The honors continue to pour in for the University of Mobile’s Jonina Brinson. The junior from Swainsboro, Georgia, has been named the South Region Field Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
“To God the glory,” Brinson told Lagniappe. “God has really blessed me this season to achieve this award for the second consecutive year for indoor track.”
Brinson was the long jump national titlist at both the NAIA Indoor and Outdoor national championships in 2016. In the recent 2017 NAIA Indoor Championships, she again earned All-American honors in those events, in addition to the 60-meter dash.
“It’s been a blessing to have the opportunity to coach Jonina,” UM track coach Andy Canegitta said. “For her to be recognized as the field athlete of the year is a great accomplishment for her and well deserved. She is a great leader and a relentless worker.
“This indoor season she had to overcome some obstacles, but with her strong faith in God she allowed him to take control and was able to perform to the best of her ability.”
Brinson’s national competition started on May 2 in Johnson City, Tennessee, with the long jump. She finished with a mark of 5.84 meters, which placed her second in the NAIA.
In the triple jump, her best effort of 11.77 meters earned her third place. In the 60-meter dash final, she recorded a time of 7.62 seconds to finish second.
“I’m glad that I was able to compete and finish with All-American status,” Brinson said. “I’m ready to see what the outdoor season has in store for me.”
Brinson’s triple and long jump marks broke her own school indoor record. She now holds the top seven times in the 60-meter dash, top four times in the 200-meter dash, top five long jump marks and top three triple jump marks in school history.
“Jonina is an excellent representative of UM Athletics,” said UM Associate Athletic Director Kris Nelson. “She exemplifies hard work, commitment to excellence and class.
“She is not only an All-American athlete, but was recently selected as a member of the first class of UM Student Ambassadors to represent the entire university. We could not be more proud of Jonina and glad she is a vital member of the Rams.”
• The University of Mobile women’s basketball team has captured the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. After upsetting top-seeded Loyola 65-59 in the semifinals, the Lady Rams completed the deal by defeating Bethel 68-58 in the title game.
Starla Daggan, who scored 37 points in the finals, was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She and Kali Koenig were named to the All-Tournament team. Koenig scored 18 points against Bethel.
UM is 22-10 and on a seven-game winning streak. The Lady Rams play this week at the NAIA National Championships in Billings, Montana. They open against Baker University of Kansas, which is 29-4.
• Daggan had previously been named the league’s Player of the Year. She led the SSAC with a 19.75 average, which was fourth best in the NAIA. Joining her on the first-team unit was Koenig. Noelle Morris was on the Champion of Character roster as well as on the All-Academic unit with Koenig, Jazmine Atkins and Kerrie York.
• Spring Hill College’s Elise Reilly has been named Freshman of the Year by the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The 5-foot-7 guard led the Badgers (14-12 overall, 8-8 SIAC) in scoring with a 15.0 average. Reilly set a SHC single-game record with nine 3-pointers against Kentucky State, finishing with 39 points for the second-best in program history. She establish a new school mark with 72 3-pointers.
• University of South Alabama junior center Chyna Ellis has been selected to the Sun Belt’s third-team all-conference squad. She led the Lady Jags in scoring (10.8 ppg), field goal percentage (38.0), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and blocks (3.1 bpg). Ellis holds the school record with 212 rejections in a career and 87 in a season.
• Members of the men’s basketball team at UM honored by the SSAC were Raykwon Fenton and Darius Curry on the All-Freshman list, Dillon Pollard on the Champion of Character roster and Lawrence Pierce on the All-Academic team.
• Kaitlyn Beans, a senior at USA, has been named the Most Outstanding Women’s Field Athlete of the Year by the Sun Belt Conference. At the league championships, she won the long jump with a 6.14-meter effort that broke the school mark and was just .2 meters shy of the meet record. She also won the triple jump for the second straight year, this time with a leap of 12.80 meters.
• USA teammate Sean Collins won the pole vault at the Sun Belt meet with a 5.37-meter effort. He had previously won the indoor title as a freshman, but an injury kept him from competing for the outdoor title. Rafael Scott won the 60-meter dash for a second straight season in a time of 6.67 seconds.
Other USA wins came in the pentathlon by freshman Emilie Berge, who set a personal best with 3,947 points; and in the 4000-meter distance medley by Warno Potgieter, Ben Rolader, Larry Lombard and Nathan Riech in 10:01.07.
• Danielle Clark of Spring Hill College has been named the SIAC Softball Pitcher of the Week. The sophomore from Saraland pitched a complete-game win over Armstrong State and then came on in relief to earn the victory against No. 4 University of North Georgia. Against UNG the next day, a two-run homer to the second batter led to a 2-0 loss as she allowed only five hits. She followed up the next day with a 2-hit shutout of Eckerd.
• One of the largest high school track and field competitions in the South is set for March 22 with the 15th annual Lyon Newell Charity Throws meet. As many as 92 public and private schools from Alabama, Mississippi and Florida will compete at UMS-Wright. Proceeds go to the Wilmer Hall Children’s home, which provides services to help child abuse victims and their non-offending family members in Mobile County, and to the Lyon Newell Scholarship. This event has raised more than $150,000 over the previous 14 years.
Newell was a football and track star at UMS-Wright who died in an accident shortly after graduating from the University of Alabama.