PREVIEW: spring sports prepare for 2019

With SIUE approaching the middle of the spring semester, some spring sports are just starting and some are nearing an end. Here’s where each sport stands. 

 

Track and field 

Men’s and women’s track and field wrapped up their indoor season. Held in Birmingham, Alabama at the Birmingham CrossPlex, the two teams ended the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 21.

The team took home three gold medals including freshman Ethan Poston in men’s high jump, Nichyria Byrd in women’s long jump and John Barnes in men’s weight throw. 

Byrd said she feels this accomplishment is well-deserved after struggling at the beginning of the season. 

Due to the former assistant coach Joey Pacione leaving, Byrd believes her performance this year was not what it should have been due to a lack of training.

“[Pacione] ended up leaving two weeks before school started, so for about two months, we didn’t have  a coach but then [Doug McDannald] came in and we started working out with him and doing his workout, so we were a little behind in training,” Byrd said. “[It affected my indoor season] because I wasn’t in shape and it was hard to try and perform where I should have been.”

The track and field teams will open up the Spring 2019 outdoor season at the Bill Cornell Classic March 22-23 in Carbondale, Illinois.

 

Basketball

Men’s basketball will compete in the OVC Championships tournament on March 6-7 after finishing eighth in conference with a 6-12 record. 

This is an improvement over last years’ No. 11 finish. 

The men’s basketball team currently has 10 wins and 20 losses overall. 

Women’s basketball finished ninth in conference this season with eight wins and 10 losses, while during the 2017-18 season they finished in third place. 

The team will not advance to the OVC tournament this year. 

The women’s basketball team currently had 13 wins and 16 losses overall this season.

 

Wrestling 

Wrestling is in last place in the Mid-American Conference. 

The team has one win and six losses in the MAC and has two wins and 13 losses overall. 

The team switched to MAC a year ago after finishing their 2017-18 season with the Southern Conference, where they had competed since 2013. 

Wrestling will compete in the MAC tournament March 8-9 with a standing in spot seven.

Freshman Justin Ruffin is among the top in his weight class for the country and is projected to compete at NCAA Nationals. He is tabbed No. 25 in the coaches ranking and 33 in the ratings percentage index. 

 

Baseball

Baseball is starting the season in the seventh OVC spot, while in the 2018 season they were in the eleventh spot. 

The team currently has three wins and five losses. 

Baseball’s head coach Sean Lyons said the team is looking to improve on scoring more runs than the previous season. 

“We need to have more run production, out of our offense, we just need to score more runs,” Lyons said. “That has been the main focus. The goal in preseason practice is just finding ways to increase our run production.”

From 3:30-6 p.m., the team’s typical practice is daily throwing, defensive work and offensive practice with batting.  

Lyons said the newly recruited class has been well-acclimated to the team.

“I think our older returning veteran players have done a great job of taking the new guys in and they’ve really meshed well with the rest of the players, and I think the chemistry is good and I think everybody is on the same page moving forward,” Lyons said. 

The expectations for the team’s season is to work toward a top spot in the OVC. 

“Our goal for the season is to improve upon last year and get ourselves into the mix, towards the top of the Ohio Valley Conference,” Lyons said. 

 

Softball 

Softball is seventh in the OVC while last year the team was fifth in the OVC. 

The team currently has five wins and five losses. 

Interim Head Coach Jessica Jones said the team’s expectations are to win the OVC Championships. 

“Obviously, our program is a veteran program and we are expected to win, and our goal every year is to win the conference tournament,” Jones said. 

According to Jones, the team is working on run production from the past season. 

“One of our main focuses was trying to increase our run production offensively and that is something I think we are on the right track of doing and I am very proud of our kids from an offense perspective,” Jones said. 

Senior outfielder Alyssa Heren said Jones’ coaching style is serious and fun. 

“I think that [Jones] has a lot of positive vibes and she is really nice, but can definitely lay down the law when she needs to,” Heren said. “[Jones] is friendly and stern at the same time.” 

Due to weather conditions, the Cougar Classic was canceled. 

“We have one of the best fields in our conference. When it comes to playing turf, our dirt is the same dirt that they have on the [St. Louis Cardinals’] field. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a dry week in order for us to turn it over,” Jones said. “The preseason games, you either play them or they kind of get lost. We tried to get into a tournament this weekend, and we unfortunately got turned down about six times.” 

Jones said the team now is just looking forward to their Hawaii Spring Fling and Rainbow Wahine Classic tournaments, March 9-11 and 13-15, respectively. 

“Spring break we always go somewhere warm for a week and this year we were fortunate enough to raise enough money and we got a guarantee from Hawaii to get our kids out there,” Jones said. “We are going to play some very tough competition out there and it’s going to be a lot of fun.” 

 

Golf 

Golf just started their spring season. 

For the 2018 Fall season, the team averaged four over par with  an average team score of 289.43. 

Senior Kyle Slattery was named OVC Player of the Week three times and won three tournaments in the fall season. 

The team finished the Loyola Intercollegiate, the start to their spring season, with a final round score of 285, among the 20 lowest team scores in school history.

 

Tennis 

Tennis had an 0-20 overall season last year, but is making ground under their new head coach, Adam Albertsen. 

The team currently has four wins and five losses among non-conference games. 

This record places them eighth out of nine teams in the OVC. 

The team defeated Northern Illinois 4-3.

Senior Ann-Christine Link broke the 3-3 tie between the teams and won after three sets to win the dual for SIUE. 

The tennis OVC Championships are April 26-28. 

Reporter

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