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Milligan teams reeling in national success

Daniel Manget • Mar 7, 2019 at 8:15 PM


One national champion, one national championship record, one national runner-up, eight All-Americans and perhaps still more to come for Milligan College’s winter sports teams as the Buffaloes have been wrapping up the cold season over the last seven days.

Last week saw Milligan send the swimming and indoor track & field squads to their respective NAIA national championships, and both programs brought home plenty of hardware.

Freshman Rasheem Brown earned the NAIA national title in the 60-meter hurdles with a national championship-record time of 7.81 seconds, becoming Milligan’s seventh individual national champion and sixth in the last three years. Brown followed sophomore Nathan Baker, who won the indoor 3k last season, as the only two male individual NAIA national champions in Milligan history, and both earned their titles as freshmen.

Sophomore Tim Thacker narrowly missed a national title of his own. With a personal-best time of 4:12.94, Thacker finished as the national runner-up in the mile, second by 1.15 seconds.

Brown and Thacker were two of Milligan’s five All-Americans produced by the track & field team this indoor season, and the swimming team added three of its own for a total of eight so far from Milligan in 2019.

Senior Liz Maller (weight throw), junior Erica Stone (1k) and freshman Gabrielle Mardis (3k) joined Brown and Thacker as the All-Americans from the track & field program. Sophomore Margaret Halloran (100 backstroke, 200 backstroke) and junior Sara Farmer (100 backstroke) earned the All-Americans from the swimming team.

Milligan coaches Chris Layne and Kelly Essler were happy with their team’s performances, both at the national championships and over the course of the season.

“Across the board, I think everyone met or exceeded expectations,” Layne said. “We came into nationals with eight individual qualifiers combined, so to leave with a national title, a national record, five All-American honors and a 16th-place finish is pretty impressive for such a small group. Once again, we took a quality approach to the season in hopes that once we got to the championships, our men and women would have a chance to perform well — and they took advantage of the opportunity.”

Milligan’s indoor track & field squad finished the national championship event No. 16 on the men’s side and No. 28 on the women’s side. The No. 16 finish marked the highest finish for the men in program history, and it matched the highest finish for both the men and women.

Milligan’s swimming team placed in the top 20 on both sides. The women landed No. 15; the men No. 17.

“I was pretty pleased with how our season finished up,” Essler said. “Within the national championship alone, we got 11 school records and 11 personal-best times. That finished out the year with a total of 33 personal best times. Also finishing top 20 on both sides was a big accomplishment, but I know we can place higher next year with some of the talent coming in.”

More could still be to come as All-Americans for basketball season will be announced once the national championships have concluded. Senior Sarah Robinson is a two-time All-American on the women’s side while senior Aaron Levarity is a one-time All-American — and this year’s AAC player of the year — on the men’s side.

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