Published July 10, 2014
ROME — Not one. Not two. Not three. Not four. Not five …
Being King (or Queen) of The Hill has a literal meaning at Shorter University these days, as this past semester over a three-month span a Hawks or Lady Hawks squad finished as a national champion.
Director of Athletics Bill Peterson said in Shorter University Magazine that the school’s rugged schedule in transitioning into the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference helped prepare teams for postseason success. Shorter will hear this summer if it will officially be joining the GSC, referred to often as the Southeastern Conference of Division II.
“I think we can be in the top three in every sport in the Gulf South Conference, and if you do that, you have a chance to be a national champion,” he said.
The run started with a men’s and women’s sweep of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Indoor Track and Field National Championships in late February. A little over two months later the teams would repeat the feat at the outdoor championships. That makes six championships over the past four years for head coach Scott Byrd, who began the track program eight years ago.
Winning is contagious, evidenced on May 9 as the Lady Hawks tennis team captured the fifth national title in the stretch with a win over Azusa Pacific University.
Tops on the field in the classroom
Shorter’s softball team was eager to win a ring after coming up short in 2013 following an NAIA national title the year before. The Lady Hawks did just that with a 2-1 win over Oklahoma Christian University on May 17.
The title count could’ve been higher, as the school’s baseball and volleyball teams advanced to the national semifinals and wrestling team finished third in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
In addition, numerous Shorter student-athletes were honored for their work in the classroom. For the second straight year the school was at the top of the GSC, numbers-wise, as the conference’s All-Academic Honor Roll List.
“A small Christian school that can dominate a conference of mostly public institutions – that’s where you want to be,” said Peterson, citing Baylor University as the example.
Shorter will expect to hear from the NCAA in July if it will indeed be admitted into the GSC. Whatever the case, Peterson says the school “is proud to be a member of the NCCAA” and will continue its partnership, hosting the Victory Bowl in football and the national outdoor track and field championships at Barron Stadium in Rome.
“There’s a lot more interest in Shorter from student-athletes who want to come here,” said Peterson in the school’s flagship magazine, “and what you also see are coaches who would love to be a part of our staff.”
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