SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference announced its November athletes of the month for men’s and women’s basketball, football, rifle, volleyball and wrestling Monday, highlighting excellence among student-athletes during the month.
Wyatt Walker, Samford, So., C
Wyatt Walker tallied seven double-doubles in seven games for Samford during November as the Bulldogs went 4-3 during the opening month of the season. Walker averaged 14.3 points and 13.1 rebounds for the Bulldogs and shot 55 percent from the floor. His seven double-doubles leads the nation, while his 13.1 rebounds rank fourth. The sophomore from Jacksonville, Florida, scored a season-high 19 points in a win over Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 26 in just 20 minutes of action and he recorded a season-high 16 rebounds a week earlier in a win at Campbell.
Others nominated: Zane Najdawi (The Citadel), T.J. Cromer (ETSU), Diante Baldwin (UNCG), Haboubacar Mutombo (Western Carolina) and Fletcher Magee (Wofford).
Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer, Jr., G
Kahlia Lawrence headlined a Mercer squad that achieved a 6-1 record in November, its best start through seven games since the 1980-81 season. The junior guard led the Bears in scoring during the month with 18.6 points per game and ranked second on the team with 5.4 rebounds per game and third with 2.0 steals per game. Lawrence shot 40.6 percent from the field and 80.0 percent from the free-throw line and finished the month leading the SoCon with 54 made field goals, which was also good for sixth in the nation. The Columbus, Georgia, native’s peak performances came in wins over Campbell and Florida Atlantic to jumpstart a five-game winning streak for the Bears. Against Campbell, Lawrence scored 29 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and added three steals on defense in the 76-60 win. Two days later in a 74-57 rout over Florida Atlantic, Lawrence notched a SoCon season-high 34 points on 15-of-29 (.517) attempts from the field and recorded three steals. She also ended the month of November leading the league in minutes played per game (34.6) alongside teammate Sydni Means.
Others nominated: Tianna Tarter (ETSU), Nadine Soliman (UNCG), Kassidy Blevins (Samford), Jasmine Joyner (Chattanooga), Sherae Bonner (Western Carolina) and Chloe Wanink (Wofford).
Devlin Hodges, Samford, So., QB
Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges repeated as the SoCon’s offensive player of the month by passing for 1,176 yards and eight touchdowns in four games during November. The sophomore signal-caller from Kimberley, Alabama, led the Bulldogs with 151 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for Samford, which earned a berth in the FCS Playoffs for the first time since 2013. Hodges threw for 401 yards and three scores in a win against Mercer on Nov. 12 and passed for 372 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort at Youngstown State in the playoffs on Nov. 26. For the month, he completed 74.2 percent of his passes (121-for-163) and did not throw an interception.
Others nominated: Tyler Renew (The Citadel), Drake Powell (ETSU), John Russ (Mercer), Detrez Newsome (Western Carolina) and Lorenzo Long (Wofford).
Jaleel Green, Wofford, Sr., DB
Wofford senior safety Jaleel Green recorded three interceptions in four games during November as the Terriers went 4-0 during the month. Green was a part of Wofford’s defense that gave up just 17.3 points per game in the month. The Jacksonville, Florida, native added 19 tackles, including 14 solo stops, and was credited with four tackles for loss. Green blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt in a win at Furman on Nov. 5 and led the Terriers with seven tackles in a victory over Charleston Southern in the first round of the FCS Playoffs on Nov. 26.
Others nominated: Tevin Floyd (The Citadel), Dylan Weigel (ETSU), LeMarkus Bailey (Mercer), Deion Pierre (Samford) and Fred Payne (Western Carolina).
Tobin Sanctuary, North Georgia, Fr.
North Georgia’s Tobin Sanctuary contributed to three school records in smallbore in as many matches. The freshman set season bests twice, opening his month with a 569 for a fifth-place individual finish as the 20th-ranked Nighthawks tied a school mark with a team score of 2272 and tie for first against No. 19 UT Martin and SoCon opponent Georgia Southern. The rookie from Alstead, New Hampshire, upped his PR by five points the following week against SoCon foes VMI and Wofford and No. 17 Morehead State, tying for second in the 30-member field. UNG also increased the school standard with a team effort of 2279, again tying for first in the discipline. On Nov. 18 against No. 2 Murray State, No. 13 Memphis and No. 15 Jacksonville State, Sanctuary shot a 564 as the Nighthawks once again erased the school record, this time shooting a cumulative 2285.
Others nominated: Faith Totherow (The Citadel women), Tori Lewis (Georgia Southern), Andrew Hickey (VMI) and Cierra Holcombe (Wofford).
Dakota Spivey, North Georgia, So.
North Georgia’s Dakota Spivey repeated as the air rifle shooter of the month, turning in a pair of top-two finishes in the discipline for the 20th-ranked Nighthawks in November. Against No. 19 UT Martin and SoCon foe Georgia Southern on Nov. 6, Spivey shot 588 to finish second among 20 competitors. Coupled with a fourth-place finish in smallbore, Spivey finished second in aggregate that day with a score of 1158. The following weekend against No. 17 Morehead State and SoCon opponents VMI and Wofford, Spivey won air rifle with a 587, topping 29 other competitors. He also claimed first in aggregate with an 1155. The Dahlonega, Georgia, sophomore closed his month against a tough field at the Gamecock Invitational, turning in a 581 to finish 16th in air rifle against competitors from No. 2 Murray State, No. 13 Memphis and No. 15 Jacksonville State.
Others nominated: Allison Auten (The Citadel), Courtney Weekley (Georgia Southern) and Hunter Jacob (VMI).
Erin Bognar, Samford, Sr., OH
Samford’s Erin Bognar led the conference for the month of November in both total kills (130) and kills per set (5.42) as she guided the Bulldogs to their third conference title in program history and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Bognar, the 2016 SoCon Championship’s Most Outstanding Player, registered 28 kills and 16 digs in the championship match as the Bulldogs went on to defeat third-seeded Chattanooga, 3-1. The senior outside hitter also garnered her third consecutive SoCon Offensive Player of the Week award on Nov. 7 after averaging 6.43 kills per set and hitting .314 that week. On Nov. 5 against Furman, the St. Louis, Missouri, native tallied a double-double with 11 digs and a career-high 34 kills, hitting .414 on the match. Bognar’s 34 kills were the most by any SoCon player in a four-set match this season. Bognar closed out the month ranked No. 10 in the nation in total kills (542), No. 12 in points (580), No. 13 in total attacks (1,399) and 17th in kills per set (4.48).
Others nominated: Moriah Smith (The Citadel), Rylee Milhorn (ETSU), Taina Joseph (Furman), Morgan MacGilvary (Mercer), Allison Penner (UNCG), Kristy Wieser (Chattanooga), Abigail Veit (Western Carolina) and Catie Cronister (Wofford).
Meagan Sanchez, Western Carolina, Fr., L/DS
Western Carolina libero Meagan Sanchez led the league in digs per set (5.95) in the Catamounts’ final five matches of the season. Sanchez notched at least 20 digs in all five matches, including 25 in a sweep over The Citadel on Nov. 12, and tied a season high with 28 kills in the Catamounts’ five-set loss to second-seeded UNCG in the first round of the Southern Conference Championship. The Bristow, Virginia, native concluded her freshman campaign ranked third in the SoCon in digs per set (4.56) and surpassed her season average by more than 1.0 dig per set in the final month of competition.
Others nominated: Samantha Epsy (The Citadel), Kaela Massey (ETSU), Tori Penrod (Mercer), Christina Gregory (UNCG), Kelsi Hobbs (Samford), Emily Plumlee (Chattanooga) and Colleen Reilly (Wofford).
Freddie Rodriguez, SIUE, Sr.
SIUE 125-pounder Freddie Rodriguez went 8-0 in November, opening the season with a pair of weight-class tournament titles. The Lansing, Michigan, native won the 125 bracket at the Grand View Open on Nov. 5, opening his senior campaign with a 28-13 technical fall over unattached Iowa State wrestler Brenden Baker. He followed that up with a pair of pins before getting a 9-7, sudden-victory win over Iowa State’s Markus Simmons, Rodriguez’s third opponent of the day from the 13th-ranked Cyclones. Two weeks later, Rodriguez won his weight class at the Joe Parisi Open, downing four foes from ranked teams and picking up bonus points in three of the wins. After earning a major decision over No. 11 Illinois’ Travis Piotrowski, Rodriguez pinned consecutive opponents from No. 24 Chattanooga and No. 3 Missouri before taking an 11-4 win over Missouri’s Aaron Assad in the championship bout. Rodriguez, the defending SoCon champion at 125, earned bonus points in six of his eight matches on the month and was named the SoCon Wrestler of the Week on Nov. 23.
Others nominated: Matt Zovistoski (Appalachian State), Nathan Kraisser (Campbell), Aaron Walker (The Citadel), Austin Trott (Gardner-Webb) and Jared Johnson (Chattanooga).
Southern Conference November Athletes of the Month
Men’s basketball Wyatt Walker, Samford
Women’s basketball Kahlia Lawrence, Mercer
Football – offense Devlin Hodges, Samford
Football – defense Jaleel Green, Wofford
Rifle – smallbore Tobin Sanctuary, North Georgia
Rifle – air rifle Dakota Spivey, North Georgia
Volleyball – offense Erin Bognar, Samford
Volleyball – defense Meagan Sanchez, Western Carolina
Wrestling Freddie Rodriguez, SIUE