LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Eight highly successful programs earned 2016 NFCA NCAA Division III Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors, the Association revealed on Tuesday.
National champion University of Texas at Tyler was the pick of its NFCA peers as the top team in the West Region, while six others that reached the NCAA Division III Championship in Salem, Va., made the list, along with a team that just missed out on being among those final eight teams standing.
Texas-Tyler (49-5) captured its first-ever Division III title after finishing second in the nation to three-time reigning titlist Tufts in the finals last season. The Patriots captured the NFCA Leadoff Classic in March at the South Commons Complex in Columbus, Ga., and had little trouble the rest of the way in returning to Salem’s James I. Moyer Sports Complex for some unfinished business.
They buzzed undefeated (29-0) through the American Southwest Conference, and only lost twice to Belhaven — which is transitioning to Division III from the NAIA — and twice in two days to East Texas Baptist in the ASC Tournament, including the final. The Patriots hosted and won both the NCAA Regional and Super Regional championships and dropped one game — to St. John Fisher — in their 5-1 run to the title in Salem.
Messiah College (47-6), the team the Patriots defeated twice in the best-of-three NCAA Championship Series, earned NFCA East Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors after winning the Middle Atlantic Conference’s Commonwealth title and capturing both the Newport News Regional and Grantham Super Regional crowns to reach the final eight in Salem. The Falcons’ only two losses in Salem were against Texas-Tyler.
Emory University picked up Atlantic Region honors after going 46-8 and finishing tied for fifth at the NCAA Division III Championship. The Eagles won their seventh straight University Athletic Association title and won both the NCAA Mount Berry Regional & NCAA Atlanta Super Regional crowns.
The Great Lakes Region honoree, Illinois Wesleyan, also reached Salem, tying for seventh. The Titans went 35-13 and were the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin regular-season titlist and NCAA Bloomington Regional and NCAA Decorah Super Regional champion.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology went 34-14 and lost in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship game, but rebounded to take both the NCAA Williamstown Regional and Worcester Super Regional championships, before finishing tied for fifth in Salem to earn New England Region recognition.
St. John Fisher College was the choice in the Northeast Region, after going 41-12 and winning both the NCAA Regional and Super Regional titles without leaving its home city of Rochester, N.Y. The Cardinals did lose to Ithaca in the Empire 8 final, but didn’t lose again until falling twice to eventual champion Texas-Tyler in Salem.
The University of St. Thomas earned the Midwest Region nod after going 43-8 and winning the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association title and capturing the NCAA Lake Forest Regional & NCAA Angola Super Regional crowns before finishing tied for seventh at NCAA Division III Championship.
Central Region honoree Trine University (33-14) lost in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association final before winning the NCAA Angola Regional championship, but was denied a trip to Salem by St. Thomas in the Angola Super Regional. In March, the Thunder were the NFCA Leadoff Classic runner-up to Texas-Tyler in the gold bracket final.
These eight teams advance to consideration for the NFCA NCAA Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year, which will be announced on June 15.