CHAMPIONS TERRITORY: 2017-18 Year-In-Review

Wednesday, June 6, 2018
by Wes Bloomquist | wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

TYLER – An NCAA national baseball championship, 11 All-America selections, three regional team titles, eight NCAA tournament appearances, 11 American Southwest Conference championships and an .803 winning percentage on campus are just a few of the UT Tyler highlights from the 2017-18 athletic seasons. An athletic program with 17 sports, the Patriots combined to boast a 198-66-1 overall record in team sports and also won five golf tournaments, three cross country meets and one track & field team title at the ASC meet. At home, UT Tyler teams were 86-21-1 and also hosted two cross country meets, two golf tournaments and two track & field meets.

AWARDS, RECORDS & HISTORY LINKS: BaseballCross Country (M)Cross Country (W)Basketball (M)Basketball (W)Golf (M)Golf (W)Soccer (M)Soccer (W)SoftballTennis (M)Tennis (W)Track & Field (M)Track & Field (W)Volleyball

The UT Tyler baseball team captured the eighth NCAA championship in athletic department history and the 11th overall national title. The Patriots went 11-2 in the NCAA Baseball Championship tournament, capped by a 9-6 win over No. 6 Texas Lutheran on Tuesday, May 29 in Appleton, Wisconsin to secure the first national title in UT Tyler baseball history. The men’s golf team would follow winning the conference title by finishing third at the NCAA Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina to complete the season. The list of UT Tyler All-Americas continued growing with 11 selections including Lucas Pereira (soccer), Leandro Cid-Fernandez (soccer), Arthur Fagundes (tennis), Pablo Gomez (tennis), Nicole Garcia (softball), Ashley Perez (softball), Lynsey Mitchell (softball), Andrea Gonzales (softball), Colleen Bentke (softball), Sam Hill (golf) and Matthew Godwin (javelin).

UT Tyler won conference championships in men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s tennis, men’s track & field, softball and women’s tennis and had five individual ASC champions with Tyler Uhlig winning the ASC men’s golf tournament and Matthew Cecotti winning two events at the track meet and Godwin and Zach Richardson winning one title each at the meet. The softball team went 44-5, winning the NCAA Seguin Regional, NCAA Tyler Super Regional and advancing to the NCAA DIII Championship for the fourth straight season while the UT Tyler Track & Field program sent three to the national meet with Godwin, Richardson and Kaylee Prather qualifying for the championship meet.

The Patriot baseball team set a new program record by winning 40 games in a season for the first time in program history after going 11-2 in the NCAA tournament. UT Tyler, which secured an at-large bid to the tournament after falling in the ASC semifinals, made its run to the title by staving off elimination five times in the regional tournament in Sauget, Illinois before traveling to Wisconsin to win the title. The national title comes despite the team not having any All-Americans and the team going into the national tournament unranked.

“I’m so blessed to be a part of the first UT Tyler Baseball National Championship team,” UT Tyler coach Brent Porche said. “This one is for all those who have come before us to set this stage. It’s a story book ending, to set the program record with 40 wins, punch our first ticket to the World Series and win the first National Championship in what is most likely the end of the Division III era at UT Tyler. No more fitting way to go out. I will forever be grateful to this group of men. I couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished, but more importantly, who they are as men. I love every one of them, and we will certainly miss these seniors. They have raised the bar for teams to come and set a new standard for success, leaving this program better than they found it.”

Individually, Bowie Farris, Blake Wilson and Simon Sedillo earned all-region honors while Jared Pauley, Ryan Cheatham, Alex Bishop, Josh Burns, Graham Welch and Sam Sitton were honored by the ASC. Wilson established a new program record with 88 hits in the season, Sedillo was named the NCAA DIII Championship Tournament Most Outstanding Player after throwing two complete games in Wisconsin and Alex Bishop finished his career with 199 hits that was capped by a two-run home run in the final game to help lead the team to the championship. Bishop is the all-time RBI leader in program history with 145 and he was also earned the ASC Scholar Medal of Honor for his success in the classroom.

The UT Tyler men’s soccer team advanced to its fourth NCAA DIII Championship tournament after putting together a strong season where they finished second in the ASC standings and as the runner-up at the ASC Championship tournament. The Patriots went 11-4-3 in the 2017 season, including posting an impressive 9-1-1 record in conference play. Pereira and Cid-Fernandez led the Patriots and earned All-America honors, while Ryan Brinda was selected as an all-region defender. The team was 6-0-1 on its home field and received all-conference honors for Pereira, Cid-Fernandez, Brinda, John McGuffin and Travis Collins.

“I am proud of their team and individual accomplishments on the field and in the classroom,” UT Tyler coach Kenny Jones said. “We had another good year in both areas and I am really happy for the guys. They really care about representing our program well.  All their hard work and sacrifice paid off. I am really excited about the upcoming season. I think the message to the team at the end of the spring season from me was that we will come back in the fall and have another opportunity. We will have the opportunity come back and play in order to have success on the field, the opportunity to be intentional about our relationships with one another, and the opportunity to continue to leave a legacy by moving our entire program forward on the field, with our service and in the classroom. So, let’s not waste our opportunities when get back in the fall.”

The women’s soccer team continued being one of the top programs around by posting an 11-5-1 overall record and advancing to the ASC semifinals. The Patriots were 6-3 on their home field and recorded nine shutouts. UT Tyler senior Caroline Williams secured all-region honors and the ASC honored Williams, Emily Hurley, Caitlyn Mortus, Kathleen Johnson, Alex Clowers, Landri Edwards and Kaelyn Steitz with postseason honors.

“Our 2017-18 season was a grind for us,” UT Tyler coach Stefani Webb said. “We had to create a new identity and find a new way to win and I thought we handled that extremely well.  I was so proud of the fight we had, the character we showed and way we represented our core values. I think the game that really left the biggest mark on us was the playoff game away at ETBU. They are a very good team and early in the game we find ourselves down 2-0.  The look in our players eyes at halftime was my favorite moment of the year. You could see the passion and grit we had in us and we went on to win the game.  I think that moment will define this team for a very long time. It is an absolute honor to lead these young women and be a part of this journey with them.”

On the basketball court, the men’s and women’s teams both posted 17-9 overall records and advanced to the ASC Championship tournaments. The men’s team earned 10 wins in conference play and was 8-3 on their home court. UT Tyler sophomore Emeka Obukwelu earned All-Conference honors, while Josh Tatum, Skyler Hadden and Johnell Lane were ASC East selections for the Patriots.

“I loved coaching this group of young men,” UT Tyler coach Jamon Copeland said. “Their ability to come together, die to self, and stay committed to the daily process was what made them such a special group. These characteristics enabled them to have the 2nd most wins in school history, best start to a season in school history, and lead the ASC in FG% and assists.”

The women’s team went 10-2 at the HPC and were 13-5 in ASC play. Alex Kochner, Carissa Spiker, Demi Cumby, Brittany Johnson, Alexus Bertrand and Bianca Valderrama all earned ASC East Division recognition for the Patriots who finished second in the division. UT Tyler will be under new leadership next season after hiring Jeannette Mosher to lead the program. Mosher has won 440 games in her career and comes to Tyler after coaching at SUNY Cortland for the past 20 seasons. She takes over a program that has posted a 121-25 record over the past five seasons and was in the Elite 8 just three seasons ago.

The volleyball team went 22-8 in its 2017 season which was the second winningest season in program history. The team earned second place in the ASC East Division and saw senior Brieanne Brown earn All-ASC honors. Additionally, Brianna Bellehumeur, Brown, Samantha Lee, Makenna Bartlett, Reighanna Guzman, Kaitlyn Budisalovich, Haley Nemitz and Blair Dressendorfer earned ASC East recognition for the Patriot who were 12-4 in conference play.

“I am very proud of the team for the season we had. They bonded very early in the season and really played hard for each other,” UT Tyler coach Lyndsay Mashe said. “This group played with a lot of passion and we came up with some big wins throughout the season.  One of my favorite memories from the season was the win against UT Dallas at home.  We just made a major lineup change and they bought in and ran with it. Our home crowd was amazing and the team came up with a big win. Also, our first two weekends of the season we played very good competition and beat some very good programs which led us to a 7-1 start. I am very proud of the team’s accomplishments this season and I am looking forward to seeing the hard work of spring show when they report in the Fall.” 

The softball program continued its dominance in 2018 where it would win its fifth ASC title before winning the regional and super regional round to advance to the fourth straight NCAA Championship tournament and seventh in Patriot history. UT Tyler went 44-5 during the season, which included sweeping through the ASC tournament on its home field and then knocking off Linfield in the NCAA Super Regionals to go back to Oklahoma City. UT Tyler set a program record by having five NFCA All-America selections in Perez, Garcia, Mitchell, Gonzales and Bentke and the coaching staff was honored by the NFCA as the top staff in the West Region. Perez was the most decorated player having earned All-America, NFCA/Schutt Sports National Freshman of the Year, NFCA/Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year, ASC Player of the Year and ASC Freshman of the Year. A freshman from Pflugerville, Perez set the single-season home run record with 19 while Garcia finished the year with a .512 average which is a new program record. Perez, Andrea Gonzales, Theresa Gonzales, Hannah Moore, Garcia, Mitchell, Bentke, Victoria Gonzales, Kursten Jaime and Whitney Romero earned all-conference honors and the coaching staff was honored by the ASC and NFCA West Region. The Patriots would finish fifth at the NCAA Championship tournament but not before continuing the tradition of excellence for the program.

On the tennis courts, UT Tyler continued its ASC dominance with both programs winning the ASC East regular season titles and then both winning the ASC Championship tournaments. The men’s team went 20-5 during the spring after a fall where Fagundes and Gomez earned All-America honors during the Fall ITA Regional Championship. First-year head coach Adam Cohen was named the ASC East Coach of the Year on the men’s and women’s side and led the programs to the NCAA tournament in California. Fagundes and Marisa Quevedo were both named ASC East Division MVPs, while Jose Currea and Caitlyn Cox were named ASC Freshman of the Year. The UT Tyler women’s team was also honored with the ASC SAAC Team Sportsmanship Award and had All-East selections for Marisa Quevedo, Alexis Arrieta, Alexandra McKissick, Nancy Perez, Lauren Kuhn, Caitlyn Cox, Savannah Seely and Molly Hinkle. The men’s year started with Gomez and Fagundes advancing to the ITA Oracle Cup and finished with the 10th ASC title in program history and All-Conference selections for Fagundes, Daniel Rodriguez, Jose Currea, Alvar Andres, Thomas Parra, Josh Vanwinkle, Gabriel Hidalgo, Gomez, Jose McIntyre, Ford Cunningham and Alexandre Bouchard. Fagundes would also earn CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for his success in the classroom.

UT Tyler earned ASC Championship titles in men’s cross country in the fall and then men’s track & field in the spring. The cross country team won their eighth straight ASC title with Will McIlroy, Cecotti, Justin Tokuz and Nathan Adams leading the way and earning all-conference selections. In the spring, the men’s track & field team won its fifth ASC title by going to Abilene and racking up 173 points to top McMurry who finished with 167 points. The exciting championship was highlighted by Cecotti who won the 1,500 and 800 meters and was named the ASC High Point Athlete, while Godwin won the javelin for the fourth straight season at the ASC Championship and Zach Richardson set a new meet record and won the 400. Richardson and Godwin would qualify for the NCAA Championship along with Kaylee Prather who qualified in the long jump from the women’s team. Prather went into the national meet with the fourth best jump in the nation after an impressive season that saw her transition from an All-American softball player to a track & field athlete. Godwin would earn fifth in the javelin in La Crosse, Wisconsin to secure all-America honors for the Patriots who also had Bob Hepler, Chris Stonestreet, Whitney Simmons, Jordan Grubbs, Greg Cawthon and Gavin Kirkhart earn ASC Coaching Staff of the Year.

On the golf course, UT Tyler’s men continued being one of the most dominant programs in the nation by finishing third at the NCAA Championship while the women’s team tied for the ASC Championship but lost in a playoff to have its season end. The men would win the third ASC Championship in program history with a five-stroke advantage over Concordia, while Uhlig won the individual championship by shooting 7-under par at the 54-hole event. UTT head coach Michael McMunn has now led the Patriots to third-place national finishes in both of his seasons in Tyler and helped the program to its first ASC title since 2012. Hill would be named ASC Co-Golfer of the Year for his performances throughout the season and would cap his UT Tyler career by finishing sixth overall at the national tournament to earn All-America honors for the second straight season. Hill, Uhlig, George Toone and Nicklaus Cuny were named PING All-West Region and Hayden Montoya and Trystan Perkins joined them as all-conference selections.

“I am proud of the type of year we had,” McMunn said. “Academically, we had the highest GPA this spring since I have been here. The accomplishments the guys had on the golf course speak for themselves.  They won three tournaments, had three 2nd place finishes, won the ASC conference championship and finished 3rd at the NCAA Championship. It has been a fun year and I could not be more proud of these guys.”

The UT Tyler women finished as the ASC runner-up and saw Katie Hicken named the ASC Golfer of the Year after a season where she won two tournaments for the Patriots. UT Tyler senior Stephanie Tutt was named the ASC Scholar-Athlete Medal of Honor winner and Hicken, Amy Cox, Taylor Denton and Tutt were all-conference selections for head coach Grant Spencer. The UT Tyler golf programs both won their home events with victories at the Al and Nancy Jones Memorial in the fall.

Along with success in competition, the Patriots were honored by the ASC with All-Academic Team honors with 52 selections in the fall that included Nathan Adams, Conor Linekin, Will McIlroy, Antonio Sanchez, Justin Tokuz, Michaela Heys, Tristin Salem, Courtney Smith, Rachel Willis, Amy Wyatt, Giancarlo Ayanegui, Ryan Brinda, Brian Cassidy, Cid-Fernandez, Collins, Caio Godinho, Samuel Huerta, Erik Macias, Austin McIntosh, Akon N’Guetta, Pereira, Uriah Shipman, Chris Stamm, Jordan Welch, Elizabeth Clore, Jade Crump, Kelsy Haden, Mariah Harmon, Willow Herndon, Kathleen Johnson, Jessica L’Hoste, Jenna Malone, Caitlyn Mortus, Ashton Peeks, Taylor Peimbert, Vanessa Rangel, Kaelyn Steitz, Taylor Tarsi, Taylor Thiem, Williams, Darci Wilson, Bailey Wooten, Kyana Alvarez, Bartlett, Brown, Budisalovich, Loren Guerra, Guzman, Lee, Kayla McCoy, Nemitz and Emily Robison before 72 more selections in the winter-spring seasons that include: Alex Bishop, Josh Burns, Ryan Cheatham, Ethan Cherry, Turner Givens, Raby Hampton, Nate Imig, Evan Kissinger, Max Page, Jared Pauley, Patrick Rogers, Ben Romines, Blake Ross, Henry Sanchez, Landon Shofner, Sam Sitton, Chris Stodolka, Jamal Green-Gaskin, Chase Mason, Omar Mohamed, Davis Moore, Emeka Obukwelu, Samantha Odom, Carissa Spiker, Libby Waddell, DJ Godoy, Sam Hill, Trystan Perkins, George Toone, Amy Cox, Taylor Denton, Katie Hicken, Stephanie Tutt, Courtney Fisher, Andrea Gonzales, Kailey Henderson, Kursten Jaime, Miranda Leal, Jewell Davis, Hannah Moore, Whitney Romero, Alexandre Bouchard, Arthur Fagundes, Pablo Gomez, Vinicio Hadlich, Gabriel Hidalgo, Daniel Rodriguez, Joshua Vanwinkle, Alexis Arrieta, Victoria Kniffen, Lauren Kuhn, Alexandra McKissick, Savannah Seely, Sydney Makowski, Victoria Nix, Lexie Petty, Kaylee Prather, Tristin Salem, Courtney Smith, Emma Snyder, Nathan Adams, Matthew Godwin, Conor Linekin, Will McIlroy, Justin Tokuz, Rachel Mutchler, Payton Williams, Gabriella Wilson, Blake Brunnemann, Nick Rackley and Patrick Cunningham.

The Patriots were the top American Southwest Conference athletic program for the sixth straight year in the NCAA Division III Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings and come in at 46th of 323 nationally after another stunning year of success throughout the 17 sports.

“It was an amazing Spring season for UT Tyler sports teams,” said UT Tyler Athletics Director Dr. Howard Patterson. “Every sport participated at the conference level or higher and we won a National Championship in Baseball, a 3rd place finish in men’s golf and a 5th place finish in softball and there were nine UT Tyler student-athletes names to their respective All-America Teams.  All in all, a great spring and year.”

For coverage of the Patriots throughout the year, go to www.uttylerpatriots.com and follow us on social media at twitter.com/uttylerpatriots and facebook.com/uttylersports.