Winthrop University

Winthrop roundup: Eagles pole vaulter lands elite graduate research fellowship

The Big South Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship will take place in Rock Hill May 8-10, but one of Winthrop’s athletes has already secured a significant academic honor.

The National Science Foundation awarded senior pole vaulter/jumper Joey Jennings one of just three Graduate Research Fellowships given to sociology majors nationwide. Jennings will utilize the fellowship to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland.

Jennings has been highly decorated in both athletic and academic pursuits during his time at Winthrop, whether presenting intensive research results or setting school records.

“It takes a lot of dedication to my crafts,” stated Jennings in comments to the university. “School and track are equally important to me, but early on, I learned that to be great in both I had to treat them as separate entities. When I was at class, what happened at the track, good or bad, had to be out of my mind and vice versa. I spent hours studying for class and for track. I wanted to be the best in both, so I gave all I had each day to everything. That is how I was raised.”

Jennings will graduate from Winthrop just days before the culmination of his track and field career. The Jefferson City, Tenn., native has a clearly defined vision of what awaits him.

“I know I want to make a difference; I want to enact change,” Jennings said. “The Ph.D. is a start for me to work as an activist, to create change, and to shine an academic light on social issues that have been dark for some time now. I love learning, and I want to use my strengths to help marginalized people and answer the questions I faced as a youth.”

Lacrosse falls just short in Big South final, but caps a successful season

Winthrop women’s lacrosse fought its way to the Big South Conference championship match, upsetting second-seeded Longwood in a dazzling, 12-9 semifinal result. Top-seeded High Point turned away the Eagles, 17-10, in the title match, but the young team closed the season with a sizzling second half.

The Eagles (8-11), who won seven of their final 10 matches, placed six players on the Big South end-of-season superlatives list. Attacker Mia Creighton took Freshman of the Year honors, with Lauren Morris and Emily Torris securing spots on the all-league first team. Creighton and goalie Alaina Girani were named to the second team, with Lauren Asher receiving honorable mention. Olivia Deaver was named to the All-Academic Team.

Winthrop also placed three players on the All-Tournament Team. Girani’s 26 saves earned her all-tournament plaudits, where she was joined by Deaver (four goals, one assist) and McKenna Blick (three goals, four assists).

Baseball triumphantly returns from exams break

An eight-day break in a baseball season is never an ideal thing, but for coach Tom Riginos’ Eagles, the break started on a high note.

Winthrop (24-16, 12-6 Big South) claimed an 8-6 decision at ACC and Palmetto State foe Clemson last Wednesday, defeating the Tigers for the first time since a 5-4 decision in Winthrop’s 40-win 2015 campaign.

Spencer Yankle slugged a solo homer for the Eagles, while Grant English and Alex Raines contributed six total hits and runs batted in. Hunter Lipscomb and Jake Sullivan contributed two hits apiece.

Winthrop resumes play this week, with a single game Wednesday at Wofford. The Eagles will play just three Big South series before the tournament begins, starting this weekend with a three-game set at Presbyterian. All three games in Clinton will be afternoon outings. Friday’s contest features a 3 p.m. first pitch, with starts at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Softball also triumphantly resumes Wednesday

Winthrop softball also had quite the joyous beginning to exams break, with the Eagles taking 2-of-3 from USC Upstate. The Eagles swept a doubleheader from the Spartans, taking decisions of 8-7 and 3-1. Following an offensive outburst in game one, Madyson Watson and Kiley Majette fired a combined two-hitter in the nightcap.

Ashley Westbrooks extended her on-base streak to 21 games, while the victories snapped Upstate’s 13-game Big South win streak.

Winthrop (23-22, 12-9 Big South) resumes play Wednesday at UNC Greensboro, then travels to Charleston Southern Thursday and Friday to close regular-season play.

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