Three Brenau Teams Start 2014 ‘Realistically in the Hunt’ for National Championships.
The Tigers swim team, which finished last spring ranked No. 6 after the 2013-14 season-ending national meet, placed No. 4 in the nation in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics poll. The Brenau swimmers held that spot on the first regular season coaches’ poll published on Jan. 23.
Brenau’s Golden Tigers softball team opens its 2014 season at No. 17 national ranking Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll – something of a perennial showing the past few seasons for Coach Devon Thomas’s squad. The Brenau team finished last season ranked No. 20 with a 34-16 record. However, the Golden Tigers return 10 players from last year’s squad, including NAIA All-American selection and SSAC Freshman of the Year Liz Schneider of Smyrna, Ga., and All-Conference standout Jenny Shepherd of Martinez, Ga.
The Brenau tennis team, which actually holds the second-highest record in the nation for appearances in the top spot in the national polls, racked up a No. 6 spot in the 2014 preseason poll after finishing the 2013-14 campaign at No. 5 in the nation – just where the team started out in last year’s preseason poll. The Golden Tigers, who return five players from last year’s nationally ranked squad, open the season on Feb. 8 when they host NCAA Division II Clayton State University.
Last season those three teams attained Top 5 national rankings at the same time during the season after finishing 2012 ranked in the national Top 10 – softball No. 4, tennis No. 6 and swimming No. 8.
Competitive cheer, another spring sport, finished 2012 – its first year – at No. 2 in the nation and 2013 with a fifth-place finish following NCA Collegiate National Championships in April. Although the NAIA sanctions cheer for intercollegiate competition, it is still regarded as an emerging sport, and there isn’t a preseason coaches poll.
Brenau has two other spring sports: Track and field finished its first season with a decisive first-place finish in the Southern States Athletics Conference championship, but did not qualify for the national meet; consequently, that team is not ranked in the preseason. Golf, Brenau’s newest team, is in its first year and is projected to finish in the middle of the pack in the competitive SSAC with no national ranking.
Both the Golden Tigers tennis and softball teams were ranked No. 3 in the early 2013 NAIA polls.
“For a school with only 10 sports programs, this is some very impressive data,” said Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor. “Year in and year out, Brenau Golden Tigers teams go into the season realistically in the hunt for national championships.”