Sports

Panther athletics third in national D-III ranking

THE NATIONAL CHAMPION Middlebury College women’s field hockey team contributed 300 points to the Panther athletic teams’ points total in the Learfield Directors’ Cup competition, which compared athletic success among 326 NCAA Division III colleges. Middlebury placed third this year. Photo by Will Costello

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College finished in third place among 326 NCAA Division III institutions in the 2021-22 Learfield Directors’ Cup Final Standings. The Learfield Directors’ Cup competition measures schools’ performances in NCAA competition in all sports.

This year marks the 19th straight the Panthers have finished in the top five in the Learfield Cup standings and is Middlebury’s best finish since 2012-13. NESCAC foe Tufts claimed its first-ever cup with 1,080.00 points, Johns Hopkins was second (1,043.00) and Middlebury took third with 1,000.50 points.

Middlebury saw 300 of its points come from three women’s NCAA D-III championship teams. Field hockey began the year with a 22-0 record while becoming the first school to win four straight NCAA titles in that sport.

In the winter, women’s hockey earned the program’s fourth NCAA championship, and in the process became the first D-III team to finish a season with a perfect record (27-0).

The women’s lacrosse team made it a stick-sport triple-crown year when it capped off an incredible season with the program’s eighth national title. The three squads combined for a 71-1 overall record this year.

Panther fall teams produced the most points (397.50) in any one season as five teams joined field hockey in NCAA play.

The men’s soccer team advanced to the quarterfinal round of the tournament, finishing with a 13-5-3 record. The NESCAC championship women’s soccer squad advanced to the second round in NCAA play and concluded the year with a 13-4-3 mark.

Volleyball made its first appearance in the tournament since 2016 and advanced to the second round. The men’s and women’s cross country teams placed 13th and 14th, respectively, at the NCAA championships. The women’s squad was paced by Cassie Kearney’s seventh-place finish.

In the winter, three teams joined women’s hockey on the national stage, garnering 224 points. The combined alpine and Nordic ski team finished 10th at the all-division NCAA championships, fueled by two top-10 finishes from Peter Wolter on the Nordic side.

The women’s indoor track and field team earned 31 points in the standings, highlighted by a fourth-place finish from the distance medley relay quartet of Katelyn Pease, Michelle Louie, Nicole Johnson and Kearney.

Rounding out the winter point-getting performers was the women’s swimming and diving squad. Isabella Caddeau, Courtney Gantt, Maddie McKean and Hannah Wander touched the wall in 12th place in the 200-medley relay to earn 33 points for the leaderboard.

In the spring, baseball, men’s and women’s track and field, and men’s and women’s tennis joined the women’s lacrosse team to amass 379 points for the Panthers.

The NESCAC champion baseball team broke over two dozen school records en route to the NCAA regional final. Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams reached NCAA semifinals, combining for 166 points in the standings.

The women’s track and field team picked up 57 points by finishing 17th at the NCAA championships. Kearney highlighted the event by finishing as the national runner-up a 1,500 meters and third at 800 meters. Johnson also took sixth in the 800. On the men’s side, Peter Hansen finished seventh in the 400 hurdles to round out the Panther Learfield scorers.

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