A decade of dominance in conference has translated into a lot of experience at the national meet for the Milligan College women’s cross country team.
The Lady Buffs are back on the NAIA’s big stage this weekend in Vancouver, Wash., and coach Chris Layne says the setting is just right for a fast run Saturday morning.
“It’s a clear day in the high 50s and you can see Mount Hood from every direction,” Layne said Thursday. “It’s just stunning. We wanted to come out early and get the kids acclimated. They’re settling in very well and are excited about the opportunity.”
The Lady Buffs won their 10th straight Appalachian Athletic Conference championship last week in Dayton, posting a perfect score by sweeping the top five positions. They were within six seconds of each other at the end of the 5K.
Catie McMahon, a senior from Lanoka Harbor, N.J., led the way with a time of 19:40.
She was followed by Heather Exline (19:41), Natalia Rivas (19:43), Danielle Mitchell (19:45) and Mackenzie Patten (19:46).
Milligan also had the sixth- and seventh-place runners — Christine McMahon and Meagan Smith, who didn’t count in the team total. On the men’s side, Matt Murphy qualified for nationals as an individual.
“Perfect scores are hard to come by,” said Layne. “It was a good boost for the nationals. There’s a lot of mystery with this team in a good way. We have a lot of high-end talent and could do something pretty exciting here.”
The Lady Buffs’ best finish ever at nationals was third place in 2007. They were 15th last season on the same course at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
“It’s really a great setting, around an old military barracks,” said Layne. “If it rains out here, it can get pretty soupy, but we’re looking at three clear days. The kids really ran fast here last year.”
The men’s basketball team has won two of its first three games and showcased a dynamic freshman in the process.
Cartree Pettis racked up 17 points, six assists and six steals last week in a surprisingly easy 84-67 victory at Alice Lloyd. The 6-2 combo guard from Oviedo, Fla., stood out as an exceptional athlete before the season even started.
“He went to high school with Florida’s quarterback, Jeff Driskel, and played receiver on the football team,” said Milligan coach Bill Robinson. “When we had the UT guys on campus in the summer, Cartree would have fit right in with them.”
Pettis has seen just about 15 minutes of action in the first three games, but he’s still averaging 10 points, three assists and almost four steals.
“He’s been a real stat stuffer,” said Robinson. “He just makes everybody better. He’s a great kid in the classroom, too. Just a joy to be around.”
All five Milligan starters scored in double figures at Alice Lloyd. The team shot 50 percent from the field.
It was a 39-27 game at half, and the Buffs built on their advantage.
“Alice Lloyd is a tough place to play, so that was a really good win,” said Robinson.
The Buffs head back to Kentucky this weekend to play in a four-team tournament at Ashbury College. They face Cincinnati Christian today and the host team on Saturday night.
The Buffs have six men scoring in double figures, led by Tyler DeVault at 15.0. The 6-6 senior from Kingsport is also the team’s top rebounder (6.7).
Women’s basketball coach Rich Aubrey hopes Tuesday night was an aberration for his team.
Riding a three-game win streak and feeling pretty good about themselves, the Lady Buffs hit the wall in a 60-38 loss to UVA-Wise. They had no double-figure scorers, shot 28 percent form the field and got to the foul line only four times all night.
And it came at home.
“I said to somebody after the game that we were 1 of 14 from behind the arc in the first half, then heated up to 2 of 14 in the second half,” said Aubrey. “Wise deserves some credit; they’re a good team, a very physical team. But a lot of it was just poor shooting on our part.”
The Lady Buffs are still 3-2 as they prepare to host the Milligan Classic this weekend at Lacy Fieldhouse. They’ll play West Virginia Tech on Friday night and UVA-Lynchburg on Saturday. (Virginia Intermont is the fourth team.)
Aubrey says it won’t be hard to put Tuesday’s loss behind him.
“Big picture, we’re still headed in a really good direction,” he said. “The people we expected to contribute are contributing.”
That includes senior guard Johneshia Good, the Science Hill product who transferred to Milligan after one season at East Tennessee State. Good’s stats don’t jump out — 6.3 points, 2.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game — but her leadership has.
“I really like the fact that she’s finding so many ways to contribute,” said Aubrey. “Whether it’s playing great on-ball defense, rebounding, getting other people involved, making big shots … she’s doing it all. I think as the year goes on, you’ll also see her scoring increase.”