College athletics has a rich and proud tradition at Davis & Elkins College. Over the past decades, thousands of student-athletes have competed and achieved great success. Individual all-Americans, victories over NCAA Division I opponents, conference championships and national championships are among the many mountaintop moments that have been synonymous with Senator athletics.
This academic year has seen continued success as the Senators changed conferences and joined the Mountain East Conference. As an admittedly proud president, I want to brag just a bit about the accomplishments of our student athletes, and particularly three of our athletic teams that are experiencing record-setting seasons.
The Senator Triathlon program is only in its second year, but has already made waves on the national scene. In their inaugural season, they competed at the national finals and finished fourth. This year they won the East Regional Qualifier, while in the process defeating the defending NCAA Division II national champions. A freshman from Spain, Natalia Hidalgo Martinez, was the individual Division II champion. This Saturday, the Senators will be in Tempe, Arizona, to compete again for a national title. Of the eight female student-athletes on this team, five are sophomores and three are freshmen. The future looks promising!
Dr. Chris Hammer, D&E triathlon coach, has competed as a paralympian in the Olympic games in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016. For those unfamiliar with triathlon, athletes swim 750 meters, bike 20 kilometers and run 5 kilometers.
The other two D&E teams heading to national finals this month are the Women’s and Men’s Cross-Country Teams.
The Women’s Senator Cross-Country team became the first women’s cross-country team in program history to win a conference championship with their Mountain East Conference Championship title. They became the first team in program history and the first ever NCAA Division II program from the state of West Virginia to qualify for the Cross Country National Championships. Of the top seven competing D&E student-athletes for the conference and regional races, six are freshmen and one is a senior.
The Men’s Senator Cross-Country team became the first men’s team in program history to make the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships and only the third Division II West Virginia program to make it to nationals. Combined with the Senator women’s success, it’s the first time in the state of West Virginia that both teams from the same college have made it to the NCAA Division II National Championships. Coach Jason Pyles is in his fourth season as coach of both the women’s and men’s squads and has done an outstanding job.
We are certainly very proud of the athletic success of all our athletic teams. I am also proud and gratified that the athletic program at D&E is undergirded by three other foundational pillars. In addition to competition, we stress education, engagement and character.
An athlete who not only excels on the field or court, but also excels in the classroom, serves his or her community, and exhibits character and integrity is what makes all who love D&E proud.
The journey continues…