SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its September athletes of the month for football, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball Thursday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Chris Oladokun, Samford, Jr., QB
Samford quarterback Chris Oladokun threw for 609 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 192 yards and four more scores to lead the Bulldogs to three wins in as many September contests, two of which came over ranked teams. In Samford’s 21-14 win over No. 22 Wofford on Sept. 14, the junior from Tampa, Florida, was 17-for-25 for 230 yards and a TD and ran for 79 yards and another score en route to SoCon Offensive Player of the Week honors. Oladokun earned the award again the following week after throwing for 250 yards and three TDs and running for 95 yards and a touchdown in a 55-21 win over Alabama A&M before closing the month with 129 yards through the air and two rushing touchdowns in a 61-55, four-overtime win over No. 25 The Citadel, departing with injury in the third quarter. For the month, he averaged 267 yards of total offense per game and 5.1 yards per rush.
Others nominated: Brandon Rainey (The Citadel), Jacob Saylors (ETSU), Darren Grainger (Furman), David Durden (Mercer), Ailym Ford (Chattanooga), Alex Ramsey (VMI), Will Jones (Western Carolina) and Joe Newman (Wofford).
Willie Eubanks III, The Citadel, Jr., LB
Citadel linebacker Willie Eubanks III averaged 9.0 tackles per game, notched 4.0 tackles for loss, forced a fumble, recorded an interception and had three quarterback hurries and a pass breakup in four September games. In a 35-28 loss at Elon to open the month, Eubanks had a career-high 13 tackles and the three QB hurries. The following week, the junior from Augusta, Georgia, had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, in The Citadel’s 27-24, overtime win at FBS Georgia Tech, which moved the Bulldogs into the national rankings. Eubanks had nine tackles, including a sack and an additional tackle for loss, and an interception in a win over Charleston Southern before notching 11 tackles (10 solo), including a 14-yard sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup in a 61-55, four-overtime loss at Samford.
Others nominated: Artevius Smith (ETSU), Will Coneway (Mercer), John Staton (Samford), Ty Boeck (Chattanooga), Trevor Childers (Western Carolina) and Jireh Wilson (Wofford).
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Ryan Adams, Furman, Sr.
Furman senior Ryan Adams opened the month of September with a win at the Eye Opener Invitational in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Sept. 14. He led the Paladins to a perfect team score with a time of 24:53.8 in the 8k race. Adams finished sixth in his second race of the month, the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Eugene, Oregon, on Sept. 28. He clocked a time of 23:36.8 in the 8k race, which set a new career best.
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Hannah Steelman, Wofford, Jr.
Wofford junior Hannah Steelman placed third at the Panorama Farms Invitational in Earlysville, Virginia, in her lone race during the month of September. Steelman made the most of it, finishing the 6k race in a time of 20:26.8, the second-fastest in school history in the 6k. The Terriers finished 12th of 15 as a team in a field of regionally ranked opponents.
Jonathan Brightwell, UNCG, Sr.
UNC Greensboro senior Jonathan Brightwell posted a pair of top-five finishes in September, tying for fourth at the Badger Invitational on Sept. 8-10 and winning the Rod Myers Invitational on Sept. 14-15 and turning in an impressive 68.83 stroke average. The senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, was named the SoCon Golfer of the Week after both performances. All six of Brightwell’s rounds in the month were under par, starting with a 2-under 70 in the opening round of the Badger Invitational. He followed with a 4-under 68 and another 70 to cap an 8-under 208 before bettering that with an 11-under 205 at the Rod Myers Invitational, in which he posted two rounds in the 60s, sandwiching another 68 and a 5-under 67 around a second-round 70. Brightwell is currently the fifth-ranked NCAA Division I golfer in the Golfweek rankings.
Others nominated: Jack Rhea (ETSU), Reynolds Lambert (Furman), Tyler Copp (Mercer), Connor Nolan (Chattanooga) and Pierre Viallaneix (Western Carolina).
Natalie Srinivasan, Furman, Sr.
Furman senior women’s golfer Natalie Srinivasan paced the Paladins with a 70.67 stroke average over nine rounds in September. She finished tied for 16th the Cougar Classic in Hanahan, South Carolina, to open the season as the Paladins finished fifth as a team. Her next event was at the inaugural Glass City Invitational in Toledo, Ohio, where she shot a 5-under-par 211 to take the individual title. The Spartanburg, South Carolina, native opened with a 2-under 70 in each of the first two rounds and closed with a 1-under 71 to take the four-stroke victory. As a team, the Paladins finished sixth out of 13 teams, which featured four squads featured in the top 25 of last spring’s Golfstat rankings. Srinivasan once again shot a 5-under-par 211 for her second win of the season, this time at the Lady Paladin Invitational in Greenville, South Carolina. She carded a 1-over 73 and a 2-under 70 in the opening rounds before finishing strong with a 4-under 68 in the final round. The Paladins finished second in their own tournament, finishing behind top-ranked Wake Forest by just five strokes.
Others nominated: Tereza Melecka (ETSU), Tara Bettle (UNCG), Esme Hamilton (Chattanooga), Madison Isaacson (Western Carolina) and Becca Earl (Wofford).
Trevor Martineau, Mercer, So., F
Mercer sophomore forward Trevor Martineau found the back of the net five times during the month of September and dished out five assists for 15 points. His best performance of the month came on Sept. 6 against UAB, when the 6-4 forward set a single-game career high with five points on two goals and an assist. Martineau had a hand in all three goals in a 3-2, overtime win over USC Upstate, scoring once and assisting on the other two goals. The Montreal, Quebec, tallied at least one point in all but two of Mercer’s seven games, leading the Bears to a 5-2-0 record in September. Martineau currently leads the conference in points (21), goals (seven) and assists (seven).
Others nominated: Niccolo Dagnoni (Belmont), Hauk Andreas Fossen (ETSU), Conor Sloan (Furman) and Brandon Oddy (Wofford).
JR DeRose, Mercer, R-Jr., GK
Mercer redshirt junior goalkeeper JR DeRose played every minute in goal for the Bears in the month of September, turning in a 1.38 goals against average. The Peoria, Illinois, native proved tough to beat as he did not allow more than two goals in a single contest throughout the month. DeRose recorded 20 total saves as he picked up five wins, which included a shutout win over Memphis on Sept. 8. DeRose leads the league with a 1.19 goals against average and two shutouts this season.
Others nominated: Nicolo Dini (Belmont), Josh Perryman (ETSU), Cole McLagan (Furman), Broden Schull (VMI) and Shane Berson (Wofford).
Taylor Yount, Samford, Fr., F
Samford forward Taylor Yount scored seven goals and averaged 1.88 points per game in the month of September as the Bulldogs went 3-1-4 against a challenging schedule that included three Power 5 conference opponents. The freshman started off the month with a goal in a 2-2 tie against LSU on Sept. 1. She scored another goal four days later in a 3-0 win against Middle Tennessee before netting a hat trick in a 5-0 rout of Alabama State. Yount, a native of Boca Raton, Florida, added a goal and an assist in a 3-3 draw at Auburn. In Samford’s first game of conference play, a 1-1 draw against Furman, she scored the Bulldogs’ lone goal. Yount is tied for the SoCon lead in points (15), points per game (1.36), goals (seven) and goals per game (0.64).
Others nominated: Suzuka Yosue (The Citadel), Sarah Connolly (ETSU), Kyndal Anderson (Furman), Nicole Icen (Mercer), Gabi Santora (UNCG), Hollie Massey (Chattanooga), Regan Ward (Western Carolina) and Katie Gilligan (Wofford).
Erin O’Hearn, Furman, Sr., D
Furman defender Erin O’Hearn helped Furman to a 4-3-1 overall record and 1-0-1 SoCon mark during the month of September, also against a schedule that included three Power 5 opponents. The Savannah, Georgia, native was part of a backline that helped Furman tally four shutouts during the span. Offensively, she added a goal, a 30-yard strike on a free kick against Kennesaw State, and had assists in a 3-0 win over Elon, a 3-2 loss against Oregon and a 5-0 win over Presbyterian.
Others nominated: Maddi Sanogyi (The Citadel), Elena Pisani (ETSU), Jordyn Ebert (Mercer), Kayla Campbell (UNCG), Morgan McAslan (Samford), Ashton Shields (Chattanooga) and Melody Mezzina (Western Carolina).
Lauren Deaton, Samford, So., OH
Samford outside hitter Lauren Deaton had double-digit kills in all 11 of Samford’s matches in the month of September as the Bulldogs went 8-3 overall and 3-0 in Southern Conference play. The native of Memphis, Tennessee, and preseason all-conference selection had three matches of at least 20 kills, tallying 20 in 3-1 wins over both South Alabama and Tulsa and racking up a match-high 21 in the Bulldogs’ conference opener, a 3-1 win at Wofford, on Sept. 27. She also posted double-doubles in wins over UAB and Kennesaw State. Deaton started off the month by hitting .619 in a sweep of North Alabama. The sophomore averaged 4.12 kills on the month and has 199 kills on the season, a league best.
Others nominated: Kaela Massey (ETSU), Nicole Mack (Furman), Annie Karle (Mercer), Dani Szczepanski (Chattanooga), Abigail Veit (Western Carolina) and Catie Cronister (Wofford).
Meagan Sanchez, Western Carolina, Sr., LIB
Western Carolina libero Meagan Sanchez averaged 5.47 digs per set in the month of September as the Catamounts went 7-5 overall and 2-0 in SoCon play. A three-time SoCon Defensive Player of the Week in the month, the native of Bristow, Virginia, finished with 14-plus digs in every match, surpassed 20 on seven occasions and had a season-high 31 digs against NC State. She added 30 digs at Furman in the final game of the month and leads the conference in digs with 319, more than 100 more than any other league player.
Others nominated: Marija Popovic (ETSU), Andrea Aceveda (Furman), Emily Naubert (Samford), Megan Kaufman (Chattanooga) and Riley Coonan (Wofford).
Corinne Meglic, Samford, R-So.
Samford setter Corinne Meglic averaged an impressive 11.15 assists per set on the month, tallying at least 40 assists in eight of the team’s 11 matches in the span. She totaled a career-high 52 in the five-set win at Kennesaw State and then matched that output a day later against South Alabama. She had double-doubles in both conference wins, amassing 42 assists and 11 digs in a four-set win at Wofford and 44 assists and 10 digs in a 3-1 win at The Citadel the next day. Her 538 assists and 10.76 assists per set are both league bests.
Others nominated: Emily Arnold (ETSU), Katie Murphy (Furman), Malia Randolph (Mercer), Maddie Halsey (Chattanooga), Hannah Price (Western Carolina) and Lorissa King (Wofford).
Southern Conference September Athletes of the Month
Football – offense Chris Oladokun, Samford
Football – defense Willie Eubanks III, The Citadel
Men’s cross country Ryan Adams, Furman
Women’s cross country Hannah Steelman, Wofford
Men’s golf Jonathan Brightwell, UNCG
Women’s golf Natalie Srinivasan, Furman
Men’s soccer – offense Trevor Martineau, Mercer
Men’s soccer – defense JR DeRose, Mercer
Women’s soccer – offense Taylor Yount, Samford
Women’s soccer – defense Erin O’Hearn, Furman
Volleyball – offense Lauren Deaton, Samford
Volleyball – defense Meagan Sanchez, Western Carolina
Volleyball – setter Corinne Meglic, Samford