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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter/ Ben Rebne putts on the 16th green at The Honors Course during the final round of the 104th Tennessee State Amateur Championship on Aug. 9, 2019, in Ooltewah.

For the fourth year in a row, Dalton State College is represented among the five finalists for the Jack Nicklaus Award in the NAIA division. Ben Rebne, a senior during the Roadrunners' 2019-20 season, is a finalist for the second straight year for the award given to the nation's top college golfers, with one selected in each of the three NCAA divisions as well as the NAIA and the NJCAA. S.M. Lee won the award as a freshman and sophomore at Dalton State before turning professional in 2018. Rebne, a Heritage High School graduate from Ringgold, averaged 70.89 strokes per round this past season, when he was No. 3 in the final Golfstat NAIA ranking after winning four of six tournaments he entered, with another top-five finish and none outside of the top 10. Already this spring, Rebne has repeated as an All-American and the Southern States Athletic Conference player of the year in addition to other honors. The Nicklaus winners will be announced during the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament, set for July 13-19 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio — near where Jack Nicklaus was born and raised. Nicklaus, whose victory at the 1986 Masters was the last of his record 18 major championships, started the Memorial Tournament in 1976. The former Ohio State golfer maintains a keen interest in both that Buckeye State event and the award that bears his name, which is being presented this year despite much of college golf's spring schedule being wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. "I have a special place in my heart for this award, and it's always been a highlight for us at the Memorial Tournament when we have the opportunity to recognize these young men," Nicklaus said in the Golf Coaches Association of America's release announcing the finalists. "Like so many student-athletes around the world, these golfers have been stripped of competition, championships and other moments to create lasting memories. I am delighted to see that the GCAA and Golf.com have worked to keep this well-deserved honor moving forward."

 

Tennis

* Sewanee swept the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's awards for NCAA Division III's most improved senior for the 2019-20 season, with Jordan Brewer the men's winner and Ellie Czura the women's winner. As previously reported, each won the same award in the Atlantic South Region — with Brewer also the region's overall senior player of the year — and each was an All-American.

 

Running

* Five Lee University athletes garnered eight All-America honors for 2019-20 NCAA Division II indoor track and field, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association of America announced this past week. With this year's indoor national championships canceled due to the pandemic, All-America status was granted to all athletes on the start list for individual events and those accepted and declared for relay competition. The Lady Flames' honorees are seniors Charlee Boxall, Chloe Flora, Amber Littlejohn and sophomore Celine Ritter, with Flora and Ritter honored for the 3000-meter run and all four recognized for the distance medley relay. Flames senior Christian Noble was honored for the 3000- and 5000-meter runs, in which he was seeded first and second, respectively. Lee swept the Gulf South Conference indoor titles this year.

* The College Sports Information Directors of America's academic all-district honorees for 2019-20 in cross country/track and field include the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Abby Bateman, Jonathan Boyd and Nathan Watson in Division I, as well as Sewanee's Jack Barganier in D-III. The CoSIDA honors recognize both academic and athletic achievements, with the winners advancing to the Academic All-America ballot and cross country/track and field national honorees announced June 22-25. Bateman recently graduated summa cum laude with a degree in marketing — she had a 4.0 GPA — and is an all-district selection for the second year in a row. Boyd, from Ooltewah and a sophomore this past season, is majoring in electrical engineering and carries a 4.0 GPA. Watson is a recent magna cum laude grad with a degree in chemical engineering. Barganier is a recent summa cum laude grad with a degree in art history.

 

General

* The UTC athletic department is accepting volunteers for its Mocs Fan Council as it seeks to add six new members for two-year terms. The group, which was created by vice chancellor and athletic director Mark Wharton, is entering its third year and "exists to provide feedback and guidance" concerning the UTC fan experience and help improve the Mocs' relationships with supporters and the community overall, according to a school release. The council meets on weekdays. Applications are available at gomocs.com and must be submitted by June 21; for information, contact Andrew Horton, senior associate AD for external operations, at 423-425-5285 or Andrew-Horton@utc.edu.

* Lee University's Abby Bertram and Moises Ponce were finalists for the GSC Commissioner's Trophy awards this year, with Bertram making an additional cut as one of the top five in the running — from an initial dozen finalists — for the women's award. Ponce, who was a senior member of the cross country and track and field program in 2019-20, was one of 13 finalists for the men's award. Bertram, a senior point guard for the women's basketball team this past season, pushed Lee's streak of having a female finalist to four years and continued the school's streak of having either a male or female representative in the top 10 since 2016, its first year of eligibility. This year's winners were Clay Guillozet of the Valdosta State men's basketball team and Katie Taylor of the Mississippi College women's soccer team.

 

Soccer

* UTC women's soccer coach Gavin McKinney has released the Mocs' 2020 schedule, with a preseason exhibition on Aug. 15 against visiting Tennessee Tech followed by the opener against visiting Belmont on Aug. 21 and another home match against Alabama A&M two days later. Those contests — and all home dates currently scheduled for this season — will be held at the UTC Sports Complex and are free to attend. Other home matches are against nonconference foes Indiana State (Sept. 4) and Eastern Kentucky (Sept. 6), plus Southern Conference opponents Samford (Sept. 25), East Tennessee State (Oct. 2), Western Carolina (Oct. 4), The Citadel (Oct. 16) and Mercer (Oct. 18). Among the road highlights is an Aug. 28 visit to Knoxville for the program's first match against Tennessee since 2010.

* The Chattanooga Football Club Foundation's Operation Get Active has launched an online version of its soccer program to help keep youth active at home this summer. In addition to releasing videos each week, the program is giving away 512 soccer balls for those who need one, with 512 the average number of children the program would engage in a typical summer. Balls will be available at Chattanooga Department of Youth and Family Development sites (Carver, Cromwell, East Chattanooga, John A. Patton, Washington Hills and Westside) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, but parents can fill out a form at operationgetactive.org/oga-online to request delivery. A donation of $5 at opereationgetactive.com/donate will provide a soccer ball for a child in need.

 

Wrestling

* UTC's Fabian Gutierrez, Tanner Smith and Matthew Waddell made the recently released Flo Wrestling preseason rankings. Gutierrez, who will be a senior in the 2020-21 season, is No. 18 at 125 pounds, while Smith and Waddell — both will be juniors — are No. 21 at 149 and No. 13 at 149, respectively. All three were set to compete in the NCAA championship tournament this past season before the event was canceled in March due to the pandemic.

 

Football

* The UTC athletic department received a Gold Award in the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators 2019-20 "Best Of" honors, with UTC winning the "Fan Engagement Video" category for its Mockingbird Mashup hype video created by the MocsVision crew and featured on the Finley Stadium video board during the homecoming win against Western Carolina this past September. UTC won in the category for the second straight year and has won 18 NACMA "Best Of" awards since 2010, with nine of those "Gold" honors.

* UTC was among the nine teams receiving votes in the HeroSports.com Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 preseason poll for the 2020 season, which was released this past week. The Mocs went 6-6 last year in their first season with Rusty Wright as head coach, and they return 53 letter winners and 18 starters from that team. Their 2020 opener is set for Sept. 5 at Western Kentucky, with the home opener Sept. 19 against North Alabama.

Compiled by Marty Kirkland. Contact him at mkirkland@timesfreepress.com.

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