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SoCon announces October athletes of the month
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 11/02/2017
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The Citadel's Aron Spann III
Courtesy: The Citadel
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its October athletes of the month for football, men’s and women’s cross country, rifle, men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball Thursday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.

FOOTBALL
OFFENSE
Devlin Hodges, Samford, R-Jr., QB
Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges threw for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns and ran for 35 yards and another score as the Bulldogs went 2-1 in October with a road win over No. 5 Wofford. Hodges, a redshirt junior from Kimberly, Alabama, completed 96 of his 146 pass attempts in the month, tossing multiple touchdown passes in two of those three contests. He opened his month with 275 yards and a touchdown in a 26-7 win at VMI on Oct. 7, going 26-for-38. Against Wofford two weeks later, he extended his league record with his sixth career 400-yard game, throwing for 422 and three scores as the Bulldogs handed the Terriers their first loss of the season, 24-21. In a 23-21 loss to Chattanooga to close the month, Hodges threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns and added a 1-yard rushing score. Hodges, who was named the SoCon Offensive Player of the Week following his efforts against Wofford, averaged 355 yards of total offense per game in the month.
Others nominated: Austin Herink (ETSU), P.J. Blazejowski (Furman), Kaelan Riley (Mercer), Darrell Bridges (Chattanooga), Tyrie Adams (Western Carolina) and Andre Stoddard (Wofford).

DEFENSE
Aron Spann III, The Citadel, Jr., DB
Citadel defensive back Aron Spann III recorded 27 tackles and was responsible for five takeaways in four games for the Bulldogs in October. The junior safety from Spartanburg, South Carolina, had three interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery and counted two tackles for loss among his 27 stops. Against Mercer on Oct. 7, Spann had a career-high 12 tackles, eight of which were solo, and forced a fumble that The Citadel recovered. He had five tackles in a loss to No. 5 Wofford a week later before coming up with four stops and two interceptions in a win at Chattanooga on Oct. 21. His second pick of the game came in the end zone with just over a minute remaining and sealed the Bulldogs’ 20-14 victory. Spann closed his month with six tackles, a fumble recovery and his SoCon-leading fifth interception of the season in a win over rival VMI.

Others nominated: Nasir Player (ETSU), Lee Bennett (Mercer), Ahmad Gooden (Samford), Tae Davis (Chattanooga), Marvin Tillman (Western Carolina) and Datavious Wilson (Wofford).

MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Aaron Templeton, Furman, Jr.
Furman’s Aaron Templeton picks up his second consecutive runner of the month award following a first-place finish at the 2017 SoCon Men’s Cross Country Championship as Furman earned its fifth straight league title on Oct. 28. Templeton nabbed first place with a time of 23:43.9 on the 8k course as the Paladins swept the top five spots in the race. The junior, along with being named to the men’s All-SoCon first team, was also recognized as the men’s runner of the year. At the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 13, Templeton placed 20th with a time of 24:03.7 as the Furman team finished fifth, recording wins over No. 6 Southern Utah and No. 11 Colorado State.

WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Allie Buchalski, Furman, Sr.
Furman’s Allie Buchalski is fresh off winning the individual title at the 2017 SoCon Women’s Cross Country Championship after finishing 20 seconds ahead of the next competitor. Buchalski, who finished the 5k course in 16:23.4, was named to the women’s All-SoCon first team and the SoCon Runner of the Year as the Paladins earned their fifth straight team title on Oct. 28. Prior to the SoCon Championship, the Johns Creek, Georgia, native placed sixth at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, running the 6k course in 19:49.1. The senior helped the Furman women take home a sixth-place finish, placing ahead of ranked teams such as No. 5 Stanford, No. 11 Washington and No. 17 Wisconsin. The award is the second consecutive athlete of the month award for Buchalski and sixth overall after winning four runner of the week awards during the regular season.

Others nominated: Lindsey Stallworth (ETSU).

RIFLE
SMALLBORE
Max Brabston, The Citadel, Fr.
Citadel freshman Max Brabston shot 570 or higher in each of his three smallbore rifle events in October. Brabston began the month with a 572 on Oct. 7 against No. 2 TCU and No. 15 Jacksonville State, finishing one point off of his personal best. The Fairfax, Virginia, native finished October with a pair of 570s against five top-30 programs, finishing third in the discipline against No. 17 North Georgia and No. 23 Georgia Southern on Oct. 21 and again against Georgia Southern, No. 25 UAB and No. 27 Wofford a week later. 

Others nominated: Olivia Francisco (UAB), Rosemary Kramer (Georgia Southern) and Ricky Medina (North Georgia).

AIR RIFLE
Kimberlee Nettles, North Georgia, Fr.
North Georgia freshman Kimberlee Nettles finished no worse than fourth in any of her four October air rifle events, highlighted by shooting a personal-best 591 to finish first against Georgia Southern on Oct. 14. The Waycross, Georgia, native finished third with a score of 587 against No. 19 UT-Martin the following day before closing the month with consecutive 585s in a fourth-place showing against The Citadel and Georgia Southern on Oct. 21 and in a third-place finish against No. 17 Morehead State on Oct. 28.

Others nominated: Selina Curren (UAB), Max Brabston (The Citadel) and Rosemary Kramer (Georgia Southern).

MEN’S SOCCER
Jonny Sutherland, ETSU, Jr., GK
ETSU goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland went 5-0-3 in the month of October, allowing just three goals as the Bucs were crowned Southern Conference regular-season champions for the second straight year. Sutherland, a junior from Chester, United Kingdom, amassed 31 saves in eight games, including 10 in a scoreless draw against Furman on Oct. 6. In the rematch on Oct. 21, Sutherland came up with seven more saves as the Bucs and Paladins tied 1-1. For the month, Sutherland totaled 769:28 minutes played, five shutouts, a .912 save percentage and a goals against average of 0.35. With two stops in a 4-1 win over Wofford on Saturday, Sutherland became the only player in ETSU history to hit the 200-save milestone for his career.

Others nominated: Ben Hale (Furman), Will Bagrou (Mercer), Nelson Oceano (UNCG) and Lucas Altman (Wofford)

WOMEN’S SOCCER
Kellsey Weaver, Furman, So., GK
Furman goalkeeper Kellsey Weaver allowed just two goals in seven games in the month of October, picking up a 2-1 win over ETSU in the SoCon Women’s Soccer Championship quarterfinals on Sunday. Weaver, who went 6-0-1 in October, played more than 600 minutes and posted three shutouts in the month, making 17 saves and turning in a 0.30 goals against average. The sophomore from Newnan, Georgia, held Samford scoreless on Oct. 22, totaling four saves in a scoreless draw in both teams’ regular-season finale to clinch a share of the SoCon regular-season championship and propel the Paladins to the No. 1 overall seed in the SoCon tournament. Weaver, who was twice named SoCon Player of the Week in the month (Oct. 3, Oct. 24), and Furman will face No. 4 seed Western Carolina in the SoCon semifinals in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday at 5 p.m. CT.

Others nominated: Eleonora Goldoni (ETSU), Aiyanah Tyler-Cooper (UNCG), Jermaine Seoposenwe (Samford), Melia Correa (Chattanooga) and Megan McCallister (Western Carolina).

VOLLEYBALL
OFFENSE
Catie Cronister, Wofford, So., OH
Wofford’s Catie Cronister earns the first monthly honor of her career following a month that saw her post six double-doubles and the Terriers go 7-2. The sophomore, who finished October with 167 kills and 116 digs, started the month with three consecutive games of at least 20 kills, including a career-best 30 in a five-set win over UNCG that snapped an 18-match win streak by the Spartans in the series. Cronister rounded out the month with back-to-back 20-kill games as Wofford exceeded its win total from last season and improved to 18-8 and 8-4 in conference play. The Chicago, Illinois, native finished the month with an average of 4.51 kills per set and 3.14 digs per set while also chipping in 13 service aces and 14 total blocks. Cronister leads the SoCon with 421 digs and 51 services aces and ranks in the top 10 in Division I in four categories, including service aces (fifth), points (fifth) aces per set (sixth) and total kills (eighth). Cronister earned offensive player of the week honors on Oct. 9.

Others nominated: Moriah Smith (The Citadel), Braedyn Tutton (ETSU), Christen Sikora (Furman), Claire Waliczek (Mercer), Ashley Muench (UNCG), Kelsi Hobbs (Samford), Dani Szczepanksi (Chattanooga) and Gabby Gray (Western Carolina).

DEFENSE
Marija Popovic, ETSU, Fr., L
ETSU’s Marija Popovic picks up the first monthly award of her career following back-to-back weekly honors to close out the month of October. The freshman recorded double-digit digs in all eight matches in the month as ETSU went 7-1 to move into second place in conference standings. Popovic set a new personal best twice in the month of October, tallying 32 digs in a win at Chattanooga and then recording 34 in consecutive games to break her previous career high. The Belgrade, Serbia, native posted 199 digs in the eight matches to averaged 6.03 digs per set and has posted at least 20 digs in the Bucs’ last four games. Popovic, who also chipped in 34 assists, ranks second in the conference with 4.69 assists per set and has three of the highest single-match dig totals in the conference this season.

Others nominated: Sarah Dobrich (The Citadel), Meg DeMaar (Furman), Christina Gregory (UNCG), Grace Tiesman (Samford), Megan Kaufman (Chattanooga), Meagan Sanchez (Western Carolina) and Colleen Reilly (Wofford).

Southern Conference October Athletes of the Month
Football – offense              Devlin Hodges, Samford
Football – defense             Aron Spann III, The Citadel
Men’s cross country          Aaron Templeton, Furman
Women’s cross country    Allie Buchalski, Furman
Rifle – smallbore               Max Brabston, The Citadel
Rifle – air rifle                    Kimberlee Nettles, North Georgia
Men’s soccer                    Jonny Sutherland, ETSU
Women’s soccer               Kellsey Weaver, Furman
Volleyball – offense          Catie Cronister, Wofford
Volleyball – defense         Marija Popovic, ETSU

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