To say Hillsdale College's first year competing in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference was a successful one would be an understatement.
The Chargers enjoyed incredible success throughout the 2017-18 academic year, thanks to diligent and intense hard work by the student-athletes and wise and enthusiastic leadership from the coaching, athletic training and support staffs. That all added up to Hillsdale earning the 2017-18 Presidents' Cup, signifying the excellence the institution had across all sports throughout the year.
The Presidents' Cup trophy was awarded to Athletic Director Don Brubacher and Student Athlete Advisory Committee members Allie Dewire (women's basketball) and Austin Sandusky (football) at the conference's annual awards banquet, held at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio Tuesday night. This marks the first time Hillsdale College has ever received such an award through its NCAA Division II history.
With a Presidents' Cup point total of .924 for the year, the Chargers easily outdistanced all competition in winning the award. The University of Findlay was second with a mark of .792, while Walsh University was third at .733. Trevecca Nazarene won the first G-MAC Presidents' Cup in 2012-13, while Cedarville University won each of the last four consecutive awards.
The winner of the Presidents' Cup is determined by an average of a particular school's conference finish across all the sports it sponsors. For example, winning a conference title equals a score of 1.000 in that given sport. Finishing second in a 10-team conference gets you a score of .900 and so on. Hillsdale's lowest score in any sport was .700, showing just how dominant it was through all the sports it sponsors. The women's programs stood out to an even greater extent in this way. Hillsdale finished first in eight of the nine women's sports it sponsors, and the swimming team was quite respectable, placing second at the G-MAC championships in February.
Hillsdale's .924 mark represents the highest score in the history of the G-MAC Presidents' Cup. And a closer look at the 2017-18 year turned in by the Chargers shows exactly why it set a new standard of excellence.
A total of nine conference championships were earned by Charger teams this year. Women's cross country started it all back in October, crushing the competition to easily win the conference title. The Hillsdale College volleyball team won its fourth conference tournament in its history with an emotional win over Findlay on November 18 on its home court of Dawn Tibbetts Potter Arena.
The women's indoor track team duplicated the volleyball title, winning the championship in its home venue of the Margot V. Biermann Athletic Center in February. The women's basketball team came from the #5 seed to win the 2018 G-MAC Tournament championship in March, putting a cap on an incredible turnaround story under the guidance of first-year head coach Matt Fritsche.
Spring was a season of dominance for Hillsdale, as five teams won conference hardware. Both the men's and women's tennis teams buzzed through their respective regular seasons undefeated and went on to win conference tournament titles in April. The women's track team followed up its indoor championship by racking up 216.5 points to win the G-MAC women's track outdoor title, again at home, inside Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium.
A frigid spring did nothing to slow down the red-hot Charger baseball and softball teams, who won conference tournament titles for the first time in their program histories one week apart in the month of May. The softball team went 4-0 in winning the G-MAC Tournament, clinching it with a 4-1 win over Kentucky Wesleyan in Xenia, Ohio.
The baseball team put together a remarkable postseason run, winning the winner-take-all championship game 15-2 over Kentucky Wesleyan in Mason, Ohio to win its first-ever conference tournament title.