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Three grads on 25th anniversary teams

Abby Bloom, Nicole Brown and Jennifer Gardner may seem a little young to be legends, but they were honored as such recently by the Southern Conference.

The league held its 25th anniversary celebration this month in Charleston to honor its top athletes of the past quarter century, with each school designating its top two performers in each sport. The three Gwinnett grads were among the SoCon's exclusive list of its all-time best.

Bloom, a Brookwood grad, was named to the all-time conference cross country team despite still being a senior at Georgia Southern. Brown, a Collins Hill grad, made the SoCon's legends team in both indoor and outdoor track and field. She just completed her career at Georgia Southern last year.

Gardner, a Norcross grad, was honored in basketball after finishing her Western Carolina career in 2005. She returned home later that year and began work with the Norcross Police Department.

Georgia Southern's two conference choices know each other well. They were teammates with the Eagles in track and now Brown has taken a job at the Stateboro college as an assistant coach, so she coaches Bloom.

"I'm really honored to have coached both (Bloom and Brown)," Georgia Southern track and cross country coach Natalie Smith said. "It says a lot about our program right now and about them. A lot of schools had older (selections), they had to go back 10 years to find their best, who impacted their program the most. And we have one who is a senior and one who just finished.

"They are the best choices (for Georgia Southern). They couldn't have picked better people or better student-athletes."

Brown, who Smith called the "most accomplished female athlete" in Eagles history, was her school's first NCAA Championships qualifier in track. She currently holds 12 school records.

Smith said Bloom is known for her versatility, running long distances in cross country and track in addition to competing in shorter events. She entered the program as a hurdler, but also has done the 800 and the heptathlon in track.

Gardner was a four-year starter, closing her career by helping Western Carolina to its first SoCon tourney championship. She scored a conference record 45 points in the finals, capping a run that saw her set tourney records for points, rebounds, field goals, free throws made and three throws attempted.

BASEBALL

Geiger hits stolen base milestones

Shiloh grad Jonnie Geiger, a senior at Columbus State, reached a pair of stolen-base benchmarks this week.

Geiger, in just three seasons with the Cougars, broke the Columbus State career stolen base record with 87, topping the old mark of Scott Mosely set in 1988-90.

Combined with his freshman season at Peach Belt Conference rival Armstrong Atlantic, Geiger has a 106 career stolen bases. That ties the all-time Peach Belt record set by Georgia College's Justin Mills from 2004 to 2007.

Geiger is hitting .373 this season with 19 RBIs and a .432 on-base percentage. He is 20-for-23 on steals.

Lett gets conference honor

Duluth grad Josh Lett, a senior pitcher at Louisiana-Monroe, was named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week earlier this week.

Lett shut down defending conference champion New Orleans last Sunday, pitching his program's first nine-inning complete game in nearly two years. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.49 ERA, allowing three or fewer runs in each of his four starts.

Lett pitched at Georgia Perimeter and UNC-Asheville before tranferring to Louisiana-Monroe.

Pirkle, Snell lead sweep

Norcross grad Richard Pirkle and South Gwinnett grad Chandler Snell had huge nights in Georgia College's doubleheader sweep of Philadelphia College earlier this week.

Pirkle was 4-for-10 with four RBIs and three runs. He hit a home run in each game, giving him a team-high five homers on the season.

Snell went 5-for-7 with three runs and two RBIs.

Brisson gives North Georgia win

North Georgia's Craig Brisson hit a two-out, two-run triple in the 11th inning on Tuesday to lead his team past Valdosta State 5-3. The Parkview grad's hit scored two, including Brookwood grad Anders Oster.

The winning pitcher was North Gwinnett grad Zach Black, who pitched 31â "3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. He struck out five.

SOFTBALL

Munson wins SSAC award

Collins Hill grad Libby Munson, a freshman at Shorter College, was named the Southern States Athletic Conference pitcher of the week on Monday.

Munson was 6-0 the previous week, averaging 6.4 strikeouts per game with a 1.29 ERA in 38 innings. Her week included a two-hitter against West Florida.

BASKETBALL

Johnson, Coast Guard make Elite Eight run

Grant Johnson's senior season and the Coast Guard Academy's dream run ended last weekend in the NCAA Division III Tournament's Elite Eight.

The Parkview grad had a game-high 26 points and eight 3-pointers in his final game, but his team lost 82-66 to host and 16th-ranked Ursinus (Pa.). Coast Guard finished 24-7.

Johnson had 1,127 career points and ranks second in school history for career 3-pointers (244) and third for career assists (307).

Green finishes among D-III leaders

North Gwinnett grad Jake Green finished his Piedmont College career with 624 assists in 103 games, putting him among the best all-time passers in Division III history. Entering the 2007-2008 season, only 20 players in D-III history had posted a higher career assist total.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.