This weekend signals the end of the year for all Lion sports as the track team places 23 Lions at Javelina Stadium in Kingsville, TX for the National Track Meet.
It has been a great year for all of our sports and basically every sport this year did well, and I would venture to say that from top to bottom it has been the best year we have had in a while. Let’s take a look at the Sports.
Craig Case’s squad notched a fantastic season. 30-6 overall with a 17-3 conference record, finishing second in the conference in the regular season standings, and then winning the Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship for the first time in 30 years. This was a huge year and a very successful one. The Lions went back to the NCAA Tournament and went to the NCAA South Central Regional finals where they were defeated by a very good Tarleton State team, a team they beat in the LSC Conference tournament championship game. It was no doubt the best year the program has had in a long time, but the momentum is going strong and has been going strong since about year 3 of Craig Case’s tenure. The Lions will lose some fantastic Seniors such as the Wacker sisters and also the loss of former assistant head coach Sarah Carthel, but the beat looks to go on in 2019.
This was a tough season for Neil Piper’s squad. Despite notching another winning season at 9-8 overall, several games were cancelled or moved to Rockwall because of the immense amount of rain that North Texas had this past Fall. The A&M-Commerce Soccer program has been among the best in the Conference since the program started back in 1996. Piper has been the architect of much of the success and for a while, this program was thought to be the most likely to win the school’s first NCAA Division II team Championship, and I still do believe that will happen. The team is returning a lot of experience and next year will be heavy with Juniors and Sophomores. This was a young group that gritted out a winning season. Expect them to be back in LSC tournament and regular season title hunt, and see them going back to the National Tournament.
The Women’s team qualified for the NCAA South Central Regional Championships, but had a rough go during most of the regular season and this was a VERY YOUNG team full of mainly Freshman and Sophomores, with only one senior leaving. I believe as they get older, they will get better as most of the conference was very experienced when it comes to the other Women’s squads in the country.
A bit of a setback this season for the Men’s Cross Country team after finishing 5th at the LSC Meet, though they did qualify for the South Central Regional Meet where they finished 19th. 4 of the 10 runners were seniors, but there were many good points. They finished 2nd in 2 of their 4 regular season meets, and there appears to be a young group that is up and coming. A year can make a lot of difference.
It was a bittersweet season. The final year of the magical Carthel era, and for the first time in 45 years, The Lions were defending National Champions. The team started out 4-0 and lost a critical game to Colorado State Pueblo, then we saw the emergence of Kane Wilson and other playmakers such as Dominique Ramsey and Ryan Stokes. The Lions snapped a 2 game losing streak to Midwestern State by picking up a huge 20-19 win, and finished the year 9-2, and went back to the National Playoffs. They smacked 5th ranked Minnesota-Duluth 33-17 in the first round, and was one drive away from avenging their only LSC loss to Tarleton State, finishing 10-3 overall and 9th in the nation. A few weeks later, Colby Carthel decided to join former TAMUC AD Ryan Ivey down in Deep East Texas to be the head coach at Stephen F. Austin State. A couple of weeks later, Tim McMurray hired former Rice and Texas State head coach David Bailiff to lead the Lion program. A lot is coming back next year, and there is every reason to believe that beat will go on starting in September.