STEVENS POINT, WIS. -- For the seventh time in NCAA Division III basketball history a program sent both their men's and women's squads to the national semifinals. The No. 3 ranked Warhawks men are competed in Salem, Va., while the No. 13 ranked women took the floor in Stevens Point, Wis.
"It really says a lot about our athletic department here at Whitewater and our strive for greatness," commented senior Whitewater guard Mary Merg.
"It's great because we really have a strong relationship with our men's program, obviously sharing the gym, but we used to ride the buses together, too," said Whitewater women's head coach Keri Carollo.
Mary's older brother Alex is the starting guard for the UW-Whitewater men's team. They advanced to the Division III national championship by defeating Ill. Wesleyan on Friday night.
"It's super-exciting," Mary Merg continued, "my brother is playing on the men's team. We have played this game since we were little and to both end our careers in the [national semifinals], it's a great feeling."
Alex, a year older than Mary, was sidelined for a year with an injury earlier in his career making 2013-14 the final year of eligibility for both Mergs. Alex and Mary are each starting guards with National Semifinals experience for their respective Warhawks squad, but this is the first occurrence they have reached the big stage in the same season.
Mary played an integral role in last year's national runner-up season, including hitting a pair of buzzer beaters in the semifinals against Amherst. Merg hit a 3 at the buzzer in regulation to send the game into overtime at 54-54. In the bonus period she sent a floater in as time expired to send the Warhawks to their first national title game. Merg's performance received No. 1 honors on ESPN's "Sportscenter Top Ten."
Alex also has national championship game experience as the starting point guard for the 2012 Men's national championship team. Merg finished with 11 points and a pair of assists as the Warhawks overcame a 17-point second half deficit to claim the national title.
"He's always been there supporting me throughout my career," Mary Merg continued, "and I've always been there for him."
The Mergs parents, Jean and Randy, have been splitting up each round of the tournament with one parent going to watch Alex and the other watching Mary. During the national semifinals, Randy is traveling to Salem and Jean is in Stevens Point.
Mary is among the team leaders in points (13.9), assists (3.1), rebounds (4.5), and steals (1.5) per game. She is a two-time all-WIAC performer earning first team honors this season. While Alex was named to the WIAC all-defensive team this season.
Additionally, the Mergs were each named WIAC Scholar Athlete, the first time in the history of the WIAC that a brother and sister have won the prestigious award in the same season. In order to be nominated for the scholar-athlete award, a student-athlete must have a minimum 3.50 grade point average. In addition, he/she must be in his last year of competition, or on schedule to graduate this academic year, and have competed for a minimum of two years.