More preseason football watch list action and academic honors for the track and field and cross country teams.
The preseason watch lists are being announced one-by-one as the college football season is quickly approaching and one Jaguar offensive lineman just picked up his second watch list announcement on Tuesday.
Joseph Scelfo, a junior, was selected to the Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List last week and has been selected for the Watch List for the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award.
The Rotary Lombardi Award is eligible for linemen only, both of offense and defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deel from the line of scrimmage.
Scelfo was one of only two Jaguar offensive linemen who started all 13 games last season and earn the coaches’ weekly award on more than one occasion. In 2014, his first season as a starter for USA, he had a season-high grading of 88 percent in the Jags win over Troy as well as an 87 percent grade against Bowling Green in USA’s firt-ever bowl game. He also graded better than 80 percent agaisnt both South Carolina and Mississippi State with grades of 83 and 81 respectively.
He helped the Jaguars become the fastest NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision school to play in a postseason bowl game after receiving their first invite to the inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in only their second season of full FBS membership.
The Rimington Award honors the most oustanding center in NCAA Division I-A college football at the end of the year. In addition to the two watch lists, Scelfo was selected to the First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference by Phil Steele Publications and preseason Second-Team All-League by Athlon Sports.
Track and Field/Cross Country
The Sun Belt Conference released the 2014-15 Team GPA award winners on Tuesday with USA men’s and women’s track and field and cross country teams claiming honors in both the fall and spring semesters.
The men posted a combined cumulative GPA of 3.19 to earn honors in cross country in addition to winning the league title at the Sun Belt Championships in Mobile on November 2 at Battleship Memorial Park.
The women’s cross country team posted a 3.67 GPA during the last year to be honored as well.
Both programs received the Team GPA award in track and field as the men had a 3.17 GPA over the last two semesters. This made USA the only male track team in the conference to finish with a group average over 3.00. The women posted a GPA of 3.41.
This marks the second year in a row that USA has earned the Team GPA award in men’s and women’s cross country as well as the second consecutive season that USA also earned the honor in track.
Individually 26 women and 22 men from the two programs had a 3.0 GPA or higher last semester with a combined 28 team members earning spots on the Dean’s List.
The 2015 South Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame class will include three former Jaguars as announced on Monday. The class includes the school’s All-Time winningest Men’s Basketball coach Ronnie Arrow and a pair of track and field members who competed at the NCAA Championships in Olga Mencnarowska and Tonny Okello.
Arrow guided the Jag basketball program the first time from 1988-1995 and then again from 2008-2012 for a total of 12 full seasons plus two partial seasons. He led the Jaguars to a 211-161 record overall and 126-48 in Sun Belt play. In addition to holding the most total and conference wins in school history, he also held the conference record for wins at the time of his retirement.
He was selected SBC Coach of the Year on three occasions. He led the Jaguars to a 23-9 record in 1988-89 following the only NCAA Tournament win in program history, an 86-84 win over Alabama. He led the Jaguars to the tournament again in 2007-2008 when USA received it first-ever at-large berth the NCAA Tournament after winning a school record 26 games which included a 16-2 record in conference play.
Arrow led the program to two SBC regular-season championships, two conference tournament titles and a regular season division title. He had 13 players earn All-Sun Belt honors on 18 occasions.
Mencnarowska lettered for the Jaguar Women’s Track and Field team from 1996-1999 and helped the Jags to win its first-ever league title at the Sun Belt Indoor and Outdoor Championships as a senior. In addition to becoming the first female in USA history to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, she was selected the Outstanding Meet Performing and earned top-scoring honors at the 1999 SBC Outdoor Championships after winning the heptathlon and long jump, finishing third in javelin and tying for fourth in the 100-meter hurdles before moving on to the national championships in the latter event.
She ended her career with a conference record in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.35 seconds, still a school record in the race, and remains among the top 10 in USA history in the heptathlon, 60-meter hurdles, javelin and long jump.
She earned all-conference honors a total of eight times while being selected to the Sun Belt’s 30th Anniversary All-Time Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Teams. She was also voted third-team CoSIDA All-American in 1998.
Okello was a four-time All-American and collected all-region honors each of his three years running cross country. He would also be voted to the SBC 30th Anniversary All-Time Men’s Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Teams. He earned All-American honors in cross country in 2004 and ’05, he also finished 41st at the national meet as a senior, as well as in the 5,000 meters in 2006 and ’07 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Okello earned seven individual SBC titles while earning all-conference recognition a total of 18 times over three seasons. In cross country he won the conference championship his first time at the meet, finishing as the runner-up each of the next two years. He was chosen the most outstanding track performer and top point scorer at the 2005 Sun Belt Indoor Championships after winning the mile, 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs and helping the Jags to the team crown. In addition to receiving the same honor that spring in the SBC Outdoor Championships, he helped USA win a share of the conference indoor title his final season by placing in the top three in the mile, 3,000- and 5,000-meter races.
The induction ceremony for the three inductees is scheduled for September 26 at the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center on campus. The three will also be recognized that day at halftime of the Jaguars football game against North Carolina State at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Win the induction of these three honorees, it will bring the total number of former student-athletes, coaches and administrators in the USA Athletic Hall of Fame to 71.
Track and Field
Renaldo Frechou, a junior from Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa, represented South Alabama in the men’s hammer throw in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on Wednesday and earned First-Team All-America Honors.
Frechou competed against 24 other competitiors and steadily increased his distance on each of his first three attempts with his final throw reaching 68.84m. This is the second year in a row that he has received first-team All-America honors after finishing seventh in the same event last year.
He is the first since the 2006-2007 pair Tonny Okello and Vincent Rono both earned All-America recognition in consecutive seasons.
On Friday, fellow Junior Jan-Louw Kotze will be the second of three Jaguars to compete at the national championship meet when he competes in the men’s discus throw at 6:05pm (CDT).
Kaitlyn Beans will compete on Saturday at 4pm in the women’s triple jump.
Baseball honors keep coming in for members of the Jaguar baseball team.
South Alabama right-handed pitcher Kevin Hill was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-America third team on Wednesday.
Hill was the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year and led the SBC in wins (10), ERA (1.73), opposing batting average (.208) and strikeouts (107). He was also named to the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American second team on May 28 to become the first Jaguar pitcher to earn All-America honors since P.J. Walters in 2006.
Hill completed his redshirt junior year this season with four complete games, all four coming in a stretch against conference opponents, and recorded two shutouts in 80 2/3 innings pitched. He perfect 10-0 mark was the first 10 game winner at USA since D.D. Hanks in 2010 and his 107 strikeouts was the first triple-digit strikeout season since Walters in 2006.
Hill is the 27th Jaguar all-time to earn All-America honors and is only the seventh pitcher to do so in the program’s 51 years.
Hill and Cole Billingsley were both named to the 2015 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings NCAA Division I South Central team with Hill earning first-team honors and Billingsley earning second-team honors.
Billingsley led the conference with 30 stolen bases and finished tied for second in the conference with 80 hits and 4 triples. He tied for fourth in runs scored with 46, tied for sixth in batting average .345 and tied for eighth in walks with 34.
The redshirt sophomore did not commit an error in 163 chances in center field while recording three assists in his 55 games played.
Latest news and updates on South Alabama Sports.
Track and Field
Jaguar Men’s Track and Field Renaldo Frechou qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a hammer throw of 66.54m at the East Region Preliminaries in Jacksonville, FL on Thursday.
His throw was 6th place out of the 12 competitors that are advancing to the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, OR on June 10-13.
Zach Blahnik finished 39th in the hammer throw, Mark Watts was 45th in the men’s 400 meter dash. LaMia Miller finished 33rd in women’s shot put and Barbara Rivera was 38th in the women’s javelin throw.
On Friday Jan-Louw Kotze (men’s discus), Nick Farrell (men’s pole vault), Matthew Dillon (men’s 110 meter hurdles), Patrick Rohr (men’s 3,000 meter Steeplechase), Phoebe Dawson (women’s discus), and Kaitlyn Beans (women’s long jump) will all compete to qualify to travel to Oregon for the Outdoor Championships.
Former South Alabama pitcher Farish Beard, who earned her degree this spring, was named to the 2015 Senior CLASS Award Second-Team All-American as announced by Premier Sports Management on Wednesday.
She earned all-Sun Belt Conference honors for the third consecutive season and was named to the SBC All-Tournament team after helping the Jaguars claim its third title in the last four years.
She finished with an 11-4 record, 2.53 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched this season while only allowing 32 runs all season and holding opposing batters to a team-low .168 batting average.
The Senior CLASS Award in an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. It honors the attributes of senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition and is designed for college seniors who are utilizing their complete athletic eligibility, remaining committed to their university and pursuing the many rewards a senior season can offer.
Jaguar right-hander Kevin Hill was named to the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American second team as announced on Thursday by Collegiate Baseball.
Hill was also named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year and is the lone representative from the conference. He is also the first Jaguar pitcher to earn All-American honors since P.J. Walters was a second-team selection by Collegiate Baseball and a third-team selection by Baseball American in 2006.
Hill completed his redshirt junior season and led the Sun Belt in wins (10), ERA (1.73), opposing batting average (.208) and strikeouts (107). He threw four straight complete games against Sun Belt Conference opponents. He recorded two shutouts in 80 2/3 innings ptiched. He was also the first Jaguar to eclipse the century mark in strikeouts since Walters’ 166 in 2006.
Hill is the program’s 27th All-American in 51 years of baseball.
Additionally, Cole Billingsley, a redshirt sophomore, will compete in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox this summer. He is the third Jag in the last four years to play in the CCBL after former Jaguar standout and 2013 SBC Player of the Year Jordan Patterson competed with the Bourne Braves in the summer of 2012. J.T. Files also competed with the Brewster Whitecaps in the summer of 2012 as well.
He earned first-team All-SBC honors as an outfielder this season after leading the conference in stolen bases (30). He also finished tied for second in the SBC in hits (80) and triples (4), tied for fourth in runs scored (46), eighth in on-base percentage (.437) and tied for eighth in walks (34).
On Wednesday the NCAA released the entries for the East Region Preliminaries and the Jaguars will be represented by a record 12 individuals. The meet will include the top 48 individuals in every event in the region will be hosted by North Florida in Jacksonville May 28-30. Those who finish in the top 12 will move on to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon next month.
Among those representing the Red, White and Blue are eight men and four women, including a pair who won their event in the Sun Belt Conference Championships two weeks ago.
Renaldo Frechou is the highest seeded Jag entering the east region preliminaries by ranking fourth in the men’s hammer throw. Jan-Louw Kotze ranks 13th in the men’s discus. Both Frechou and Kotze both broke conference records during the season.
The USA men’s contingent consists of: Zach Blahnik (hammer throw), Matthew Dillon (110 meter hurdles), Nick Farrell (pole vault), Christoph Graf (5,000 meters), Patrick Rohr (3,000 meter steeplechase) and Mark Watts (400 meters). Spencer Anderson also posted a qualifying time in the 400-meter hurdles but will not participate as he has earned his degree earlier this month and has joined the military on a full-time basis.
The USA women’s contingent include: Kaitlyn Beans (triple jump), Phoebe Dowson (discus), LaMia Miller (shot put) and Barbara Rivera (javelin).
This marks the third consecutive regional for Kotze while Farrell and Frechou both has postseason experience from last season.
This marks the second consecutive postseason selection.
South Alabama honored student-athletes Monday at the sixth annual Pete Tolbert Night of Champions at the Mitchell Center. The event recognizes the achievements, both in competition and academically, of the nearly 400 individuals who comprise the University of South Alabama athletics program.
Kaitlyn Griffith (Softball from Centre, AL) and Daniel Leitner (Men’s Tennis from Neiderfischbach, Germany) were named the Jaguar Female and Male Student-Athlete of the Year respectively, honoring the most outstanding Jaguars based on scholarship, athletic ability and citizenship.
Griffith, a senior shortstop for the softball team is hitting .296 with a team-high 11 home runs, with 38 RBI, 25 runs scored and helping the team to a 33-9 record thus far and a top-25 national ranking throughout the 2015 season. She is a three-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar Athlete and is set to receiver her degree in May in exercise science. She has a 3.82 cumulative GPA.
Leitner, a senior, is the reigning two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in men’s tennis. He earned the award this spring after amassing a 28-5 overall record in singles play and a 22-6 record in doubles play. He was named to the first-team All-SBC in both singles and doubles, and as the highest-rated individual in the conference, will earn a berth to the NCAA Singles Championships in May. He will graduate with a 3.89 GPA in exercise science in May.
A pair of Griffith’s teammates on the Softball team also earned awards.
Farish Beard was chosen at the school’s NCAA Woman of the Year Nominee with Blair Johnson earning the Jimmy Taylor Scholarship.
Beard, who currently has a 3.39 GPA, was selected as the nominee for that goes to a varsity letterwinner completing her intercollegiate eligibility by the end of spring sports season, who has excelled in academics, athletics, service and leadership with a minimum of a cumulative 2.5 GPA. She is also a finalist for both the Senior CLASS and 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year awards. This season she is 9-3 with a 2.37 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 71 innings.
Johnson earned the award going to a student-athlete who holds a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, has completed their NCAA eligibility and with the assistance of the fund will graduate from USA within two consecutive semesters. She has earned All-SBC honors twice during her career and this year she is batting .254 with 12 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, and 14 walks to only eight strikeouts.
Sophie Haywood from Hull, England, earned the Auralia Crowell Freshman Scholar Athlete Awards given to the most outstanding freshman based on excellence in academics and athletics. She was named First-Team All-Conference after posting 19 points on seven goals and five assists in helping the Jaguar soccer team tow in the conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament. She has a 4.0 GPA as an exercise science major.
Adam Ballew of the baseball team was awarded the Denny-Gottfried Scholarship Award that is presented to the student-athlete who has exhausted their eligibilty, maintained an outstanding GPA and achieved athletic accomplishment. In his final season at USA, he has helped the Jaguar baseball team to a 29-16 record thus far while batting .275 with five extra-base hits, 26 RBI and eight stolen bases. He is an exercise science major with a 3.38 GPA.
Derek Westbrook from Diamondhead, MS, received a pair of awards. He arned the Shirley Holt Scholarship Award as well as the Male Jaguar Athletic Fund Award. The former is given to a student-athlete who exemplifies outstanding “Team Spirit” and who has shown great character and concern for his or her fellow student-athletes. The latter recognizes overall support of Jaguar Athletics. Both awards exemplifies Derek’s contributions to South Alabama Athletics and also marks the second-consecutive year that he has garnered the JAG Award honors.
Caroline Beebe earned the Female Jaguar Athletic Fund Award. Which marks the second consecutive year that both she has earned the JAF Award as well.
Hunter Colemani was awarded the Tom and Barbara Corcoran Scholar-Athlete Endowed Scholarship Award which is given to a USA Junior who most excels in sports while maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA. The right handed pitcher has a 4.0 GPA in biomedical sciences in the classroom while on the diamond he has a 1-0 record with a 0.59 ERA with 14 strikeouts and 15.1 innings of work.
Jimmie Gipson III was awarded the Wilson Durgin Memorial Scholarship Award which goes to a minority student-athlete who has excelled in both the classroom and competition. Nikki Gittens was awarded the Female Perseverance Award after she suffered a stress fracture in her tibia that forced her to redshirt in 2013, she then returned and ranked third on the volleyball team with 243 kills and led the team with a .250 attack percentage and 83 total blocks while helping the Jags qualify for the SBC tournament despite tendinitis in her knee and hitting shoulder.
Ucambre Williams earned the Male Perseverance Award after undergoing three separate surgical procedures and requiring over six months of rehabilitation. After surgery on his right knee in September he returned in just 15 days and would go on to start 11 consecutive games while posting a team-best 90 percent overall grade and being named to the second-team All-SBC and helped the Jaguars play in its first-ever postseason bowl game.
Brandon Bridge was awarded the Mayer Mitchell Quarterback Endowment Fund Award as the Jaguars starter last fall. Matt Bolger earned the Clifton Inge Endowed Baseball Award. David Knapp earned the Forrest W. and Beverly B. Crowder Endwoed Scholarship for baseball. Mark Watts earned the McKinney Family Endowed Scholarship Fund for Track and Field. Emily Newton earned the George Smith Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund for Track and Field as well.
Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Operations Greg Keel was selected for the Matt Smith Award which goes to a member of the athletics staff who consistenly goes the extra mile, has the spirit of commitment, a strong work ethic, and a deep sense of pride in their job. The award is named in memory of former USA Sports Information Director Matt Smith who passed away in December of 2004.
Each sport program also presented awards at the event. The winners of those honors were:
- Eddie Stanky Award (baseball), Bolger
- Goldie Ungar Heart of Gold Award (men’s basketball), Dionte Ferguson
- Jaguar Women’s Basketball NCAA Award (women’s basketball), Breanna Hall
- Female Distance Award (women’s cross country), Nicole Durham
- Male Distance Award (men’s cross country), Christoph Graf
- Jim Yance Heart of a Jaguar Award (football), Jesse Kelley
- Heath Slocum Award (men’s golf), Tyler Klava
- Beth Barry Award (women’s golf), Ingrid Hagen
- Lindsay Rogers Award (soccer), Alyssa Mayer
- Extra Mile Award (softball), Stephanie Pilkington
- Lubel Family Award (men’s tennis), Leitner
- Marilyn Lubel Award (women’s tennis), Laura Matuskova
- Most Outstanding Women’s Track & Field Student-Athlete Award (women’s track and field), Kaitlyn Beans
- Most Outstanding Men’s Track & Field Student-Athlete Award (men’s track and field), Jan-Louw Kotze
- Jaguar Volleyball Award (volleyball), Gittens
Prior to the naming of the Jaguar Student-Athletes of the Year, 46 current and former student-athletes who will graduate at the conclusion of the semester received gifts from the department.
Congratulations to all the award winners as well as all of the student-athletes who will earn their degrees. Thank you for representing the University in each of your respective sports with honor and character. Once a Jaguar, always a Jaguar.
South Alabama teams will be competing in several sports this weekend, some trying to win Conference titles while others are trying to position themselves to make a run at their Conference tournaments. Below is a rundown of the weekend events.
The #22 Softball team will host their final Sun Belt Conference series at home this weekend when Texas State comes to town.
The Jags roll into the weekend after going to Starkville to defeat Mississippi State 3-2 on Tuesday night and having won their last 11 games.
The Jags (32-7, 14-3 SBC) currently sits in second place in the conference behind Louisiana-Lafayette (32-5, 15-3 SBC). Texas State is in third place in the conference behind the Jaguars with a 25-19 record overall and an 8-6 record in conference play and enter the weekend with a three-game win streak.
The Jags and Bobcats are scheduled to begin with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1pm at Jaguar Field and the Sunday finale is scheduled for 1pm at Jaguar Field as well.
The Jaguar baseball team steps out of conference play this weekend to face Evansville in a three game series in Evansville, Indiana.
USA (24-13) will start right-hander Kevin Hill (5-0) for his seventh start of the year in the season opener. He has won his last five starts. Austin Bembnowski (2-3) will start his sixth game of the season on Saturday. Southpaw Jared Gates (3-1) will start the series finale set for Sunday.
Evansville (18-15) defeated Indiana 2-1 in 14 innings on Wednesday.
Men’s and Women’s Tennis
Both the men and women will be competing for Sun Belt Conference Titles this weekend. The Women’s squad is the #1 seed and will began action at 8am on Friday morning. The Men’s team is the #3 seed and will begin play on Friday afternoon against Appalachian State.
Men’s and Women’s Track and Field
The Track and Field team will return to action at the War Eagle Invitational. This will be their second trip to Auburn this spring. A total of 12 teams will be competing including Auburn, Mississippi State, Troy and Kent State.
The University of South Alabama 2013-2014 Track and Field team had six student-athletes earn All-Academic honors from the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Additionally, the women’s team was named one of the organizations All-Academic teams.
All six student-athletes earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors in their respective events this season while Kotze, Smith, Hixon and Beans all setting new Jaguar records in their events.
The women’s team were rewarded for finishing the season with a combined GPA of 3.29, which is well above the team-wide minimum required for All-Academic Team status, which is 3.00.
Jan-Louw Kotze, Connor Smith, and Patrick Rohr were honorees from the men’s team which included 496 student-athletes from 165 institutions. Leah Hixon, Kaitlyn Beans and Bobbie Williamson were among 727 women from 193 schools who were honored.
Kotze earned a 4.0 GPA through his sophomore year in exercise science while advancing to the NCAA Preliminaries in the discus for the second consecutive year and was just one spot shy of advancing to the national championship meet.
Smith earned a 3.48 GPA and was named to the list for the second-consecutive year. As a senior, he graduated with his degree in engineering while earning a spot in the regional preliminary round of the pole vault and finished 35th overall.
Rohr, also an engineering major, earned a 3.39 GPA as a sophomore and finished 44th in the regional competition.
Hixon led the lady Jags with a 3.85 GPA and earned her degree as a biology major while earning the honor for the second conecutive season. She finished 25th at the regionals in the javelin throw.
Beans earned a 3.58 GPA in her freshman year as a biomedical sciences major. She qualified for the NCAA Championships in the triple jump and finished 17th place nationally.
Williamson finished her career with a 3.36 cumulative GPA and earned her degree as a nurse major. She advanced to the regional competition in the hammer throw and was less than half-a-meter short of qualifying for the nationals as she finished in 13th place.
Kaitlyn Beans’ freshman season finished up on Friday and what a freshman season it was. She jumped a 12.67m mark on her second jump to finish 17th in the 24 person field and finish one spot and two-hundredths of a meter shy of earning a second-team All-American honors.
Beans, a native of Montgomery, Alabama, qualified for the national meet after a 13.18m mark and a seventh place finish at the regional preliminary to become the first individual in program history to advance to the NCAA finals in any of the jumping events. She is also the first freshman to qualify for the nationals in any event. She finishes the season as the school record-holder of 13.19m when she earned the gold-medal at the Sun Belt Conference Championships in May.
South Alabama’s Renaldo Frechou finished seventh in the men’s hammer throw at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships while setting a new school record with a throw of 67.64m. He also became the sixth individual in program history to be claim All-American honors with his first-team selection.
Frechou entered the event the 15th overall seed and the school record holder in the event. But he would break his own record four different times in his six attempts before finishing with his 67.62m mark on his final throw. That was more than tree meters better than his 64.36m school and Sun Belt Conference record setting throw in the East Region Preliminaries just two weeks ago.
He is the first All-American since the pair of Tonny Okello and Vincent Rono earned honors in 2007 and only the fourth in the history of the men’s program. He is also the first thrower in school history, man or woman, to earn the honor.
Track and Field head coach Paul Brueske had lots of praise for Frechou, “Renaldo came out here against the best hammer throwers in the country and had four throws over his personal best in the biggest meet of the year. This is a great day for him and for our program. He really stepped up and did a fantastic job, and I’m really proud of the way he handled himself today.”
Kaitlyn Beans will represent the Jaguars on Friday in the triple-jump. The event is set to get underway at 5:25pm CDT where the she is seeded ninth among the individuals participating.