After a spring season that was cut short, Saint Leo Athletics saw 10 programs finish the 2019-2020 academic year ranked nationally by their respective associations. Four of those 10 were inside the Top 10 and one, men’s tennis, ranked inside the Top 5 nationally at year’s end.
Three fall programs finished the season with rankings. The volleyball program won the south region and advanced to the national quarterfinals, while women’s and men’s cross country teams reached the national championships.
Volleyball finished the year as the 21st ranked program in the country with one All-America honoree, senior Anilise Fitzi. Men’s and women’s cross country teams each finished as the 30th ranked programs in the nation. Both squads took third at the regional competition.
Men’s swimming represented the winter sports in the national poll, rounding out the year in 20th place after sending Matthew Daniel and Kosta Mitrovic to the national championships. The duo received College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) All-America nods for their performances in the pool.
The Lions saw six programs finish the year in the Top 25, in which men’s tennis led all programs with a national rank of fourth. Women’s tennis, softball, and women’s golf all were at eighth in the final polls of their respective associations. Men’s golf rounded out the year as the 13th ranked team, according to GolfStat, where the Lions saw Dave Longhini earn the program’s lone All-South Region nod, announced by the (GCAA). Women’s lacrosse was off to a 4-3 start, and finished as the 19th ranked program in the country in the shortened season.
This spring, the Saint Leo University men’s lacrosse, men’s golf, women’s track, and softball teams all competed for NCAA Division II National Championships—two of which were first-time appearances for the programs.
Making Sunshine State Conference History
This past spring, former Saint Leo University President Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr. was one of nine members inducted into the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame. Kirk, who served as the university’s president from 1997-2015, became the 16th Saint Leo Sunshine State Conference Hall of Famer. A two-time president of the Sunshine State Conference, Kirk raised Saint Leo’s national profile by placing 18th in the Learfield Director’s Cup in 2014, increasing to eighth in 2015, and second in 2016. Under his leadership, the Athletics Department doubled in size and captured its first Mayor’s Cup, while adding a tennis facility, softball stadium, parking garage with a lacrosse field installed on top, a soccer-only facility, and lights at each of the new venues.
Fran Reidy Named Athletic Director of the Year
For the third time in six years, Saint Leo Vice President and Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy was named the Division II Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year. Reidy was one of 28 athletics directors to earn the award this year from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). The ADOY Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses, and their surrounding communities.
Saint Leo Athletics Places Fourth in Learfield Directors’ Cup
“We have an incredible staff and student-athletes who strive for excellence,” said Francis X. Reidy, vice president and director of athletics. “Our five-year run of great finishes is a remarkable feat when you consider where Saint Leo was just a short time ago. We are proud of our two top-five finishes over the last three years as we strive to be one of the best all-around programs in Division II.”
After climbing seven spots at the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Super Regional, men’s golf earned a spot to advance to Muscle Shoals, AL, for the 2018 national championships. In the end, the Lions fell 3-2 to Sunshine State Conference foe and No. 3 seed Barry University.
Men’s golf player Alberto Castagnara (sophomore)