Third Time Was A Charm For Bridgewater's Mills
BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Olivia Mills needed just a little more than 21 minutes to etch her name in the Bridgewater College record book, but the journey to complete the final 21-plus minutes lasted three years.
Mills became the first Bridgewater female cross country runner to earn All-American honors when she finished 26th at the Division III national championship meet with a time of 21:49.3. It was Mills’ third trip to the national meet and the third time proved to be a charm.
Mills transferred to Bridgewater for her sophomore season and immediately became a force in the conference and region. She finished second in the ODAC and sixth in the South/Southeast Region meet to earn her first trip to the NCAA championship meet. She turned in a solid run and placed 96th in a field of 279 runners.
As a junior Mills was the ODAC Runner of the Year after winning the conference meet and then added a third-place finish at the regional level. She just missed All-American honors when she placed 42nd at the national meet. The top 35 runners earn the All-American distinction.
In her final season Mills captured ODAC Runner of the Year honors for the second consecutive season and turned in another top five finish at regionals when she placed fourth overall. Mills was not to be denied in her quest to become an All-American as she finished 26th to cap a stellar cross country career at BC.
Luke Sohl turned in an impressive performance in his first trip to the national meet. Sohl finished in 51st place overall and was 14 seconds out of the Top 35 and All-American status.
When breaking down the runners in front of Sohl by class, the Bridgewater sophomore should stand a good chance of achieving All-American recognition in the future. A total of 25 underclassmen finished ahead of Sohl and 17 of those are juniors. Only five sophomores and two freshmen finished ahead of the Eagles sophomore runner.
Kaylee Kubisiak’s first-trip to nationals did not go as expected, but the Bridgewater freshman still turned in a good performance. Kubisiak had shadowed Mills through most of the season, usually finishing just seconds behind her teammate. Kubisiak entered the NCAA meet nursing an injury but still finished 123rd out of a field of 277 runners. She was the 15th freshman runner to cross the finish line.
Congratulations to senior Joel Francis for being named the ODAC Defensive Player of the Year. It’s tough for a defensive tackle to earn that honor. He’s never going to have the big sack numbers of a defensive end or the gaudy tackle numbers that a linebacker can accumulate. What defensive tackles can do is eat up blocks so those linebackers can make tackles and the ends can rush the QB. Opposing coaches obviously realized that Francis was one of the main cogs in the conference’s top rated defense.
The Bridgewater men’s basketball team earned a split at the EMU Tip-Off Classic as the Eagles bounced back from a loss to Ferrum to defeat Elizabethtown, 78-76. Freshman Zach Hunter converted a driving layup with seven seconds left to lift the Eagles to the victory.
Eagles’ sophomore Aaron Adams was named the All-Classic team following two solid performances. Adams scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds in the loss to Ferrum. In the victory over E-town, Adams scored nine points, grabbed four boards and dished out four assists.
The women’s hoops team opened its season with two tough losses at the Marymount Tip-Off Tournament. The Eagles lost to the host Saints, 73-57, in the opener and then fell 64-49 to Gettysburg in the consolation game.
The Eagles simply had trouble putting the ball in the basket. Against Marymount, Bridgewater shot just 41 percent from the floor and 50 percent (15-for-30 from the foul line. Things got worse for the Eagles in the loss to Gettysburg as they hit just 27 percent from the floor and 44 percent (16-for-36) from the charity stripe.
The struggles from the charity stripe are uncharacteristic for a Jean Willi coached team as the Eagles have historically a very good foul shooting team. The last time the Eagles made less than 65 percent from the line was the 1994-95 season when the team shot just better than 63 percent. Since then the Eagles have been better than 67 percent every season and they have made more than 70 percent from the line in 11 season since the 1994-95 campaign.
Senior Katelynn Hottinger played two solid games to open the season and was named to the Marymount All-Tournament team. Hottinger scored 16 points and grabbed six boards against Marymount and added five points and six rebounds against Gettysburg.
Shannon Thorne showed flashes of being a beast on the boards for the Eagles a year ago, including one game against Randolph when she pulled down 20 rebounds. The sophomore post player dominated the glass at the Marymount tourney with back-to-back double digit games. She grabbed 13 boards in the season-opener against Marymount and then pulled down 14 in the loss to Gettysburg.
Remember the Bridgewater men’s basketball team opens its home schedule Saturday when the Eagles host The College of New Jersey. Admission to the game is free but donations will be accepted with all proceeds going to benefit the Bridgewater Inter-Church Food Bank.