With the Seattle University athletic teams about to begin play within their new conference, starting with the volleyball team hosting New Mexico State Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Connolly Center, GoSeattleU.com is featuring a series of 10 articles introducing Redhawk fans to the 2012-13 membership of the Western Athletic Conference. This is the 10th in the series of stories about the current WAC schools.
New Mexico State University is a land-grant institution located in Las Cruces, N.M., within the southwest portion of New Mexico. Over 18,000 students attend the university, which is a NASA Space Grant College, a Hispanic-serving institution, and the only Honors College in New Mexico.
New Mexico State sponsors 17 Division I sports, 16 of which will compete within the Western Athletic Conference during the 2012-13 academic year. All New Mexico State teams use the nickname Aggies. New Mexico State has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference since 2005.
Coming off a 2011 season in which the team finished 22-10 overall, including a 10-4 record within the conference, New Mexico State was picked by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite to win the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. The Aggies have started the 2012 season with a 6-3 record, but they have lost three of their last four matches after beginning the year with five straight victories. Mike Jordan is in his 15th season as head coach of the Aggie volleyball team with a current career record of 314-141 (.690). Meredith Hays has lived up to the preseason billing she received from the league coaches when she was voted WAC Preseason Player of the Year. She is currently first in the WAC and seventh in Division I in points per set (5.31). She is also second in the conference and 10th in the country in kills per set (4.60), and she is also second in the league in service aces per set (0.40) and 10th in hitting percentage (.264). As mentioned above, Seattle University's first Western Athletic Conference contest is against the New Mexico State volleyball team Thursday, Sept. 13, at the Connolly Center. Seattle U will travel to Las Cruces, N.M., to face the Aggies Monday, Oct. 29.
New Mexico State has gotten off to a slow start in 2012, posting a 1-4-1 record heading into a home match Sept. 12 against UTEP. In 2011, the Aggies finished with a 10-8-3 overall record, including a 2-3-2 record within the conference. New Mexico State defeated Hawaii in the first round of the WAC Tournament, 2-1, before losing to Fresno State in the semifinals, 3-0. This season, Layla Todd has led the Aggie offense, earning two goals and one assist for five total points so far in 2012. Jessica Schutter has played the majority of minutes in net for New Mexico State, earning a 1.60 goals against average and a .742 save percentage. However, Mikaela Bitner has the Aggies' only victory of the season and has posted a 0.79 goals against average and a .900 save percentage. Blair Quinn is in his second season as head coach at New Mexico State. The Aggies were picked to finish in eighth place in the preseason WAC coaches poll. New Mexico State will face Seattle U in the next-to-last game of the regular season, as the Redhawks host the Aggies at Championship Field Friday, Oct. 26, at 3 p.m.
New Mexico State finished in second place in both the men's and women's team standings at the 2011 WAC Cross Country Championships. On the men's side, Jonah Ruybalid finished in sixth place to earn First Team All-WAC honors, while four Aggie runners finished between eighth place and 12th place for Second Place All-WAC recognition. Ruybalid, as well as Second Team honorees Robert Selph and Kevin Palmer, are back for the Aggies in 2012. For the women, Courtney Schultz is back to defend her WAC title, along with her sister Camille Schultz, who finished third at last year's WAC Championships. Orin Richburg is in his sixth season as head cross country coach at New Mexico State. The Aggies and the Redhawks will not see each other until the WAC Cross Country Championships Saturday, Oct. 27, in Ruston, La.
New Mexico State posted a 6-24 record in the 2011-12 season, including a 3-11 record within the Western Athletic Conference, finishing in a tie for seventh place in the league standings. The Aggies lost to Fresno State in the first round of the WAC Tournament, 66-58. Tabytha Wampler led the team last season, averaging 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Wampler is not on the team for the 2012-13 season, but Stefanie Gilbreath, a transfer from USC, is as a redshirt senior. Also on the New Mexico State roster for the 2012-13 campaign is Sasha Weber, a freshman from Lacey, Wash., who starred at Timberline High School. Mark Trakh begins his second season as head coach at New Mexico State after five years as head coach at USC. New Mexico State will host Seattle U in Las Cruces, N.M., Thursday, Jan. 10, with the rematch taking place at the Connolly Center Saturday, Feb. 9.
The New Mexico State men's basketball team finished the 2011-12 season with a 26-10 overall record, including a 10-4 record within the conference. Finishing second in the league regular season standings, New Mexico State defeated Louisiana Tech to win the WAC Tournament and earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies were seeded 13th in the South Regional and lost to four-seed Indiana, 79-66, in Portland, Ore. Wendell McKines averaged 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game to lead the Aggies, with Hernst Laroche contributing 11.9 points and 3.8 assists per game. Both players were seniors last year, and New Mexico State will be a younger team in 2012-13, with only two seniors on the current 2012-13 roster. Marvin Menzies begins his sixth year as head coach of the Aggie men's basketball program. Seattle U will host New Mexico State at KeyArena Thursday, Jan. 10, with the Redhawks facing the Aggies in Las Cruces, N.M., Saturday, Feb. 9, in the Lou Henson Classic.
New Mexico State posted an 8-15 record in the 2012 dual match season, including a 2-3 record within the Western Athletic Conference, finishing in a tie for third place in the league standings. The Aggies were eliminated from the 2012 WAC Tournament by Nevada, 4-2. Carlos Vargas was a long-time assistant coach for the Aggies before taking over as head coach after the retirement of Don Ball. Luis Ramirez is the only senior for New Mexico State, a squad that includes six true freshmen. Seattle U and New Mexico State will play a neutral-site match in Logan, Utah, Friday, April 12.
New Mexico State posted a 12-8 overall record during the 2012 dual match season, including a 1-2 record against teams from the Western Athletic Conference. Slotted as the fourth seed in the WAC Tournament, the Aggies defeated fifth-seed San Jose State, 4-2, before losing to top seed Fresno State, 4-3. Seniors Ginet Pinero and Jodie Williams lead the Aggies into the 2012-13 campaign. Ivan Fernandez begins his second season as head coach of the Aggie women's tennis team along with his duties as director of the New Mexico State Tennis Center. New Mexico State and Seattle U will face each other in a neutral-site match in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, March 24.
The New Mexico State softball team posted an overall record of 24-29 in the 2012 season. The Aggies finished seventh in the Western Athletic Conference with a league mark of 5-16, failing to qualify for the WAC Tournament. New Mexico State had improved its record to 18-12 with victories over New Mexico and Arizona, but the Aggies went on a ten-game overall losing streak and an 11-game conference losing streak to slip out of contention. Amber Olive led the team with a .374 batting average and nine stolen bases, while Tiare Jennings provided the power with seven home runs and 37 runs batted in. Olive returns to the Aggies as one of four seniors on the 2012-13 squad. All three main pitchers for New Mexico State are back on the squad: Celisha Walker (7-4, 2.85 ERA), Karysta Donisthorpe (6-10, 3.73 ERA), and Alex Newman (10-14, 4.22 ERA). Kathy Rodolph enters her 10th season as head coach of the Aggie softball program. Seattle U is tentatively scheduled to head to Las Cruces, N.M., for a three-game series against the Aggies during the 2013 softball season.
New Mexico State was one of three teams to share the regular season WAC title with an 11-7 league mark, part of a 35-24 overall record for the Aggies in 2012. Despite losing two straight games in the WAC Tournament, New Mexico State did earn an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament, losing to Louisville and Missouri in the Arizona Regional. Zac Fisher led the Aggies with a .355 batting average, collecting 82 hits, including 18 doubles and six home runs, and he drove in 60 runs. On the mound, Ryan Beck went 5-7 with a 4.24 earned run average, striking out 97 opposing batters in 97 2/3 innings of work. Scott Coffman was the closer for the Aggies, picking up eight saves to go along with a 3-1 record and a 4.32 ERA, striking out 51 batters in just 41 2/3 innings on the mound. Fisher and Beck are expected to return in 2013 for their senior seasons. Rocky Ward begins his 17th season at the helm of the New Mexico State baseball program. The Aggies are tentatively scheduled to make the trip to Bannerwood Park to face the Redhawks in a three-game conference series during the 2013 baseball season.
New Mexico State finished second at the 2012 WAC Men's Golf Championships, six strokes behind conference champion San Jose State. Justin Shin led the conference in scoring average, posting a mark of 70.83, and he was a two-time WAC Golfer of the Week. The Aggies have started the 2012-13 season with a 10th place finish at the Falcon Invitational, led by Kenneth Fadke's 31st place finish at five-over-par 221. Shin finished in a tie for 35th place with a cumulative score of six-over-par 222. Seattle U and New Mexico State will both compete at the Miner Invitational in El Paso, Texas, Oct. 26-27. The WAC Men's Golf Championships will be held in Henderson, Nev., April 29-May 1.
The New Mexico State women's golf team finished in fifth place at the 2012 WAC Women's Golf Championships, 36 strokes behind conference champion San Jose State. Demi Mak was the Aggies' top golfer in 2011-12, posting a scoring average of 75.21, fourth-best in the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies started the 2012-13 campaign with a 17th-place finish at the Colonel Wollenberg's Ram Classic, hosted by Colorado State University. Kacey Dalpes was the team's leading finisher, ending the tournament in a tie for 30th place with a final score of 11-over-par 227. The Aggies lost Mak, who transferred to UNLV. New Mexico State and Seattle U will see each other at both the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic April 8-10 and the WAC Women's Golf Championships April 22-24.
Women's Swimming and Diving
New Mexico State finished in fourth place at the 2012 WAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Aliena Schmidtke won the conference title in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:46.38 and finished second in the 100 freestyle in 49.28 seconds. Schmidtke, the WAC Freshman of the Year, qualified for the NCAA Championships. Rick Pratt begins his eighth season as head coach of the Aggie women's swimming and diving team. New Mexico State and Seattle U will see each other at the 2013 WAC Women's Swimming and Diving Championships in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 27-March 2.
Women's Track and Field
The New Mexico State women's track and field team finished in third place at the 2012 WAC Indoor Track and Field Championships. Coming off their cross country exploits, Courtney and Camille Schultz finished in first and third place, respectively, in the 5000 meter run. At the 2012 WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Aggies finished in sixth place. LaSasha Aldredge won the 400 meter dash, Zoe Meade was victorious in the heptathlon, and Kelsey Brennan earned the conference title in the javelin throw. Orin Richburg is the head coach of the women's track and field program. The 2013 WAC Indoor Track and Field Championships will take place Feb. 21-23 in Albuquerque, N.M., while the Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Arlington, Texas, May 8-11.
The New Mexico State athletic department also sponsors football and equestrian, which Seattle U does not offer. However, Seattle University offers men's soccer, men's swimming and women's rowing, sports not sponsored by New Mexico State or the WAC.
2012 marks Seattle University's first year in the Western Athletic Conference and first year as a full NCAA Division I member since 1980. For current information on these events and other Seattle University athletics news, visit GoSeattleU.com.