Author Archives: seghyman

Two Western coaches recognized

Head football coach Willie Taggart was named the Running Backs Coach of the Year on Thursday. Taggart served as Stanford’s running backs coach for three years before being hired by the Toppers on Nov. 23.

Stanford senior running back Toby Gerhart and junior fullback Owen Marecic led the Cardinal to break a 60-year-old program record with 2,692 rushing yards.

Gerhart ranks second in the country in rushing yards and set Stanford’s single-season rushing record with 1,736 yards this season, breaking his own record of 1,136 yards in 2008. Gerhart was honored with the Doak Walker award for the nation’s top running back and finished second on the Heisman Trophy ballot to Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram.

Taggart was selected by a panel of current and former coaches and previous award winners and will be honored at the American Football Coaches Association Convention in January.

Head baseball coach Chris Finwood was also honored on Thursday, as writer Kendall Rogers named him one of the nation’s rising coaches.

Finwood, who has a 122-107 record entering his fifth year as the Toppers’ coach, has taken the team to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. Western went 42-20 in 2009, the program’s first 40-win season in 21 years.

Other coaches on the list were Texas Christian’s Jim Schlossnagle, Gonzaga’s Mark Machtolf, Boston College’s Mik Aoki, Kansas’ Ritch Price, Larry Lee of Cal Poly, Kent State’s Scott Stricklin, Ray Birmingham of New Mexico, Rodney Hennon of Georgia Southern, Loyola Marymount’s Jason Gill and Jim Foster of Rhode Island.


Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Football

Rice named preseason all-American

Junior catcher Matt Rice was named a first-team preseason all-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Wednesday.

Rice hit .399 with 10 home runs and 72 runs batted in last season, playing in all but one of the Toppers’ 62 games. He also had a program-record 31-game hitting streak.

He is Western’s second straight first team preseason all-American selection. Then-senior right fielder Chad Cregar received the honor before the 2009 season.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball

Slaughter named Sun Belt player of the week

Senior guard A.J. Slaughter received his second Sun Belt Conference player of the week honor of the season on Tuesday.

Slaughter averaged 16.0 points per game this week as the Toppers beat Evansville and then-No. 24 Vanderbilt.

Slaughter was also the Sun Belt’s player of the week during the week of Nov. 17.

The Toppers return to the court against Louisville in Freedom Hall at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Men's Basketball, Sun Belt Conference

Postgame comments from the Lady Toppers

A few more postgame comments from the Lady Toppers’ win over Western Carolina on Saturday:

Junior guard Hope Brown on getting her first start of the season:

“It doesn’t really matter – I’m going to go out and play my hardest at all times. It doesn’t matter if I come off the bench or start, but it feels good starting today, but I didn’t want to come out too antsy.”

Senior guard Kenzie Rich on her offensive struggles:

“I’ve done extra shooting, so I guess it’s just a funk. You get in one, and eventually you get out of it. Hopefully that will be soon.”

Senior forward Dominique Duck on sophomore forward Keisha Mosley becoming eligible in time for Middle Tennessee on Dec. 20:

“We practice every day with Keisha. It’s so hard how we go hard in practice and she’s there, and then when it’s game time, she’s not. I’m really excited for her to be out on the court with us … and it’s going to shake up a lot of things on the team, but it’s something that we need, and with that other post position – she’s going to be a dominant post.”

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles on the team’s improved second-half shooting:

“We settled and took care of executing our offense and got some great looks. I don’t think we took bad shots, don’t get me wrong – we just couldn’t hit our layups. But our defense held up pretty strong … and to be able to keep that focus and maintain that lead, I’m very, very proud of them.”

On removing Rich from the starting lineup:

“Kenzie is such a team player, and she’s been such a dominant part of our program and will continue to be, and who knows if (the lineup) is going to change again. I think what’s most important is that everybody understands what their role is and what’s expected of them and that they accept it, and that if they’re not one of the five on the floor to start the game, then maybe their goal will be one of the five that’s on the floor to end the game. What’s more important – those that start or those that finish?”

On the addition of Mosley:

“She’s excited, and I think her teammates are excited. Keisha Mosley’s good – she’s really good. But she hasn’t been on the floor in real competition for a year and a half now, so I don’t expect that she’s going to step on the floor and move mountains next Sunday afternoon, but I do think she’s a great addition, and I’m really glad she’s coming on our team and not anyone else’s team.”

-Zach Greenwell

Leave a comment

Filed under Women's Basketball

Postgame comments from the Lady Toppers’ overtime loss to Vanderbilt

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles on the Lady Toppers’ defensive struggles:

“They had some things, even in the first half, right in front of our bench with the ball being driven where our help-side wasn’t in position.”

On Western’s focus and execution:

“We followed our game plan, and I think we followed our game plan offensively for the most part. But we just lost our focus in a few occasions where they were able to capitalize on it and take advantage of it.”

On losing senior forward Dominique Duck in the second half to a knee injury:

“She was really good at that moment and we were really rolling with it, but at the same time, I want to compliment our team for not just quitting and getting in a panic so to speak without our senior captain. She’s going to be fine, and Dominique will be back at practice tomorrow, so I’m not worried about her there.”

On trying some different personnel combinations:

“On Wednesday night (against North Dakota) we found a little bit different lineup that we’ve been talking about that we thought we could go to that would provide a little more aggressive tempo for us … We went back to that tonight, and I thought that lineup was really, really good.”

Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb on a strong start to overtime:

“We had held a lead and held a lead and started playing not to lose … and to get that first basket (in overtime) was huge.”

On the Commodores scoring all of their overtime field goals on layups:

“We toughed it out. We played hard, but in the end we got smarter. We took great shots, we executed better and made better defensive decisions, believe it or not, until at the end when we couldn’t stop (junior guard Amy McNear) from going down the middle of the floor.”

Vanderbilt senior guard Merideth Marsh on the success of the team’s different defensive schemes:

“They were completely oblivious to what we were doing. They didn’t know what to run.”

-Zach Greenwell

Leave a comment

Filed under Women's Basketball

Extra notes from Tuesday’s cross country story

Cross country reporter Emily Patton’s point of view on Tuesday’s sports front story about freshman runner Lucas Somers:

I was just like everyone else who noticed their shaved heads. I wanted to know why.

After talking with some of the men’s cross country team, I learned that a freshman, 18 year-old Lucas Somers, had been diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer a few weeks ago.

On one of the guys’ daily trips to the hospital to see Lucas, I tagged along. 10 members of the team piled into his small hospital room. Eight of them were newly bald.

The guys had Lucas laughing and joking as they rubbed each other’s heads while watching The Office. Even when a nurse came in to check his vitals and the reminder of his condition resurfaced, the team immediately came to the conclusion the nurses all had a crush on him.

The idea is to take his mind off of things and get him smiling and laughing again, said freshman Landon Taylor.

After an hour of socializing, senior Patrick Jenkins quieted the team and began to lead a Bible study. The team discussed their faith and what pride means to them, then prayed for Lucas.

Lucas said the team’s shaved heads let him know he won’t be going through this alone.

“You grow to love your teammates like family and would do anything for them,” Jenkins said.

Starting last Saturday, Lucas will have 16 days out of the hospital before he goes back for another round of chemotherapy. He said the chemo treatment takes so much out of him. Each day he is exhausted, but then can only sleep a few hours a night.

He said the doctors have told him to eat six times a day. Though he would eat about nine times a day when he was healthy, he said eating even three times a day is difficult for him now. But if he does not eat, he just gets sick.

“I just have to stay positive, because I know as soon as I get out of here I can start running again,” Lucas said, “I can’t spend my time being scared. I know I’m going to make it through this.”

When I visited Lucas the next day to sit and talk one-on-one, he was still smiling over the team’s visit. He said he was shocked that they would be so supportive through this situation.

“I have known the guys for two months,” Lucas said, “It was like no questions asked.  They have been here every day since I have been here.”

-Emily Patton

1 Comment

Filed under Cross Country

Cheptoek qualifies for NCAA Championship

Cross country beat writer Emily Patton just found out via Head Coach Erik Jenkins that senior Patrick Cheptoek will be able to compete in the NCAA Championship thanks to an at-large bid.

Cheptoek finished 12th in the men’s 10,000-meter race at the NCAA Southeast Regional on Saturday. Only the top four runners automatically qualify for the championship race, held in Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 23.

We’ll have more on Cheptoek in Friday’s Herald.

-Sarah Hyman

Leave a comment

Filed under Cross Country