Sports continue to make history

Quade Coward, senior in exercise physiology, prepares to throw the ball during the MSU football home game against Oklahoma Panhandle State.

As the school-year comes to an end, 6 a.m. practices, study-hall, long bus-rides, conference championships, endless tears, two-a-days, and glorious moments also do. However, every bit of hard work each student-athlete contributes makes a difference. Earning four Lone Star Conference championships, MSU sports made history this year.

Football

The team posted a 17th consecutive winning season while advancing to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the seventh time in program history with an 8-3 record. Junior Akoakoa Paleka-Kennedy became the second MSU standout to earn a National Player of the Year honor when he was presented with the Rimington Award given to the best center in NCAA II. The team scored in the final minute to take the lead in five games this season. That included wins over Texas A&M-Kingsville (32-30), Texas A&M-Commerce (26-25), Angelo State (28-21) and Tarleton State (26-21). MSU took a 28-24 lead over Eastern New Mexico with 54 seconds remaining before the Greyhounds scored a touchdown with no time left on the clock.

“We are working harder than we ever have for next year. I’m looking forward to a better season because even though we lost a lot of really good seniors, we have a lot of young talent that will hopefully keep up the winning tradition of MSU,” freshman kicker Jaron Imbriani said.

Volleyball

The team doubled its win total in the second year with head coach Natalie Rawson at the helm, and ended the season with a 12-21 record including a 6-14 mark in Lone Star Conference play. MSU was 0-16 in league play in 2015. In addition, the team qualified for LSC Postseason Tournament play for the first time since 2013. Junior outside hitter Aerielle Edwards earned second-team all-conference honors, while juniors Sarah Garfield and Kristan Aduddell earned Honorable Mention.

“We did everything we could throughout the season, and really improved from last year. If we continue to give our best effort, have each other’s backs, and focus on each game, a playoff berth can be closer than we think,” sophomore libero Khailia Griffin said.

Cross Country

The team won the program’s sixth conference championship in the last nine years. At the Conference Championship, held at Texas A&M-Commerce, sophomore Bridget Reilly led the team with a fourth place finish, earning All-Conference honors, along with sophomore Sara Smith (7th), senior Leticia Shaban (12th), senior Ana Lopez (13th), and sophomore Michelle Rieves (15th). At regionals, the team finished ninth out of 32. To top off the year, head coach Koby Styles was named coach of the year for the fourth time in his 10-year career.

“I have some of the hardest working athletes. They compete year-round, and to be able to put in the time to train, keep up with academics, and exceed all expectations requires a lot of discipline. These girls are special,” Koby Styles, head women’s cross country and track coach, said.

Soccer

On the women’s side, the team won the conference championship and an automatic bid to NCAA Tournament. The team concluded its season by reaching the NCAA Tournament Regional Semi-Finals, and made history by becoming the second MSU women’s team to ever advance in the NCAA Tournament.

On the men’s side, the team won the conference after the Southland and Heartland conferences were combined. Led by two All-Americans, seniors Christian Okeke and Flavio Guzman, the team scored 53 goals. In addition, senior Gabriel Cavalcante was named Conference Player of the Year, and Okeke was named Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Last year, the team reached the NCAA quarterfinals for the sixth time.

“After this season, we are losing really great players, but we will have young attackers remaining and experienced defenders. We will have 11 letter winners coming back, plus the class coming in, so it should be a terrific season,” Michael Meachum, associate head men’s coach, said.

Basketball

Although the season for the men’s basketball team didn’t turn out as the players and coaches would have wanted, MSU overcame a 20-point deficit to beat eventual Lone Star Conference champion UT-Permian Basin 80-73 on Jan. 7th at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. The team also defeated No. 11 West Texas A&M (84-78) earlier that week as part of a season-best six-game winning streak.

The women’s team shot over 40 percent from the field while ranking 2nd in the LSC in assists at over 15 assists per game. Junior Whitney Taylor led the scoring average with 13.4 points per game while shooting over 39 percent from the field. Taylor has climbed up the record board for most 3 pointers made in a single season landing at third on the list. She also earned LSC honorable mention team honors for the season. Junior Kristin Rydell averaged over nine points a game with 41 threes this season. Kristin was also named to the LSC All-Academic Team with a 3.9 G.P.A.

“The mustangs fell short of earning a LSC tournament berth, but definitely showed vast amount of growth throughout the season and the future is very bright,” Noel Johnson, head women’s basketball coach, said.

Softball

Freshman Lauren Lindgren led the team with a .351 average with six homers, 24 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. The highlight of the season was taking two of three from Cameron with consecutive shutout victories – 9-0 and 4-0 – on March 18.

“We definitely have room for improvement. We are improving and really focusing on doing the small things right for next year. I am really blessed to be part of a loving and disciplined team, so I can’t wait to see where that determination and mindset takes us for the upcoming season,”  first base and outfield sophomore Taylor Mordecai said.

Track

Senior Ana Lopez broke her own 800m run school by completing the two-lap race in 2:15.59. Alongside Lopez, junior April Pena also broke her own school record in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:06.48. In addition, Reilly has dominated the 3000-meter steeplechase by running a time of 10:52.68, which ranks 32nd nationally. In the long-distance races, Shaban is ranked 1st in the conference in the 10k after her strong second place finish in the Indoor Conference Championships in the 5k. The LSC Outdoor Track Championships will be held on May 6 and Nationals will be held three weeks later on May 27.

“It’s my last year competing, but I really hope I was able to leave a legacy for the girls that remain. It was a pleasure being able to run for this school, and I know the girls will win conference next year and the year after that,” middle-distance specialist Lopez said.

Tennis

The women’s team proved its worth by being regular season and conference champions, which became their third conference championship in the past four years. They are ranked 15th in the nation and hold the second longest winning streak and 5th most wins since the program’s creation. Within its success, the team took home seven wins over nationally ranked opponents, and are ranked second in the region. The team will play Dallas Baptist May 1. NCAA II Championships will be held in Altamonte Springs, Florida on May 10.

On the men’s side, the tennis team was ranked 21st in the nation, third in the region, and reached conference finals. In addition, they took nine wins against nationally ranked teams. In fact, out of the 24 total matches this season, 16 were against nationally ranked teams.

“The plan is to get to the NCAA tournament by holding our regional rank and winning each match. Both teams are just great groups of men and women. That’s the most important thing, and I’m not just saying it,” Scott Linn, head men’s and women’s tennis coach, said.

Golf

The women’s team is positioned to qualify for the NCAA II West Super Region play for the fifth time in six seasons. Senior Sierra Campbell and junior Sarah Moore were named second-team All-Lone Star Conference. Campbell placed in the top 10 on two occasions this season while finishing in the top 20 three other times. She also led MSU with a stroke average of 77.06 in 2016-17 with a finish percentage of 79.7. Midwestern State will host the NCAA II Super Regional from May 8-10 at the Wichita Falls Country Club.

On the men’s side, the team won the St. Edward’s invitational and the Ft. Smith Invitational. Ranked third in the South Central Region they advanced to the South Central/West Super Region to be played on May 8-10 in Stockton California. The golf program has made eight consecutive trips to the Regional tournament. Senior Jared Baker won both tournaments as an individual and was the most valuable player of the Lone Star First Team All-Conference. He also ranked second in the South Central Region. Senior Tom Smith was named to the First Team All-Academic and Second Team All-Conference. Junior Trip Hobson earned Second Team All-Conference and sophomore Clayton Meyers earned honorable mention All-Conference.

 

 

 

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