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As the only charter member remaining in NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas, the Barton College athletic program took two strokes of its grandfatherly beard during the 2018-19 school year, and, by the numbers at least, took two steps towards reclaiming possession of the Joby Hawn Cup — a symbol of conference athletic supremacy that hasn’t been spotted in Wilson Gym since the 2003-04 season where the Bulldogs completed a run of three consecutive titles.
For the second time in the past five years, Barton, now the sponsor of 22 sports, finished third in the Hawn Cup standings. Points are awarded on the basis of regular-season finish in each Conference Carolinas sport and adjusted based on the number of teams sponsoring a particular sport.
Bonus points, including two points for a conference tournament title and one for a tournament runner-up finish, are also doled out.
To ensure a school does not gain an undue advantage due to the sheer number of sports it sponsors, its total points accrued are divided by the maximum number of points possible in its sponsored sports to arrive at a rating.
In Barton’s case, the Bulldogs finished with a .642 rating, which trailed only Limestone (.799) and Mount Olive (.840). Mount Olive’s insurgence snapped a streak of four consecutive Hawn Cups claimed by the Saints.
Following in the 11-team conference were North Greenville (.612), Belmont Abbey (.609), Emmanuel (.566), Erskine (.486), King (.477), Southern Wesleyan (.412), Lees-McRae (.367) and Converse (.341).
In conjunction with Emmanuel’s first year of eligibility for postseason play, the Lions attained a Hawn Cup rating for the first time.
Barton athletic director Todd Wilkinson, who ascended to the post in January of 2015 following the retirement of Gary Hall, has overseen both third-place showings through four full academic years on the job.
The 2015-16 season saw Barton stumble to an eighth-place performance out of 10 teams, but the Bulldogs promptly rebounded by placing third in an 11-team league in 2016-17. A mid-pack performance of fifth out of 10 was observed in 2017-18.
Barton’s top two point-producing sports this year were in men’s volleyball and women’s basketball, with each getting 10.5 points each. Under the direction of head coach Jeff Lennox, Barton posted a school record for wins with a 25-5 showing and swept the Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament titles, defeating Southern California and several Division I schools along the way.
Wendee Saintsing’s Lady Bulldogs tied for the regular-season championship with Emmanuel and returned to the NCAA tournament, while one of the bigger leaps forward as it relates to Hawn Cup points came from the baseball program.
Helped out by a second-place showing from the activities at Nixon Field, Barton extracted nine points out of the sport in Jim Chester’s second season that featured the implementation of a developmental team and a full-blown overhaul of the primary roster with a 31-win campaign, one year removed from the worst showing in the program’s Division II era.
Barton’s lowest point-earners came in softball and women’s indoor track, with each contributing two points to the cause. Conversely, men’s lacrosse, in its first season, finished fifth in a eight-team league.
A persistent nemesis for Barton as it relates to climbing the Hawn Cup ladder will be leaving the league after next season. Limestone, currently a member of the South Atlantic Conference in football only, announced in April that it would join the SAC for all sports beginning in 2020-21. Yet Chowan, currently an associate member in some sports, will begin full membership next year.
Barton, which will reintroduce football beginning in 2020 as a Division II independent, has entered into its own two-year scheduling agreement with the SAC that will allow it to play eight of the league’s teams in 2020 and all nine in 2021.
Formerly Atlantic Christian College, Barton has been in some variant of Conference Carolinas since 1930, when the North State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was formed. Succeeding names for the league were the Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference before the change to the current Conference Carolinas name in 2007.
TWO BULLDOGS SIGN
While no Barton baseball player was selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft last week, two Bulldogs will continue their baseball careers at the professional level.
Juan Martinez, a senior catcher and designated hitter, signed a free-agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers of the National League while Troy Maslowski, a senior outfielder, inked a deal to play for the Santa Fe Fuego of the Pecos League, an independent league with teams in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas, Texas and Colorado.
Martinez, in his only season with the Bulldogs, batted .305 with 29 RBIs, eight home runs, 29 runs scored and slugged at a .510 percentage. He was named to the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas all-conference second team while helping the Bulldogs to a 31-20 overall record and 17-9 in league games as they finished second.
Maslowski, a Cary resident, started in all 51 games this spring for Barton, knocking in 34 runs and scored 36. He earned all-conference acclaim in 2017 and 2018.
The Pecos League, which has two divisions, has sent more than 400 players to higher independent and affiliated minor league teams since its inception in 2010. Play started on May 30 for the Fuego.