Shorter finishes No. 3 in final Learfield Directors' Cup standings
KANSAS CITY -- The Shorter University athletic department capped its most successful year ever with a No. 3 ranking in the final NAIA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, which were released on Friday afternoon.
Powered by an NAIA-best 427.00 points in the spring, Shorter finished with 741.00 total points. Shorter finished just 11.25 points back of runner-up Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (752.25) and 79.75 points behind Golden State Athletic Conference power Azusa Pacific, which claimed the top spot with 820.75 points.
Shorter was ranked No. 14 in the final winter Directors' Cup standings, but soared 11 spots to No. 3 after accumulating the highest single-season point total the school has ever witnessed.
Shorter's men's cross country program kicked off the year with a school record 10th place finish at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, helped in large part by freshman Paul Chelimo's third place individual finish.
In the winter, the Lady Hawk basketball squad made a return trip to the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship under the direction of SSAC Coach of the Year Vic Mitchell.
Shorter's first-year wrestling program, led by former NCAA Division I All-America grappler Josh Henson, posted an eye-catching 20th place finish at the NAIA Wrestling National Championship in Iowa, the highest national finish by far of any first year NAIA wrestling program.
Shorter's men's track and field team secured the first of its two national championships, taking the NAIA Indoor national championship in dramatic fashion. The Lady Hawks didn't finish too far behind, posting a program-best fifth place finish to snag valuable points for Shorter's Directors' Cup cause.
For the second straight year, however, the spring sports, bolstered by another track national championship, carried the torch.
Shorter won the school's first-ever NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championship, posted program-best third place finishes in both the women's golf and women's track and field national championships, finished seventh in softball, ninth in men's tennis and 20th in men's golf.
The outdoor national championship confirmed Shorter's place at the top of the NAIA track and field food chain. Head coach Scott Byrd, who had been named the NAIA Men's Indoor Track and Field National Coach of the Year after the indoor title, won his second National Coach of the Year honor for the outdoor crown.
Three Hawks won individual national championships at the outdoor meet as Travis Benton won the 100-meter dash, Chelimo won the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs and Nick Dodson broke a string of three straight national runner-up finishes by winning the 400-meter hurdle national title.
Women's golf, powered by the decorated trio of SSAC Player of the Year Greta Lange, SSAC Freshman of the Year Lisa Persson and SSAC Coach of the Year Greg Owens, completed the ascent to the school's first-ever national No. 1 ranking. The Lady Hawks missed out on a national championship by two strokes, placing third at the four-round national tournament to cap a dominant season in which the Lady Hawks won five events and finished either first or second in 11 of 12 tournaments.
The women's track team scored a program-best 63 points at the national outdoor meet, good enough for third place -- the second straight year the Lady Hawks have finished top-five at nationals. Ashlie Stewartson won her first individual national championship by jumping a school record in the long jump.
Softball won its pool and advanced to bracket play at the national tournament for the second straight year, affirming itself as a national powerhouse that has now made five straight trips to the NAIA Softball National Championship. Four-time NAIA All-American Libby Munson captured her second NAIA All-Tournament honor in the process.
Men's tennis advanced to the second round of the national tournament for the second year in a row and men's golf climbed to a national No. 9 ranking before ending its season with a strong finish at the national tournament.