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Four Bucs named SoCon athlete of the month

Johnson City Press • Mar 9, 2017 at 5:47 PM

February was the Bucs’ month in the Southern Conference.

Four East Tennessee State athletes were given the league’s monthly award on Thursday. T.J. Cromer was the SoCon’s Athlete of Month in men’s basketball, while Marina Guinart was in women’s tennis, Tiffany Laughren in softball and Nathan Rivera in baseball.

Cromer led the Bucs to a 7-2 record in February, helping ETSU finish 14-4 in the league for a share of the SoCon regular-season championship. In February, the senior guard averaged 20.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds a game.

Cromer scored at least 20 points in four games, including a 32-point effort in a 93-81 win over Furman on Feb. 22. He made 47 percent of his field goal attempts, including 29 of 70 (.414) from 3-point range, and he shot 93 percent (26 of 28) at the foul line.

Laughren led the SoCon with a .477 batting average and seven doubles, and was second with 21 hits, fourth with 30 total bases and fifth with 11 runs scored in 44 at-bats, helping ETSU to an 8-7 record. The sophomore had six multi-hit and three multi-RBI games in addition to hitting safely in 12 and reaching safely in 13 of the Bucs’ 15 games. She opened the season on a five-game hit streak, including four multi-hit games, and ended the month on a six-game hit streak. She scored at least one run in the first five games of the season and in nine of ETSU’s 15 games.

Laughren, a native of Erwin, set career highs with three-hit games, once against Gardner-Webb and twice against Alabama A&M. Her three hits against Gardner-Webb were all doubles, another career high. She had her first collegiate triple in the Bucs’ rout of North Carolina Central.

Laughren was the SoCon’s player of the week on Feb. 17.

Guinart continued her unbeaten streak, going 5-0 at No. 2 singles in February. The sophomore is 8-0 this season and 27-0 in her ETSU career. Four of her five victories came in straight sets.

Guinart teamed with Ioanna Markesini at No. 1 doubles and went 4-1 in February. Their only loss was a 6-3 decision to N.C. State’s Anna Rogers and Martina Frantova, but Guinart and Markesini rebounded to top Murray State’s Claire Change and Alina Schibol (7-5) before downing Winthrop’s Lauren Proctor and Megan Kauffman (6-4).

Rivera accounted for 20 of the Bucs’ 137 points on the men’s side at the SoCon Indoor Track & Field Championship. The junior won the men’s heptathlon with 5,041 points, surpassing his seed of 3,591 points by nearly 1,500 points.

Rivera swept the first four heptathlon events on the first day of competition, which consisted of the 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump events. The Knoxville native also placed third in the men’s long jump at the championship meet with a distance of 7.00 meters (22 feet, 11.75 inches). Rivera also placed sixth in the men’s high jump with a height of 1.90 meters (6-02.75) and eighth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.76), gaining an additional four points for the Bucs, who placed third overall in the championship meet.

This is the first time the four athletes won the monthly award.

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