After a stellar spring sports season highlighted by four conference championships in men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, softball and women’s tennis, Denison University has earned their record 12th Dennis M. Collins North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports Championship.
Following the completion of all 23 NCAC sponsored sports, Denison totaled 169.5 points in the All-Sports race, outdistancing last year’s champion, Wittenberg, by 8.5 points. Third-place went to Ohio Wesleyan with 159.0 points and fourth-place was secured by Allegheny with 150.5 points. Denison led all schools with seven conference championships. The Big Red also amassed 11 top-3 finishes while landing 18 of their 23 sports in the top-5 of the conference standings.
With a 12th banner ready to be hung from the Livingston Gymnasium rafters, it is impossible to ignore the success the Big Red athletic department has enjoyed since 1997-98 when the college began a streak of nine consecutive All-Sports Awards which lasted until 2006. Since 1997, DU has been the recipient of 11 of the NCAC’s 14 All-Sports trophies.
Denison’s first NCAC champions of 2010-11 were crowned in February at the men’s and women’s swimming and diving championships in Canton, Ohio. The Big Red won both the men’s and women’s crowns for the third-consecutive year. Their victories in Canton set up both programs for record-setting finishes at the national level where the men captured Denison’s second national championship in school history, and the women posted a national runner-up finish for the sixth time.
Women’s basketball followed one week later by putting the finishing touches on the program’s first undefeated regular season. Led by All-American Shaina Kaiser, the Big Red posted a 16-0 record in NCAC play and won the conference tournament on their home court. They took a 28-0 record into the NCAA Division III Tournament where they were knocked off by defending national champ and eventual NCAA runner-up, Washington University.
The Big Red took a two-point lead in the all-sports race into the spring season but nine top-five finishes and four NCAC championships out of the 10 competing sports would slam the door on the competition.
The Denison women’s tennis team won their 10th consecutive NCAC Championship by defeating Kenyon College, 5-0 in the tournament championship from Oberlin, Ohio. Senior Kristin Cobb was named the NCAC’s Player of the Year and head coach Peter Burling took home his 10th NCAC Coach of the Year award.
On the softball diamond, DU won their eighth conference title in school history while posting the program’s fifth, 30-win season. Senior Erica Evans was named the NCAC’s Player of the Year while first-year Rebecca Dyer earned NCAC Pitcher of the Year honors.
In lacrosse, Denison’s men’s and women’s teams each won conference titles. For the men it marked their 12th conference crown since 1985. After going 10-3 in the regular season the Big Red earned their 19th bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The women’s lacrosse team began their season by being predicted to finish sixth out of seven teams in the conference’s preseason coaches’ poll. Under the direction of interim head coach P.J. Soteriades, the Big Red hit their stride in the conference schedule, going 6-0 in the regular season en route to winning the conference tournament on their home field for the first time since 2006. The Big Red advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 14th time in school history.
Also earning second-place finishes in the conference this year was women’s soccer and men’s tennis. Women’s soccer turned their tie for second in the regular season into a NCAC Tournament championship and a berth to the NCAA Tournament where they advanced to the national quarterfinals (Elite 8) for the second time in school history.
The men’s tennis team were nationally ranked all season and finished second to No. 7 Kenyon in the conference tournament championship. They finished 13-8 and the doubles team of Tyler Cempre and Matt McErlean has qualified for the NCAA Division III Doubles Championship.
The Dennis M. Collins Award is given annually to the school that performs the best across the NCAC's 23 sports. Ten points are awarded for a first-place finish, nine for a second, eight for a third, and so on. Men's and women's performances are combined, exemplifying the North Coast's commitment to equity and balance among programs. Denison leads all NCAC institutions with 12 All-Sports Championships. Ohio Wesleyan follows with nine awards while Wooster (five) and Wittenberg (two) round out the NCAC’s 27 years of competition.
In the race for all-time team championships, Denison’s seven titles in 2010-11 kept them in second-place overall with 116 championships since 1984-85. Ohio Wesleyan leads the way with 129 titles while Allegheny sits in third with 106.