head coach at UAB, which beat Middle Tennessee in Conference USA's title game a year ago, and the Blazers rank 25th nationally in scoring defense (four spots behind App State) by allowing 20.8 points per game. They are No. 3 nationally in fumbles recovered (13) and No. 7 in sacks (43).

Offensively, the Blazers average 23.6 points per game. Dylan Hopkins has started the last five games at quarterback, and Tyler Johnston III has accumulated 15 touchdown passes while averaging 195.2 passing yards. UAB averages 159.3 rushing yards as a team.

Saidah Hardwick lead LR with two individual top 5 finishes Saturday at the JDL Fast Track Invitational for the women's indoor track and field team. This marks the first meet of the 2019-2020 season for Lenoir-Rhyne. Hardwick finished fourth in the 200 meters and fifth in the 400 meters. Harwick, and teammates Tyra Poole, Jordan Shealey and Jada Harrison won the 4x400 meter relay.

Other top finishers included Jordan Shealy finishing fifth in teh 200 meters, Kylie Dahlberg finishing second in the 3000 meters and Autumn Drayton placed fifth in the shot put.

On the men's side, Lucas Besong earned three top 7 finishes for LR at the JDL Fast Track Invitational to open up the season. This highlighted an opening day for the men's team as they competed for the first time in 2019-2020 season. Besong finished fifth in the 200 meters, 7th in the 400 meters and was third with Marlin Davis, Chandelor Stamp and Nathan McDaniels in the 4x400 meter relay.

Other top finishers for the Bears included Kaymon Maddox finishing second in the 60-meters with a time of 6.90 seconds. Davis finished ninth in the 200 meters and Stamp finished 10in the 400 meters. Chris Reichenbach and Daniel Nicholson finished fourth and fifth, respectivealy in the men's pole vault.

LR returns to action Jan 19, 2020 at the JDL January Kick Off.

App State women's track & field captured the season opening Appalachian Open on Friday and Saturday.

The Mountaineers finished with 113.5 points, edging out UNC Asheville (113 points) for the team championship.

In all, App State won five events and broke a school record.

In the 4x300-meter relay, the tandem of Jelonnie Smith, Peighton Simmons, Taylor Smith and Jessica Dixon broke the school record with a first place time of 2:41.58. Their mark bettered the previous record of 2:43.30, set during the 2016 season.

Simmons also captured a individual victory in the triple jump, covering 41-10.75 (12.77m). Her mark ranks fourth in program history. Djamila Petersen (38-0.00; 11.58m) placed second in the event and Hassani Burris finished in a tie for third (38-8.75; 11.50m).

Dixon also won a individual event, crossing first in the 300-meter dash in a PR time of 39.77 seconds, while Jelonnie Smith finished right behind in second with a PR mark of 40.39 seconds. Dixon's time ranks second in program history and Jelonnie Smith's sits fifth. Dixon also recorded a fifth place finish in the 55-meter dash.

Taylor Smith won the long jump, covering 19-1.25 (5.82m) and also posted a second place finish in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.18 seconds.

Kayla Carson cleared 5-2.00 (1.57m) in the high jump to finish first, while Madison McCoy registered a pair of fourth place finishes in the weight throw (47-11.00; 14.60m) and the shot put (36-2.25; 11.03m).

App State will take some time off and compete again on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11 at the ETSU Track & Field Invitational.

Team Scores
1. App State: 113.5
2. UNC-Asheville: 113
3. Wofford: 92
4. Gardner-Webb: 65
5. Lees-McRae: 36.5
6. Queens: 31
7. Mars Hill: 8

App State men's indoor track & field broke two school records and won seven total events at the season opening Appalachian Open.

The Mountaineers won the meet with 136 points. UNC Asheville finished second with 130 points and Wofford rounded out the top-three with 93 points.

De'Shawn Ballard had a hand in both school records. He won the 300-meter dash in a school record time of 34.16 seconds, which was .21 seconds faster the the previous school record set by Jason McGhinnis in the 2000 season.

The tandem of Eric Haddock Jr., Ballard, Jordan Johnson and Jabari Johnson placed first in the 4x300-meter relay in a school record time of 2:18.74, bettering the previous school record of 2:20.15 set during the 2018 season.

Jordan Johnson also captured two individual titles on the day. He finished first in the long jump with a mark of 24-3.50 (7.40m), with Haddock Jr. finishing right behind in second place with a leap of 23-5.50 (7.15m). He also won the 55-meter dash in a PR time of 6.39 seconds, with Brenton Ervin placing fourth with a time of 6.52 seconds.

Haddock Jr. also posted an individual first place finish in the triple jump, covering 48-0.50 (14.64m).

Peter Kenn won the weight throw with a toss of 54-6.50 (16.62m), with Zachary Weinstein finishing right behind in second with a mark of 54-6.00 (16.61m).

App State also recorded the top-two finishes in the pole vault. Patrick Freeman cleared 15-1.00 (4.60m) to finish first and Michael Utecht also cleared 15-1.00 (4.60m) to place second.

The Mountaineers will take some time off for the holiday and compete next on Jan. 10 and 11 at the ETSU Track & Field Invitational.

Team Scores
1. App State: 136
2. UNC Asheville: 130
3. Wofford: 93
4. Gardner-Webb: 60
5. Queens: 20
6. Lees-McRae: 12
7. Mars Hill: 6

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