Area Sports Notes: Lee fall sports teams will have delayed start to practices, games

The Gulf South Conference recently voted to delay the start of fall semester sports competition amid the COVID-19 pandemic to either the last week of September or the first week of October, and that includes Lee University, which competes in men's and women's cross country, golf and soccer events as well as women's volleyball during the first half of the academic year. "The safety and welfare of our student-athletes, coaches and staff are our top priorities. With an uptick of COVID-19 and after reviewing recommendations from the NCAA Sport Science Institute, I believe this is the right decision by our conference," Lee athletic director Larry Carpenter said in a school release. "I commend our presidents for making this decision and look forward to resuming competition later in the fall." According to the release, "administrators from across the league will jointly work" on a new schedule, and in the case of football, soccer and volleyball, it will limit games to GSC competition. The start of practices will also be delayed for members of the GSC, an NCAA Division II conference. In related news, the NAIA's Appalachian Athletic Conference, which includes Bryan College in Dayton and Tennessee Wesleyan in Athens, announced last week that its 21 member schools in seven states around the Southeast intend to compete in all fall semester sports it typically sponsors: men's and women's cross country and soccer as well as women's volleyball. An AAC release noted a league task force has spent the past two months developing "COVID-19 guidelines and procedures" to prepare for the resumption of sports, with practices beginning no earlier than Aug. 15 and all forms of competition delayed until at least Sept. 5.


* The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's golf team added another note of recognition to an outstanding 2019-20 academic year by finishing tied for 22nd nationally among Division I programs and leading the Southern Conference with a combined GPA of 3.811, the Women's Golf Coaches Association announced last week. The University of New Mexico led all D-I programs at 3.965. Previously announced were UTC's Kirsty Beckwith and Esme Hamilton as WGCA All-America Scholars, adding to a year in which all eight Mocs on the roster made the athletic director's honor roll, the dean's list and the academic All-SoCon team. The Dalton State College women finished 10th nationally among NAIA programs with a team GPA of 3.509; the College of Saint Mary led at 3.795.

* The Golf Coaches Association of America recently revealed its Second Wave Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars, and the list included sophomore Leon Bader and junior A.J. Lintunen - a Baylor School graduate - from UTC in NCAA Division I, where the requirements include a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 and a stroke average of less than 76. Among the honorees in the NAIA, which has the same GPA requirement but permits a stroke average of less than 78, were Dalton State College's Sport Allmond and Ben Rebne, who were seniors this past season and are from Ringgold, where they were Heritage High School teammates. Also announced last week was that the Roadrunners as well as Division II's Lee Flames had achieved GCAA All-Academic Team status for 2019-20 as each had a team GPA of 3.0 or better. It was the ninth straight year the Flames - whose Scott Odell and Evan Spence were announced as Early Wave All-America Scholars in June - received the recognition.

* Chatsworth's Tori Owens finished fourth and Chickmauga's Macall Miller tied for 10th in the Georgia Women's Amateur Championship last week at the Landings Club in Savannah. Owens, a former Murray County High School standout who was a freshman on the Kennesaw State University team this past season, shot 72-75-74 at the Oakridge Course to finish at 5 over, one stroke behind Savannah's Mary Miller and two out of what turned out to be a grueling playoff between Lilburn's Thienna Huynh and Duluth's Sara Im, who won on the seventh hole. Miller, who played at Gordon Lee and was a freshman golfer at the University of Montevallo this past season, shot 77-78-76 to finish at 15 over.

* Dalton State College golfer Sydney Hermann, a freshman in the 2019-20 season, put together a nice summer highlight back home in Oklahoma last week, where she was the runner-up to University of Tulsa coach Annie Young at the Women's State Amateur Championship in Broken Arrow. Hermann lost 6 and 4 in the match play final at the Golf Club of Oklahoma after beating the coach's top player, Taylor Dobson, 1 up in the semifinals of the four-day tournament.


* Buddy Gross finished 35th this past weekend in the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the St. Lawrence River out of Clayton, New York, earning $10,000. That's a big dip from the $101,000 the professional angler from Chickmauga, Georgia, earned his last time out, but that trip to Alabama's Lake Eufaula in mid-June resulted in a victory for the series rookie in his second start. He did make it to Saturday's third round in New York and finished 35th in the event that started with 86 entrants, catching his limit of five fish each day and totaling 49 pounds, ounces, but that was after being 34th on Friday, when he had a haul of 14-1, and 18th on Thursday, when he started at 19-12. Chris Johnston became the first Canadian to win an Elite tournament Sunday, when he topped 20 pounds for the fourth straight day for a final tally of 97-08, winning by less than two pounds over Connecticut angler Paul Mueller.

Track and field

* For the third consecutive year, both Covenant College programs were recognized by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as All-Academic Team award winners, which requires a cumulative combined GPA of at least 3.10, and this year the Lookout Mountain school was the only USA South member honored. The women, with a GPA of 3.40, attained the status for the fourth year in a row; the men's GPA was 3.18 as they took their third straight honor. Coach Katie Sanford's teams each had six USAS all-academic picks this year.


* The American Volleyball Coaches Association's 1,315 programs across all levels of college that received a U.S. Marine Corps/AVCA Team Academic Award for 2019-20 - which requires a GPA of 3.30 or better on a 4.0 scale or 4.10 on a 5.0 scale - included Covenant, Lee, Sewanee and UTC. The Mocs were honored for the eighth consecutive year, the longest streak in the SoCon and among Division I teams in the state. It's the fifth time in Covenant's NCAA era and second year in a row it was recognized, and it's the third such honor for Sewanee.


*'s early preseason rankings for NCAA Division I include three UTC wrestlers: Matthew Waddell is No. 18 at 184 pounds, fellow junior Tanner Smith is 19th at 149 and senior Fabian Gutierrez is 25th at 125. All three were set to compete in the NCAA tournament this past season before that event was canceled because of the pandemic.


* Each of Sewanee's 24 varsity athletic programs posted a team GPA of 3.0 or better for the 2020 spring semester, with the top five produced by softball (3.627), women's lacrosse (3.583), women's track and field (3.548), equestrian (3.516) and men's cross country (3.513). In addition, 133 Tigers student-athletes made the dean's list with a GPA of 3.625 or better, with the baseball team leading the way with 13 honorees, one more than the women's lacrosse program.

Compiled by Marty Kirkland. Contact him at