Whoop It Up: More Seasons & Reasons to Cheer

This was published in the August 2016 issue of Insite Magazine.

Texas A&M University has a long and storied history of loyalty among sports fans. The tradition of the 12th Man was born in 1922 when Aggie E. King Gill stood ready on the sidelines to help the football team when it was running out of uninjured players. The tradition lives on as students continue to stand through each and every game. Even as the roar of the crowd can be heard from Kyle Field, other Texas A&M teams also carry on the winning tradition as top competitors in their fields. In anticipation of more outstanding 2016-17 performances, here is a brief recap of recent Aggie team accomplishments.
Baseball
Last season, the Texas A&M baseball team’s overall record of 49-16 included both an SEC Championship and a win against traditional rivals the University of Texas. Their eighth regional crown, the team made it to the NCAA Super Regional before losing to Texas Christian University. Four team members were named to NCBWA All-American teams – #28 pitcher Mark Ecker, #8 infielder Boomer White, #15 pitcher Brigham Hill, and #50 infielder Hunter Melton.

Next season begins in February 2017. Follow them on Twitter @AggieBaseball.

Basketball
The 2015-16 Texas A&M men’s basketball team finished with an overall record of 29-8, entering March Madness as a No. 3 seed with good odds to make the Final Four. Pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in college basketball history, the team scored 14 points in the final minute of the game against the University of Northern Iowa, forcing the game into overtime and clinching the victory. While denied the Final Four, the team did make it to the Sweet 16 before losing to Oklahoma University.

The Texas A&M women’s basketball team finished the 2016 season 22-10 advancing to the NCAA tournament for the 11th straight season. Head Coach Gary Blair won his 700th career game in a South Point Thanksgiving Shootout game against the University of California. Senior Courtney Walker became Texas A&M’s all-time leading scorer with 1,989 career points. With 717 wins under his belt, Blair led the Aggies to a final national ranking of 18th, and earned a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in the past 10 years.

The 2016-17 seasons for both teams begin in November. Follow the teams on Twitter @AggieMensHoops and @AggieWBB.
Cross Country
Both the men’s and women’s teams kicked off the 2016 season with a first place finish at the Aggie Opener at Dale Watts Cross Country Course against Lamar University and University of Texas at San Antonio. They finished the season with the men’s team taking second place in the SEC Championships, and junior Karis Jochen of the women’s team placing 36th out of 254 runners in the NCAA Championship. Her time of 20 minutes and 23.9 seconds is the fastest time by a Texas A&M runner in the national championship.

Twenty-three cross country athletes from both the men’s and women’s teams were named to the Fall 2015 SEC Honor Roll.

Next season will be starting in late August or early September. The cross country team can be found on Twitter @aggietrk.

Golf

Coming second place out of 14 competing teams in the SEC Championship, the men’s golf team only lost to the University of Georgia by three shots. They also claimed fifth place in the NCAA Regionals, and sophomore Cameron Champ took 85th in the NCAA Individual Championship.

Former student and professional golfer Ryan Palmer was named to the Texas A&M Athletics Hall of Fame in June.

Despite the women’s team opening loss to UT, they went on to an historic season in a tie for first place with Oklahoma State University in the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational after making up the seven-stroke gap. The team also went on to claim fourth place in the SEC Championship and 12th in the NCAA Regional.

The women’s golf team ended the season with the second-most par-or-better rounds as a team, the second-most birdies as a team, and three of the nine best 18-hole team scores in Texas A&M’s history.

The 2016-17 seasons for both teams begin in September. Both can be found on Twitter @AggieMensGolf and @aggiewomensgolf.

Swimming & Diving
Both the men’s and women’s teams came together to clinch a total of five individual victories at the Air Force Diving Invitational last season. The men’s team went on to take 8th place in the SEC Championships. Sophomore Mauro Castillo Luna set a new Texas A&M record for the 200-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:54.64. The men’s team also finished in the top 25 at the NCAA Championships. They had an overall record of 7-1.

The women’s team took first place in the Art Adamson Invitational. The team took first in the SEC Championships, as well as fourth in the NCAA Championships. They had an overall record of 7-2.

Their next season begins in October. They can be found on Twitter @AggieSwimDive.

Tennis
The men’s team started the season with a win at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kick-Off Weekend and made it to the semifinals of the SEC tournament. They finished the season 27-10, winning their first game in the NCAA tournament, but ultimately lost to the Texas Longhorns. Senior Jackson Withrow and sophomore Arthur Rinderknech claimed runner-up honors in the NCAA Doubles Final.
The women’s tennis team also won the ITA Kick-Off Weekend and their season lasted until the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. Their overall record was 17-11. Macarena Olivares joins the team this fall after being named to the 2016 ITA All-Star Team.

Next season begins for both teams in September. Follow them on Twitter @AggieMTEN and @AggieWTEN.
Track & Field
The men’s indoor season saw a number of new records with freshman Donavan Brazier setting a record in the mile with a time of 4:07.86. Brazier retired from college athletics to pursue a professional career. Senior Daniel Martin improved his winning score in the pentathlon with a tally of 3,706 points. The men’s team went on to take second place in the SEC Championships and 10th in the NCAA Championships.

The outdoor season was equally impressive. During the 89th Texas Relays, sophomore Audie Wyatt broke the Aggie school record in the pole vault as he cleared 18’ 6.5”. The men’s team also claimed second place in the SEC Championships and third in the NCAA Championships.

The women’s team took first place in the Texas A&M Quadrangular and the Charlie Thomas Invitational and sixth in the SEC Championships during their indoor season. In their outdoor season they took second place in the SEC Championships and fifth in the NCAA Championships.

The next indoor track and field season begins in December, while the outdoor season starts in March 2017. Both the men’s and women’s teams share the same Twitter handle, @aggietrk.

Equestrian
With a 110-7 record, the equestrian team won competitions against the South Carolina Gamecocks, Baylor University, and Oklahoma State, just to name a few. Junior Kaci Fisher took home Reserve Champion honors at the American Quarter Horse Association’s horsemanship challenge, one of only 16 riders from across the country selected to compete. The team also made it to the semifinals of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Championship before losing to Auburn University.

Next season will open September 17 with a Maroon & White Scrimmage. The first competition will be September 23 against UT Martin. The equestrian team’s Twitter is @AggieEquestrian.

Soccer
The soccer team started the season with a five-game winning streak, broken by a loss to Florida State University. They went undefeated for another five games until a loss at the hands of South Carolina.

The Aggies would go on to attempt to claim their third consecutive SEC Championship, but lost to the University of Florida. Their season came to an end in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship with a final record of 17-7-2.

The 2016 season will begin in August. The team’s Twitter handle is @AggieSoccer.
Softball
Texas A&M’s softball team began their season by winning the Aggie Classic. The team went on to go undefeated in the Mary Nutter Classic as well as the Texas A&M Invitational. They also won the San Diego Classic where they beat the University of San Diego 21-0. While they lost the SEC Championship to Louisiana State University, they defeated Boston University and the Texas Longhorns in the NCAA Regional.

Freshman team member Keeli Milligan was named a 2016 Hammer Strength All-American in partnership with the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. Milligan broke the school record with 54 stolen bases and was named to the All-SEC and NFCA All-Region Second Team. Their overall record for the season was 39-20.

Texas A&M’s softball team will be getting a new home soon. The Board of Regents have approved the construction of a new $28.6 million complex expected to be completed in time for the 2018 season that will accommodate 2,000 fans.

The design closely resembles Olsen Field at Bluebell Park, home of the men’s baseball team. Club level seating, two luxury suites, and a new press box will be among the additions.

The 2017 season begins in February. Follow the team on twitter @AggieSoftball.

Volleyball
SEC Champions, the volleyball team came back from an opening season loss to Stanford University with a victory against the University of Minnesota. They followed with a three-game streak winning the Texas A&M Invitational. From mid-October to the end of November they ran a 14-game winning streak.

During the NCAA Tournament they beat A&M-Corpus Christi, stretching their winning streak to 15 games, the longest since 1982. This streak, and their season, ended with a loss to the University of Hawaii and an overall record of 24-7.

The 2016 season begins August 26 against the Nevada Wolf Pack. The team can be found on Twitter @AggieVolleyball.

AGGIES IN RIO
Texas A&M is well represented in the 2016 Olympics. Twenty-seven Aggies are competing in Rio de Janeiro this year. While they come from many different backgrounds and are playing for 14 different nations, they are connected by their shared college experience. The Aggie Olympians are:

SWIMMING
Camile Adams, U.S.; Alia Atkinson, Jamaica; Amina Fonua, Tonga; Béryl Gastaldello, France; Liliana Ibañez, Mexico; Sydney Pickrem, Canada.

TRACK AND FIELD
Kanika Beckles, Grenada; Janeil Bellille, Trinidad; Latario Collie, Bahamas; Olivia Ekponé, Nigeria; Simone Facey, Jamaica; Shaves Hart, Bahamas; Fabrice Lapierre, Australia; Deon Lendore, Trinidad; Jennifer Madu, Nigeria; Maggie Malone, U.S.; Ibukun Mayungbe, Nigeria; Gerald Phiri, Zambia; Demetrius Pinder, Bahamas; Bralon Taplin, Grenada; Brenessa Thompson, Guyana; Shelbi Vaughn, U.S.; Lindon Victor, Grenada; Ameer Webb, U.S.

BASKETBALL
DeAndre Jordan, U.S.

SOCCER
Stephanie Malherbe, South Africa.

DIVING
Grant Nel, Australia.

You can keep up with these athletes and their performances in Rio at http://www.12thman.com.

Whoop It Up: More Seasons & Reasons to Cheer

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