Apply to be a part of the 2013-2014 editorial staff! Visit mercercluster.com/apply to apply for an editor position.
Applications are due Friday, May 3 by 10 p.m.
Apply to be a part of the 2013-2014 editorial staff! Visit mercercluster.com/apply to apply for an editor position.
Applications are due Friday, May 3 by 10 p.m.
The Mercer Univerity Athletics Department announced its 2012-13 Outstanding Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year at its third annual Big Bear Event held at Hawkins Arena on Saturday April 20.
Seniors Will Betts and Kacie Niemann picked up the honors after four impressive years at Mercer University filled with outstanding achievements both on and off the field. Betts will be graduating this May from the men’s soccer team and Niemann recently finished up her running career on the women’s cross country team.
“It was really unexpected,” said Betts. “I’m extremely honored and humbled to have the opportunity to bring recognition to the men’s soccer program and the strides that the team has made throughout my four years here.”
Both Betts and Niemann have had impressive careers in their respective sports.
Betts finished his Mercer career with 77 games played and tied for the fifth-most games started in A-Sun Conference history, with 74. The Brenham, Texas native had 33 career points on 12 goals and nine assists, including a stellar 2012 senior campaign where he amassed 11 points on four goals and three assists.
Niemann will go down as one of, if not the best, women’s cross country runners in Mercer history. She holds seven of the top times ever run by women’s runners in the Bears’ record book and is now a two-time Academic All-Conference selection. Niemann also picked up All-Conference honors for the third time in her career with a top 14 finish in the conference championship race this past fall. Niemann wrapped up her A-Sun career with a personal best of 17:47.3 and finished 8th overall in the conference championship.
Both Betts and Niemann have also had impressive careers as students at Mercer.
This isn’t the first major honor for Betts, who has a 3.98 cumulative GPA as a finance major. The Brenham, Texas native was named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-American first team, the 2012 NSCAA Scholar All-South Region first team and was voted the Atlantic Sun Conference Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2011 and 2012. This past season Niemann was also twice named Atlantic Sun Runner of the Week for her performances in the Bears’ fall schedule.
Niemann carries a 3.97 overall GPA as a double major in Spanish and Pre-Physician’s Assistant.
“It came as quite a surprise,” explained Niemann. “We have so many talented athletes at Mercer, but I am honored by the recognition. Coach Bailey took a chance on adding me to the team because I had only been a mediocre high school runner, but with God’s grace I have been able to significantly improve over the last four years. I still have terrible running form, asthma and a predisposition to stress fracture, so I can really only attribute my running success to God because it does not biologically make sense for me to be able to run well.” Niemann said.
“I have to give credit to coach Bailey’s instruction, my wonderful team, and the tough love of my fiance and fellow captain Jacob Law for giving me the tenacity to endure the pain of 3.1 miles over and over in a Mercer uniform. I am proud to bring what honor I could to an already great university.” Neimann said.
After yet another successful week between the lines, the Mercer baseball team completed its season-long rise to the top of the charts to the No. 1 ranking in the most recent College Baseball Daily Top-25 Mid-Major Poll released earlier this week.
Mercer (32-11, 12-6 A-Sun) started the week off by collecting a solid 5-3 mid-week road win over Georgia Southern before continuing its recent surge in league play by taking two-of-three from Lipscomb at home this past weekend.
Against Georgia Southern, Chesny Young and Sasha Lagarde led the way for the Bears on the strength of a homerun and two RBIs a piece.
The series against Lipscomb started well for the Bears as the team took game one by a score of 7-4. Chesny Young went a perfect 3-for-3 hitting on the day earning two RBIs. On the strength of one homerun and two hits, Nick Backlund batted in four runners during the contest.
The Bears continued their winning ways in game two of the series defeating the Bison 5-2. Michael Massi, Sasha Lagarde, Logan Gaines and David Reid-Foley all contributed an RBI in the winning effort. Brandon Barker earned the win on the strength of six innings of work that included nine strikeouts.
The final game of the series was not so lucky for the Bears as they fell 8-4 to Lipscomb. Nick Backlund, David Reid-Foley and Logan Gaines each contributed an RBI in the loss.
The Orange and Black started the season ranked 25th in the poll and has been steadily moving up all season long leading up to its No. 1 ranking this week, just slightly beating out Big East power Louisville for tops in the nation.
The Bears are one of three Atlantic Sun Conference teams in the CBD Mid-Major poll, joining No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast and North Florida who is currently in the receiving votes section.
Mercer has one day off before its back on the road in Tallahassee for a mid-week contest against Florida A&M on April 23. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Moore-Kittles Field.
Reimers finishes ninth overall in the conference
The Mercer men’s golf team finished off the season with a fifth place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.
On day one of the tournament, Junior James Beale booked a 75 (+3) in to lead the Bears to a tie for fifth place on the team leaderboard. Mercer’s first day total of 308 at The Legends Course of Chateau Elan positioned the team seven strokes behind Jacksonville and East Tennessee State for third place and 19 strokes off North Florida’s tournament leading pace.
Head coach Steve Bradley explained the rough conditions throughout the turf.
“It’s not an easy golf course,” Mercer head coach Steve Bradley said. “Firm greens combined with winds and cooler temperatures made the course play longer today. We got off to a rough start and righted the ship in the middle, but we played our last two holes eight over par which is disappointing,”Bradley said.
The second day saw the Bears drop to sixth place in the tournament after they slipped to sixth place in the second round of the Atlantic Sun Championship. Individually, Hans Reimers posted a 73 (+1) to jump into a tie for eighth place.
Again, the conditions were far from ideal for the Bears.
“Obviously it was a tough day condition-wise, and a tough day for the Mercer Bears,” Mercer head coach Steve Bradley said. “We had some swings that really cost us, but they didn’t quit. We’ve got another day tomorrow, so we hope we can put this behind us and try to move up.”
In the final round of the Atlantic Sun Championship, junior Hans Reimers tied for ninth place at the Atlantic Sun Championship while leading the Mercer men’s golf team to a fifth place finish.
North Florida (881) shot 291 on the final day of competition to fend off East Tennessee State (895) and Kennesaw State (897) for its second-consecutive title. The Ospreys’ final round total capped a dominating performance that saw the team place three players in the top-five individuals, highlighted by sophomore MJ Maguire’s individual medalist performance.
Mercer’s final round 298 was the team’s low round of the event, fueled by an even-par 72 from junior James Beale. The effort pushed his tournament total to 228 and tied him for 13th place individually.
Reimers’ used 77 strokes on Tuesday and completed his tournament with a score of 226. The effort marked his fourth top-10 finish in his last five events. Sophomore Trey Rule and freshman Jeffrey Heinicka both tied for 21st place with 56-hole scores of 232. Senior John Gregory Joseph rounded out Mercer’s competitors with a final round 82 to place 46th at 244.
The men’s golf team graduates two seniors in John Gregory Joseph and Thomas Holmes.
Left battling for one of six spots in A-Sun Tournament
In a disappointing weekend at home on Sikes Field, the Mercer softball team fell to Lipscomb in three straight match-ups, 8-0, 10-6 and 3-1, damaging the Bears’ postseason chances.
On Saturday, Junior Randi Rea and freshman Natalie Shiver each had a pair of RBI in the second game while on Sunday, senior Sara Santana registered the lone RBI, bringing junior McKenzie Woody to home from third.
While senior Kerri Nidiffer pitched a scoreless first two innings, the Lady Bison did as well as Mercer was unable to get a run off of Lipscomb pitcher, Heather Parker.
In the top of the third, the Bison struck with the first run of the game, and then again in the fifth off of a grand slam, giving Lipscomb a five run lead. Another Bison RBI extended their lead to six going into the sixth inning.
The Lady Bison registered two more runs while the Black and Orange were unable to make it to home plate one time in the contest.
In game two, Rea lifted a two-RBI base hit to center field in the first inning. Sophomore Rachel Hugghins also registered an RBI, giving the Bears a 3-0 lead.
Junior pitcher Julia Rice cruised through the first five innings holding Mercer’s lead at 3-0 until Lipscomb put up eight runs at the top of the sixth.
In the seventh, the Bears continued to struggle to hold the Lady Bison, allowing them two more runs.
Mercer finally got a rally going as Santana stroked a triple to right field, followed by junior Krista Kennedy with an RBI single. Two batters later, Shiver delivered a two-out, two-RBI double to right field to cut the deficit to four.
Sophomore Molly Garmany was unable to keep the Bears in the game and batted out, giving Lipscomb the win.
On Sunday, the Bears watched a one-run lead slip away on Senior Day as Mercer eventually fell in the series finale against Lipscomb.
Three seniors were honored prior the game. Nidiffer, Santana and Kelly Redlinger all played in their final regular season Atlantic Sun home game.
In the first inning, Santana gave the Bears the early lead. She connected with a sacrifice fly bringing Woody into home.
Nidiffer pitched a strong four innings until Lipscomb was able to connect with a pitch. Lady Bison’s Paige Neely continued her hot bat in the series with an RBI single up the middle to score the tying run.
Despite her best efforts, Nidiffer could not hold Lipscomb in the sixth, allowing two more runs. The Lady Bison utilized a timely triple down the left field line off the bat of Bree Thurman to plate the go-ahead run a batter later when Brittany Elmore drove in Thurman with an RBI single. Lipscomb scored the third and final run off a well-executed double steal.
Junior McKenzie Woody accounted for three of the Bears’ four hits in the game as she finished going 3-for-4 at the dish.
Mercer alongside Jacksonville and Stetson are all separated by just one game for the sixth and final spot heading into the final weekend of regular season play.
Mercer finishes out its non-conference and home portion of its schedule this Wednesday as Savannah State heads to Sikes Field for a game beginning at 3 p.m.
In their arguably most impressive performance this season, the Mercer men’s lacrosse team ended their five-game losing streak with a 16-8 dominating win over Virginia Military Institute on Sunday, April 14 in Lexington, Va. Junior Zack Ward and freshman Chris Baxa each had five points in the victory.
After Baxa opened the afternoon’s scoring at the 7:08 juncture of the first quarter, the Bears continued to hold the lead for the rest of the contest. Junior Keoni Rausch and Ward each added a goal in the first quarter to give the Black and Orange a 3-1 lead in the opening 15 minutes.
The Bears proceeded to run an explosive offense in the second quarter, finding the goal six more times on 17 shots to take a commanding lead at halftime, 9-2.
To open up the second half, the Keydets began to fight back with three-straight goals, but the Bears responded with three straight goals in the final 5:25 of the third quarter to withstand the comeback.
With a score of 12-6 going into the fourth quarter, the Bears continued to press offensively to secure the win. Mercer put up four more goals while holding VMI to only two.
Baxa’s four goals pushed his season total to 31 and established a new program single-season record. His 31 goals surpassed the previous standard of 27, held by current junior Cole Branch in 2011.
Ward also registered four goals and an assist on Sunday, marking his second-straight game with five points. As a team, the Bears’ 27 points, 16 goals, 11 assists, 53 shots and 30 shots on goal are all season highs.
Juniors Harry Baker and Cole Branch each registered two goals in the win while junior John Avent and sophomore Tyler Schott each tallied one.
Freshman goalie Mike Nugent made 14 saves to capture his fourth win of the season.
The Bears will conclude their season at home against Jacksonville on April 27. Game time at the Moye Lacrosse Complex is scheduled for 1 p.m.
On Saturday, May 11, former men’s soccer player Will Betts will be graduating from the Stetson School of Business and Economics with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, but that is not all he will be taking away from Mercer.
Successful would be an understatement in describing Betts’ career as a student-athlete at Mercer. Not only has Betts appeared in every game since his freshman year, he also contributed to the team with four goals in the 2012 season, making him the second leading scorer for the Bears. This is something that not many collegiate athletes achieve, and those are only a few of his accomplishments.
Just recently, Betts was announced as “Student-Athlete of the Year,” an award given by Mercer’s athletic director based on performance in the classroom and athletic competition, along with overall work ethic, attitude and character.
To continue his long list of accomplishments, Betts was also named to the 2012 Academic All-American Team and the 2012 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-South Region squad. With an overall 3.98 cumulative GPA, the Brenham, Texas native has proven to be one of the most diligent students at the university, but he explains that the lessons he learned while being at Mercer are far greater than anything that he was taught in the classroom.
“I will always remember the greatness that can be accomplished through chemistry and teamwork. I have learned to cherish the friendships and bonds that can be formed from working together toward a common goal,” said Betts.
Betts said that these friendships and bonds that he created on the field with his teammates are something that he’s going to miss once he leaves Mercer, along with the competition in practice, but especially in games.
“Competing to represent this great university that has meant so much to me with my best friends has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” said Betts.
Although he will always have the fond the memories of being a college athlete, Betts admits that there are many parts about being a student-athlete that he is looking forward to getting away from. After always being on a set schedule formed by his classes and soccer coach, Betts said that he is ready to work on his own time, especially if it allows him more time to play video games with his roommates.
“As nerdy as it sounds, I love video games. My roommates and I spend countless hours playing Call of Duty, Tiger Woods and NHL,” said Betts.
Upon graduation, Betts plans on continuing his studies at graduate school to earn a Juris Doctorate along with a Masters of Business Administration. He is still unsure of which school he will be attending, but Duke, University of Georgia and Southern Methodist University are what he’s narrowed his decision down to.
Betts hopes to one day be a successful lawyer, but no matter what success he has in his professional career, soccer will always play a huge role in his life.
“I will always be involved with soccer. From intramurals in graduate school to playing in adult leagues and coaching my children, it will always be a passion that I will carry with me.”
On a Thursday afternoon, sand volleyball player, Hannah Noon, sat down in Bear Necessities to study for her pre-calculus with a calm ease that carries over into the sand court.
The freshman athlete and her partner recently qualified as one of the top five on the team, “There are seven teams of two people and only the top five that play actually count to go on the record,” said Noon.
The busiest day of the week for Noon is Monday. She wakes up at 8:00 a.m. and eats breakfast, which usually consists of a granola bar.
After eating breakfast, Noon goes to the sand court for volleyball practice at 9:00 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. As the setter for the sand volleyball team, Noon does a lot of setting reps for the hitters.
The team is given a twenty minute resting period before heading to the gym to lift weights from 10:00 to 10:45 a.m.
Despite the heavy arm workouts, Noon has grown accustomed to the rigorous training workouts and says that she rarely gets tired.
Once morning workouts are finished, the athlete takes a shower and heads out to the cafeteria for lunch at 11:30 p.m.
The first class of the day is Noon’s Introduction to ethics class at 12 p.m. Immediately following her Introduction to ethics class, Noon walks over to her 1 p.m. pre-calculus class.
Noon’s next class starts at 2 p.m. and is her Intro to computing class which ends at 3 p.m. The intro to computing class and math class are one of Noon’s core courses for her business major.
Although Noon plans on majoring in business, but she says she is uncertain about what she would exactly want to do with her degree.
Out of all her business classes, Macro Economics is her most difficult course. “Some of the stuff is just really confusing and you have to go over it multiple times and sometimes you can get it mixed up with different concepts,” said Noon.
The business major looks forward to taking more business classes, “ Next semester we’ll take a lot of the core classes so accounting, management, and marketing, but I really like marketing right now,” said Noon.
After an hour break, Noon goes to the sand volleyball courts again for sand practice for one hour.
Although it appears that Noon is bobbing from class to workouts more than a volleyball is hit over a net, she said it’s not too difficult balancing a sport with schoolwork, “It’s actually not that hard, but you’re up late a lot of nights just because you have that practice time and are missing out on being able to do schoolwork,” said Noon.
For dinner Noon grabs a salad or some chicken from the grill. If none of those options are available, Noon will settle for a sandwich or cereal.
Noon usually washes down her meal with some blue Powerade. “Definitely have to have some blue Powerade because after three workouts in a day the Powerade is delicious,” said Noon.
The next stop for the volleyball player is the Academic Resource Center, which is where the athlete catches up on homework.
For Noon, the ARC is a great place to do homework, “I love the ARC it’s really quiet and there are a lot of tutors especially to help me with my math and to go over my papers.”
After studying, the athlete heads over to her room to study for an hour or reads the Bible. She typically goes to bed at around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.
Noon is also involved in Fellowship of Christian athletes, which helps her with her faith, “Sometimes we’ll wake up a little earlier before practice and do devotional and get in the word and pray and remember that we are playing for God and he gave you these talented gifts and you have to use them to glorify him.”
The fifth seeded Mercer sand volleyball team was eliminated from the Atlantic Sun Tournament on Saturday after dropping 3-2 decisions to No. 4 Florida Gulf Coast and No. 3 Jacksonville at the Dolphin Beach Volleyball Courts.
Mercer (0-17) saw its season conclude while FGCU (5-9) and Jacksonville (6-16) moved on to Sunday’s play, where they will face each other at 11 a.m.
In the fifth flight against FGCU, Charlayna Braxton and Erin Brett pushed Jill Hopper and Gigi Meyer to a deciding third set before ultimately falling 2-1 (14-21, 21-7, 15-10). The Bears rebounded to take wins in the No. 3 and 4 flights as Madison Petsos and Molly Locke claimed a 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 15-13) victory over Liga Strautniece and Christine Pinder and Emily Rochefort and Caroline Carlton topped Olivia Mesner and Lindsey Childs 2-0 (21-15, 21-12).
The Eagles claimed a 2-0 (23-21, 21-17) win in the No. 2 flight, setting the stage for a deciding match between Mercer’s No. 1 pairing of Jamie Duffy and Jennifer Katona and FGCU’s Brooke Kohler and Brittany Muse. After the teams split the opening sets, Kohler and Muse captured a 15-8 win in the deciding frame.
Against Jacksonville, Mercer picked up wins in the No. 3 and No. 4 spots again, but the Dolphins prevailed by capturing straight-set victories in the No. 5, 4 and 1 spots. Petsos and Locke teamed for a 2-0 (21-9, 21-11) victory in the fourth flight while Rochefort and Carlton rolled to a 2-0 (22-20, 21-17) win in the third flight.
Despite a disappointing season, two Bears were recognized for their accomplishments. Junior Erin Brett and freshman Molly Locke among the honorees. Brett earned an All-Academic team selection while Locke picked up All-Freshman team honors.
Brett landed a spot on the 10-member Academic All-Conference team, consisting of nominees who maintained at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA, had matriculated one year at their institution and participated in at least 50% of their team’s matches.
This spring, Brett has blossomed into one of the team’s most consistent players, teaming with classmate Carly Iannarino to post a 2-1 record in A-Sun play at the No. 5 pairing. In the classroom, Brett boasts a 3.86 GPA in Environmental Engineering.
Locke played alongside seniors Jenn Katona and Madison Petsos in the No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 pairings this season. She notched a pair of wins, including a league triumph over Florida Gulf Coast’s No. 4 pairing of Liga Strautniece and Christine Pinder on March 30.
Locke’s selection is her second conference accolade of the academic year after also picking up All-Freshman honors following the indoor volleyball season.
Mercer junior attackman Zack Ward had an impressive game on Saturday, netting four goals on six shots as the men’s lacrosse team dropped a 15-9 decision to Air Force at the Moye Lacrosse Complex.
A week before the Air Force match-up, the Bears dropped another close one to first-year program High Point University. Freshman goalie Mike Nugent tied a program single-game record with 18 saves, but his efforts weren’t enough to stop HPU from earning a 12-10 comeback win over Mercer on Saturday, March 31.
Sophomore midfielder Timmy Geran got the Bears off to a quick start, netting a pair of goals in the opening 5:13 of play to help Mercer take an early 2-0 advantage.
Shortly after a High Point goal, freshman attackman Chris Baxa found the back of the net off of an assist from junior Cole Branch, giving Mercer the lead 3-1.
In the second quarter, the Bears put three straight on the board. The Panthers responded by going on a 6-1 run, putting High Point up 8-7. Mercer responded, however, with a goal from Branch and freshman Clay Rivers with 11:07 remaining in the third quarter. Rivers’ goal marked his first goal of his collegiate career.
At the start of the final quarter, the teams were deadlocked at 10-10. High Point put two more on the board to make the score 12-10 with 5:45 remaining in the game. Mercer posted three more shots before the final whistle, but couldn’t convert any of the attempts.
Mercer’s most recent game against Air Force was Mercer’s fifth-straight loss and dropped the team to 3-7 on the season.
“The game was a tough loss for us as a team. We made some fundamental mistakes that might have cost us the game, but we know the mistakes that we made are fixable,” said Ward.
Air Force started the game off with the first four goals. It wasn’t until the 8:17 juncture of the second quarter that Ward registered his first goal. Less than two minutes later, Ward added another one to the board.
Baxa found the net with 2:20 to go before halftime to cut the Bears’ deficit to two, 5-3.
With 5:47 left to play in the third quarter, Air Force took the lead 10-4 after posting five of the game’s next six goals.
The teams played an even 5-5 mark before the game’s final whistle.
Despite the loss, several Bears stood out with exceptional play in the competition. Ward finished the afternoon with five points from four goals and one assist while Baxa netted two goals and Branch had one goal and one assist himself.
Nugent posted an impressive 16 saves in the losing effort.
“We are going to work hard on improving our game for the next three weeks in practice,” said Ward. “The final step is to finish the season off with two wins.”
The Bears return to action in their final road game of the regular season at VMI on April 14. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m.