MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The bar continues to rise for Wesleyan Athletics as the Cardinals finished 14th overall out of 338 schools that registered points in the 2018-19 Division III Learfield IMG College Directors' Cup standings. Wesleyan, following another historic spring season, recorded its highest finish ever in the 24th annual Directors' Cup with a total of 602 points. It is now the fifth straight season in which the Cardinals have moved up the standings, continuing their climb to be one of the top Division III athletic programs in the country.
>> 2018-19 Learfield IMG College Directors' Cup Standings <<
"I am incredibly proud of our coaches and student-athletes for all they accomplished this year," said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen '83. "At Wesleyan, we strive for excellence in all areas and this recognition is yet another example of how Athletics plays an integral role in helping the University achieve that goal. An accomplishment like this doesn't happen without the support of the administration, alumni, and parents. It's a true team effort and I look forward to building on this year's success in the future."
The Learfield Directors' Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution's NCAA finish in up to 18 sports—nine women's and nine men's.
The Cardinals placed fifth overall out of 11 schools in the ultra-competitive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) for the second year in a row. The NESCAC led all conferences with four institutions in the top-10: No. 1 Williams, No. 4 Middlebury, No. 7 Tufts, and No. 8 Amherst.
Of the 18 sports that count in the standings, Wesleyan had eight programs register points. In the fall, volleyball reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, recording their best season ever. The Cardinals upset No. 2 Johnson & Wales on the road, 3-1, to advance to the Quarterfinals before falling short to No. 6 Juniata, 3-2. Wesleyan finished the season with a 20-6 record and earned 73 points in the standings to put the Cardinals in 69th place in the final fall standings.
Wesleyan moved up to 54th following the conclusion of the winter season as it received points from women's swimming & diving, women's indoor track & field, and wrestling. Women's swimming & diving finished 25th overall out of 50 teams at the NCAA Championships following an All-American performance from Caroline Murphy in the 100-yard backstroke as she placed third overall. Additionally, the 200-yard medley relay team consisting of Murphy, Mengmeng Gibbs, Maela Whitcomb, and Hannah O'Halloran, and the 400 medley relay of Murphy, Gibbs, Whitcomb, and Grace Middletown, earned All-America Honorable Mention by placing 12th and 15th, respectively. The winter season was highlighted by sophomore sensation Ivie Uzamere of the women's track & field team as she won the national championship in the weight throw, becoming the first Cardinal to win a national title in a field event ever. Additionally, Jenny Aguiar earned All-America honors in the 400-meter dash. Wrapping up the winter season was wrestling's Zack Murillo who qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 125-pound bracket. The senior entered the tournament unseeded and upset the No. 7 seed in the first round.
The Cardinals excelled in the spring once again as five teams reached the NCAA Championships, and for the second year in a row, Wesleyan crowned a national champion as women's tennis took home its first-ever title and the University's first-ever women's team championship. The Cardinals finished an incredible 19-2 overall while defeating No. 8 Brandeis, No. 19 MIT, No. 1 Emory, and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the national tournament. Men's tennis also qualified for the NCAA Tournament and reached the Quarterfinals while finishing the season with a 16-5 mark. Additionally, Venia Yeung finished as the national runner-up in singles at the NCAA Individual Championships, and Noah Lilienthal and Adrian Roji finished as national runner-ups in doubles, however, the individual finishes do not count towards the Director's Cup standings.
In addition to the success of Wesleyan Tennis, both lacrosse programs reached the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season, while the women reached the Final Four for the first time in program history. The Cardinals' historic 2019 campaign featured postseason wins over No. 9 Mary Washington, No. 2 Washington & Lee, and No. 1 Gettysburg, before falling to the eventual national champions Middlebury in the semifinals. Wesleyan finished the season with a program-best mark of 17-4 with the only losses coming against top-10 programs. On the men's side, the defending national champions had another incredible season and reached the Third Round of the NCAA Championships. They finished 13-4 overall and 10th in the final national poll. Lastly, women's crew wrapped up the 2018-19 campaign with its best finish in program history at the NCAA Rowing Championships, as the Cardinals finished fourth overall.
The rise of Wesleyan Athletics has been incredibly impressive as it has continuously moved up the Director's Cup standings over the past several years. In 2014-15, Wesleyan ranked 188th overall. It moved up to 115 in 2015-16 and entered the top-50 for the first time ever in 2016-17 with a 47th place finish. Last year, Wesleyan moved up to 23rd overall before earning the No. 14 spot this season.
To learn more about the scoring structure of the Directors' Cup, click HERE.