COLUMBIA, MO -- Lake Forest College head coach Diane Kanney and assistant coaches Chris Pier and Jill Popovich have been named the 2002 Speedline/NFCA Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year.

Kanney, Pier and Popovich guided Lake Forest to a runner-up finish at 2002 NCAA Division III national championship in the Forestersí first-ever appearance in the national finals. Lake Forest compiled a 34-12 record in 2002 and won its first Midwest Conference Tournament championship since 1988. Lake Forest was ranked No. 2 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25.

The Lake Forest staff was selected by its peers as the Speedline Division III Great Lakes Region Coaching Staff of the Year and was then placed on the national coaching staff of the year ballot. They will be recognized as the 2002 Speedline/NFCA Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year at the NFCA National Convention in St. Petersburg, Florida, in December.

Other Speedline top regional coaching staffs, as selected by their coaching peers, are:

Northeast Region -- Plymouth State College
Harry Blood, Head Coach
Tina Price and Steph Ruel, Assistants

Plymouth State compiled a 24-13-2 overall record in 2002. The Panthers posted their highest-ever finish in the Little East Conference, placing second with a 10-4 mark, finishing behind Division III national finals participant Western Connecticut State. PSC set 11 team and 15 individual school records this spring, including wins (24) and shutouts (14) in a season.

Atlantic Region -- Emory University
Penny Siqueiros, Head Coach
Jessica Seamon, Assistant

Emory placed third at the NCAA Division III national finals in its first-ever appearance. The Eagles posted an overall record of 43-10, setting a school single-season win total. Emory was ranked in the top five in the USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25 for most of the season and was ranked No. 3 in the final poll. This was the fourth year of softball at Emory, which improved its all-time record to 107-48.

Midwest Region -- Central College (Iowa)
George Wares, Head Coach
Sam Vandeweerd, Marcy Roff, and Teresa Thompson, Assistants

Central posted a 36-5 mark in 2002 and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA DivisionIII Top 25. The Dutch won their eighth Iowa Conference title and earned their 17th consecutive NCAA Division III playoff berth. Earlier this season, George Wares became only the second coach in Division III softball history to surpass the 600-win mark. Wares leads all active Division III softball coaches in career victories.

New England Region -- Tufts University
Kris Talon, Head Coach
Cheryl Milligan, Cora Thompson, Rosalie Esquivel, and Paul Dill, Assistants

Tufts made its sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament as the Jumbos finished 29-9. Tufts, which won its second consecutive NESCAC title, was ranked as high as No. 8 in the USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25. Kris Talon reached the career 300-win mark during the season.

Central Region -- Capital University
Nan Payne, Head Coach
Cassie Cunningham and Mark Blasczyk, Assistants

Capital earned its third trip to the Division III tournament and its first since 1997. The Crusaders were the No. 2 seed at the Central Regional Tournament. Capital posted a record of 30-10-1, setting a school record for victories. The Crusaders also won their first-ever regular-season Ohio Athletic Conference title. In her fourth season at Capital, Nan Payne eclipsed the 100-win mark.

West Region -- Pacific Lutheran University
Rick Noren, Head Coach
Leanne Noren, Phill Scott, and Carli Rasmussen, Assistants

Pacific Lutheran won its first 34 games of the season to tie the Division III record for the longest winning streak. The Lutes finished with a record of 36-2 and placed fourth at the Division III national championship. PLU spent two weeks at No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25 and was ranked No. 4 in the final poll. The Lutes posted a 20-0 record to win the Northwest Conference title for the fourth straight year and the seventh time in eight years.

East Region -- Bethany College
Jan Forsty, Head Coach
Michelle Manning, Assistant

As the No. 4 seed at the Central Regional, Bethany posted two wins over defending national champion Muskingum to win the regional and earn a trip to the Division III national finals. The Bison finished with a record of 32-10 and were ranked No. 6 in the year-end USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25. Bethany, which captured its fourth consecutive Presidents Athletic Conference title, posted a 22-1 mark from April 4 through May 12.

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