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Pfeiffer Athletics names team MVPs

The Pfeiffer University athletics department has awarded Most Valuable Performer awards for the 2019-20 academic year.

The awards, are selected by the respective head coach of each sport and highlights the players who excelled in competition during the 2019-20 season that was unfortunately cut short due to the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak.

Men’s Soccer

Junior Caleb Bratager (Wake Forest, N.C.) earned the men’s soccer MVP after finishing the 2019 season with 24 points on a career-best 11 goals and two assists. Bratager continued his stellar career, notching double-figure points once again. His 11 goals led all Falcon players and tied him for sixth overall among USA South players.

For his performances during the fall season, he was tabbed to the USA South All-Conference Second Team.

Women’s Soccer

Junior Meredith Manson (Auburndale, Fla.) earned USA South All-Conference East Division honors in helping the Pfeiffer women’s soccer team to the first team USA South Division Championship in any sport, finishing the season with a 13-5 overall record and a 7-1 mark in league play.

Playing defense, Manson scored six goals on the season and added an assist.

She also earned a USA South Player of the Week award after securing the game-winning goal over Greensboro College on Oct. 23, clinching the USA South East Division Title.

Her best game of the season came on Oct. 12 when she scored a pair of goals in an 8-0 home win over Mary Baldwin

Manson also earned United Soccer Coaches Association All-South Region Scholar Athlete Second Team honors.

Volleyball

Emma Gray Beacham (Laurinburg, N.C.) led the Pfeiffer volleyball team with 3.43 digs per set in 2019. The junior played in 27 matches for the Falcons, helping the team to a 14-14 overall record, the best mark since 2009.

Beacham started the season at libero and finished the season as the primary setter for the Falcons. Defensively, her best outing came when she had 23 digs in a 3-0 road win at Methodist on Oct. 1. As a setter, she dished 45 assists against Greensboro on Oct. 19.

Men’s Cross Country

Dakota Freeman was the top men’s cross country runner for the 2019 season, as he finished as the lead Falcon in five of the six races in which he competed.

Freeman, a senior from Lexington, N.C., posted a career-best mark of 28:03 at the USA South Championships, finishing the 8k course in 36th place.

He also was placed on the USA South All-Sportsmanship Team.

Women’s Cross Country

Alyson Hanlon, a freshman from Summerfield, N.C., made her initial debut with the Falcon Cross Country team, finishing as the top Falcon runner in each race of the 2019 season.

Hanlon capped her season with a personal best in the USA South Championship, running a 6k time of 26:13.3, claiming 26th place and honorable mention All-USA South honors.

In the season-ending ECAC Championships, she clocked a 14th place finish of 27:30.9.

During the course of the season, she also captured the ECAC Division III South Region Rookie of the Month for September.

Women’s Swimming

Tiffany Bartholomew (Raleigh, N.C.) became Pfeiffer’s very first SunCoast Conference individual event champion with a school-record time in the 100-yard breaststroke, with a 1:09.63.

Bartholomew was the high point-scorer for Pfeiffer at the 2020 Sun Coast Championships and ended the 2019-20 season with individual Event school records in the 50-yard, 100-yard & 200-yard freestyle events, the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events, the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard individual medley.

Bartholomew was also a member of all five relay teams, which claimed new school records in each event over the course of the season.

Men’s Basketball

Junior captain Jamaal David (Clinton, Md.) became a major impact player for the Falcons men’s basketball team immediately upon his arrival in The Village. This past season, David averaged 17.1 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game, both team high’s. He shot 39% from the field and 77% from the free throw line. His 17.1 points per game output placed him sixth in the conference ranks for the season.

He scored in double figures in 19 games and had 20 or more points on nine occasions. His best outing came on Jan. 7 against Averitt. He tagged the Cougars for 37 points. He was 7-of-12 from the field and hit three from long range. He nearly put himself in the Pfeiffer record books, as he hit his first 20 free throw attempts, ultimately finishing 20-of-23 from the line.

He would go on to earn All-USA South Second Team honors and was also named the USA South Player of the Week twice during the regular season.

Women’s Basketball

Junior Brina Bentley (Chester, Va.) led Pfeiffer in scoring at 15.0 points per game. She started all 25 games for the Falcons and finished with a 37% shooting percentage and was efficient from beyond the arc in shooting 32.5%. She also was a 69% free throw shooter.

She also secured three double-doubles on the season.

Her best game came when she scored 32 points in a 79-77 home win over Methodist on Feb. 8. Against the Monarchs, she finished 11-of-19 from the field and hit three three-pointers.

She won two USA South Player of the Week honors during the regular season and following the season, was also selected to the USA South East Division Second Team.

Men’s Tennis

Senior Raul Ruiz (Beni, Bolivia) completed a shortened senior season with a 9-3 singles record while playing in the No. 1 position. He also returned a 9-3 doubles record, also in the No. 1 slot.

He secured wins over Belmont Abbey’s Logan Hull, who was a first team all-conference selection, in both singles and double competition.

During the course of the season, he was tabbed the USA South Player of the Week on March 9 and along with teammate Dylan Masters (Mooresville, N.C.), earned USA South Doubles Team of the Week, also on March 9.

Women’s Tennis

Anna Branson (Greensboro, N.C.) finished the 2019-20 season with a 3-5 overall record in singles matches. She captured a win over Carolina Connelly, an all-conference player from Belmont Abbey. She also defeated all-conference foe Esther Eddy, also from Belmont Abbey.

Men’s Golf

Alex Picken (Derbyshire, England) posted a low-round of 76 at the Pfeiffer Invitational in Hardeeville, S.C. on March 2, 2020. “His dedication to not only his sport but to his academic interests and to the leadership of his team was second to none,” said head coach David Gianferante. “He is the gold standard for the type of student-athlete that we want to be part of our program,” he said.

Women’s Golf

Karie Grace Shields (Albemarle, N.C.) finished the season with a 95.5 average and placed 15th in the Randolph-Macon Invitational in September 2019 by shooting a two-day total of 182.

In addition to the time spent as a part of the Pfeiffer golf program, she was crowned Miss Stanly County during the season and with that has performed numerous community service initiatives as part of her title.

Coach David Gianferante said, “She has shown a level of dedication to our program over her career here at Pfeiffer and has successfully managed her golf career, her academic career and her community leadership in an exemplary manner.”

Men’s Track & Field

Tasker Brown had a strong start in his first year as a member of the Pfeiffer track & field program, as he tied the school record in the indoor 400m. Brown’s time of 50.60 tied the previous school record that was set on the same track two seasons before.

He also managed nine top-10 finishes in his inaugural season including a sixth-place finish at the ECAC Indoor Championships where he tied the school record.

Women’s Track & Field

Tiffany Bartholomew (Raleigh, N.C.) continued to break school records for the women’s track team. She was the only member of the women’s team to qualify for the ECAC Championships where she finished fifth, breaking her own school record in the pentathlon and the long jump.

She also saw personal bests in the 60m hurdles and indoor long jump during the event, while she totaled 2,351 points over the five events of the pentathlon.

Men’s Lacrosse

Senior Jared Nelson (Vestal, N.Y.) was the NCAA Division III leader in points (48), points per game (8.0), assists (34) and assists per game (5.67) up until the season was abruptly cancelled.

Nelson stands atop the Pfeiffer career lists in points and assists among several other offensive categories.

He was tabbed the USA South Player of the Week on Feb. 24.

Women’s Lacrosse

Senior Meagan Bourque (Seabrook, Tex.) completed her Pfeiffer career near the top of several categories including career goals (136), career points (189), career assists (53) and career draw controls (98).

When the season ended, Bourque had tallied 10 goal and six assists. She also had posted 25 draw control wins and scooped up nine ground balls.

Softball

Caiti Mickles (Boonville, N.C.) helped the Pfeiffer softball team to a 16-1 record before the season was cut short. She recorded a 5-0 pitching record while throwing 33.0 innings, which included a pair of complete games. She had 15 strikeouts and posted an ERA of 2.12 on the season while only walking five batters.

Offensively, she was hitting .444 and had a slugging percentage of .756. She had 20 hits in 45 at bats and legged out six doubles, had one triple and two home runs while driving in 12 RBI.

Cheerleading

Madison Moose (Albemarle, N.C.) was selected as the MVP due to her continued dedication to the Pfeiffer cheerleading program. She has been a member of the Falcon cheerleading team since 2016 and captain since 2018. She also has served as an assistant coach for the West Stanly Youth League Cheer Team and has also been a coach for Albemarle Youth League Cheer Team. She has been awarded “MVP for Cheer & Dance” for both 2018 and 2019.

In 2017, Madison became a founding member of Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Eta Psi chapter at Pfeiffer. During her time in the organization, she has served as both Vice President of Membership & Vice President of Events and Ceremonies.

Baseball

Due to the brevity of the season, no team MVP was selected.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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