news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb: The Only Division I University in N.C. with Championships in Football, and Women’s and Men’s Basketball Since 2019

banner with cheerleader waving bulldog flag in front of crowd

Student-Athletes Also Bring Home Conference Titles in Wrestling, Men’s Tennis, and Track & Field

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—With its championship wins this year, Gardner-Webb is the only D-I school in North Carolina to earn titles in football, women’s basketball and men’s basketball since 2019. On their way to the championships, the programs and student-athletes also set records.

This year, GWU also earned a men’s tennis Big South co-championship for the regular season, and individual championships in wrestling (Southern Conference), and Big South track and field.

“Intercollegiate athletics has seen more change in the past three years than in the last 30. As a result of these changes, the success of the most watched and visible collegiate sports of football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball is more important now than it has ever been in our past, which is why our results, which are unmatched by any other D-I university in the state of North Carolina, should be celebrated and known throughout our community and across the nation,” shared Dr. Andrew T. Goodrich, vice president and director of GWU Athletics.  

Bulldogs basketball

The first history-making win came on March 10, 2019, when the buzzer ended the Big South Conference Championship game. On that day, a celebration began as the Runnin’ Bulldogs Men’s Basketball Team realized, “We’re going dancin’.” The victory advanced Gardner-Webb to the NCAA Men’s Tournament for the first time in program history. The team’s win continued a rich basketball tradition at GWU—the Runnin’ Bulldogs previously made national tournament appearances at the NJCAA, NAIA and NCAA Division II levels.

Gardner-Webb Big South Football Championship 2022 Team

Then, on Nov. 19, 2022, the Runnin’ Bulldogs football team topped off a historic season by winning its first Big South title since 2003. In that game on Nov. 19, 2022, in Spangler Stadium, the Runnin’ Bulldogs ran for 240 yards and used a 21-point second quarter to roll to a 38-17 win over North Carolina A&T. The victory sent the team to its first-ever NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, where they won a first-round game on the road against Eastern Kentucky University, 52-41.

During the playoffs, home teams were 20-2, and the Runnin’ Bulldogs were one of only two road squads to earn a win. Additionally, Gardner-Webb dominated the Big South honors for 2022. Quarterback Bailey Fisher was Offensive Player of the Year; defensive lineman Ty French was named Defensive Player of the Year; GWU linebacker Ty Anderson was the Defensive Freshman of the Year; Runnin’ Bulldogs linebacker William McRainey was voted the Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the league, and GW head coach Tre Lamb was selected Coach of the Year. The win in 2022 marked the Runnin’ Bulldogs third overall Big South football title.

The Gardner-Webb Women’s Basketball team took its place in the history books on March 5, 2023, by winning the both the Big South Championship and the Big South regular season. At the championship game, the women claimed their 21st consecutive victory to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. They also finished 21-0 against Big South Competition, the best mark in the history of the league. And in that final game, Jhessyka Williams played scored a season high 33 points, tying a championship game mark for most points scored by an individual.

“I want our past, present, and future students to know that Gardner-Webb Athletics has built a culture of competitive excellence that will inspire us to become champions in competition, in the classroom, and in our community,” added Goodrich. “And, as fantastic as our results have been, as we get more alumni to become members of the Bulldog Club, together we will do things never before thought possible.”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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