BRIDGEWATER, Va. - It’s championship week!
One of the busiest weeks of the season is well underway as the start of spring sports action overlaps with winter sports’ championship week.
The quest for an ODAC title actually began Monday evening with the first round of the women’s conference tournament. Lynchburg, Shenandoah, Randolph-Macon and Washington and Lee picked up wins and advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round at the Salem Civic Center.
Coach Jean Willi’s team will swing into action Thursday afternoon when the Eagles meet Lynchburg College at 3:00 p.m.
Bridgewater will be looking to snap its tournament losing streak as the team has lost in the quarterfinals three consecutive seasons.
The road to the men’s basketball title begins tonight with four first-round games at on-campus sites. The Eagles will host Roanoke and a win would send them to the quarterfinals where No. 2 seed Hampden-Sydney awaits.
The Eagles haven’t played at the Civic Center since the 2010 quarterfinals where they were eliminated by Eastern Mennonite, 87-67.
You have to go back to 2009 to find the Eagles’ last victory in conference tournament play. Bridgewater defeated EMU in the quarterfinals, but was ousted in the semis, 77-67, by W&L.
“We’ve been going to Salem the last couple of years, but we’ve just been there for the banquet,” Eagles’ head coach Don Burgess said. “This year we want to be playing in Salem.”
The men’s and women’s indoor track champions will also be determined when the teams congregate Friday at Liberty University’s Tolsma Indoor Track Center. Action in the field events begins at noon while the track events are slated for a 3:00 p.m. start.
The Lynchburg men and Roanoke women appear to be heavy favorites to win the team trophies, but several Bridgewater athletes should be in the hunt for individual titles.
The Bridgewater women could excel in the jumps. Kristen Trice ranks first in the ODAC in the high jump. In the triple jump, Trice is again ranked No. 1 just ahead of teammate Melanie Waters. In the long jump, less than four inches separates the top four jumpers with Green Brown ranked third and Waters fourth.
For the men, Luke Sohl enters the meet with the top times in both the mile and 5000 meters. The men’s distance medley relay also ranks No. 1 in the conference after setting a new ODAC record in the event earlier this season. Freshman jumper Pete Monteleone should be a factor in the long jump where his best effort of 21 feet, 11 ¾ inches ranks second, just one-half inch behind Virginia Wesleyan’s Ethan Fowlkes.
The Bridgewater riders won’t be competing for ODAC hardware this weekend, but they will be vying for the program’s third consecutive IHSA regional title.
The Eagles are currently third in the standings, but the top four teams enter the final weekend with a legitimate shot of the winning the region.
Randolph College leads the points race with 210 points, just three ahead of Sweet Briar. The Eagles are two more back at 208 while the University of Virginia is fourth with 205.
The riders will head to Roanoke on Saturday for the Hollins IHSA Show and will wrap the season up on Sunday morning at the U.Va. IHSA Show.
Bridgewater junior rider Taylor Rose is also in the mix for the top individual honor – the Cacchione Cup. The Cacchione Cup goes to the top open division rider in each region and each regional champion advances to complete for the national Cacchione Cup.
Entering the final weekend of competition, Rose is in third place with 57 points and trails the leader by just three points. Hollins’ Emma Lane Poole tops the standings with 60 points and Sweet Briar’s Olivia Smith is second with 58.
While the winter season is wrapping up, the spring sports teams are chomping at the bit, hoping for some warm weather this weekend.
Saturday will be a historic day on campus as Bridgewater sends a men’s lacrosse team into action for the first time. The Eagles will play the first game in program history when they entertain Transylvania at 1:00 p.m. Transylvania, like the Eagles, is fielding a team for the first time.
The Bridgewater baseball team will also open its home season this weekend with a doubleheader Saturday against Messiah and a twinbill Sunday with Juniata. Weather has played havoc with the Eagles schedule, twice wiping out a road trip to Apprentice School. Bridgewater has not played since its season-opening loss at Ferrum on Feb. 12.
The Eagles softball team also swings into action this weekend and Coach Donnie Fulk’s team will be tested right away at the 3N2 Invitational in Atlanta.
The Eagles will plays two games against host Emory and Mississippi College during the weekend event. Emory was ranked No. 23 in the 2013 NFCA Division III Preseason Top 25 and is off to an 8-0 start. The Mississippi College Choctaws, like the Eagles, will be opening their season in Atlanta.
Lastly, the men’s and women’s tennis teams open conference play Saturday when they travel to Lynchburg to play Randolph College
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