After a one-year hiatus, the Richmond women’s swim team returned to its familiar perch at the top of the Atlantic 10 Swimming & Diving Championships. It was the ninth championship in 10 years for the Spiders.
The swimmers overwhelmed the field during the four-day meet in Buffalo, N.Y., scoring 755 points, with Fordham a distant second at 578. Coach Matt Barany said the highlight of the meet was sweeping all five four-swimmer relays.
The stars aligned for the Spiders on February 26 when two Richmond basketball standouts, Kevin Anderson and Brittani Shells (above), each topped 2,000 career points.
Both seniors arrived at that winter Saturday with 1,789 points. Shells more than did her part in women’s play at the Robins Center. With 17:19 left in what would be a 68-57 win over St. Louis, Shells took a pass, left a defender behind, and sank a reverse layup to top 2,000 career points. Among those cheering her on was Karen Elsner, the only other Spider woman to surpass the 2K mark, earning 2,367 points between 1982 and 1985.
In the same game, Shells recorded a pair of steals to become the women’s all-time leader in that category. She finished with 300 steals in her career. She also is seventh all-time in assists for the women Spiders with 334. Coach Michael Shafer said what was most impressive was not any one honor, “but all three together. Brit was recognized for being what she is, a true student-athlete.”
In the men’s evening game against Charlotte, it was up to Anderson to match Shells’ accomplishment. With 7:36 left in the game, Anderson streaked down the left side, hauled in a cross-court pass, raced by a defender, and sank a reverse layup to give him 2,001 points for his career. The final score was 72-59, with UR the victor.
The Atlantic 10’s leading scorer with a 19.3 average, Shells was named to the All Conference first team and All Defensive team, the third straight year for both distinctions.
Anderson finished his career as the second all-time scorer among Spider men, with 2,165 points, trailing only Johnny Newman’s 2,383 from 1983 to 1986.
Adding to the glory, no other school in the history of U.S. college basketball had ever had a men’s player and a women’s player reach the 2,000-point plateau on the same day.
The relays also stood out for Spider sophomore Lauren Hines, who was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer. Hines won medals in all seven events she swam—six golds and a silver—and broke five A-10 championship records and six school records. Her signature individual swim came in the 100-meter backstroke, where she was clocked at 52.76 seconds, breaking school and A-10 records. Her time ranked as the 10th best in the event in the NCAA for the season and earned her a berth in the NCAA championships.
First-year student Mali Kobelja, the only swimmer to win three individual events at the meet, was named Most Outstanding Rookie Performer. Barany was named Coach of the Year, the fourth time he has earned that particular honor.
Later, senior swimmer Nicole LePere was named the A-10 Women’s Swimming & Diving Student-Athlete of the Year. A business administration major, she has a 3.41 grade point average. At the championship meet she swam on two of the winning relay teams.
Picked in a coaches poll to win the conference title, undefeated in regular season Atlantic 10 play, and entered into the most recent A-10 tournament as the No. 1 seed, the Richmond women’s tennis team did not disappoint this year, taking home another A-10 championship.
The Spiders swept past eighth-seeded Charlotte, dispatched fourth-seeded George Washington in the semifinals, then beat third-seeded St. Louis to claim the championship. It was the third straight A-10 title for the Spiders, and the eighth in the last nine years. They earned a spot in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships for the seventh time in eight years.
Wrapping up his 20th year at the helm of the UR program, coach Mark Wesselink said “this is the best we’ve played—we peaked at the right time.”
It was an especially gratifying tournament for Spider sophomore Alexandra Smyth, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury during last year’s tournament. This year, she shared wins with her doubles partner, junior Helen Cunningham, against Charlotte and St. Louis, and won her singles match against George Washington in the semifinal. In the final round, she won her singles match 6-3, 6-1 to clinch the Spiders’ title.
The University of Richmond Athletics Hall of Fame has inducted a stellar new group of members. Joining the great figures in Spider sports history are Al Rinaldi, R’51, Patricia Kursch McGehee, W’67, Johnny Moates, R’67, Harold Babb, R’72, and Kenny Wood, ’93.
Rinaldi was a four-year starter in basketball, a long-jumper for the track team, and played a year of football. He became a legendary high school football coach, with a 191-76 record.
McGehee excelled in basketball (she was leading scorer as a junior and senior, with a one-game best of 32 points), field hockey, lacrosse, and tennis––and was a fixture on the Dean’s List. After her college career, she officiated in basketball and lacrosse for many years.
Moates was a dominant basketball player, named All-Southern Conference as a junior and senior. His 1,440 points in three seasons ranks him at 11th in Spider history.
Babb, as faculty athletic representative to the NCAA since 1984, has helped the University maintain academic and athletic integrity and meet NCAA regulations and Title IX requirements.
Wood was a starter on three Spider basketball teams that advanced to post-season play, including the 1991 squad that beat second-seeded Syracuse in one of the all-time greatest NCAA tournament upsets. He led the team in scoring as a senior captain and earned All-CAA first-team honors.
Sept. 3 at Duke
Sept. 10 Wagner
Sept. 17 VMI
Sept. 24 New Hampshire
Oct. 1 at James Madison
Oct. 8 at Towson
Oct. 22 Maine *
Oct. 29 Massachusetts
Nov. 5 at Old Dominion
Nov. 12 at Delaware
Nov. 19 William & Mary
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