After Winthrop's tennis team made history the Eagles did even better in track & field

Winthrop women's tennis players race to Aida Kelic after she clinched the Eagles' NCAA Tournament first round win over Auburn on May 11, 2018. The Eagles' season eneded in the next round after a loss to Georgia Tech.
Winthrop women's tennis players race to Aida Kelic after she clinched the Eagles' NCAA Tournament first round win over Auburn on May 11, 2018. The Eagles' season eneded in the next round after a loss to Georgia Tech.

A successful spring championship season for Winthrop spring sports saw even more titles added to the trophy case at this weekend’s Big South Track & Field Championships in High Point, N.C.

Two Eagles brought home victories on the first day of the meet. Senior Quemell Brave closed out his Winthrop career by taking the long jump title with a winning leap of 7.33m. Brave’s outdoor title adds to the indoor title he won earlier this year.

Later on day one, former South Pointe star Olivia Paxton claimed the crown in the 10K. The sophomore recorded a winning time of 36.13.59, 10 seconds better than the second-place finisher. Paxton shared a celebratory photo on Twitter after the race, saying, “I’m a Big South Conference champion!!”.

Another defending indoor champion won an outdoor crown on the final day of the meet. Sophomore high jumper Jalen Hodges scored a personal record jump of 2.03m to sweep the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Senior Cullen Barringer finished second in the decathlon with 6019 points, while fellow senior Christine Agoris set a personal record with a 36.33m javelin throw to take third place. Barringer and Agoris joined the three conference champions on the All-Big South team.

Sophomore Theo Kahler and junior Sabrena Reid were named to the Big South All-Academic team.

Outstanding tennis season comes to a close

The season ended Saturday for Winthrop’s women’s tennis team, but not before it recorded a first-ever feat.

The club’s 4-3, NCAA first-round victory over 20th-ranked Auburn Friday was the first-ever victory for a Big South club in tournament play. Winthrop (20-6) advanced to second-round play against host Georgia Tech, which recorded a 4-0 win over the Eagles Saturday afternoon.

"I think the biggest thing about this team is their resiliency,” said coach Cid Carvalho in comments issued by the university. “They don't give up. A lot of teams if they lose a first set 6-1 or so, they're done, but not this group."

Standout doubles team Lauren Proctor and Megan Kauffman finished the season 22-0, as both doubles matches went unfinished, due to the doubles point having already been clinched.

Kauffman and Proctor, ranked No. 23, now advance to the NCAA doubles competition May 23-28 at Wake Forest University. No. 37-ranked Proctor also will compete in the singles competition at the same event.

Softball finishes season at Big South tournament

Winthrop (17-32) saw its season end Wednesday at the Big South Softball Championship in Radford, Va. The Eagles dropped a 3-2, opening-game decision to host Radford and were then defeated, 12-2, by Campbell in an evening elimination game.

Sophomore first baseman Ansley Gilreath, sophomore catcher Ashley Westbrooks, and junior pitcher Kiley Majette all received second-team All-Big South honors for their performance this season. Junior infielder Blake Wallert was named to the Big South All-Academic Team.

The tournament also brought to a close the stellar career of retiring coach Mark Cooke. Cooke departs the Eagles after 29 seasons at the helm, with his 767 wins tops among Big South coaches. The Eagles’ leader also guided four teams (1990, 1991, 2007, and 2008) to Big South championships, in addition to three Coach of the Year awards (2005, 2007, and 2008).

“It’s emotional.It’s bittersweet,” said Cooke in comments to the university after Wednesday’s second game. “(It’s) not how I wanted to go out.”

Baseball hitting the home stretch

Winthrop baseball winds down its season this week with four games at The Winthrop Ballpark to finish the 2018 slate. The Eagles were 14-9 in league play going into Sunday’s series finale at league-leading Campbell, in the middle of five clubs separated by three games between second and sixth places. Winthrop hosts Charlotte in a Tuesday night contest slated for a 6 p.m. first pitch, with Liberty visiting for three games next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to close the regular season. Thursday and Friday night’s games will begin at 7 p.m., with Saturday’s finale getting underway at 2 p.m.

The Eagles have secured a spot in the 2018 Big South Baseball Championship. The tournament will be played May 22-26 at Liberty Baseball Stadium in Lynchburg, Va.

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