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Clemson Athletics Completes Successful Schoolyear

June 12

*Clemson was one of just three schools nationally to have a team in a bowl game, the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and the NCAA baseball tournament in 1997-98. North Carolina and Washington were the only other schools to pull off the major sport quadruple.

*This was the third straight year Clemson achieved the major sport quadruple, the only school in the nation that can make that claim.

*Both of Clemson’s soccer teams advanced to the Final Eight of their respective NCAA Tournaments, something only UCLA could also claim.

*Ten of a possible 12 sports received team bids to NCAA postseason events. Sixteen of the 18 Clemson athletic teams had representation in postseason play.

*Clemson had a first-team All-ACC athlete in 17 of its 18 sports. There were 55 total first-team All-ACC athletes (most in six years), and 22 All-Americans.

*The athletic department announced it would add rowing as a varsity sport for the 1998-99.

*It was a big year for former Clemson athletes in professional sports. Clemson had among the top 20 representations in pro football and pro basketball. Trevor Pryce won a Super Bowl Championship ring in his rookie year with the Denver Broncos. Dale Davis and Elden Campbell, teammates on Clemson’s 1989-90 ACC championship basketball team, were on teams that advanced to the final four of the NBA playoffs.

Anthony Simmons was a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks, the 15th pick of the draft, while Matt Padgett was a fifth round selection of baseball’s Florida Marlins. Basketball star Greg Buckner was also expected to be a high draft selection in late June at the NBA draft. Soccer goalkeeper Matt Jordan was the 10th pick of the entire MLS draft.

*Seven Clemson teams were ranked in the final top 20 of their respective sports rankings.

*Clemson finished in the top 20 of the final Sears Director’s Cup rankings, Clemson’s highest finish since 1993-94 when the Tigers were 16th in the national all-sports poll.

*The Clemson sports program won four ACC championships, including two by the men’s track program (indoor and outdoor). It was the second straight year the men’s program had won both ACC titles. Volleyball won its first ACC championship in history, while golf won the conference tournament for the second straight year.

*Clemson had a very successful season against state rival South Carolina. Clemson posted an overall mark of 9-4 versus the Gamecocks, including a perfect 5-0 record in fall sports, plus a combined 3-0 in men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. Clemson defeated South Carolina in men’s basketball for the fourth straight year and the football victory in Columbia gave Clemson five straight wins in the capitol city.

Team Accomplishments

*The Clemson football team advanced to a bowl game for the third consecutive year, one of 18 schools nationally who can make that claim. The Tigers set eight team records in terms of passing offense, and individuals set 60 records on a season, game and career basis in 1997. The regular season concluded with a bowl clinching victory at South Carolina, 47-21, the most points by the Tigers against the Gamecocks in 98 seasons.

*The Lady Tiger volleyball team won its first ever ACC Championship. Jolene Hoover’s team had perhaps the most impressive victory by any Clemson team this year when it defeated Maryland in the second round of the ACC Tournament. Maryland entered the match having won 35 consecutive matches against ACC teams, was undefeated for the season, and ranked 15th in the nation. It was the highest ranked win in Clemson volleyball history. The Lady Tigers went on to win the ACC Tournament with a victory over rival Georgia Tech behind the play of ACC Tournament MVP Michelle Thieke. Clemson finished the season with an NCAA bid and a 26-8 overall record.

*The men’s soccer team advanced to the Final Eight of the NCAA Tournament and finished 12th in the final poll. Along the way Clemson defeated archrival South Carolina twice, including 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbia. South Carolina was ranked in the top 10 heading into both games.

*The Clemson women’s soccer team advanced to the Final Eight of the NCAA Tournament, the highest finish in the short history of the program. Tracy Leone’s team defeated eight top 25 teams over the course of the season, the first time in history any Clemson team in any sport had registered over 50 percent of its wins over ranked teams. Leone’s team was 15-7 overall and finished the season ranked 10th in the nation.

*The Lady Tiger basketball team established a school record for victories in a season with a 25-8 overall record. Jim Davis’s team also set a school mark for conference wins in a season (12-4). The team advanced to the ACC Tournament finals for the third straight season. Included in the triumphs were victories over every other ACC team and a perfect 13-0 record at home, the first perfect home season in school history. Clemson defeated ACC rivals North Carolina, Virginia and NC State when all three were ranked in the top 10. Clemson, ranked 14th in the country in the final AP poll. Its NCAA appearance was the 10th in 11 years under Jim Davis.

*Clemson’s men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, a first in school history. During the regular season Clemson defeated four top 25 teams, including a sixth-ranked South Carolina team, the fourth straight year Clemson has beaten the Gamecocks. The Tigers were led by Greg Buckner, who became just the sixth player in ACC history to lead his team in scoring four straight years. The senior finished his career third in Clemson history in scoring.

*The Clemson women’s swimming program had a #23 ranking in the final regular season poll to go with a 9-4 regular season record. That was the highest victory total among ACC teams. Among the victories against a challenging schedule was a 64-point win at South Carolina and a first-place finish at the Auburn Invitational. Erin Schatz and Jennifer Mihalik, a pair of sophomores, were both honorable mention All-Americans and academic All-Americans. The men’s swimming program was paced by the performance of Razvan Petcu, who won the ACC championship in the 100 meters freestyle and qualified for the NCAA meet.

*The Clemson golf team was the highest ranked team on the Tiger athletic landscape in 1997-98. Larry Penley’s Tigers finished second at the NCAA tournament in Albuquerque, NM, behind National Champion UNLV by just three stokes. It was the closest a Clemson team has come to winning the NCAA golf tournament in terms of ranking and stroke differential. All five Clemson starters had stroke averages under 72.7 a first in Clemson history. The Tigers won the ACC Tournament for the second consecutive year. It was the 17th straight year Clemson has been to the NCAA Tournament, second longest active streak in the nation.

*Clemson’s baseball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th consecutive year. Jack Leggett’s Tigers played host to a regional for the fourth time in five years and finished in the final top 25 for the 11th time in 12 years, the fifth in a row under Leggett. The Tigers won two out of three games from Florida State in April, elevating their record to 40-7 and a top three national ranking. Those were two of Clemson’s eight wins over top 25 teams in 1998. Matt Padgett was the team’s top player with a .376 batting average and he was drafted in the fifth round by the Florida Marlins as season’s end. Patrick Boyd won ACC Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

*The Clemson men’s track program had two top 11 finishes at the NCAA meets in 1997-98. In March, Clemson finished in a tie for third at the NCAA Indoor championships, while the men were tied for 11th outdoors. Shawn Crawford won the national championship in the 200 meters at the indoor championships and seven indivduals earned All-America honors. Clemson had 10 All-America place finishers at the NCAA outdoor meet, led by Crawford, who was an All-American in three events. Bob Pollock was named ACC Coach-of-the -Year indoors and outdoors, and was the District Coach-of-the-Year for the outdoor season. Clemson won the ACC indoor and outdoor conference titles, the second straight year Clemson has won both, giving Clemson 13 track titles the last 10 years.

*The women’s track program changed coaches, but continued a strong success rate. Ron Garner’s team finished second at the ACC Indoor meet and second at the ACC Outdoor competition. Four different Lady Tigers earned All-America honors at the NCAA Indoors, helping Clemson to a #33 final national ranking. Clemson had 13 All-ACC performances between the indoor and outdoor seasons.

*Both Clemson tennis teams advanced to the NCAA regionals. The men were led by All-ACC player Bruce Li, while the Lady Tigers were paced by All-ACC performer Catherine Galvin. It was the 17th NCAA Tournament appearance for Chuck Kriese’s men’s program, while Nancy Harris’s team advanced to NCAA Tournament play in her first year at Clemson.

Individual Accomplishments

*Anthony Simmons became just the second three-time All-American and third three-time All-ACC football player in Clemson history. The native of Spartanburg, SC led the ACC in tackles and tackles for loss in leading a Clemson defense that ranked sixth in the nation in rushing defense, 18th in scoring defense. Simmons was a first-team Associated Press All-American, the first AP All-America defensive player from Clemson in 15 years.

*Nealon Greene and Raymond Priester finished their four years at Clemson as the school’s career passing and rushing leaders, respectively. Tony Horne established school records for all-purpose rushing and receptions in a season. This senior trio established 55 Clemson records over their four seasons on the gridiron.

*Cindy Stern was first-team All-ACC and All-District III as a sophomore in a record setting 1997-98 season. The middle hitter ranked eighth in the nation in blocks per game and paced the ACC in that category. She established a Clemson season mark for block assists. She was chosen for the USA National Team in April.

*Sara Burkett led Clemson’s women’s soccer team to its highest finish in history, a 10th-place final ranking and berth in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The junior from Florissant, MO was a second-team All-America midfielder. She was named first-team All-ACC for the third straight year, the first Lady Tiger in history to do that and she moved up to 2nd place on Clemson’s career points list.

*Matt Jordan was the top goalkeeper in college soccer in 1997-98. He led the ACC in save % and shutouts. He was a finalist for the Herman Award (Heisman Trophy of soccer) and the Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year. He ended his career as Clemson’s career leader in saves. He was the 10th pick of the MLS draft.

*Simone Tomlinson was the top female sprinter in the ACC in 1997-98. The senior from Canada won ACC championships in the 60 meters indoors and the 100 meters outdoors. She had the fastest 100 meter time outdoors in the ACC in 1997-98.

*Amy Geren was among the top three-point goal shooters in the nation in recording first-team All-ACC honors for the Clemson women’s basketball team. She teamed with second-team All-ACC guard Itoro Umoh to give Clemson the top backcourt in the ACC, a tandem that returns for 1998-99.

*Clemson Lady Tiger swimmer Jennifer Mihalik, a sophomore from Clemson and Daniel High School, was the ACC Champion in the 200 back in a time of 1:58.77. She went on to earn honorable mention All-America honors in the same event with a 15th place finish. In the classroom, she earned a spot on the ACC Academic honor roll for the entire year, including a perfect 4.0 in the Spring.

*Charles Warren was the recipient of the Dave Williams Award, given each year to the top senior player in college golf. Warren established 17 Clemson records in 1997-98, including the season mark for stroke average (71.28). The Clemson graduate also set marks for rounds in the 60s and rounds under par in a season. He won the ACC Championship for the second straight year and finished tied for second at the NCAA National Tournament.

*Shawn Crawford pulled in more hardware than any other Clemson athlete in 1997-98. Foremost among his accomplishments was his national championship in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor meet with a time of 20.69. He was an All-American in three events (100m, 200m and 4X100m relay) at the NCAA outdoor competition. He became the first Clemson track athlete since James Trapp in 1992 to earn All-America honors in three different events in one NCAA track meet. The sophomore was third in the outdoor 200 meters and eighth in the outdoor 100 meters. At the conference level, he captured four championships, including the 200 meters both indoors and outdoors and was co-MVP of the outdoor meet.

*Scott Clackum was a second-team All-America relief pitcher on the Clemson baseball team. He had an ACC best nine saves and was Clemson’s leader in terms of ERA at 1.11.

Academic Notes

*Clemson student-athletes posted a 2.69 cumulative GPA for the spring semester of 1997-98, the highest combined GPA on record. The student-athletes were just .05 points away from the Clemson general student body average of 2.74, the closest differential on record. Every Clemson athletic team had at least a 2.3 GPA.

*All-America offensive tackle Jim Bundren became just the second football player in Clemson history to be first-team All-ACC on the field and first-team Academic All-ACC, twice. Bundren, who started all 47 games at left tackle in his Clemson career, graduated in December, and was a draft choice of the Miami Dolphins.

*Angela Brames won the Marie James Award as a top student-athlete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Brames was a key player on the Clemson women’s soccer team for four years and made the dean’s list in eight consecutive semesters.

*Basketball center Tom Wideman was named first-team All-District III on the CoSIDA Academic team for this season. He started the majority of Clemson’s games at center for the third straight year, and was on the dean’s list in both semesters. Wideman was also one of nine student-athletes chosen to the ACC student-athlete advisory board for the 1998-99 academic year.

*The Clemson’s swimming program had another outstanding academic year. Seven of the 17 Clemson student athletes in the Spring Semester who were on the President’s List (4.0) were swimmers. The women’s swimming team led the entire department with 25 on the academic honor roll and had a department best 3.21 GPA for the spring semester. Bruce Marchionda’s Lady Tigers were named an academic All-America team by the Swimming Coaches Association and two Lady Tigers were academic AA.

*Clemson’s football and men’s basketball teams each posted their second highest semesters in the last 14 years with their academic numbers for the Spring semester. Tommy West’s football team had a 2.31 GPA for the spring semester, its highest in 10 semesters. The Clemson men’s basketball team was the most improved, jumping half a point from the fall to 2.42. Only a 2.77 in the spring of 1997 is better since 1984.

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