Cross country picking up momentum heading to national championships
Baker’s individual conference title earned him AAC runner of the year and helped the Buffaloes win the conference for the third time in the last five years. It also helped them secure an automatic bid to the national championships, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22, in Vancouver, Washington. The men will head there next week with a national ranking of No. 15.
Accompanying the men will be the No. 4 women’s team, who moved up two spots in the latest national poll after landing the AAC runner-up to No. 1 SCAD Atlanta. It was a tight finish on the women’s side as SCAD, the top-ranked NAIA program since Oct. 17, defeated Milligan by two points.
“It goes without saying that I was extremely pleased with both squads at the AAC Championships,” said head coach Chris Layne, who earned AAC coach of the year for the 24th time in his career, fifth time for men’s cross country. “Training-wise, we didn’t back off heading into the meet so the focus now is to get both squads freshened up with the focus on taking another step at the national meet.”
Volleyball maintaining similar momentum heading to conference tournament
Undefeated in October, the Buffs have won their last 11 matches and head to the conference tournament this week as the AAC North Division Champion. Senior setter Kellee Geren, a six-time AAC setter of the week this year, has led the Buffs to a 22-10 (16-4 AAC) record, including a 13-1 record on their home court.
“I feel like we have great momentum heading into the conference tournament,” head coach Doneva Bays said. “We definitely started the season slow and have finished on a high note. I’m excited to see how this team steps up in the postseason.”
Milligan, the No. 3 seed overall, will face No. 6 seed Montreat Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport. If the Buffs win Thursday’s quarterfinal match, they would play again in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m. against the Union-Bryan winner. The championship match is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.
Soccer teams finish season in AAC tournament
Both Milligan soccer teams finished their season last week in the AAC tournament. The men’s season ended in the quarterfinals while the women defeated Bryan College, 5-1, in the quarters before suffering elimination in the semifinals to top-seeded Truett McConnell, 3-1.
Roberto Fernandez Garrido was the men’s unquestioned leader as he led not only the team but also the conference and entire NAIA in scoring this season. He finished with 25 goals in 17 games (1.47 goals/game), ranking No. 1 in both total goals and goals per game.
On the women’s side, Bekah Cundiff tallied 18 goals, including a league-leading 17 within conference play.
Rounding up the Buffaloes
A few other Milligan teams have their seasons under way now that the winter season is here. The swim team is off to a great start, with several victories and even more national cuts through five events. Junior Maggie Halloran, following some stellar performances in the pool, has already earned two AAC swimmer of the week nods for the women’s team.
The Buffs are also off and running on the basketball court. The women picked up their first win of the season last Saturday, defeating Piedmont International University 76-69. They scored the last six points of the game, including an and-one from Halie Padgett and free throws from Bailey Berry and Emily Kiser. Kiser finished with a game-high 23 points with five assists.
The men’s basketball team is 1-1 this season with two games coming down to the wire. In the opener, senior Desean Green scored the game winning basket as time expired to send Milligan to a 67-66 win over No. 16 University of the Cumberlands. The Buffs then followed the following week with a similar finish but came up on the short end. Jacob Cawood sank a 3-pointer with about 10 seconds left but Bluefield College answered with a basket at the other end as time wound down to prevail 69-68.
Both basketball teams return to the court this week for more AAC action. They head to Allen University Wednesday night before visiting Tennessee Wesleyan on Saturday.