04/27/05 — MOC athletes bask in glow of best-ever year

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MOC athletes bask in glow of best-ever year

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 27, 2005 2:01 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The Mount Olive College athletics program enjoyed a year of "firsts" in many sports and its athletes reaped the rewards during Monday evening's season-ending banquet.

The Trojans seized first-ever Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference regular-season or tournament titles in men's tennis, men's soccer and women's soccer. The men's basketball team, which made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, tied nemesis Pfeiffer University for supremacy.

Women's soccer coach Chris Shaw, men's/women's tennis coach Burt Lewis and men's basketball coach Bill Clingan each earned CVAC coach of the year accolades.

"Those coaches deserved every bit of it because it was hard work on their part," said Trojans athletics director Allen McGarry Cassell, who resigned last August and officially steps down July 1. "(They made) good decisions in terms of personnel, recruits and strategies -- all the things that go into the success (of their season).

"They worked very hard for that and I was glad to see them recognized for that."

Solid performances in 11 varsity sports helped the Trojans record their highest finish -- fifth -- in the annual Joby Hawn Cup competition. The Hawn Cup recognizes excellence in all conference-sponsored sports. It is awarded each year in memory of former commissioner H.C. "Joby" Hawn for his many years of service to the former Carolinas Conference.

Hawn Cup points are awarded in each sport based on the order of regular-season finish and the number of participating teams in each sport. Men's and women's golf, and men's and women's cross country determine their Cup points by finish in CVAC Tournament play.

"I applaud all of you in what you have accomplished," said Dr. J. William Byrd, Mount Olive College president. "In Hawn Cup competition, we scored the highest that we ever have. That is one measure of the quality and effort that you've put forth this year."

Four former area athletes also received acknowledgement for their efforts in and out of the classroom.

Lyndsey Snyder, a graduate of Eastern Wayne, received the Female Scholar Athlete of the Year and picked up the lowest stroke average award in women's golf. She claimed the program's first-ever individual title this spring by winning the St. Andrews Invitational.

Tim Insley, a standout runner at Eastern Wayne, was named the most valuable runner in men's cross country. Teammate Kris Exum, who starred on the basketball court at Wayne Country Day, collected the most improved plaque.

Josh Carter, another former Eastern Wayne athlete, was named the top hitter in baseball. Carter posted the highest batting average (.389) among the starting lineup, led in hits (74), extra-base hits (31), home runs (8), total bases (122) and finished second in RBI (48).

Carter also snagged a spot on the all-CVAC Academic Team and was listed among the top 10 Trojan athletes with a grade-point-average of 3.5 or higher.

Christof Franzsen was named the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, but wasn't present to receive his award. Franzsen graduated in December and returned to his native South Africa, where he is pursuing a Master's in math.

Elton Coffield grabbed the Men's Athlete of the Year award after helping the Trojans record a program-best 29 victories. Coffield, unarguably the best sixth man in the country, averaged a team-leading 17.6 points a game.

Heidi Busch, named the Female Athlete of the Year, became the school's first-ever All-American in women's volleyball after helping the Trojans make their first appearance in the NCAA Atlantic Regional. Busch ranked second nationally in total kills (701) and posted a career-best hitting percentage of .337.

A junior outside hitter, Busch was second on the team in total digs (375) and third with 106 block solos/assists combined.

Twenty-three seniors received forest green blankets with their names and respective sports logo embroidered in the lower left-hand corner.

The softball, men's cross country and men's basketball teams received recognition for the most improved GPAs. Meanwhile, the men's and women's tennis teams posted the highest GPAs for the second consecutive year.