Dr. Akan Malici
The recent midterm elections brought a clear defeat for the Democrats and a near-sweeping victory for the Republicans, who now control both chambers of Congress. But how will the new distribution of power in Washington affect President Barack Obama’s foreign policy for the next two years? In an op-ed for The Greenville News, Furman political science professor Akan Malici writes that the most important challenges will be America’s relations with Russia and Iran, the perceived threat emanating from the so-called Islamic State (IS), and the U.S. positioning in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
When Jessie Stanion left high school in California, she I did not expect to attend college. However, at age 23, living in Greenville, she decided to take night classes at Greenville Technical College. That decision ultimately led her to finish her studies at Greenville Tech and transfer to Furman, where she received the Alden Transfer Scholarship and graduated in 2014 with a degree in neuroscience. Stanion’s educational journey was aided greatly by Furman psychology professors Frank Provenzano and Onarae Rice, and she wrote about that journey in an op-ed for The Greenville News.
So far this fall, the Furman mock trial team has participated in tournaments in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Greensboro, and Philadelphia.
And later this month, the team will travel to California and Duke University. The extensive travel and countless hours of participation pay off for Furman Mock Trial, an extraordinarily popular program.
With 18 straight bids to the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament, Furman Mock Trial has become a force in national circles. In 15 of those appearances, the team has finished the season in the top 10 of its division. Despite not winning the title, Furman posted the best overall record at nationals during the 2000-2009 decade; and on more than one occasion two Furman teams have landed in the top 10.
In the driver’s seat from the beginning, mock trial director Dr. Glen Halva-Neubauer recalls early moments in the program’s history. Former Political Science Chair and now Riley Institute Executive Director Don Gordon, and Greenville County Solicitor-turned-Circuit Court Judge Joe Watson were instrumental in nudging the program forward during the embryonic years, along with strong support from Dean John H. Crabtree, Jr.
“We started this in 1995—I had no idea what I was doing,” says Dr. Halva-Neubauer. But it didn’t take long for the bug to incubate. “And once you get the mock trial bug, it’s hard to shake,” he says.
Mere rookies, Halva-Neubauer’s mockers somehow snagged a pretty successful season from the get go. “The first watershed moment for us was 1996 in St. Paul (Minn.). We’re there, we’re upstarts, and we end up in contention for the championship until the last round.” The professor keeps a handful of trophies in his small office. He proudly reaches for the trophy that marks the team’s seventh place finish that inaugural year.
Currently ranked 11th in the country, Furman continues to build its reputation at elite invitational tournaments while earning high marks for hosting the Ney National, a regional ATMA tournament.
The season begins with the announcement of the criminal or civil case file in August. Then, after weeks of preparation, schools participate in invitational tournaments in the fall and early spring to ready themselves for 25 regional AMTA-sanctioned tournaments that take place in February.
In 2014, AMTA included more than 550 mock trial teams from approximately 350 universities and colleges spanning the country. The top teams from each regional tournament advance and compete in the super regionals or Opening Round Championship Series (ORCS) held in March. One hundred and ninety two teams battle it out in the ORCS round, then the top six teams from each ORCS tournament advance to AMTA’s National Championship Tournament in April. Only 48 teams advance and compete in the National Championship Tournament. These 48 teams are divided into two divisions of 24 teams each. The first-place teams from each face off in AMTA’s National Championship Final Round.
So what does it take to have a booming mock trial program? Dr. Halva-Neubauer says it starts with a crop of bright, articulate, and competitive kids who have superb time management skills and a desire to work with each other in a team environment.
But he also says students don’t have to fit a particular academic mold to be a part of the team. He reels off majors outside the usual pre-law/political science suspects—math, history, modern languages, religion, and economics.
“What’s great is that our student profile has expanded to include more majors. I love that. It gives us more support around the university, more exposure to faculty . . . mock trial students don’t just go to law school . . . it’s an activity for all comers,” he says.
The reality that Furman mock trial draws students from all backgrounds and majors is important for team building. “It’s an activity that brings a diverse set of people together who would not know each other absent this,” says Halva-Neubauer.
With all the hours that funnel into mock trial preparation and the weekend-long tournaments, students come away with a stockpile of life skills. Says mock trial coach and Furman alum Brad Rustin ’03, attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, “The biggest change I see in students over time is their level of judgment and maturity. Mock trial teaches you how to compete while remaining civil and respectful of others.”
Coach Lindsay Builder ’07, also of Nelson Mullins, has witnessed “astronomical” growth in students in his four years of coaching. Andrew Mueller ’14 started out as a witness in his first two years and transitioned to the program’s top male attorney. Builder says Mueller really took to what the coaches term “Mock Trial 2.0,” where they teach students to move beyond the practice of rote memory.
Builder says he unfortunately sees a fair amount of “scripted robots” in mock court settings where trials are little more than “orchestrated ballets” with each word memorized and every step choreographed. “We want our kids to think and act like lawyers—reacting, analyzing the situation, determining on their feet what’s their next move.” Builder says Mueller was particularly good at that, but he was by no means an isolated case. “I could talk about several kids just like him.”
Kaitlyn Pugh ’17 (Edgefield, S.C.) says, “Not knowing what the other teams are going to do is unnerving at times, but nothing beats the rush you get when you stand up to give a statement or question a witness. Or, if you’re the witness, being on the stand gives you a chance to control the trial.”
Jordan Brown ’16 (Gastonia, N.C.) knows what it’s like to think on his feet. Brown, who plans to go to math grad school and teach at the secondary level, says, “Teams can be kind of cutthroat out there and will try to throw you off your game.” He says improvisation and the ability to recover become important skills.
Brown remembers a round against the University of Virginia at a west coast tournament last season where the prosecution’s pithy direct examination of a witness left Brown with virtually no cross. “So I say to myself, ‘did they really just do that?’ I stand up, and don’t remember what I ask the witness, but it has no resemblance to what I expected to say.” Brown says “wing-it” moments like that happen often, and tackling them with 100 percent confidence is part of the game.
Rustin says, “I tell students to have fun, show off, and go 100 miles per hour in the court room.” Sometimes that strategy can get teams into trouble, but it’s good for scoring points with the judges.
Rustin describes a round in a Washington, D.C., court house in which Kiersty DeGroote ’14 (Lyman, S.C.), during an entire cross examination of a witness, teetered on chair in her heels and business suit to demonstrate what a witness saw while standing on a stall toilet, peering over the wall. From that point forward, her performance was dubbed the “chair cross,” and Rustin says the “judges ate it up.” And the infamous “chair cross” became code for pulling out all the stops in the court room.
The moxie it takes to pull stunts like that, take risks and be vulnerable comes with practice “Mock trial is a jealous, time-sucking activity,” says Halva-Neubauer. So in the 10 or more hours a week students and coaches spend studying the case file, preparing opening statements and closing arguments, setting up demonstratives, poring over rules of evidence, and prepping witnesses, there’s no time for petty differences, but lots of time for fostering trust and relationships.
A spirit of mutual respect among coaches and team members allows a safe place to air criticisms. “Mock trial teaches you how to give and receive constructive criticism,” says Builder. “That’s how our teams work.”
It’s only fitting that Furman, a household name in the world of college mock trial, would forge a partnership with the organization responsible for one of the largest high school mock trial tournaments in the world. Empire New York: The World Championship tournament is staged in the fall each year by Empire Mock Trial based in New York City, and Furman has sponsored it since 2010.
Empire Mock Trial was founded in 2007 by Justin Matarrese and his father, Gregory P. Matarrese. Since its inaugural year, the competition has expanded to include 40 of the world’s most talented teams. The organization’s alumni network, affectionately called the “Empire Family,” includes more than 2000 students who hail from six countries and 31 states.
In many ways, the two institutions are like-minded. Empire is committed to hosting the most accomplished high school teams worldwide, accepting only those that have demonstrated consistent success at the state and/or national level. Likewise, Furman regularly competes against teams from the nation’s best universities, including those in the Ivy League, Chicago, and Washington University, prestigious liberal arts colleges such as Rhodes and Davidson, and public Ivys like Miami of Ohio, Cal-Berkeley, and UCLA. Furman has fielded a team at each national championship tournament since 1997—18 straight bids. And Furman has placed at least one team among the top ten in its division 15 times out of those 18.
While Furman mock trial has made a name for itself over the decades, program director Dr. Glen Halva-Neubauer wants to see greater things. Fundamental to building the mock trial brand at Furman, the partnership with Empire is part of broader plan to attract a bigger crop of outstanding mock trial recruits. Says Halva-Neubauer, “Through Empire, we are getting students that we may not have gotten before, and we are pulling in applicants from places we may not have otherwise.”
The support of the elite tournament has paid off. At least five Empire alumni have enrolled at Furman, and four students who competed in Empire New York in October previously attended Halva-Neubauer’s summer mock trial camp which began in 2001.
The partnership with Empire gives Furman the opportunity to cast a wider recruiting net in terms of geographic, academic, and racial diversity. “When a person tells me they’re going to apply at Furman, Chicago, and Northwestern—those aren’t typical overlaps,” says Halva-Neubauer. Five years ago, it was a rare thing that Furman was mentioned in the same conversation as prestigious, well-known institutions. “Now,” says Halva-Neubauer, “we are not only on their radar screen, but kids who are looking at those schools are approaching me at the World Championship and telling me they’ve already had a Furman campus visit.”
The level of preparation required to compete at Empire is similar to college-level competition, which makes the pool of prospectives well-suited for the demands of Furman mock trial. High school students that make it to Empire are provided a complex criminal or civil case file, originally created by the American Mock Trial Association for use at the university level. They are tasked with assimilating dense legal statutes, case law, and federal rules of evidence. They are required to develop a legal theory, choose and call witnesses to support their theories, craft clear direct and cross examinations, and pen persuasive opening and closing arguments. Hours of preparation culminate in four trials for which students suit up and go head-to-head with their “adversaries” (their peers) and the judge.
The compatibility of the two programs is also reflected in their practically identical goals. Mock trial at Furman is an engaged learning experience that hones speaking skills, builds confidence, cultivates quick thinking, and, above all, fosters team-building, all while treating each other and opponents with respect and civility. The same is true for Empire Mock Trial, whose goal is not only to develop critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills in their high school participants, but to also “create more respectful, culturally aware citizens.”
The mutually beneficial association is summed up by Empire Mock Trial co-founder Justin Matarrese, who says, “Furman’s support of Empire is a win-win. It exposes our students to one of the world’s top liberal arts colleges while giving Furman access to oratorically and analytically gifted students that could further enhance their student body. We are so grateful to Dr. Halva-Neubauer and the university for its support.”
For Halva-Neubauer, the excitement about the future of Furman mock trial is palpable. “I think we are on the cusp of building an even better program than we’ve ever had because we are going to attract these kids who are the best in the country and put them together here . . . I think people will be surprised that we’re not just good, but we’re a powerhouse with one amazing team after another,” says Halva-Neubauer.
The lights flashed, the music played, and they danced. Wearing tutus, leis, pearls and polka-dot socks, Furman students enjoyed everything from swing dancing to Zumba lessons during Saturday’s dance marathon hosted by Heller Service Corps.
The second annual dance marathon raised more than $7,750 for the Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital, and donations are continuing to come in, said Nancy Cooper, Furman’s coordinator for volunteer services. The 12-hour event, held from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Trone Student Center was organized and directed by biology major Jonathan Vandenberg ’17 of Glen Mills, Pa.
“It’s an important project for Furman and Heller because one, it is a great cause,” said Vandenberg. “Two, it helps the University and Heller connect with the Greenville community which is always great.”
A total of 125 students participated in the event, which included visits from several families who had benefited from the community’s generosity. One of the biggest celebrities at the event was 7-year-old Adri Patterson, the daughter of Furman alumnus Josh Patterson ’02.
“I would just like to thank you for sharing so many toys and crafts with me at the hospital, because without you, the hospital couldn’t afford to have so many fun things,” Adri told the crowd. “I love playing with the cool toys at the hospital every time I go for my check up!”
Adri first had surgery for a brain tumor in January 2010 and has a small tumor that has not changed or grown in nearly five years, Josh Patterson said.
“My wife, Natalie, and I were blown away by the support and care we received from the Children’s Hospital during our stay… After Adri was well and we started interacting with other families in the world of pediatric brain tumors, we learned that the special care we received and the fun things Adri had access to weren’t the norm at every hospital,” said Josh Patterson. “We are passionate about raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network because we understand firsthand how that money blesses families with sick children. It was a great privilege to be back at my alma mater with my healthy daughter and the rest of my family to share those experiences.”
Read more about Dr. Tevis and “What the Body Knows” in Orion
Dr. Joni Tevis
Dr. Joni Tevis, Associate Professor of English at Furman University, has been awarded a Pushcart Prize for her essay, “What the Body Knows,” which was published in the November/December 2013 issue of Orion magazine.
Tevis’ essay appears in the just published 2015 Pushcart Prize XXXIX: Best of the Small Presses. The Pushcart Prize is a major literary award that honors the best poetry, short fiction, essays and other works that appear in small presses during the previous year. The series has been published every year since 1976.
“What The Body Knows” is about a river rafting trip that Tevis and her husband, David, took through Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the summer of 2009. With a guide, the two spent two weeks paddling the Canning River 140 miles north to the Arctic Ocean.
“We were above the Arctic Circle in midsummer, so the sun never set the whole time we were there,” Tevis said. “We saw herds of caribou and muskoxen, lots of interesting lichen species, migratory birds. It was an amazing time.”
Tevis joined the Furman English faculty in 2008, where she teaches literature and creative writing. Her first collection of essays, The Wet Collection: A Field Guide to Iridescence and Memory, was published in 2007. A new essay collection, The World Is On Fire, is slated for publication in April 2015 and will include the award-winning “What the Body Knows.”
Tevis’ writing has also appeared in Oxford American, Shenandoah, Conjunctions, AGNI, The Bellingham Review, North Dakota Quarterly and Barrelhouse. She is a graduate of Florida State University, and holds M.F.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Houston.
For more information, visit the Pushcart Prize website or call Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.
Furman University was well represented at the 16th Annual InnoVision Awards Celebration that took place Nov. 11 at the TD Convention Center.
Furman received two of the 10 awards presented to organizations, businesses and individuals that were recognized for advancing technology in South Carolina, while a third award went to ActivEd, an educational initiative founded by Furman health sciences professor Dr. Julian Reed.
The InnoVision Awards Program, established by Deloitte in 1999, is presented by the McNair Law Firm.
Furman received InnoVision’s Community Service Award for its collaborative project with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department and other departments within the university. The team employed the use of drones to study the correlation between streetlight illumination and crime in the New Washington and Poe Mills neighborhoods of Greenville.
The community outreach project is one of many that Furman students and faculty are undertaking to revitalize Poinsett Highway, the corridor that connects the university to downtown Greenville. More information about the university’s drone project may be found here.
Furman also received the Hall of Fame Award, “an accomplishment that is hard-earned and rarely awarded by the judges,” according to an InnoVision spokesperson. The award recognizes Furman’s continued contributions to excellence in innovation and education. It was the third time Furman had received the award in the 16-year history of the InnoVision program.
ActivEd received the Innovation in Education Award for developing accessible products and programs to foster learning and promote healthy lifestyles through movement and physical activity in schools. Furman health sciences professor Reed is among the nation’s leading researchers exploring the relationship between issues such as obesity, cognition and academic achievement. His current study at Charter Legacy School in Greenville shows that active students are displaying marked improvement in cognitive measures. For more about Dr. Reed’s work, visit this link.
For more information, contact the News and Information Office at (864) 294-3107.
Furman English professor and writer, Joni Tevis
For nearly 40 years the finest writers the country has to offer have been featured in David Henderson’s The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. It would appear, then, that Furman English professor Joni Tevis is officially one of our finest writers.
Dr. Tevis was recently named a Pushcart Prize winner for her essay “What the Body Knows,” which will be published with other award winners in the 2015 edition of the series. Short stories, poetry, and essays are represented in the annual collection, and being selected for inclusion is a coveted career achievement.
“I was so happy about it. I had hoped for one for a number of years,” Tevis said. “I’ve been nominated a couple of times before and was just happy to be nominated. It’s such an honor to be in the anthology with writers like Louise Glück, Philip Levine – people whose work you’ve read and admired for years.”
“What the Body Knows” recounts Tevis’s experience on a rafting trip she took with her husband David in the summer of 2009 on the Canning River more than a hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle. For two weeks, they and their guide braved frigid temperatures and potentially life threatening currents in the stunning, empty vastness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on their way to the Arctic Ocean, which Tevis shares with readers in the form of vivid imagery sprinkled with a thought-provoking dose of philosophical musing.
The mosquitoes, for example, are a constant menace, yet Tevis realizes at some point that “without the mosquito, the jaegers and longspurs and buntings would starve, and the wolf and the bear. They’re the wide base of the food pyramid here, billions of pounds of protein on the wing.”
“It was just such an amazing time to be up there. I had never been to Alaska, and I’d always wanted to go,” she said. “The sun never set . . . and you would think that would be very unsettling and strange, but it immediately made sense to me and I really enjoyed that time. Writing about it was a way for me to relive it and also to share it with other folks who hadn’t been there because it’s a hard area to reach. Even in Alaska, it’s a hard area to reach.”
The essay originally appeared in the November/December 2013 edition of Orion Magazine. Tevis has been published multiple times by Orion, which also nominated the piece for a Pushcart.
“It brings a lot of well-deserved recognition to Joni Tevis for her work as a non-fiction writer, but it also it brings a lot of attention to the writing program at Furman and Furman overall,” Furman English department chair David Bost said. “This is a national prize, very highly regarded.”
“What the Body Knows” will also be one of the anchor pieces of Tevis’s second book, called The World Is on Fire and scheduled for release in April 2015 by Milkweed Editions, which also published 2012’s The Wet Collection: A Field Guide to Iridescence and Memory. Both are a collection of essays, which are Tevis’s specialty.
“I love all the genres, but I think the essay is the queen of the genres because it takes what it needs from other genres and uses it for its own end,” she says. “You have the character-building and the scene-building of good fiction, you have the careful attention to language that you would have from poetry, and you could have associative leaps too. I really feel that the essay has a ring of truth to it, or it should . . . The actual French root of the verb essay is just to try. It’s such an inviting form. Everyone should write essays.”
Being such a successful purveyor of her craft gives Tevis instant credibility in the classroom, Bost says.
“A lot of the students I talk to who are prospective English majors are really very interested in writing, being creative writers, being poets, being non-fiction writers the way Joni is,” he said. “They may want to go into journalism or even some aspect of marketing where writing will be one of the basic skills that they use. I think it does matter to students that they’re working under the guidance of not only published authors but authors whose work has been recognized by their peers as being exemplary.”
The Pushcart, which bills itself as “the most honored literary project in America,” has forged through a massive upheaval in the publishing world by carving out a niche with what are called “small presses”—publishers with annual sales below $50 million—and surviving thanks to an endowment.
“It really is one of the last great holdouts of the literacy collectives of the late ‘60s,” Tevis said. “Just one fella (Henderson) basically carries it on and puts out this anthology every year that’s 800 pages long. It’s amazing to me what he’s been able to do. It’s a labor of love.”
Read “What the Body Knows” here, and listen to her discuss the piece here. For more on Tevis, click here and here.
Just call her Eliza Doolittle.
In this case though, this “fair lady” isn’t selling flowers and learning proper English. She’s getting a crash course in baseball and selling pictures of chickens.
Furman University Theatre’s latest production, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, takes a sobering look into the world of mental illness, but it doesn’t forget its sense of humor.
The show, by playwright Rebecca Gilman a decade ago, tells the story of Dana Fielding, a rising star painter who attempts suicide after critical reviews of her latest work and a break-up with her boyfriend, Roy.
Caitlin Cain ’15 plays the afflicted Dana, a role previously played by Gillian Anderson in London during a run in 2004.
After the failed suicide attempt, Dana finds herself in a mental institution where she befriends, Gary, a sociopathic stalker, hilariously played by Sal Donzella ’17, and a recovering alcoholic, Michael, endearingly played by Sam Feigenbaum ’15. After finding out Dana’s basic health insurance plan will only pay for 10 days of care, the two become unlikely therapists and coaches as the trio concoct a plan to help Dana stay longer.
“Do you think I could fake something?” Dana asks.
“People fake multiple-personality disorder,” responds Gary, encouraging her new persona to have a “scary edge.”
While she doesn’t choose scary, Dana does make the unlikely personality choice of Darryl Strawberry, the legendary 6’6” African-American Major League baseball outfielder with the “sweetest swing in baseball.”
For Furman students performing in the show, the play meant making a statement on some very relevant topics.
“Mental illnesses are serious issues and are not treated as such, either by the people that surround Dana or by her insurance company,” said Courtney Dorn ’18, who played the dual role of Rhonda, an art dealer, and mental health physician Dr. Gilbert. “It’s an important issue that is often overlooked and swept aside with an “oh, you’ll get over it” and that is just not the case, especially for Dana.”
For Savannah Klosowski ’18, who also plays dual roles as Erica, an art agent, and mental health physician Dr. Stanton, the show was a reminder of what it means to be successful.
“As we have further cultivated this show, I have come to appreciate the message of success and happiness through the eyes of the beholder rather than the desperate search for approval from secular society,” said Klosowski. “I think this show has the potential for incredible laughs and great connections with different characters.”
Furman adjunct Theatre Arts Professor Jason Adkins directs the play. Set and lighting designer is Alan Bryson, with sound design by Kevin Frazier and costume design by Will Lowry.
Intended for mature audiences, “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball” runs Nov. 12-15 and 19-22 at 8 p.m., with a matinee performance Sunday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. in the Theatre Playhouse on campus. Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. For ticket information and reservations, call the Playhouse Box Office at (864) 294-2125.
Cate Pichon Fenster ’93 remains the only Furman runner to ever compete in the NCAA cross country championship meet, a feat she pulled off in 1991. There is a very good chance that will finally change this weekend.
Fresh off their second straight Southern Conference titles, the Paladin men’s and women’s teams will compete in the Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 14 in Louisville, Ky. There are nine regional meets, and the top two finishers in each earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships to be held Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind. Thirteen schools also receive at-large bids.
The men, who until last year hadn’t even won the conference since 1976, are seeded first, and third-year coach Robert Gary doesn’t mince words about his team’s chances of making Furman history.
“I don’t think we need to have a crazy, miracle race by any stretch. If we run as well as we have I think the men’s program will make it,” he said. “Now, it’s tough. We’re just a really young team. A lot of the freshmen at some of the bigger schools redshirt, and we didn’t do any of that. If you’re here it’s time to get going. That’s about the only thing we’re worried about is how young they are and the distance moving from 8K to 10K.”
If the Paladins’ performance at the SoCon meet held on Halloween in Kernersville, N.C., is any indication, he has good reason to be confident. Furman became the first school to ever win back-to-back men’s and women’s Southern Conference championship simultaneously, but the real story was the Paladins’ record-breaking dominance. The women posted the lowest score in the 29-year history of the competiton with 22 points, and amazingly the men were even better with a perfect 15 points that resulted from sweeping the top five individual finishers.
No Southern Conference men’s team had done that since East Tennessee State’s three-year run of perfection from 1980-82, which matched William & Mary’s trio of 15s posted from 1972-74, and Furman set a mind-boggling record that can never be broken when its nine individuals beat every other runner from every other school.
Senior Tripp Hurt led the way by becoming Furman’s first male individual conference champion since Dennis Patterson in 1962, crossing the line in 24:18.63 to cap a career that saw his league meet finishes improve from 12th to seventh to fourth last year. The SoCon Runner of the Year, who was also named first-team all-conference for the third straight season, was followed by 2013 SoCon Freshman of the Year Troy Reeder (24:18.83), 2014 SoCon Freshman of the Year Aaron Templeton (24:18.88), sophomore Tanner Hinkle (24:18.92) and sophomore Brock Baker (24:23.56).
Freshmen Frank Lara (24:25.05) and Austin Sprague (24:31.32) nabbed the final two first-team slots, with senior William Ivey (24:35.28) and freshman Mark Hadley coming in eighth and ninth to garner second-team All-SoCon accolades.
On the women’s side, sophomore Allie Buchalski took the women’s individual title with a time of 16:44.42 a year after finishing second to become Furman’s first winner since Megan Lordi in 2008. The Paladins claimed three of the top five spots and six of the top 10, with senior Sinead Haughey coming in second with a time of 16:45.76 followed by sophomore Julia Rodriguez (fourth), 2014 SoCon Freshman of the Year Emma Mashburn (seventh) and sophomores Grace Tinkey (eighth), Laura Miller (ninth), Maddie Wolfe (21st) and Bryce Seymour (31st).
The Paladin men earned the first national ranking in program history when they finished second at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Sept. 26 in Charlottesville, Va., and they finished fourth at the Pre-NCAA Invite on Oct. 18 in Terre Haute behind top-ranked Colorado, second-ranked Oregon and Georgetown. Furman has climbed to 16th nationally and first in the Southeast Region. The women are ranked ninth in the region.
Gary was SoCon Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“The women would be a little bit of a long shot to make the national meet, but the men, just going on a piece of paper, we probably should so that’s pretty exciting,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a whole heckuva a lot of pressure.”
An influx of money from the Blue Shoes program has rejuvenated the long-underfunded sport at Furman, and Gary hopes the Paladin community, which sees few and far between NCAA championships, will start to take notice.
“Sometimes I think at Furman for some reason athletics is kind of tip-toeing around and hoping nobody notices as opposed to hey, there’s something really great going here,” Gary, a two-time Olympian who came to Furman from Ohio State, said. “When we came home from the SoCon, a bunch of the sports had come out to meet us, we had a police escort, President (Elizabeth) Davis came out to congratulate us, so those kind of things are really great. And I hope to set a tradition where we expect to win the SoCon and I hope we except to make the national meet every year.”
And Gary has no plans to stop there.
“Then it’s just a matter of can you get a trophy, and that’s our ultimate goal inside the next four years. You get a trophy for top four at the NCAA meet, so having both genders shooting towards that will be really exciting,” he said. “There’s only a handful of schools that really talk about that on a yearly basis, only five or six out of the 350 cross country programs in the country. … In that little nerdy track-and-field world, there’s a lot of buzz and a lot of people are really taking notice that a small liberal-arts school in South Carolina is a player on the national scene on the men’s side and soon to be the women’s.”
Hurt was also the Southern Conference Cross County Runner of the Month for September, and he and Buchalski were the SoCon Cross County Athletes of the Month for October.
Furman’s 2013 women’s team title broke a 13-year drought. They notched their first three championships in 1993, ’94 and ’95 behind three-time individual champion Heather VandeBrake Hunt ’96 and added another in 2000. The men also won in 1961 and 1965.