The New Conference Rivals: Keene State

The New Conference Rivals: Keene State

Keene State College

Founded: 1909
Enrollment: 5,605
President: Dr. Melinda Treadwell
Director of Athletics: Dr. Kristene Kelly
Nickname: Owls
Colors: Red and White
Location: Keene, N.H.
Distance from Castleton: 84 Miles

KEENE, N.H. – Before Castleton, Keene State College had been the last school to join the Little East Conference 21 years ago, coming into the league as part of its move from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division III. At less than two hours, the trip to Keene State will be the shortest for the Spartans within their new conference home.

For its performance throughout the department in athletics, Keene State won each of the first 16 LEC Commissioner's Cups from 2000-01 through 2015-16. After finishing second in 2016-17, the Owls placed third in 2017-18. Keene State also won three straight Presidents' Cups (2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13) for outstanding achievement in academics among its student-athletes and posted a 3.07 cumulative GPA in 2017-18 to end up in fourth place.

In 2017-18, Keene State won the LEC regular season and tournament titles in men's lacrosse and also tied for the regular season title in women's volleyball. The Owls also finished in a tie for second in the field hockey regular season standings before winning the conference tournament, plus they finished second in men's cross country and men's basketball as well as third in women's soccer and women's lacrosse.

Keene State hosts basketball and volleyball at Spaulding Gymnasium, while the outdoor sports are held within the Owl Athletic Complex, which includes a lighted Omniturf field for field hockey and lacrosse, baseball and softball diamonds, and a lighted grass soccer field.

The Owls compete in 17 sports within the Little East Conference, including women's swimming and diving, but they do not sponsor men's and women's tennis. Keene State also sponsors men's swimming and diving as part of the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association.

The field hockey tournament title was a highlight of the fall for Keene State last year, capping a 14-9 record. The Owls also posted a 24-6 overall record in volleyball, including a 15-match winning streak to start the season, but they could not get past UMass Boston either in the regular season or in the final of the LEC Tournament.

Also in the fall, both soccer teams finished with winning records, as the men went 7-5-5, including 3-2-2 in the LEC for fourth place, and the women posted an 11-8-1 mark, including a 5-2 conference record. The men's cross country team finished in second place, while the women's cross country squad ended up in sixth place.

In the winter, the men's basketball team went 19-9 overall, including 11-3 within the league to finish in second place. The women's basketball team ended up in a tie for fifth place at 4-10 in the LEC as part of a 6-20 overall record, while both the men's and women's track and field teams placed sixth at the indoor conference championships.

The spring season was highlighted by the men's lacrosse team's undefeated league season, its sixth straight unbeaten record in LEC play and 10th overall since 2005. The Owls have won 62 of their last 63 conference contests, with the only LEC loss taking place April 7, 2012, at Eastern Connecticut State (14-11). In 2018, Keene State went 12-5 overall, losing at Amherst in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The women's lacrosse team went 9-9 overall, including 4-2 within the conference, while both the baseball and softball teams posted 5-9 conference records, with the baseball team (15-19 overall) finishing in a tie for fifth place and the softball team (9-21 overall) ending up in a tie for sixth place. At the league outdoor track and field championships, both the men's and women's squads finished in fifth place.

Keene State makes the trip across the New Hampshire-Vermont border to Castleton for a volleyball match Tuesday, Oct. 2, starting at 7 p.m. at Glenbrook Gym. The Spartans and Owls face each other in soccer Saturday, Oct. 20, with the women's soccer match taking place in Keene and the men's soccer contest happening at Castleton as part of Homecoming.