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Nothing lucky about Milligan Athletics’ No. 7 national ranking

Daniel Manget • Mar 14, 2019 at 5:08 PM

Led by a cross-country and track & field program which ranks No. 8 on the men’s side and No. 13 on the women’s side, Milligan College’s athletics teams have been gobbling up points in the national rankings this year.

Seven Milligan teams have accrued points so far through the fall and winter sports seasons, leading the Buffaloes to a Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup ranking of No. 7.

Milligan, the top Appalachian Athletic Conference member in the standings all year long, ranked No. 18 through the fall before making a big jump thanks to the winter teams’ tremendous success. These teams accounted for a national title, a national championship record, eight All-Americans and four appearances at the NAIA national championships.

Milligan’s cross country and track & field program has the most upon which to brag. Beginning with Jacquelyn Crow during cross-country season, the program has claimed six individuals who achieved All-American status. Additionally, all four teams – men’s/women’s cross country and men’s/women’s indoor track & field – have finished in the NAIA top 30, including No. 12 in women’s cross country and No. 16 in men’s track & field.

Freshman Rasheem Brown, the NAIA national champion in the 60-meter hurdles; sophomore Tim Thacker, the national runner-up in the mile; junior Erica Stone, fifth in the 1k; freshman Gabrielle Mardis, sixth in the 3k; and senior Liz Maller, sixth in the weight throw, highlighted the list of top achievers during indoor track & field season, earning All-American status as well.

Milligan’s athletics programs this year have posted three other All-American finishers. Senior Alyssa Rupert of the volleyball team earned All-American honorable mention. Sophomore Margaret Halloran of the swimming team earned All-American in two swims (100 backstroke, 200 backstroke) while junior Sara Farmer did it in one (100 backstroke). Halloran and Farmer, in fact, went sixth and eighth nationally in the 100 backstroke.

With the individuals’ success has come the teams’ success. Rupert’s honorable mention led Milligan’s volleyball team to its first NAIA national tournament appearance since 1996.

Crow’s effort led Milligan to a top 12 finish in women’s cross country. Brown and Thacker’s efforts led Milligan to its highest ranking in men’s track & field history at No. 16.

Stone, Mardis and Maller led Milligan to No. 28 in women’s track & field. Halloran and Farmer led Milligan to No. 15 in women’s swimming, and the Milligan men’s swimming team followed right behind with a No. 17 finish.

Developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today, the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup ranks schools based on a points system for national appearances and national finishes, similar to the AAC’s Duard Walker All-Sports Trophy. Each sports’ team national champion receives 100 points, while remaining teams receive less points depending on the sport and number of team competing.

Milligan earned 159 points during the fall seasons and 185.25 points during the winter for a total of 344.25. Milligan ranks within 25 points of two other top schools and within 70 points of second place on the national scale.

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