New College of Florida sailing team heads to national sports championship


Sophia Shultz and Taran Wilkens (Boat No. 10) compete for New College of Florida in the SAISA Championship in Jacksonville April 26. New College's sixth-place finish earned the team a place in the national championship June 3-6. PROVIDED PHOTO

SARASOTA -- New College of Florida is preparing to compete in its first national sports championship of any kind.

The New College Coed Sailing Team placed sixth of 10 teams in the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association Championship in Jacksonville on April 26-27.

The top-six finish qualified the team for the 2014 ICSA National Intercollegiate Sailing Championship, June 3-6, at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Or, in the words of a New College press release, the event is so unprecedented that "a blue moon's rising, pigs are flying and hell's freezing over."

The college is better known for its strong academics, small student population and minimal sports program.

New College edged out North Carolina State University, Georgia Tech, Rollins College and University of North Carolina at Wilmington to make the cut.

Students Sophia Schultz and Taran Wilkens sailed in the A Division, and Cornell Lee and Francisco Perez sailed in the B Division. Team members James Montgomery and Abigail Oakes also attended the race as alternates. The scores from both divisions were combined for the overall result.

"We all went as one team, one family, and with our team spirit and improvement in the sport of sailing, we accomplished what seemed impossible when I started coaching here," said Hillary Noble, who competed as a student for University of South Florida before heading the New College team.

The sixth-place result is exactly what Noble and the team had targeted, she said. They will now compete in the Gill Coed Championship, the coed division of the ICSA National Championship.

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