SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its October athletes of the month for football, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, rifle, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball Friday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Joe Newman, Wofford, Sr., QB
Wofford quarterback Joe Newman led the Terriers to a 3-0 record in October, running for 355 yards and nine touchdowns and throwing for 345 yards and two scores. Newman averaged 233.3 yards of total offense per game and 7.7 yards per carry. Against ETSU to open the month, Newman ran for 185 yards and four TDs, all of which came in the first half of a 35-17 win. The Riverdale, Georgia, senior followed that up with 104 yards and two scores on the ground and a season-high 162 yards and two TDs through the air in just three quarters of action in a 59-7 win over Western Carolina on Oct. 19, earning SoCon Offensive Player of the Week honors. Newman repeated the following week after leading Wofford past Chattanooga, 35-34, with three rushing touchdowns, the last of which came on the first play from scrimmage in overtime. Newman ran for 66 yards and threw for 134 in the contest.
Others nominated: Brandon Rainey (The Citadel), Quay Holmes (ETSU), Devin Wynn (Furman), Deondre Johnson (Mercer), Chris Oladokun (Samford), Ailym Ford (Chattanooga), Alex Ramsey (VMI) and Tyrie Adams (Western Carolina).
Marquise Blount, The Citadel, So., LB
Citadel linebacker Marquise Blount was a two-time SoCon Defensive Player of the Week in October. In three contests, Blount totaled 21 tackles, 6.0 of which went for loss, and recorded 3.5 sacks for 34 lost yards. He also forced a fumble. The sophomore from Charlotte, North Carolina, had six tackles in a 34-21 loss to VMI on Oct. 5, with 2.5 of them going for 16 lost yards, including a 12-yard sack. Blount followed that up with nine tackles in a 35-17 win over Western Carolina the following week, notching 1.5 sacks and 2.0 TFLs en route to player of the week honors. Blount repeated as the league’s defensive selection the following week after helping The Citadel to a 27-10 win over then-No. 8 Furman. In that contest, he recorded six tackles, 1.5 of which went for a loss, including a 13-yard strip sack that led to a Bulldog touchdown.
Others nominated: Artevius Smith (ETSU), Eric Jackson (Mercer), John Staton (Samford), Marshall Cooper (Chattanooga), Ty Harris (Western Carolina) and Jireh Wilson (Wofford).
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Ryan Adams, Furman, Sr.
Furman senior Ryan Adams finished 11th at the Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, in his lone race of the month. The senior from Hudson, Ohio, was named the men’s cross country runner of the month after posting a time of 23:50.0 in the 8K race. Adams led the Furman men to 19th in a field loaded with talented teams, with the Paladins finishing ahead of nationally ranked opponents in Syracuse and Eastern Kentucky. Adams was named the men’s cross country runner of the month for September and holds the top 8K time of 23:36.8 heading into the SoCon Cross Country Championships on Nov. 2.
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Hannah Steelman, Wofford, Jr.
Wofford junior Hannah Steelman finished first overall out of 541 runners in the women’s 5K race at the Royals Cross Country Challenge with a SoCon-leading time of 16:48.3. Her win was her second at the race, as she also took home the individual crown last season and earned her the honor of being named the women’s cross country runner of the week on Oct. 16. Steelman’s win was her second top-three performance of the year after taking third at the Virginia Invitational on Sept. 27. She was also named the women’s cross country runner of the month in September.
Jack Rhea, ETSU, Jr.
ETSU junior Jack Rhea turned in a 69.78 stroke average and three top-15 finishes in October. The Jonesborough, Tennessee, native earned his first collegiate victory at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate in his hometown on Oct. 11-13, carding a career-best 9-under-par 63 in the second round to match the tournament record en route to a 15-under 201, which helped the Bucs to a second-place team finish and earned him SoCon Golfer of the Week honors. Rhea claimed the award again the following week after tying for 15th at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate, where he shot a 1-over 217. Rhea capped his month by tying for ninth at the Hoakalei CC Collegiate Invitational in Hawaii, jumping 31 spots on the final day with a 7-under 65 to finish at 6-under 210 and help ETSU to the team win.
Others nominated: Reynolds Lambert (Furman), Jonathan Brightwell (UNC Greensboro), Will Porter (Chattanooga) and Pierre Viallaneix (Western Carolina).
Tereza Melecka, ETSU, Jr.
ETSU junior women’s golfer Tereza Melecka posted a pair of top-25 finishes in October, tying for 23rd at the Palmetto Intercollegiate on Oct. 13-15 before capping off the month by earning co-medalist honors at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown on Oct. 27-29. The Belcovice, Czech Republic, native was named the SoCon Golfer of the Week for her showing in Las Vegas, where she made a tremendous comeback on the final day to tie for the top spot individually. After firing rounds of 1-under-par and 1-over, she sat four strokes back of the leader heading into the final 18 holes. Melecka used six birdies, including back-to-back birdies on the final two holes, to propel her to a final round 4-under 68 and a share of the individual title. The win was Melecka’s second of her career and first of the season.
Others nominated: Carly Burkhardt (Furman), Tara Bettle (UNCG), Esme Hamilton (Chattanooga), Madison Isaacson (Western Carolina) and Becca Earl (Wofford).
Kimberlee Nettles, North Georgia, Jr.
North Georgia junior Kimberlee Nettles posted a record month, finishing in the top 10 in each of the smallbore events in which she competed in October. Nettles placed first in two matches, taking the top spot against Wofford on Oct. 12 and once again while facing UAB and Georgia Southern on Oct. 26. The Waycross, Georgia, native broke her personal record with a score of 570 on Oct. 5 against Morehead State. She followed that performance by besting her top score once again, this time with a score of 579 in the win over Wofford. Nettles went on to post scores of 569, 574 and 570 over the next three matches, respectively, averaging 572.4 over five matches during the month. She also helped the Nighthawks to three first-place finishes as a team.
Others nominated: Sophia Flores (UAB), Alexander McAlear (The Citadel) and Hunter Jacob (VMI).
Jayne Fraley, North Georgia, Fr.
Jayne Fraley has become an integral piece for North Georgia to begin her career, breaking out as one of the top air rifle shooters in the conference. The Oregon City, Oregon, native fired three consecutive personal bests this month, notching two first-place finishes and five top-seven performances. The freshman opened with a score of 588 at Morehead State on Oct. 5 and followed with a score of 589 against Wofford on Oct. 12. Fraley continued to improve throughout the month, besting her previous high mark with a score of 592 on Oct. 19 against VMI. She closed the month with scores of 578 and 584, respectively, averaging a score of 586.2 for the month. Fraley helped the Nighthawks to three first-place finishes as a team.
Others nominated: Sophia Flores (UAB), Alexander McAlear (The Citadel) and Alexander Allison (VMI).
Rocky Guerra, Furman, Sr., MF
Furman senior midfielder Rocky Guerra totaled four goals and three assists during October, as the Paladins compiled a record of 5-2-0 overall and 4-1-0 in conference play. After missing the first game of the month due to injury, Guerra tallied an assist against North Greenville on Oct. 8 and netted the game-winner and an assist in a 3-0 win over VMI on Oct. 15. The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native hit for another game-winner on Oct. 22 as his strike led the Paladins to a 1-0 win against UNCG. After tallying two goals in an overtime loss at Mercer, Guerra added an assist on Oct. 29 against Wofford to help Furman to a 4-1 victory. With Guerra in the lineup, Furman posted a 5-1-0 overall record during the month with four conference wins.
Others nominated: Niccolo Dagnoni (Belmont).
Josh Perryman, ETSU, R-So., GK
ETSU redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Josh Perryman proved tough to beat in the month of October, allowing just five goals in eight games during the month. The Sheffield, England, native turned in a goals against average of just 0.59 as he picked up three clean sheets. Perryman posted five saves on Oct. 1 in a 1-1 draw with Appalachian State, holding the Mountaineers to just one goal over 110 minutes of play. After making six saves in a 1-0 loss at Furman, Perryman closed the month with four strong outings, allowing just one goal over 376 minutes between the posts. He made two saves and shut out VMI on Oct. 19 and posted another shutout on Oct. 22 with four saves as the Bucs defeated Mercer 2-0. Perryman’s final outing saw him shut out Belmont in an overtime thriller, making five saves to pick up his third win of the month.
Others nominated: Brett Royster (Belmont) and Casey Penland (UNCG).
Kyla Reynolds, Samford, Fr., F
Samford forward Kyla Reynolds netted six goals and averaged 1.86 points per game in the month of October as the Bulldogs went 6-1 and claimed a share of the regular-season SoCon title and earned the top seed in the upcoming Southern Conference Championship. The freshman started off the month with a pair of goals in Samford’s 2-1 win at ETSU on Oct. 4, one of which was the game-winner. She scored another brace, scoring the game-winning first goal, and added an assist in Samford’s 6-0 win at The Citadel on Oct. 11. The native of Rome, Georgia, scored two goals in the 5-0 shutout over VMI on Oct. 20. She finished regular-season conference play tied for fourth in total points (17), third in goals (eight), and tied for second with three game-winners.
Others nominated: Suzuka Yosue (The Citadel), Amaya Evans (Mercer) and Julia Winter (Western Carolina).
Morgan McAslan, Samford, So., GK
Samford goalkeeper Morgan McAslan played over 445 minutes in goal in October as Samford went 6-1. The sophomore from Waterdown, Ontario, Canada, allowed just two goals over the seven contests, finishing the month with a .909 save percentage. She amassed two solo shutouts, against UNCG on Oct. 18 and in the 1-0 win over Chattanooga to cap off the regular season, and combined for three others at Western Carolina, at The Citadel and against VMI. She faced 53 shots and recorded 20 saves in the month. Heading into Samford’s SoCon tournament quarterfinal matchup against The Citadel, the No. 9 seed, on Saturday, McAslan is second in the league in goals against average (0.89), third in save percentage (.833) and saves (80), fourth in saves per game (4.44), and leads the league in shutouts with six solo and four combined.
Others nominated: Elena Pisani (ETSU), Erin O’Hearn (Furman), Jordyn Ebert (Mercer), Melody Mezzina (Western Carolina) and Maria Mon (Wofford).
Kelsi Hobbs, Samford, Sr., RS
Samford right side hitter Kelsi Hobbs had double-digit kills in eight of the Bulldogs’ nine matches and tallied three double-doubles as Samford went 8-1, all in conference play, in October. The native of Hoover, Alabama, started the month with 15 kills and six digs, hitting .406 in a sweep at Mercer on Oct. 2. She tallied 14 kills in a sweep of Furman on Oct. 11, 13 kills and eight digs in a four-set win over UNCG on Oct. 12 and finished with 18 kills and seven digs in the Bulldogs’ lone loss, a five-set setback against ETSU on Oct. 18. She had double-doubles against Western Carolina and at Chattanooga on Oct. 19 and 23, respectively, tallying 19 kills and 14 digs against the Catamounts and 14 kills and 17 digs against the Mocs. She finished just shy of a double-double against The Citadel, finishing with 20 kills, her most on the month, and nine digs in the four-set win. She concluded the month with 19 kills and 13 digs in a win against Wofford, her third double-double in the span, before tallying nine kills and seven digs in the finale, a 3-0 win at Mercer. Hobbs’ 331 kills and 3.85 kills per set are both league bests.
Others nominated: Kaela Massey (ETS), Nicole Mack (Furman), Abigail Veit (Western Carolina) and Riley Coonan (Wofford).
Meagan Sanchez, Western Carolina, Sr., LIB
Western Carolina libero Meagan Sanchez repeats as defensive player of the month as she averaged 5.45 digs per set in October as the Catamounts went 6-2 in SoCon action. A three-time SoCon defensive player of the week in the month, the native of Bristow, Virginia, finished with double-digit digs in seven of the eight contests, recording nine in the other. She tallied at least 18 digs in seven of the eight matches, including a month-best 27 at Mercer to start the month. Sanchez also averaged 1.03 assists per set. Sanchez’s 477 digs are a league best, more than 150 more than anyone else.
Others nominated: Marija Popovic (ETSU), Courtney Hoffman (Furman), Megan Smith (Mercer), Emily Naubert (Samford) and Catie Cronister (Wofford).
Emily Arnold, ETSU, Fr.
ETSU setter Emily Arnold averaged 10.81 assists per set on the month as the Bucs went 7-1 in conference play. She had at least 34 assists in all eight contests, including 59 in a five-set win at Samford, and tallied three double-doubles. Arnold, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, began the month with 38 assists and 10 digs in the first match in October, a sweep of Chattanooga on Oct. 4. Her other double-doubles came in a five-set win over Wofford on Oct. 11, when she finished with 49 assists and 15 digs, and against The Citadel, when she amassed 37 assists and 11 digs. Arnold had 47 assists in the Bulldogs’ lone loss, a five-set affair against Furman.
Others nominated: Katie Murphy (Furman), Corinne Meglic (Samford), Hannah Price (Western Carolina) and Lorissa King (Wofford).
Southern Conference October Athletes of the Month
Football – offense Joe Newman, Wofford
Football – defense Marquise Blount, The Citadel
Men’s cross country Ryan Adams, Furman
Women’s cross country Hannah Steelman, Wofford
Men’s golf Jack Rhea, ETSU
Women’s golf Tereza Melecka, ETSU
Rifle – smallbore Kimberlee Nettles, North Georgia
Rifle – air rifle Jayne Fraley, North Georgia
Men’s soccer – offense Rocky Guerra, Furman
Men’s soccer – defense Josh Perryman, ETSU
Women’s soccer – offense Kyla Reynolds, Samford
Women’s soccer – defense Morgan McAslan, Samford
Volleyball – offense Kelsi Hobbs, Samford
Volleyball – defense Meagan Sanchez, Western Carolina
Volleyball – setter Emily Arnold, ETSU