Lady Buffs lend helping hand to Columbia College

Dave Ongie • Oct 15, 2015 at 6:50 PM

Hurricane Joaquin came and went, but going on two weeks after the tropical system dropped an historic amount of rain along parts of the Atlantic Coast, residents of South Carolina still have a long road between themselves and any sense of normalcy.

The Milligan women’s soccer team found that out first-hand when they visited Columbia College in the state capital of South Carolina on Monday for an Appalachian Athletic Conference game against the Koalas.

“There were some roads washed away. Things are messy,” Milligan women’s coach Lisa Buckley said. “Trash cleanup, they haven’t been able to get people to come collect people’s daily trash. It’s all out on the roads. It looks like the community is doing a good job of coming together, but there’s a huge aftermath as far as the cleanup.”

Thanks to a little research, the Buffs were able to offer a helping hand when they arrived. With a weekend off at the end of fall break, Buckley was originally planning to go to the football game between LSU and South Carolina in Columbia last Saturday. That game, of course, was moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, given the state of disarray in Columbia.

So Buckley called the coaching staff at Columbia College and asked how her team could help. Seeing as Monday was Day 9 of a water ban in the city, drinking water was the biggest need for the students at the small college.

“They had rationed their water to three bottles a day, one 12-ounce bottle of water with every meal,” Buckley said.

Buckley messaged the players who were returning to fall break as well as the coaching staff and asked them all to bring as much bottled water as possible to Milligan with them. They managed to load over 30 cases of water on the bus and bring it with them to Columbia.

“A lot of it was going to their athletes because you can’t be a college athlete in-season and be surviving off of three bottles of water a day,” Buckley said.

The Buffs dropped a 4-0 decision to the Koalas, but the score wasn’t nearly as important as the life lesson Buckley’s players learned by lending a helping hand to those in need.

“As a Christian school, I take that seriously and take our mission seriously,” Buckley said. “That’s the Christian thing to do.”

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Milligan’s swim team begins the fall portion of its season Friday when the Buffaloes host King University.

There will be plenty of new faces in the pool Friday, and Milligan coach Jes Sutton is excited to see how his men’s and women’s teams perform. On the women’s side, senior Sarah Walsh, junior Casey Knapp and sophomore Emily Mark are among the returnees, and Sutton is anxious to see how freshman Alyssa Boyer does in her first collegiate competition.

“She is a very strong distance swimmer, very good in the butterfly and the individual medley,” Sutton said.

On the men’s side, senior Riley Lis and junior Grant Callahan are back in the fold. They’ll be joined by promising newcomers Brian Sackett Jr. and Jonathan Guy. Sackett, a freshman from New Jersey, is strong in the breast stroke and also has the potential to be a good sprinter, as does Guy.

“I have a walk-on named Jonathan Guy who’s a real good sprinter, so I’m looking forward to seeing his 50 free and 100 free events,” Sutton said.

With an inexperienced team on his hands, Sutton will use the fall portion of the schedule to figure out the individual strengths of his swimmers. Training during the first seven meets of the schedule will focus largely on the IM, which includes all four strokes, before he uses the winter break to position his swimmers for the conference and national meets once the spring semester rolls around.

“Beginning of December, I’ll have a better idea of what to focus on for each individual,” Sutton said. “That’s when we focus on more stroke-specific training for them hoping to prepare them for some real good performances in the conference meet in February and some good qualification times for nationals.”

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The Milligan women’s golf team won its third consecutive AAC fall championship earlier this week, and the Buffs did it in record-breaking fashion. Cassidy Gibson set school records for 18- and 36-hole scores while the entire team set new marks for 18- and 36-hole totals in a 13-shot victory.

It may have looked like business as usual, but after watching his team struggle a bit in recent weeks, Milligan coach Tony Wallingford was pleasantly surprised by the three-peat.

“I was a bit concerned that the girls were putting too much pressure on themselves and allowing expectations to interfere with performance,” Wallingford said. “We got off to a slow start on both days this week, but I knew we were on our way back as I observed them playing looser and freer with each hole.”

Next up for the Buffs is the NAIA National Preview Tournament, a valuable chance for the team to play the course that will host that NAIA National Tournament next spring. Wallingford hopes his team arrives at Savannah Quarters Country Club at the end of the month with the feeling that there is nothing to lose.

“The field will be NAIA teams from all over the U.S.,” Wallingford said. “We want to go in with no pressure, no expectations, and play our best.”

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Cross country runner Hannah Seagrave continued her fantastic season with a runner-up finish at the Gene Mullin Invitational last weekend in South Carolina, earning her third AAC Runner of the Week award of the campaign in the process.

Seagrave set a personal best in the 5K, posting a time of 18:31 to finish just six seconds behind the race winner, Furman’s Laura Miller. The Buffs, ranked No. 19 in the nation, finished third as a team in an event that featured several NCAA Division I programs.

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