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 seventh in the series of stories about the current WAC schools.
Utah State University is located in Logan, Utah, 81 miles northeast of Salt Lake City. Utah State was founded in 1888, and about 29,000 students are currently enrolled at the school. Notable alumni of Utah State include Merlin Olsen, a former NFL player and actor, Charlie Denson, the president of Nike Brand, and U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the United States Senate.
Utah State sponsors 16 Division I sports, all of which will compete within the Western Athletic Conference during the 2012-13 academic year. All Utah State teams use the nickname Aggies. Utah State has been a member of the Western Athletic Conference since 2005.
The Aggies finished the 2011 season with a 12-17 overall record, including a 7-7 record within the Western Athletic Conference. Finishing in a tie for fourth place in the conference standings, Utah State lost to Fresno State in the WAC Tournament. Liz McArthur was a First Team All-WAC selection after finishing fourth in the conference with 3.72 kills per set. Shay Sorensen was a Second Team All-WAC honoree as she averaged 2.57 kills and 0.86 blocks per set. Setter Paige Neves earned a spot on the All-WAC Freshman Team after averaging 9.10 assists per set in WAC matches. Sorensen and Neves return for the 2012 season. So far in 2012, the Aggies have posted a 5-2 overall record heading into the Kansas State Invitational in Manhattan, Kan. Rachel Orr currently leads the team in kills with 77, with Sorensen right behind her with 68 kills. Neves has collected 228 assists so far this season, and Ashlan Rogers leads the team with 12 service aces and 96 digs. Seattle U will travel to Logan, Utah, to face the Aggies Thursday, Sept. 20, with Utah State coming to Seattle one month later to face the Redhawks Saturday, Oct. 20.
Utah State is the defending conference champions in women's soccer for both the regular season and tournament. The Aggies posted a 15-5-2 record in 2011, including a 5-1-1 record within the Western Athletic Conference. Utah State won its first eight matches in a row, but then went winless over the next five matches. The Aggies recovered to go unbeaten in eight straight contests, including back-to-back victories over Idaho and Fresno State to win the WAC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament, losing to Auburn, 2-1. Shantel Flanary led the team in scoring with 10 goals and six assists for 26 points, while Kendra Pemberton earned seven goals and nine assists for 23 points. Molli Merrill started every match in goal for the Aggies in 2011, posting a 0.59 goals against average and a .854 save percentage. Pemberton is back in 2012 for the Aggies, helping Utah State jump out to a 4-1-1 overall record going into matches against Eastern Washington and Portland State over the weekend. Ashlyn Mulford and Jeannie Woller have split time in net so far this season, combining for a 0.79 goals against average and a .821 save percentage. Utah State will travel to the Pacific Northwest to face Seattle U at Championship Field Friday, Oct. 12, at 1 p.m. Seattle U hopes to make the trip to Logan for the WAC Tournament, as the top six teams advance to the conference tournament hosted by Utah State.
Utah State won the Western Athletic Conference title in men's cross country in 2011, led by individual conference champion Brian McKenna. The Aggies finished seventh at the NCAA Mountain Regional, with McKenna finishing in 10th place and qualifying for the NCAA Championships, where he finished in 63rd place. The Utah State women finished third at the WAC Championships and 18th at the NCAA Mountain Regional. Ruth Hilton and Hannah Williams were the team's top runners during the 2011 season, and both are back in 2012. At the Aggie Invitational hosted by Utah State Sept. 1, the women finished in third place, while the men ended up in fourth place. Utah State and Seattle U will see each other at the WAC Championships in Ruston, La., Saturday, Oct. 27.
Utah State finished the 2011-12 season with a 21-10 overall record, including an 11-3 record within the Western Athletic Conference, finishing second in the conference regular season standings. The Aggies lost to Louisiana Tech in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament, but received a berth in the WNIT postseason tournament, losing to Utah in the first round. Jerry Finkbeiner is the new head coach at Utah State after 16 years as head coach at Oral Roberts. Devyn Christensen is the team's leading returning scorer, averaging 15.1 points per game thanks in part to 64 made three-pointers and a free throw shooting percentage of .898. Utah State will head to Seattle to face the Redhawks Thursday, Jan. 3, starting at 7 p.m. at the Connolly Center, with Seattle U making the return trip to Logan, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 2, for a 7 p.m. local time tipoff.
The Utah State men's basketball team has been one of the strongest in the Western Athletic Conference over the past several years. In 2011-12, the Aggies posted a 21-16 overall record, including an 8-6 record within the league good enough for fourth place in the regular season standings. After losing in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament, Utah State advanced to the championship game of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, losing to Mercer, 70-67. Stew Morrill enters his 15th season as head coach of the Utah State men's basketball team. Junior Preston Medlin is the team's top returning player after averaging 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game in 2011-12. Seattle U's first road WAC game will be against Utah State Thursday, Jan. 3, at 7:05 p.m. local time, with the Aggies coming to KeyArena to face the Redhawks Saturday, Feb. 2.
The Utah State men's tennis team finished the 2012 dual match season with a 5-14 overall record, including a 0-4 mark within the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies lost to Hawaii in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament, 4-0. Sven Poslusny returns for his senior season after occupying the number one spot throughout last season, earning an 8-10 dual match record. There are three freshmen and six upperclassmen (juniors and seniors) on the current roster. Christian Wright begins his 21st season as head coach of the men's tennis team. Seattle U is tentatively scheduled to travel to Logan, Utah, for a dual match against the Aggies Friday, April 12. The WAC Tournament is scheduled for April 25-28 in Denver, Colo.
The Utah State women's tennis team posted a 10-10 dual match record in 2012, including a 2-2 record within the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies lost to Idaho, 4-0, in the WAC Tournament. McKenzie Davis enters her sophomore season after finishing her freshman year with a 20-8 singles record. Jaci West also saw time at the number one singles position and finished the year with an 11-12 singles record. Davis and West dominated the number one doubles position, winning 15 of 18 doubles sets for the Aggies. Christian Wright has also overseen the women's tennis program at Utah State for the past 20 years. Seattle U will face Utah State in Logan, Utah, Saturday, April 6.
The Aggie softball team finished the 2012 season with a 17-36 overall record, including a 4-17 record within the Western Athletic Conference. Utah State finished in eighth place in the regular season standings and failed to qualify for the WAC Tournament. Christine Thomsen led the team in hitting last season, posting a .418 batting average with 66 hits, including 14 doubles and five home runs, 30 runs scored, 22 runs batted in, and 17 walks. Kelley Kaneshiro led the team with seven home runs, and Hailey Froton drove in a team-high 25 runs. Both Thomson and Froton will be back for the 2013 campaign. In the pitching circle, both Mandy Harmon (7-16, 4.99 ERA) and Shelbi Tyteca (5-10, 4.23 ERA) return for Utah State. Carissa Millsap-Kalaba enters her fourth season as head coach of the Aggie softball team. Tentatively, Seattle U will host Utah State in a three-game series at the new Logan Field during the 2013 season.
The Utah State men's golf team finished in eighth place at the 2012 WAC Championships, led by Tanner Higham, who finished in a tie for eighth place in the individual standings. Higham, now a junior, just finished fifth with a one-under-par 215 at the Battle in the Tetons. As a team, the Aggies finished in a tie for third place out of eight teams. As of right now, Seattle U and Utah State will not play in the same tournament until the WAC Championships April 29 - May 1 at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nev.
Track and Field
The Utah State women's track and field team won the 2012 WAC Indoor Track and Field Championships as well as the 2012 WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, while the men's track and field team finished in second place at both conference meets. Gregg Gensel enters his 26th season as the head coach of the Utah State track and field program. The 2013 WAC Indoor Track and Field Championships will take place Feb. 21-23 in Albuquerque, N.M., while the 2013 WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Arlington, Texas, May 8-11.
The Utah State athletic department also sponsors football and gymnastics, which Seattle U does not offer. However, Utah State does not sponsor baseball, women's golf and women's swimming, sports that both Seattle U and the WAC do. Additionally, Seattle University offers men's soccer, men's swimming and women's rowing, sports not sponsored by Utah State or the WAC. After the 2012-13 academic year, Texas State will move on to the Mountain West Conference.
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.