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Mustang athletes push for national titles

Vincent+Johnson%2C+mechanical+engineer+junior%2C+rushes+the+ball+during+the+MSU+vs+West+Texas+A%26M+game+at+Memorial+Stadium%2C+Saturday%2C+Oct.+21%2C+2017.+Photo+by+Francisco+Martinez
Vincent Johnson, mechanical engineer junior, rushes the ball during the MSU vs West Texas A&M game at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez

Vincent Johnson, mechanical engineer junior, rushes the ball during the MSU vs West Texas A&M game at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez

Vincent Johnson, mechanical engineer junior, rushes the ball during the MSU vs West Texas A&M game at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez

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The goal of winning a national championship is the ultimate driving force for student athletes as they prepare for the upcoming seasons filled with 5:30 a.m. workouts, summer conditioning and endless meetings. There are 13 varsity athletic teams. However, participation doesn’t stop there. The cycling team is a club sport as are Ultimate and rugby. In addition, each semester, recreational sports offers intramural competition in everything from basketball, kickball and dodgeball.

Vincent Johnson football

Vincent Johnson, mechanical engineer junior, rushes the ball during the MSU vs West Texas A&M game at Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Francisco Martinez

Football

The team continues the winning tradition with its 18th consecutive winning season. The team rallied together to improve from last year’s season which ended in the first round of the playoffs. Under the guidance of Bill Maskill, head coach and Lonestar Conference coach of the year, the mustangs made it to the second round of playoffs last season making team history. The team would also be the only to defeat the national championship team Texas A&M Commerce. Of the 10 wins last season, seven were won by 10 or more points.

Jayden Cunningan, criminal justice sophomore, said, “Everyday we’re getting more people to buy in to the program, so I feel we’re going to have a team full of ready individuals with the same mindset. We have a lot of talent throughout the whole team and once everyone comes together as one unit with the same goals in mind, we’re going to be a solid group of guys. We have two great quarterbacks, Layton Rabb and Hagan Hutcherson, that both can do different things really well. They’ll be people to watch for sure. Second round of the playoffs is not enough, were focused on going all the way.”

First home game: Sept. 1 against Humboldt State

Aerielle Edwards, applied arts & aciences senior, jumps up to spike the ball towards Cameron University opponents during the volleyball game in D.L. Ligon Coliseum on Nov. 9, 2017. Photo by Harlie David

Harlie David
Aerielle Edwards, applied arts & aciences senior, jumps up to spike the ball towards Cameron University opponents during the volleyball game in D.L. Ligon Coliseum on Nov. 9, 2017. Photo by Harlie David

Volleyball

Although going through a change in coaching staff, players said they are optimistic about this coming fall. Assistant volleyball coach John Forman and second assistant volleyball coach Tim Alaniz have taken over the role of the head coaches for the spring semester and are running practices, scheduling community services and hosting the annual spring tournament. The team improved from a 12-21 season in 2016 to 15-16 in 2017.

Libero Aerielle Edwards, senior applied arts and sciences, was awarded second team all-conference.

“We have some young players that we’re expecting to step up and have a big impact on next season like Raven Presley and Sarah Eakin. Throughout the season, we quickly learned that we need a better connection on and off the court. That is something we’re focused on improving going into next season,” outside hitter Rockelle Gholston, mass communication junior said.

First home game: Sept. 7 against Eastern New Mexico

Soccer

The men’s soccer team improved on an already winning season last year with a record 20 wins, zero losses and three games ending in a tie. Under the coaching of Doug Elder, Heartland coach of the year, the team remained undefeated throughout the entire season, allowing the team to reach the fourth round of playoffs.

Dorihan Funga-Mukaba, undecided freshman, said, “Our expectations for next season is to keep improving as a team and hopefully win the national championship. An attribute that will take us further for next season is all the guys on the team want to compete and battle for each other because we have grown so close. After going to the playoffs this year, we know exactly what to expect for next season, and we know what it will take in order for us to win.”

The women’s soccer team finished its season with a record of 11 wins eight losses and one game ending in a tie. The girls were able to pull off a big one-to-nothing win against number 12 team in the division St. Edward’s on an away game half-way into the season. Five players were recognized with all-conference honors, three of which were first team all Lone Star Conference honors.

“I have high expectations for next season because we only lost two starters from last season, so the rest of us know what to expect. It might be challenging with a new coach because of coaching than what were used to, but we should be fine,” said Taylor Robinson, exercise physiology junior. “We only have four new additions to the team for next season so everyone is coming into the season knowing exactly what to expect. We’re working our way around the coaching situation as well as we can. With a change in coaching staff, adjustments must be made, but I’m confident we’ll make them.

Men’s first home game: Sept. 13 against Rogers State

Women’s first home game: Aug. 30 against New Mexico Highlands

Cross Country

Coming off of a conference championship in its 2016 season, the bar was set high for the team.The team will only lose one runner for next year’s season. Kayleigh Jarrett, Sara Smith and Delaney Locke placed within the first 15 at the Lone Star conference meet. After coming in first place, Jarrett was named Lone Star Conference’s Freshman of the Year.

Smith said she has big expectations for her senior season.

“We are a very young team, and [our] coach is bringing in some talented runners that we are all excited about. I think one of the biggest attributes that we will have next year is the younger girls that are on the team this year will have some experience and know what to expect at the big races,” Smith said. “The girls have a great attitude and we have a great family connection on our team. I think that will be the key attribute that will make us great next season.”

Brenna Moore

Bradley Wilson
Brenna Moore, nursing senior, and Jeff Ray, golf coach, speak at a press conference with Moore discussing her national championship in golf, the first national championship won by a Midwestern State University athlete.

FOR THE RECORD

The only NCAA national championship at MSU is the women’s golf championship by Brenna Moore in 2015.

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Mustang athletes push for national titles