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Tusculum finishes fifth in SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award standings

Tusculum finishes fifth in SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award standings

ROCK HILL, S.C. --- Following a strong spring finish, the Tusculum Pioneers climbed four spots and finished fifth in the final 2016-2017 South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award standings.

The Pioneers finished with 929.07 total points for the academic year, including 540.83 points from the College's eight spring sports programs to leap from ninth place following the winter regular season to finish in the top-five of the league's 12 member institutions.

The Echols Athletic Excellence Award is presented annually to the member athletic department that earns the highest point total based on the cumulative final standings in each of the conference's 18 sports.  Regular season finish is used in the sports of men's and women's soccer, volleyball, football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball and softball, while SAC Championship results are used for men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf and men's and women's outdoor track.

The Tusculum men's lacrosse team recorded its best season in the program's four-year history as the Pioneers posted an 11-4 record and finished tied for runner-up honors in the SAC regular season, while advancing to the SAC Tournament semifinals for a second consecutive year.  The TC women's golf team finished runner-up at the SAC Championship, held at Link Hills Country Club in Greeneville, as the Pioneers posted a school-record 54-hole score of 911.  The women's tennis team went 20-7 and tied for second place in the final SAC standings.  TC went 3-0 in the league postseason to capture the program's fourth SAC Tournament crown and advance to the NCAA Tournament for a ninth time.  The Tusculum men's golf team finished fifth at the weather-abbreviated SAC Championship, while the TC baseball team also posted a fifth-place finish in the SAC regular season. Women's lacrosse, softball and men's tennis all finished sixth in the league, while qualifying for SAC Tournament play.

This past fall, the Tusculum women's soccer team claimed a share of the program's fifth SAC Championship.  The TC men's soccer team posted a runner-up finish in the league, while claiming its conference-record sixth SAC Tournament crown and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament.  The football team won three of its last four games, including back-to-back wins over defending league champion Catawba and arch-rival Carson-Newman.  With the late season push, the Pioneers finished in a tie for fourth place.  The volleyball team finished eighth in the final league standings, while the Tusculum women's and men's cross country programs finished ninth and 11th, respectively at the SAC Championships.

In the winter season, the Tusculum men's and women's basketball teams both finished eighth in the final conference standings.

Wingate won its 11th consecutive Echols Athletic Excellence Award as the Bulldogs finished with 1,413 points.  Queens finished second with 1,181.1 points, followed by Lenoir-Rhyne (1,080), Lincoln Memorial (1014.5) and Tusculum (929.07) to round out the top-five.  Carson-Newman was sixth with 910.16 points, followed by Anderson (891.83), Catawba (825.5), Newberry (816), Coker (748.75), Mars Hill (604.08) and Brevard (254).

Starting this season, the SAC moved to what it believes is a more equitable new points system.  In the new formula, the champion will always receive 100 points and last place will receive 10 points regardless of the number of schools that sponsor that championship sport.  The points earned for all other place finishes will vary based on the number of schools that sponsor that particular sport.

The Echols Athletic Excellence Award is named in honor of Doug Echols, who served as the league's first commissioner from 1989-2008.

2016-17 SAC Echols Athletic Excellence Award Standings

Rk

School

Points

1

Wingate

1413.00

2

Queens

1181.10

3

Lenoir-Rhyne

1080.00

4

Lincoln Memorial

1014.50

5

TUSCULUM

929.07

6

Carson-Newman

910.16

7

Anderson

891.83

8

Catawba

825.50

9

Newberry

816.00

10

Coker

748.75

11

Mars Hill

604.08

12

Brevard

254.00

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