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Coastal Athletics Rises in the Sun Belt

by Alex Souza

In its second year of membership in the Sun Belt Conference and its first with Chanticleer Football playing a full schedule in the new league, Chanticleer Athletic programs continued their rise with success on the field and in the classroom.

Sun Belt Conference Logo

In the fall, cross-country runner Nadeel Wildschutt kicked things off with a dominant season and Sun Belt Championship victory in Boone, N.C. Wildschutt’s performance earned a sweep of Sun Belt awards: Runner, Freshman and Newcomer of the Year. He went on to earn All-American honors, the first for a male cross-country student-athlete in CCU history.

Men’s soccer followed suit with a regular season and tournament championship. The Chants defended home turf with a win over Georgia State to earn their second Sun Belt title in as many years. Head Coach Shaun Docking’s team went on to beat Mercer and No. 8 Clemson in the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual national champion Stanford in round 16.

Volleyball closed out the fall on top of the Sun Belt as well. Coastal Volleyball defeated Texas State to win its fourth straight conference championship (two in Sun Belt, two in Big South). The Chants were led yet again by Leah Hardeman, who finished her storied career as the only Division I Volleyball student-athlete to be named Conference Player of the Year for four consecutive years.

Athletic success continued in the spring. The men’s golf team returned to its winning ways as first-year head coach Jim Garren led the Chants and walk-on student-athlete Morgan Deneen to championship victories. Women’s golf joined the men by sweeping the individual (senior Malene Kroboll Hansen) and team championships. 

Baseball rounded out the team success, winning the regular season and conference tournament titles in the Sun Belt. CCU dominated the conference championship in Lafayette, La., winning four straight games. Coastal’s success throughout the season earned the team a chance to host a regional in Springs Brooks Stadium.

In the 2017-2018 Learfield Directors’ Cup Division I final standings, CCU finished 117 in the nation and top in the Sun Belt. The Learfield Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in NCAA Championships.

After the fall semester, a record 264 Coastal Carolina student-athletes posted at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) for the fall 2017 semester, including a record 129 who earned Dean’s List distinction. In addition, 48 Chanticleers had a perfect 4.0 GPA to receive President’s List recognition.

In August, the Sun Belt Conference announced its highest grade point averages among its 16 sports for the 2017-2018 academic school year, and CCU was tied for the top school with three sports receiving the highest marks. Men’s cross-country, men’s tennis and women’s tennis all topped the league in GPA.