The track & field team has earned five national qualifiers already, to go along with a school record and several personal bests and Appalachian Athletic Conference standards. The men’s basketball team has won six of the last seven to improve to fourth place in the league, only two games out of first place. The women’s basketball team currently rides a four-game winning streak, averaging 78 points per game during that stretch.
Distance women highlighting indoor track
Coming off one of their most successful cross-country seasons in Milligan history, the women of Milligan’s track & field team have already posted four indoor national qualifiers, including two multi-qualifiers. Sophomore Bekah Owen tops the list, having hit the national A standard in both the 5,000 and 3,000 meters. Her 5K time of 17:53.08 converted to 18:01.35 and ranks No. 4 in the NAIA so far this season, while her 3K time of 10:16.55 ranks No. 7. Those marks are No. 1 and No. 2 in the AAC, respectively.
Fellow sophomore Avery DeWolf joins Owen in the multi-qualifier category with national standards in the same two events. DeWolf is No. 7 in the 5K and No. 13 in the 3K. Other national qualifiers from Milligan’s distance women include junior Amy Ferguson, who ran 18:18.46, and sophomore Gabrielle Mardis, who ran 18:21.01, both in the 5K.
“You blink and the indoor season is over, but I feel like we’re in a good position early on,” head coach Chris Layne said. “Once we get through the first weekend of February, we should have most of our marks out of the way. And I think we’re on schedule, if not even ahead a little bit right now — but it’s going to come down to keeping our focus on the details.”
Thacker, Brown set record for Milligan men
Junior Tim Thacker represents the men’s national qualifiers so far with the A standard in the 1,000 meters. Thacker, with a time of 2:31.32, ranks No. 3 in the NAIA in the event after placing third in a deep NCAA field at Virginia Military Institute’s Keydet Invitational last weekend. Thacker also ranks in the NAIA top 15 in two other events, the 800 and 5,000 meters.
While Thacker is the only national qualifier for the Buffs on the men’s side so far this season, there still have been several highlights, including a record breaking 60-meter dash from two-time national champion Rasheem Brown. Brown ran a personal best 6.94 at Keydet, which ranks No. 21 in the nation.
“I’m excited to see Rasheem open in the hurdles this weekend, and we’re going to put a few distance medley relays on the track to have a little fun,” Layne said. “Roanoke will give our field event folks another series of reps and then most of the distance crew will step away from their main events.”
Buffs rolling as they approach final leg of season
As part of winning six of their last seven, the Milligan men’s basketball team has lost only one time since returning from Christmas break. The Buffaloes have won eight of their last 10 games.
Senior Jacob Cawood has been a big factor in the recent success with double-digit scoring in each of the last six games while averaging 21.5 points during that same stretch.
Cawood (15.6 points/game) is one of five players averaging double figures on the season, followed by senior Tyler Nichols at 14.2 points per game. Nichols has been battling through injury for part of the season, and Trevor Hensley (12.3 points/game) has stepped up in a big way during Nichols’ absence.
With only 4 1/2 games separating the top nine teams in the conference, it is a tight race. Milligan sits fourth with 10 league games left on the schedule. The Buffs are two games out of first place with games left against each of the top two teams.
Women’s team picking up steam
The Milligan women are on a four-game winning streak, which has helped them improve to eighth in the AAC, one game out of fifth place. Senior Kaely Gose has been on a recent tear during Milligan’s recent run of success. Gose has scored in double figures in each of the last six games, averaging 20 points during that stretch.
On the season, Gose leads Milligan with 14.4 points per game, one of three Buffs in double figures. Senior Emily Kiser (13.7 points/game) and sophomore Halie Padgett (11.6 points/game) are next, while sophomore Lily Griffith has scored in double figures in 11 games and averages 9.6.