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BETHANY’S WOODS DENIED NCAA TRIP BUT BISON EARN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD

May 18 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Although she provisionally qualified for NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Bethany freshman Connie Woods (Alexandria, Va./T.C. Williams) did not finish high enough in the national rankings and will not be competing in this week’s national meet at Marietta (Ohio) College.

The news came on the same day that the Bison women’s track and field program was awarded a 2009 Spring PAC Team Sportsmanship Award, which is presented to one team per sport in the spring and is sponsored by the PAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

On the track, Woods provisionally qualified for the NCAA meet back on May 8 at the Allegheny Invitational. She finished in second place in the triple jump with a measurement of 37 feet, eight inches, which also shattered her own school record in the event by more than a foot and a half. Woods had another chance to improve her mark at the ECAC Championships last week, but finished in eighth place with a jump of 37-3.25.

At the time of her jump at Allegheny, Woods ranked 26th in the country and after this past weekend’s final competitions, she stood in 27th place overall. When the NCAA extended their invitations for the Championships, they only took 19 competitors, leaving Woods out of the mix. The final qualifiers were Kelley Coughlan from Middlebury (Vt.) College and Katie Fondow from Wisconsin-LaCrosse, who both registered jumps of 38-5.

While Bison head coach Andy Upton was disappointed at the developments, he is still proud of how Woods, who also set a new school record this year in the long jump, recovered from an early season injury to nearly earn a chance to compete for a national championship.

“Connie came a long way since getting hurt in her very first meet,” said head coach Andy Upton. “Her injury really held back her training, but once she was healthy and able to train properly, everyone saw how good she can be. If she had another week or two, she would have hit that national mark. While we’re disappointed she won’t get to compete this year, we are very excited about what she’ll be able to do the next three years.”

The news on Woods was tempered somewhat by the announcement of the PAC Sportsmanship Award. This new award is sponsored by the members of the PAC SAAC in an effort to recognize and encourage positive sportsmanship among the conference teams. The SAAC is a committee consisting of student-athletes from each member institution assembled to provide insight on the student-athlete experience.

The Bison women’s track & field team is the third program at Bethany to receive a Sportsmanship Award this year, as head coach Courtney Kline’s volleyball team received it in the fall and the BC women’s basketball team was also recognized by the conference in the winter. Coincidentally, the Bison women’s basketball team is coached by Rebecca Upton, the wife of track coach Andy.

“It is a great honor that our team made a good impression now only athletically, but also as people with good character,” said Upton, whose team sent nine competitors to ECAC Outdoor Championships last week. “People were talking how well we were performing, but by representing Bethany with great class on and off the track, we were able to earn an award of this magnitude.”

This is the first season the team sportsmanship awards will be given out in each of the 19 PAC sponsored varsity sports. Each PAC team was asked to vote for the conference team in their sport who displayed the highest level of sportsmanship. The awards were handed out at the conclusion of the fall, winter and spring seasons.