Thursday, April 22, 2010

Championships-A-PLENTAY

Many Southerners know that if you ever find yourself in Spartanburg, SC, and you need a major burger-and-fried-stuff fix, the Beacon Drive In is the place to be. Those not traveling much through the region may know the Beacon from its appearance on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives." Either way, you need to know how to order right away. Yep, it's one of THOSE places--first-timers better learn quick that you don't hold up the line, because you need to "CALL IT!" A hallmark of ordering at the Beacon is getting your burger A-PLENTAY (that's "plenty" with proper inflection, of course), meaning virtually buried in an avalanche of fries and onion rings. You get what you came for--and then some.

Hence the appropriate title for this post, because we know it's time for spring championships--and boy do we have an overflowing plate of stuff we can sink our teeth into today!

Let's take this chronologically...

It had been a month since the basketball tournaments for the Big South, but the silence ended last week, starting with the Women's Golf Championship. Charleston Southern's women logged the best showing at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety-Six, SC, bringing back the first Big South Championship for the Bucs in anything this year. The kudos for CSU don't just end with the trophy--after all, the Bucs beat the Championship record score by eight strokes (881) and became the first team in event history to record team scores under 300 each day. AND CSU senior Olivia Jordan-Higgins brought was the individual medalist. Nice finish all around.

Before the men would get their crack at The Patriot, we turned to the CSU campus, site of the 2010 Men's & Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championships. With a talented roster of competitors from all across the Big South, the OTF Championships nonetheless came down to one team on top, and the Flames burned brightest. Liberty won both the men's and women's titles, and in so doing, completed an unprecedented sweep of all the "running" titles: Cross Country, Indoor Track, and Outdoor Track, all for both Men's and Women's Championships. Call it the "double triple" as they are at LU, or just call it dominance. Coastal's women's team gave Liberty a major challenge, and even held the team lead for a while, but it was not to be this time. As for the men, Liberty led wire-to-wire there. Interestingly, while the Men's Top Performers in Track (Evans Kigen) and Field (Clarence Powell) came from Liberty, the Women's Top Performers in Track (Ikeiylah Brown) and Field (Brittany Connor) came from Coastal Carolina.

This week began with the Men's Golf Championship, and it's a familiar refrain in the Big South to announce Coastal Carolina as the team champion for men's golf, so that result comes as no real surprise to anyone. Take in these impressive numbers: CCU has now won seven titles in a row and 12 of 14. The Chants were pushed by CSU and Liberty, but could not be caught. Given all that, perhaps it's of some interest that the individual medalist was not a Chanticleer: Liberty's Robert Karlsson had the best score for the tournament.

AND NOW another title tilt is happening, even as I write and share these thoughts with you. The Big South Men's & Women's Tennis Championships began this morning from the campus of Radford University, where the hosting men's team enters with the top seed, while Charleston Southern has that honor on the women's side. So by Saturday afternoon, we're scheduled to have two more champions crowned.

That's if the weather holds, of course...we just got through nine days staging four outdoor championship events with nothing more than a fog delay one morning and some breezes, so the luck so far has been quite good (bringing the law of averages into play, quite possibly). It may be a race against rain come Saturday, but we're hoping all is well for tennis to run on schedule.

Once tennis concludes, that just leaves softball and baseball to finish out the "pennant races" of their seasons and stage their May tourneys, which will close out the 2009-10 season.

As far as title-winners this year, looking back on it, we find a very favorable run for LU:

Championships won (14 total)--
7.5 Liberty (M/W XC, M/W ITF, M/W OTF, WBB, FB-tie)
2.0 Winthrop (MSOC, MBB)
2.0 Coastal Carolina (VB, MG)
1.0 High Point (WSOC)
1.0 Charleston Southern (WG)
0.5 (Associate Member Stony Brook: FB-tie)

And with only four left to crown, nobody can catch Liberty on this list...as for Sasser Cup, there are a number of other factors involved, but no one can doubt LU would be a favorite to repeat.

In other news, HPU is streaming their Spring Athletic Banquet tonight (4/22). It's available on the Big South Network, just like these other games I'm going to talk about in the video (although the banquet is the only one of those events that you can watch for free)...here's the guide for this week--with one note--ADD IN the Saturday-Sunday games for Coastal Carolina at VMI baseball:

video

So that's it for today...until next time-- "CAALLLLLLL IT!" SHOUT--out.

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