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April 15, 2002

Softball, tennis teams among nation's Top 5

John Arenberg is Emory's sports information director.


For the second consecutive year, Emory advanced to the University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament championship game. While the Eagles won the title last year, they came up short this time, falling to Brandeis (Mass.), 9-3. Nonetheless, five Emory players earned all-conference honors, including outfielder Tim Hobbs and pitcher Matthew Palmer, who both made the first team.

Emory is attempting to defy logic by switching to a younger lineup while maintaining its status as a national contender. At the start of April, five of the team’s top six scorers were underclassmen. Yet, Emory was ranked 21st in the nation in the NCAA Div. III coaches poll and 17th nationally in scoring average according to Golf Stat. Leading the way was sophomore Jason Scherr, whose scoring average (75) puts him on pace to break Charles Frost’s 1999 school record for lowest season average (75.26).

In only its fourth season of varsity competition, Emory has risen to No. 4 nationally, thanks to the best start in school history. The Eagles had a 26-2 record entering April, well on their way to breaking last season’s school mark of 37 wins. Emory also won its second consecutive conference championship, rolling through the tournament undefeated, the first team to do so under the current eight-game format. Six Eagles made the all-conference first team, including pitcher Nicole Kovski, who was selected the tournament’s most valuable player. She went 4-0 in the tournament with an ERA of 1.30.

Tennis (women)
Emory began the spring ranked No. 2 in the nation in Div III. Since then, it has won all six matches against national Top 25 teams, including the No. 3, 5, 6 and 7-ranked teams. Sophomore Mary Ellen Gordon and senior Anusha Natarajan are the defending Div. III doubles champions. Gordon, ranked No. 2 nationally in singles, knocked off the nation’s top-ranked singles player, Methodist (N.C.) College’s Elena Blanina, in March.

Tennis (men)
Entering the spring, Emory was ranked No. 5 in the nation in Div. III, but even that lofty position may have sold the Eagles short. Emory is 5-1 against Top 10 teams, including wins against the No. 3 and 4-ranked teams. Emory handed four-time national champion and third-ranked California-Santa Cruz its first home loss since its courts were built in 1988. Freshman Mark Odgers, ranked 29th nationally in singles at the start of the spring, upset Div. III’s top-ranked singles player, Averett (Va.) College’s Vellu Antila, in a dual match.

Track & Field (men)
The goal this season for Emory is to defend its conference outdoor championship. The Eagles look forward to the home-field advantage when they host the UAA meet, April 19–20. One of the key performers will be junior Rich Hite, a national qualifier in the 800-meter run last season. Hite got off to a good start this spring by winning the 800 at the Emory Div. III Invitational with a time (1:55.05) that would have been good enough to win this year’s conference indoor title.

Track & Field (women)
Emory returns one national champion, Danielle LeSure, and one national qualifier, Sarah Byrd, from last season. The two wasted little time qualifying for this season’s NCAA Div. III national championship meet. LeSure, the defending champion in the hammer throw, surpassed the qualifying standard in the first two meets this season. Byrd did the same, only in two events: the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 5,000-meter run.

Last semester, 24 percent of Emory student-athletes made the Dean’s List, which honors students in the top 20 percent of their class, and 57.5 percent posted grade point averages of 3.31 or higher. This marks the 24th time in the last 25 semesters that at least 40 percent of Emory student-athletes made 3.31 or higher on their report cards. Of Emory’s 16 varsity athletics teams, 14 had cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher. The women’s soccer team led the way with a 3.56 GPA, placing eight of its 22 players on the Dean’s List. Next was women’s cross country with a 3.50 GPA, followed by women’s basketball and volleyball at 3.44, and men’s soccer at 3.41.

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