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Randolph's Harlon Hill Trophy Named Top SAC Moment

ROCK HILL, S.C.-- Former Mars Hill running back Jonas Randolph's winning of the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2011 has been named the top athletic moment in South Atlantic Conference history, the league announced Wednesday.

Throughout the 2012-13 season, the SAC has celebrated 20 years a member of NCAA Division II by counting down the conference’s top 20 moments from the past two decades in a series titled SAC 20 for 20. Today, the countdown’s top five moments are unveiled. 

No. 1 | Mars Hill football – Jonas Randolph wins Harlon Hill Trophy (Dec. 16, 2011)

Mars Hill running back Jonas Randolph rewrote the SAC records books in 2011, leading the Lions to their first-ever NCAA Division II Football Championship appearance and winning the Harlon Hill Trophy. Randolph became the first player in conference history to earn the prestigious award, which recognizes the top player in Division II.

Randolph rushed for 2,170 yards on the season, which led the nation and were the most in a single-season in SAC history. He also broke the conference’s all-time rushing record, finishing his career with 5,608 yards. His 373 rushing yards against Tusculum that year were the most ever in the conference and the ninth-highest total in Division II history.

Overall, Randolph had six games of over 200 rushing yards in 2011 and two where he eclipsed the 300-yard mark. He was also named the SAC Offensive Player of the Year, the Super Region II Offensive Player of the Year and the 2011-12 SAC Male Athlete of the Year.

No. 2 | Wingate volleyball – Bulldogs win 83-straight SAC matches (2007-12)

From 2007 to early in the 2012 season, Wingate volleyball literally achieved perfection in the SAC, winning 83-straight league matches. The Bulldogs’ streak included unbeaten records in conference play from 2007 to 2011, and one win in 2012 before finally dropping a contest to Tusculum.

Wingate, which also extended its streak of Food Lion SAC Championship titles to seven-straight in 2012, won 28 more conference matches than any other league school during the stretch.

Among the Bulldogs’ accomplishments during the run was producing four SAC Players of the Year, four SAC Freshmen of the Year and three SAC Volleyball Scholar-Athletes of the Year. Additionally, WU’s Shelton Collier won or shared SAC Coach of the Year accolades in six-straight seasons.

Wingate earned selections to the NCAA Tournament each season during the streak, reaching the national quarterfinal round in 2010 and 2012.

No. 3 | Carson-Newman football – Coach Ken Sparks records 300th-career win (Aug. 30, 2012)

In the season-opener of his 32nd year on the Carson-Newman sidelines, Ken Sparks became just the 11th coach in college football history to reach 300 career wins as the Eagles outlasted Glenville St., 56-46. The milestone came just two months after Sparks had been diagnosed and begun treatment for prostate cancer.

Included in the 300 career victories were 22 combined appearances in the NCAA and NAIA playoffs, five NAIA national titles and three appearances in the NCAA Division II championship game. The Eagles would finish 2012 with a 9-3 record, adding another playoff selection to Sparks’ resume.

Sparks was inducted to the inaugural NCAA Division II Hall of Fame coaches class in 2010, and is also a member of the SAC Hall of Fame, the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame, the Carson-Newman Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame. He has been named SAC Coach of the Year 12 times.

No. 4 | Carson-Newman football – Eagles advance to three national title games in four years (1996-99)

In arguably the most dominant stretch of any SAC football team in league history, Carson-Newman advanced to the national title game of the NCAA Division II Football Championship three times in four years from 1996 through 1999, amassing 48 wins in the process.

After reaching the playoffs in the SAC’s first three years of Division II eligibility, Carson-Newman broke through to the title game in 1996 before falling to Northern Colorado, 23-14. Following an elimination in the national semifinal round in 1997, the Eagles reached the tile game again in 1998 and 1999.

Carson-Newman lost both the 1998 and 1999 finals to Northwest Missouri St. - the first year by a score of 24-6, then in a four-overtime 58-52 thriller the following season. C-N is the only school in the conference ever to reach the NCAA national title game.

The Eagles lost just one SAC game and produced a total of 52 All-Conference selections during the four-year stretch.

No. 5  |  Lincoln Memorial men’s soccer – LMU reaches title match of NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship (Nov. 30, 2007)

After sharing the regular season championship and winning the SAC Tournament title in its first full season as a member of the league, Lincoln Memorial stormed through the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship, reaching the national title match in Orange Beach, Ala.  The Railsplitters clinched a spot in the final with a 1-0 double overtime victory over Montevallo in the semifinals on a goal from senior Guilherme Alves in the 109th minute.

LMU would ultimately fall in the title match to Franklin Pierce, 1-0.

Lincoln Memorial went 18-3-1 overall on the season, at one point reaching No. 1 in the national rankings.  The Railsplitters were led by SAC, Regional and National Player of the Year Leandro Pereira and five other All-Conference selections. 

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