Harding Magazine Fall 2010

Athletics

Run, Janet, run
Baseball continues winning ways
Berryhill Awards go to Grant, Ruiz
Two added to football staff
Golf teams set records
Tennis teams reach tournament
Kirwa takes two All-American titles
New conference forming

Run, Janet, run

By Jennifer Hannigan

With approximately 100 races under her running shoes and more than 80 titles, Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (’05) has a lengthy list of accomplishments to her name. On May 26, she added Division II track and field Hall of Famer to that list.

When it came time for Cherobon-Bawcom to consider her collegiate options, she was encouraged by members of her village in Kapsabet, Kenya, to attend the University on a running scholarship like they had. There was only one obstacle — she wasn’t a runner.  

“Starting at almost 20 years old, I had to learn everything about the sport,” she says. “I had to work at it. My first year, I was just like any other runner. I was barely holding on to run nine to 10 minutes per mile. I am really thankful for my coaches because they made me believe that I could do it, and, with their program, they brought me from the runner I was to who I am today.”

When Cherobon-Bawcom received the news that she and five other runners were being inducted into the U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association’s National Track and Field Hall of Fame, she was ecstatic. “I had never run before and knowing that I’ve been selected as one of the best, I could not believe it. I was really excited about it.” 

The induction was held at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C. Honorees are chosen based on their collegiate performance and must have been out of school five years. Cherobon-Bawcom has the additional honor of being chosen upon her first nomination.

“The induction was actually held in conjunction with the national championship meet, so I got to be honored in front of the entire field of athletes competing there,” she says. “It was a real honor to be inducted with a group of people with words like ‘Olympics’ and ‘world championships’ on their resumes.”

During her time at the University, she was an eight-time All-American runner and three-time Division II national champion — high points in her career along with the Indy 500 half marathon. “It is one of the biggest half marathons, and the first time I won was in 2007,” she says. “Getting out of college and just running a 10K and thinking I would double that and run that as fast as in college was just not something I thought I could do. But I did it.” This year, she became the first four-time winner for the Indy 500, also breaking the course record. 

Other highlights for Cherobon-Bawcom included being named Gulf South Conference Runner of the Decade July 8. This honor was based on a vote of the conference’s sports information directors and cross-country coaches.

On Feb. 6 she added another honor to her name as she broke the course record for the Pensacola (Fla.) Double Bridge Run, defeating the defending champion and two-time Olympian Amy Rudolph. “I felt really good about it. I didn’t even look at my watch at all, and, being my first 15K, I did not really know what a good time was. I knew I was running a good pace, but I didn’t know how good it was until I saw my final time, and I was like, ‘Wow! I cannot believe that I did that.’”

Each year, Cherobon-Bawcom competes in 20-25 races, running 80-100 miles a week in order to train. Recently graduating from nursing school at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, Ga., finding time to balance classes, clinicals, her husband and training proved difficult, but she made time for them all. 

“There are a lot of those days where I don’t want to get up and do it,” she sighs. “I’m a real competitor. I know if I get up and train, once I win that race, it’s going to feel great. That’s my motivation every single day.” 

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Baseball continues winning ways

The baseball team closed out the 2010 season 25-24 overall and 9-11 in Gulf South Conference West Division play. 

The Bisons’ top offensive performer was junior first baseman Jason Nappi who led the team with a .413 average, eight home runs and 59 RBIs. A pair of freshmen joined Nappi on the All-GSC First Team. Catcher Erin McCarver hit .346 with four home runs and 35 RBIs, and relief pitcher Tyler Billen compiled a 4-1 record and a 2.53 ERA. Redshirt freshman outfielder Anthony Guglielmi earned Second Team All-GSC honors after hitting .350 and leading the GSC with a school-record 19 doubles.

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Berryhill Awards go to Grant, Ruiz

Katy GrantKaty Grant, a member of the women’s track and cross-country teams from Mustang, Okla., was the female 2010 M.E. Berryhill Award winner. Men’s tennis player Marco Ruiz from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was the male recipient of the honor given to a senior male and female athlete who possess the characteristics of athletic excellence, academic achievement, social maturity and spiritual example.

As a cross-country runner, Grant earned First Team All-Gulf South Conference four times and was the individual champion at the 2009 race. She also earned three All-Region honors. In her track career, she twice qualified for the NCAA National Meet in the 3000-meter steeplechase and holds three school track records. Academically, Grant is a two-time ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American honoree and also earned Academic All-GSC honors three times and U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Association All-Academic honors.

Marco RuizRuiz is a four-year letter winner for the Bison tennis squad and earned All-GSC honors all four years, becoming only the 15th tennis player in conference history to do so. During his career, Ruiz compiled a 37-14 singles record and a 36-26 doubles mark.

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Two added to football staff

Head football coach Ronnie Huckeba has hired two new assistant coaches. Luke Cullins joined the staff as wide receivers coach, and Scott Symons is defensive backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

Cullins, a native of Morrillton, Ark., comes to the University from Riverview High School in Searcy where he served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator since 2006. Symons, who hails from Mission Viejo, Calif., has been a graduate assistant at the University the last two seasons. 

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Golf teams set records

The men’s golf team earned its highest placement ever in the Gulf South Conference Championship and shot its lowest score placing eighth with a 909 at the Hot Springs Country Club. 

Blake Chase and Brandon Cauldwell became the first two Bison golfers to earn All-Gulf South Conference honors being named Second Team All-GSC. Chase, a freshman, had the team’s best scoring average this season at 76.3 strokes per round. Cauldwell, also a freshman, was the team’s top finisher at the GSC Championship, placing 12th.

The women’s golf team had its best season ever in 2009-10 and reaped the rewards as Whitney Ohlhausen, So-Yun Kim, and coach Nicky Boyd all received honors from the GSC. Harding placed third at the GSC Championship, the team’s best-ever finish. 

Ohlhausen, who set the school record with an 80.3 stroke average, was named GSC Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-GSC. Kim, a freshman, was named Second-Team All-GSC, and Boyd was named GSC Co-Coach of the Year.

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Tennis teams reach tournament

The men’s tennis team earned its ninth trip to the NCAA II National Tournament, receiving the 10th seed from the South Region. The Bisons fell 5-0 to No. 7 seed University of West Florida in Miami and finished the season 14-8. The brother duo of Marco and Henrique Ruiz was named All-Gulf South Conference.

The women’s tennis team set a school record with 23 wins and had three members honored with All-GSC accolades. Sophomore Ling Chan and senior Lola Pardo were First-Team honorees, and senior Katherine Golik was named Second-Team. The Lady Bisons completed the season with only seven losses and reached their third GSC Tournament semifinals berth. In her final match as a Lady Bison, Pardo became only the 17th Harding women’s tennis player to compile 50 career singles wins.

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Kirwa takes two All-American titles

Junior Daniel Kirwa’s career outdoor All-American total now stands at six as he added two more awards at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championship. He placed second in the 10,000 meters with a time of 30 minutes, 13.69 seconds. He also placed fourth, and sophomore Philip Biwott ran for eighth in the 5,000 meters. Kirwa’s time was 14:12.89, and Biwott collected his first outdoor All-American honor finishing in 14:24.85.

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New conference forming

The chief executive officers of nine universities in Arkansas and Oklahoma announced in July that they intend to apply to the National Collegiate Athletic Association for permission to create a new NCAA Division II conference.

The members of the proposed new conference would be University of Arkansas at Monticello, Arkansas Tech University, East Central University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southern Arkansas University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

“The intent of the conference is to group together similar institutions in terms of budgets and goals,” said the presidents, chancellors and directors of athletics from the nine institutions in a joint statement. “Furthermore, the conference is intended to be made up of universities that field an intercollegiate football program. Our most important goals in this new endeavor are to limit time away from class and limit our travel costs.”

The nine member institutions plan to submit a conference strategic plan, constitution and bylaws to the NCAA by Dec. 1.

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