Eagles Set for Historic Fall Seasons
Emory once again excelled athletically last year, placing sixth in the 2011-2012 Division III Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings. The Directors’ Cup is awarded to universities based on their sports teams’ overall performances.
“It’s validation of a great deal of time and effort, and it’s a barometer for broad-based athletics success,” Emory Athletic Director Tim Downes said. “The idea that we will compete for national championships with some of the best students in the country confirms the value of the intrinsic role that athletics plays in higher education. It allows Emory to set a standard for what intercollegiate athletics should be.”
While the 2011-2012 year was successful, the Eagles are returning to practice and seeking improvement. Emory Athletics appears to be poised for yet another great year.
During the 2011 campaign, the women’s volleyball team unfortunately fell short in the quest of a Division III national championship; their season, however, was still quite successful.
The squad not only matched the school’s record for most wins in a season (36), but they also joined the ’94 team with an impressive 23-match winning streak.
The Eagles’ national ranking as the third best team in the country after the regular season and eighth best team at the end of the post season only added to their storied history as one of the more dominant programs in the country.
For the past 15 seasons, they have been consistently highly ranked by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Excelling in volleyball, they also received the AVCA Team Academic Award.
Expectations run high for our Eagles this season, who are ranked fourth in the national preseason standings.
With 13 experienced players returning, they look to build on their success from the previous season. The 2011 First Team All-American selected Breanah Bourque and 2011 All-UAA honorable mention selections Alex Duhl and Alena Ransom will provide senior leadership for the squad.
“We are going to push and hold each other accountable in the gym every day to make us better as a whole,” said Bourque. “It’s a new team, so all we can do is take it one step at a time and grow as a team along the way.”
Their first home games are against Averett and Berry in the Emory Classic on Sept. 7-8.
Last year, the men’s basketball team blazed out of the gates, posting a school-record 12 consecutive victories to begin a season and tying the school record for most victories in the first 16 games of a season (15). The Eagles’ inability to sustain such dominance throughout the remainder of the regular season and postseason (19-6, 8-6) should not overshadow their incredible accomplishments.
The school received its first spot in the D3hoops.com Preseason Top 25 poll at 13 and jumped even higher in the D3hoops.com Regular Season Top 25 poll at a school-record ranking of fourth in the nation.
This year, the Eagles have a tremendous void to fill with the departure of Austin Claunch (‘12C), one of the all-time Emory greats. Claunch ranked in the top 10 in school history in a whopping 17 statistical categories.
The trio of junior Jake Davis, senior Alex Greven and senior Michael Friedberg, however, should help the basketball team continue its upward trend.
Davis, who averaged 19 points and seven rebounds per game last year, was named both First Team All-State and First Team All-UAA. Greven and Friedberg, both having been named UAA Players of the Week, will return to offer senior leadership to the squad. The men’s basketball team plays their home opener against Berry on Nov. 20.
Just as the men’s team set high marks in its history, so too did the women’s basketball team. Last season, the women finished with the third most wins (18) in the regular season in school history.
Likewise, their UAA record (9-5) ranked as the third-highest conference record in school history. Building on last season’s success, the Eagles expect their experience and depth to carry them this season.
“We are returning four of five starters, and we have a deep and experienced bench,” said junior forward Gabi Whitmer. “We start our pre-season next week with our sights set on capturing the University Athletic Association and making the NCAA Tournament.”
The Eagles started on their journey to improvement by traveling to Rome to play against Italian club teams. After the trip to Italy, the Eagles feel ready for a break-out season while having a critical eye for improvement.
“Our trip to Italy was incredible,” said Whitmer. “Not only was it an amazing cultural experience, it also has given us an advantageous first step into the season. Between our hot shooting and strong post play, we steamrolled both teams [we played]. However, the game experience was helpful as we pinpointed specific areas that we need to improve before the season begins.”
Their first game is against Spelman College in the Emory Tip Off Classic on Nov. 16.
In their 2011-2012 season, the Emory golf team overcame playing in a difficult conference and strived under first-year Head Coach John Sjoberg to win their second straight UAA championship and ultimately to rank 11th in the nation according to the Golf World/NIKE DIII Coaches’ Poll.
Despite losing standout and NCAA postgraduate scholarship recipient Ryan Dagerman (’12B), the team looks poised for another great year with the return of All-UAA first team selections Jonathan Chen, Alex Wunderlich, David Collura and Nick Szem.
Removed from a season in which six athletes were named to the Capital One Track and Field/Cross Country Academic All-District Team, and both teams won the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Honors, the scholar-athletes of both men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete against Berry/Sewanee at Rome, Ga. on Sept. 1 to begin their season.
With five of six all-team UAA selections, the men’s soccer team seems destined for their 11th consecutive season with double-digit wins and a rank in the top 20.
Seniors Andrew Natalino, David Garofalo and Alex Scott will provide the team with guidance, along with the many returning players. Their first home game is this Friday against Brewton-Parker College in the Sonny Carter Invitational.
After an unprecedented undefeated season in which they won the UAAs for the sixth time, the women’s soccer team plans to continue their success by returning a total of 23 players from last season.
The team, ranked sixth nationally, boasts a potent, experienced offense with the return of their top four goal scorers and a marquee defense that held its opponents scoreless for a school record of 16 times.
With many teams primed for historic seasons, we will have another exhilarating year in Emory Athletics.
—By Zonair Khan