Saint Leo’s Lions saw their winter and spring seasons cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, but they still represented the green and gold with pride. Here are some highlights:
Saint Leo’s volleyball team captured the program’s first NCAA South Region Championship in a back-and-forth five-set contest against Barry University in December. Two of the five sets went into extra points as the teams battled to make the trip to the NCAA National Championship in Denver, CO. The Lions fell in the NCAA National Championship Quarterfinals to 11th-ranked Regis University.
The Lions concluded their season with a 24-11 record under first-year head coach Jason Skoch. Six seniors led the team to new heights with the South Region Championship and a trip to the national tournament.
Men’s cross country claims 4th Sunshine State Conference championship
Saint Leo men’s cross country team raced to the program’s fourth title at the Sunshine State Conference Championships on October 26. The championships took place on the 8K course at the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park in Boca Raton, FL, with a total of 40 points.
Then-junior Shane Bracken ran ahead of the pack to take first place, becoming the sixth individual title in program history. In addition, Bracken helped lead the team to a third place finish at the NCAA South Regional and placed 30th at the 2019 NCAA DII XC National Championship in Sacramento, CA. He was a U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-South Region honoree.
The university’s 21st intercollegiate sport, Acrobatics & Tumbling (A&T) embarked on its inaugural season in early February with its first meet against Limestone College in Gaffney, SC.
Before the team could hold its first-ever home meet, its season was ended with the suspension of spring athletics events.
Acrobatics & Tumbling, a discipline of USA Gymnastics, is the evolution of different forms of gymnastics and involves tumbling, tosses, acrobatic lifts, and pyramids. Teams participate in head-to-head competition and are scored in six events, including compulsory, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling, and team.
One of the fastest growing sports among NCAA institutions, acrobatics and tumbling is Saint Leo’s 12th offering in the women’s athletics program.
Ashley Salvett on May 5 became the first Saint Leo women’s lacrosse student-athlete to receive an All-America title. The 2020 Inside Lacrosse Women’s Maverik Division II Media All-America listed Salvett among the two defensive honorable mention selections.
The Cicero-North Syracuse High School (NY) graduate transferred to Saint Leo for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The prestigious All-America title rounds off her list of accolades which includes being the program’s first All-Sunshine State Conference (SSC) First Team selection (defensive) and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-South Region Second Team honor (defensive), as well as being named to the SSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Kyran McClure became the all-time program leader in three-pointers made in a single season, as well as the free throws-made leader in a single season. Making 207 free throws placed McClure at the top of the NCAA Division II in 2019-2020.
McClure’s 207 free throws eclipsed the mark Tyrone Graves set in the 1991-92 season with 165. McClure also broke the program’s single-season record for three-pointers with 92, passing the prolific Marcus Dewberry’s 88 in 2015-16.
Matthew Daniel was the lone Saint Leo men’s swimmer who was able to compete at the 2020 NCAA Championships on March 11 prior to the cancellation of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He competed in the morning session of the opening day and took 16th in the 1,000-freestyle, earning a point toward the team total and earning honorable mention All-America honors from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
Kosta Mitrovic was scheduled to race in the 200 breaststroke on day four of the championships but was never able to compete following the cancellation. He earned his career first team All-America honors from CSCAA after earning honorable mention All-America honors in 2018, while finishing 14th in the 200 breaststroke.
For the women’s swimming team, Vittoria Bonsanti Feniello also was able to compete at the 2020 NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships on March 11, prior to the cancellation of all sports. The pair represented the Saint Leo men’s and women’s swimming teams in the 1,000 freestyle during the opening session of the championships. Bonsanti Feniello took 24th overall in the 1,000 freestyle.