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Clayton State finishes fifth in Commissioner's Cup

From staff reports

For the second year in a row, the Clayton College & State University Department of Athletics has finished among the top teams in the Peach Belt Conference Commissioner's Cup standings announced earlier this week by PBC Commissioner Marvin Vanover.

Clayton State notched its second top-five finish in the Peach Belt, placing fifth in the 12-team league in 2002-03. This season's finish comes on the heels of last year's third place in the Commissioner's Cup, the best-ever finish in Clayton State history.

"We had a very good year," said athletics director Mason Barfield. "We didn't have the good fortune of winning conference championships like last season, but we still had a fine year, winning almost 70 percent of our athletic contests. Our success without a conference championship is an indication of just how strong the competition is in the Peach Belt Conference."

Before this season's fifth place and last year's third place, Clayton State's best finish was eighth out of 12 schools in 2000-01, and prior to that, its best finish was 11th out of 12 in its first full year of PBC membership in 1997-98.

The Commissioner's Cup point standings measure the overall success of the athletic programs by its member schools. The ratings are determined by taking the maximum number of points available to each school, which is dependent on the number of sports each school has in the PBC, and dividing by the number of points won, which is based on how each school's individual sports placed in the conference.

The University of North Florida won the Cup for the fourth consecutive season with a rating of .862, earning 94 out of 109 points. Kennesaw State University finished second at .790, earning 73.5 out of 93 points, followed by Armstrong Atlantic State University at .774, earning 63.5 out of 82. Columbus State University finished fourth at .670, earning 63 out of 94 points, followed by Clayton State .628, earning 49 out of 78 points.

Behind Clayton State, Georgia College & State University finished sixth at .585, followed by the University of South Carolina Spartanburg, seventh, .532, Francis Marion University, eighth, .504; Augusta State University, ninth, .378; Lander University, 10th, .371; the University of South Carolina Aiken, 11th, .370, and the University of North Carolina Pembroke, 12th, .208.

Clayton State's top team finishes in 2002-03 were a trio of third places in the league. The Laker women's soccer and both the men's and women's cross country teams each finished third in Peach Belt play.

The women's soccer finish was the team's highest-ever in the conference with a 4-2-1 record in the league. Clayton State came a goal shy of winning the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, falling 1-0 to Kennesaw State University in the PBC Tournament Championship.

The Lakers knocked off two-nationally ranked teams, defeating Francis Marion during the regular season and upsetting North Florida in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals.

In cross country, the Clayton State men's and women's squads placed third behind Kennesaw State and North Florida, respectively. Both of the CCSU teams recorded their fastest-ever team times in the Peach Belt Conference meet.

After winning the 2001 Peach Belt title, the Clayton State men's soccer team finished fourth in 2002 with a 12-4 overall record and a 2-2-2 mark in the league. The squad opened the season with a 7-0 record and climbed to a fourth place national ranking before injuries to the team's two leading scorers.

The Clayton State men's basketball, women's basketball and women's tennis teams all finished fifth in the Peach Belt. The Clayton State men finished with a 17-12 record, while the women's squad was 16-11 and the women's tennis concluded its season ranked 16th in the country.

The men's basketball program had its second consecutive winning season in 2002-03 and has posted 36 wins in the last two seasons.

The women's basketball program is coming off its best season ever in Peach Belt Conference play, finishing with a 10-9 mark in the league. The squad's 17 wins are the second best all-time and the most since the 1994-95 season.

The program had its first-ever victory over a nationally ranked team, defeating USC Aiken. The squad also defeated Kennesaw State for the first time in 18 tries, sweeping the Owls in two games this season and was ranked for the first time in the South Atlantic Region.

The Clayton State golf team placed eighth in the Peach Belt but finished the season on a positive note, placing sixth in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. The Laker golf team has advanced to the NCAA Regionals four out of the last six seasons.