Well, we are back.
I never thought that would feel so good to say, but we are. I would hope that most everyone has come out of the past year with a thankfulness of what you have, however mundane it may seem. I know I am. Anyway, let’s get to it.
First, my apologies to the Women for not covering them like I should have this past season. I will be honest, I thought they were going to cancel the NCAA postseason again, but they didn’t and that was great because for the first time since 2007, our Women won a tournament game. For the second straight year, Jason Burton kept moving the Lion Women down the tracks in terms of progress. Back to Back Division Titles, an outright LSC title last year before COVID killed any hope of a national title (and I think our Women would have won it all last year). Jason Burton has become the best coach in program history in terms of wins, winning percentage, NCAA tournament appearances, Division Titles, and rankings. Every year his teams get better. The only problem with this is that eventually, we will have to learn to hold onto him, but from all accounts, Burton seems happy in Commerce and he has a very deep bond with his players, and think that is something you can’t ever take for granted. He loves his players, and his players love him. A first round win in the NCAA tournament is just one step in the right direction. Remember, when he got here, the program was a train wreck, now, it is one of the best of the country. I will have some wrap up thoughts on this season.
Jaret von Rosenberg’s squad had a disappointing 7-7 season and missed out on the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Last season was tough, despite that, the Lion Men still amassed an 18-11 record and an LSC North title. This year’s team only had 3 seniors and was VERY young. Also, every team had a COVID issue and this one was no exception. That said, Coach Rose is a winner and I have no doubt he will have the team back to where they were at his first two seasons. The LSC has really gotten much tougher since the addition of 11 teams at the beginning of last season, and every team has to bring their A-Game. Next year, I am looking for the old Coach Rose teams and see the Men going back to the tournament. Like their Women counterparts, I will have a post-mortem on the season.
Richie Bruister’s club is ranked # 2 in the nation and a 21-6 record is a testimony to that. It is the highest the program has ever been ranked and just to think we are only 5 seasons into having a program. It goes beyond impressive. Bruister and Company have a tough 4 game stand starting Tuesday as they travel to Oklahoma to face Rogers State, ranked # 9 in the country before heading down to Laredo for a tilt with Texas A&M-Internationl and then to Kingsville for a 4 game stand against the Lady Javs before returning to Commerce for a Double header against St. Edwards.
An abbreviated season that was moved to the spring saw the Lion volleyball squad in a place they are not used to. A 7-7 record is the worst season Craig Case has had in a very long time. Again, these ladies expected to play this fall. This whole season almost seems almost pointless from a competition standpoint, but while we know a lot of about how this affects fall sports like Football, I have no idea how this will affect sports like Volleyball. Again, this was a YOUNG team and had a lot of Freshmen and Sophs playing their first real action. How this plays into the fall, we will find out, but I see it getting better. These Ladies and the staff work harder than anyone and deserve a better chance at competition, but that is on the NCAA.
The Lion Men and Women came off a great weekend at the Texas Relays in Austin and for the first time in 60 years, a Lion won an individual title. Nicodemus Rotich finished first in the 3,000 meter steeple chase and other Lions performed very well against some of the top teams in the nation. Stats are here-https://lionathletics.com/news/2021/3/25/mens-track-and-field-rotich-wins-lions-first-texas-relays-title-in-61-years-with-nations-top-mark-in-steeplechase.aspx
The Lions return to the track at the Noble relays in San Angelo this Saturday.
The Lion Men and Women both hosted the Lion Invitational at Trophy Club Country Club in Trophy Club (just north of Fort Worth) this past week. The Women showed an impressive 3rd out of 15 teams while the Men took 5th. The Women head to Western New Mexico for the Palm Valley classic this weekend, while the Men will be in the Dallas Baptist Invitiational at Robson Ranch in Denton. This is the final tournament for both before the LSC Championships in Arlington at the Texas Rangers Golf Club.
A TON to unpack including a new spring game coming in April, a new schedule, and so much more. We will have more later on this week, including a truly amazing new arrangement in scheduling against a rival. As I said, Russ will have more on this later.