NEW ORLEANS, La. – Courtesy of three regular-season championships, three runner-up placements, and a fourth-place finish, Xavier University of Louisiana was able to claim its tenth and final Thomas Howell Cup as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.
XULA was dominant once again, securing its fifth consecutive Cup and tenth over the past 11 seasons with 30 points, ten more than the second-place finisher. The Gold Nuggets swept the regular-season championships for all women’s sports (track & field, volleyball, and cross country) while seeing three of its four men’s squads getting runners-up (track & field, basketball, and cross country). The only squad that did not end up in the top-three was the women’s basketball program, which went on to win the GCAC Tournament anyway as the fourth seed.
Dillard University finished in second place with 20 points, securing the slot with a men’s track & field victory with second-place finishes in both volleyball and women’s track & field. They also won third place for their showing in women’s cross country. DU had its best Howell Cup finish since winning its lone Cup in 2016.
Edward Waters College came in third place, sliding in at 18 points. EWC was unable to win any regular-season championships but were solid across the board as they had four third-place finishes via both track and field teams, men’s cross country and women’s basketball. This is the fifth consecutive year that the school has finished third or better in the standings.
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Talladega College and Philander Smith College tied for fourth place, each garnering 17 points apiece. Talladega was boosted by its men’s basketball regular-season title and women’s basketball runner-up placement while PSC had a champion (men’s cross country), runner-up (women’s cross country) and third place winner (volleyball).
Rust College was sixth at 12 points primarily due to its GCAC regular-season championship won by its women’s basketball program as well as four points coming from its male counterparts on the hardwood.
Finally, Tougaloo College came in seventh, its best showing coming by way of the men’s cross country team who placed fourth.
Xavier (La.) now joins Mobile as the only two conference members in history to win double-figure Howell Cups with the Rams laying claim to 18 while the Gold Rush now have 10.
With the departure of Xavier to the Red River Athletic Conference, the only current member who has won the trophy is Dillard University, winning it for the first and only time so far at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 campaign.
The Thomas Howell Cup, named for the GCAC’s longtime commissioner, is awarded annually to the school with the most points based on order of finish in various sports.