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Milligan swimming ready for national championships

Kyle Stafford • Updated Feb 14, 2019 at 9:43 PM

After a strong finish at the Appalachian Athletic Conference Swimming Championships last weekend, the Milligan College swim team now turns its attention toward the NAIA Swimming & Diving Championships that are set to take place Feb. 27 through March 2 in Columbus, Georgia.

The Buffaloes placed second overall at the conference championship, finishing just 22 points off of Union for the title. The women placed second out of the six teams while the men came in third.

“The goal was to place top three on both the men’s and the women’s side, which we did,” said head coach Kelly Essler. “It was a huge surprise to place second overall in combined points. The team worked really well together, they were constantly supporting each other and giving each other feedback on races. It was super good to see the team work well together.”

Overall, Milligan added 23 personal-best times, nine more national cuts and three more school records over the course of the three days at the conference meet.

Sophomore Margaret Halloran led the way for Milligan with top-two finishes in the 500-yard freestyle, 100 backstroke and 1,650 freestyle. Junior Sara Farmer also had a strong weekend, racking up two third-place showings in the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.

Isaac Etherton and Jarod Blazo were the top performers on the men’s side as both recorded two top-five finishes.

At nationals, the women’s team will consist of Halloran, Farmer, Jordan Clark, Lindsey Grow, Anna Hathcock, Maci Montgomery, Kaylee Propst and Anna Whitfield. Halloran will compete in a team-high eight events, while Farmer will participate in seven.

On the men’s side, the team consists of Sterling Burnett, Etherton, Blazo, Logan Garzonio, Brock Jerpseth, Elijah Manship, Matthew McFalls and Javin Williams. Burnett is set to compete in seven events, with Etherton racing in six.

BASKETBALL REGULAR SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE THIS WEEK

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have eclipsed the 20-win mark for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Tuesday, the women weathered a late storm to pick up win number 23 on the season over Point, while the men rolled past the Skyhawks for their 20th victory of the campaign.

The Buffs will wrap up the regular season this week as the men finish with Bluefield Thursday night on the road, while the women have two more contests remaining — at Bluefield on Thursday and at Brenau Saturday. After that, Milligan will turn its attention toward the conference tournament that will be held at the MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center in Kingsport.

Sarah Robinson and her fellow seniors look to lead the Buffs back to the NAIA national tournament as Milligan will serve as the No. 2 seed in the bracket.

Aaron Levarity aims to lead the charge on the men’s side as the senior star has been utterly dominant this season, making a strong case to be the AAC player of the year. The men are locked into the No. 3 seed in the AAC and are hoping for a trip to the NAIA national tournament for the second year in a row.

TRACK & FIELD UNDERWAY AT AAC INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

The No. 21 men and the No. 25 women indoor track & field teams are currently competing at the AAC Indoor Track & Field Championships that began Thursday and will conclude Friday. Overall, head coach Chris Layne sent seven Buffs who own the AAC’s top mark and 29 Buffs who rank in the AAC’s top five in their events.

The AAC Championships are being held at the JDL Fast track in Winston-Salem, N.C.

AFTER WEATHER DELAYS, SOFTBALL SET TO BEGIN SEASON

After last Sunday’s scheduled home and season opener was postponed due to rain and field conditions, the Milligan College softball team will open their 2019 campaign with a doubleheader at Mars Hill University Thursday afternoon.

The Buffs will have their home opener Saturday, Feb. 23, when they host University of Pikeville for a doubleheader at 1 and 3 p.m.

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