The 48th-ranked women's tennis squad got back in the swing of things this past week, notching two victories over regional rivals. After having their match against the University of Houston postponed until Saturday due to Friday's inclement weather, the Owls took advantage of the extra day of rest by easily overpowering the Cougars 5-2. The Owls swept all three doubles matches, with the closest margin of victory coming in the second seeded match, where junior Alex Rasch and freshman Dominique Harmath defeated Maja Kazimieruk and Joanna Kacprzyk from the University of Houston. After her clinching doubles victory, Harmath took out Bryony Hunter in two sets for Rice's second singles victory, bringing the margin to a nearly insurmountable 3-0. The lead proved to be too much for Houston, as junior Ana Guzman closed out the match with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Kazimieruk. Despite the match effectively being over, the last three sets in progress were allowed to finish, producing the Cougars' only two points, which were a three-set match victory by Giorgia Pozzan over senior Jessica Jackson and a loss by freshman Kimberly Anicete to Kacprzyk. The loss dropped Houston to 2-2 and Rice moved up to a 3-2 mark. After the long hiatus from Jake Hess Tennis Stadium, the Owls were ready to return to their home court Tuesday against Louisiana State University (0-1). Much like the match against Houston, the Owls started off with a sweep of the doubles matches to go up 1-0 against the Tigers. Guzman picked up another point in the first singles match against Yvette Vlaar. The next three matches went in alternating fashion, with LSU pulling within one point after a two-set loss by sophomore Daniella Trigo, then Rice going up 3-1 after Harmath's fourth victory in the last two matches, and finally LSU's Whitney Wolf, the 33rd ranked player in the nation, bested senior Rebekka Hanle in the top-seeded match to make it 3-2. However, Anicete came through for the Owls at the end, getting her second match-clinching victory of the year, this time in two sets over high school teammate Ariel Morton. LSU's Kaitlin Burns finished off Jackson in three sets, but the win was already set in stone for Rice, who improved to 4-2, while the 75th-ranked LSU squad dropped to 0-1.
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In the sporting world, there are nearly as many coaching types as there are teams. There's the proverbial player's coach; there are the stoic coaches that rarely let a word of praise escape their lips, and then there are coaches whose vocabulary consists of entirely of four-letter words, among others. Normally men's track Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) makes a point to laud his athletes, bringing forth optimistic views on nearly every situation in every event, but for once, Warren strongly downplayed the magnitude of success of an Owl, namely redshirt sophomore Clayton Chaney, who set a personal best of 5,204 points in the heptathlon in his winning effort at the Frank Sevigne Classic held at the University of Nebraska. "He had an OK seven events as far as I'm concerned," Warren said. "A personal best was good for him, but that was by no means the best he could do."
Growing pains don't just apply to gawky teenagers; the men's track team is going through them right now, too. Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) attributes the transition stage to the fact that the team has been training just since the start of the semester and not during winter break. "Right now, a lot of guys are still getting into the swing of things," Warren said. "We're simultaneously training for outdoor along with competing in indoor. Freshmen are learning to deal with running indoors, but we still know February's a big month for us."
Ladies and gentlemen, Lance Armstrong has finally left the peloton. In perhaps the most uncelebrated retirement of an athlete of his stature, Armstrong exited professional international cycling Sunday after the final stage of the Tour Down Under, which ended in Adelaide, Australia with more than 772,000 people having watched the six stages of the race, a record for any South Australia sporting event. Without the familiar sight of a yellow jersey, champagne, oversized stuffed animals and kisses from statuesque women that dwarf the vertically challenged cyclists, it didn't really seem like the end had actually arrived. Even the doping officials, who hung around Armstrong so much they could be considered part of his entourage, were nowhere to be found. For perhaps the greatest cyclist ever, his 65th overall finish in the race was a lackluster result, so much so that Armstrong refused to speak with any members of the media. While Armstrong had already retired once in 2005, he pulled a Brett Favre/Michael Jordan and returned to professional cycling, competing in the 2009 Tour de France, Tour of Ireland and Giro d'Italia. For now, Armstrong will only race in small U.S. races for RadioShack, hoping that he has finally exited the center stage of the cycling world for good.
Men's tennis beats Hurricanes for second straight year
After the men's track team walked off the Yeoman Fieldhouse track, it was clear they were going to have to look for a few silver linings among the clouds of their overall team placing. While Rice fielded an incomplete team at the Leonard Hilton Invitational at the University of Houston that did not feature any middle or long-distance runners, Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) saw need for improvement after Friday's events that left Rice with 25 points and a ninth-place finish."We had some good efforts from everyone, but we've got our work cut out for us," Warren said. "We need to see if we can get those times down and the jumps up by next weekend."
Tennis notebook: Men's tennis sweeps Lamar and Prairie View A&M, Women's tennis puts away Islanders easily
Men's tennis sweeps Lamar and Prairie View A&M
When canvassing the roster for the next season, a head coach is first inclined to look for the voids left by departed athletes. With Jason Colwick (Martel '10), Simon Bucknell (Martel '10) and Chris Kato (Martel '10) all having graduated, it's clear Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) will seek to get results from newcomers or returning stars to fill their spots on the men's track team. While the gaps exist, it takes a very small leap of faith to realize that athletes like senior outdoor All-American decathlete and heptathlete Philip Adam, long distance runners redshirt junior Michael Trejo and redshirt sophomore Gabe Cuadra, sophomore decathlete and heptathlete Clayton Chaney and senior hurdler Connor Hayes will continue their impressive campaigns, which helped lead the Owls to a fourth-place finish at the Conference USA Indoor Championships last year. "We've lost a few guys in the [pole] vault and a couple in distance, but we've got the ability to have guys come in and bring the same effort," Warren said. "I feel like we have the potential to improve from last year."
When asked the identity of the last Owl to play at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium, most Rice devotees will reply with names such as Rick Hague (Lovett '11), Ryan Berry (Hanszen '10) or Diego Seastrunk (Will Rice '10), trying in vain to remember which baseball player was the last to run off the diamond after Louisiana State University's comeback win eliminated Rice in the 2008 College World Series. However, these answers would all be incorrect, as former Owl quarterback, Chase Clement (Brown '09), led his Las Vegas Locos to the United Football League Championship over the Florida Tuskers on Saturday at Rosenblatt Stadium. While Rosenblatt will soon be demolished, it's clear that Clement's memories of his MVP-winning performance will live on. While Clement began the season as the Locos' third-string quarterback, an injury to starter Tim Rattay helped him elevate himself over unproductive backup Drew Willy as the Locos moved into the playoffs. In the battle with the Tuskers, Clement threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns.
Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) has always proven to be somewhat clairvoyant about the men's cross country team's chances at their biggest meets of the year. Before the NCAA South Regional last Saturday in Waco, Texas, Warren said he could see the team finishing anywhere from fifth to 10th. As it were, the Owls finished at the bottom end of that spectrum, taking home a 10th-place finish from the regional for the second straight year. The usual cast of characters had strong performances, with redshirt junior Michael Trejo leading the pack with his time of 31:36 minutes and 41st-place finish overall. Following him were redshirt sophomores Gabe Cuadra and Matt Carey, who finished nine seconds and 23 seconds behind Trejo, respectively. Freshman John Cavallo continued his stellar inaugural campaign by finishing in fourth for the Owls with a 61st-place finish overall. Redshirt sophomore James Llamas finished the scoring effort with his 75th-place finish. Freshmen Wyatt Doop and Anthony Urbanelli completed the lineup for Rice, all finishing within the top 100 runners. Despite the Owls' season coming to a conclusion in Waco once again, Warren was pleased with the effort.
UTEP ended Memphis' seemingly unshakable reign over Conference USA last year, winning the regular season championship behind senior guard Randy Culpepper who took home the C-USA Player of the Year with an average of 17.9 points last season. Memphis looks to have the most young talent in the league, but Southern Miss returns all five starters from their squad last year. MEMPHIS: Second-year coach Josh Pastner had last year to serve as his honeymoon, but it's clear the Memphis faithful will settle for nothing less than an NCAA bid this year after making a foray into the National Invitational Tournament last year. The team will be led by a trio of big men in Wesley Weatherspoon, Will Coleman and Angel Garcia. They will be assisted by the best freshman class in C-USA, including Joe Jackson, the leading high school scorer in Memphis city history.
Defense wins championships ... supposedly. With the way the soccer team played defense this season, the Conference USA championship trophy should have been theirs for the taking. After giving up fewer than one goal per game on average, Rice stormed into the C-USA Tournament needing just three victories to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history. Their opponent: fourth-seeded Southern Methodist University, who fell to the Owls earlier in the season 2-1. Rice came into the match assuming that senior goalkeeper Catherine Fitzsimmons would be able to post a clean sheet against the Mustangs, an assumption that would prove to ?be correct.
With the advent of the somewhat chilly November weather, the baseball team's fall practices end today. While starting spots up for grabs on both the mound and the field will likely not be solidified until the team starts workouts again in January, the coaching staff will look at the stats produced in fall ball as an indicator of who could bring the most pop to the lineup or the most power from the mound. Of the hurlers, several players stand out as having improved remarkably since last spring. Junior Matthew Reckling has improved his control to a large extent, allowing four hits in five innings of work on Monday to go along with five strikeouts and just one walk. His fastball has been clocked consistently in the mid-90s, and his curve ball has remained solid. Fellow junior Taylor Wall additionally threw four scoreless innings on Monday, marking a strong finish for him.
In many ways, the Conference USA Men's Cross Country Championship has become more theater than sport, following a meticulous script that puts either the University of Tulsa or the University of Texas at El Paso as the lead actor and the Owls as the supporting role. For better or worse for the men's cross country team, Rice has followed the script perfectly, as they took home their third place finish in the C-USA Cross Country Championship held Monday at Indian Springs Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. Tulsa racked up just 34 points, with UTEP following closely with 42 and Rice trailing in third with 87. Redshirt junior Michael Trejo assumed his role as elder statesman of the roster, taking 10th place overall and earning a spot on the All-C-USA Second Team. Following him were redshirt junior Gabe Cuadra with a time of 24:31, freshman John Cavallo, who crossed the finish line just six seconds behind Cuadra to earn 19th place, and redshirt junior Matt Carey, who, in making his first appearance for the Owls this year, joined Cuadra and Cavallo on the All-C-USA-Third Team with his finish in 20th place. The fifth man and final scorer for the Owls was redshirt junior James Llamas. Rounding out the runners for the Owls were three true freshmen, Wyatt Doop who came in with a time of 25:33, Anthony Urbanelli and Travis Roberts, who were all just a second apart from each other. Redshirt sophomore Anthony Lauriello came in 43rd place, finishing the race in 26:28. Elkana Rotich from UTEP took the individual title, with Cavallo earning the Freshman of the Year Award.
With a final stroking of his Just For Men-immaculate beard, Brian Wilson blazed a fastball past the massive frame of Ryan Howard for strike three to give the San Francisco Giants their most recent chance to claim their first World Series championship since the days when Willie Mays roamed centerfield at Polo Grounds. Just a day before, the Texas Rangers had more than just clawed and antlered their way past the vaunted New York Yankees, torching the Fighting Steinbrenners 6-1 in front of a rowdy Arlington crowd to clinch their first-ever trip to the Fall Classic. So why, with one of the two biggest championship droughts in baseball history certain to fall before the next Rice football victory, is the biggest story in baseball surrounding a player's fate off the diamond? I'm talking, of course, of left-handed pitcher and current Texas Ranger Cliff Lee and his seemingly inevitable destiny to head to the Bronx, shave his soul patch, collect a purported $35 million check and don the storied pinstripes. But for the sake of preserving whatever sanctity America's pastime still clings to, Lee should shirk the glitz and glamour of The Big Apple for the heat and traffic of the Metroplex.
In facing any tough situation, preparation is key. For the men's cross country team, the races leading up to the Conference USA Championship on Nov. 1 are important to get a feel for how they run as a team. If the Owls' performance in the fourth-annual Houston Baptist University/Puma Cross Country Invitational on Oct. 8 is any indication, they are well prepared for the Conference USA Championship to be held at the Indian Springs Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. Rice took home first place in the meet with five runners finishing among the top 10. Redshirt junior Michael Trejo was named Conference USA male cross country athlete of the week for his fourth-place finish, besting freshman teammate John Cavallo by two seconds. The true freshman assault continued with Wyatt Doop and Travis Roberts finishing seventh and 10th, respectively, with redshirt sophomore James Llamas sandwiched between them in eighth place. Rounding out the runners for the Owls were freshman Anthony Urbanelli and sophomores Sammy Abuhamra and Anthony Lauriello. Rice did an excellent job of running as a pack, with only 1:04 separating Trejo and Lauriello.
Swimming shines at home versus UH
The speech is familiar: The coach standing in front of his charges in the locker room before a tough race, imploring his players to push any mental obstacles or fears about the competition ahead out of their mind. But the coach's words of encouragement often vanish and the doubts and butterflies appear when the starting gun sounds, as some of the younger Owls found out during last Saturday's Cowboy Jamboree Inivitational hosted by Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. The eight-kilometer race was longer than any that most of the freshmen had ever raced in their cross country careers and while the challenge proved difficult, Rice still crossed the finish line with a seventh-place finish, its best ever appearance at the Cowboy Jamboree. Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) realized the distance may have seemed insurmountable to some of the younger runners, but wrote it off as one of the many learning experiences in collegiate cross country. "The distance may have spooked some, and I didn't think they handled it as well as I thought they would, which isn't surprising," Warren said. "Eight extra minutes doesn't seem very long when you're sitting in a chair, but when you're tired from running across a variety of terrain it's a different story. [Freshman] Anthony Urbanelli was feeling sick, so I'd like to give him a chance to run one healthy."
The men's cross country team dominated the competition on the slightly damp Rice intramural fields last Friday at the 35th-annual Justin F. Cooper Memorial Rice Invitational, with four true freshmen finishing among the top eight Rice runners. Redshirt sophomore Gabe Cuadra led the way for the Owls once again by taking fourth place overall. Freshman John Cavallo followed nine seconds later, with redshirt junior Michael Trejo following in seventh place with a time of 17:52 minutes. Redshirt sophomore James Llamas followed one second behind and freshman Wyatt Doop, running unattached, turned in a time of 18:14 on the 5.6-kilometer course to round out the top five for Rice. Head Coach Jon Warren (Jones '88) is thankful to have a group of young runners that have contributed so early in the season.
Things aren't always as they seem. This is a fitting description for the men's cross country team's second-place effort at the University of Houston last Friday. Rice came into the Johnny Morriss Invitational expecting to defend their title but found the Cardinals of Lamar University to be just a bit quicker, as the Owls tallied 38 points to Lamar's 35. Redshirt sophomore Gabe Cuadra led the Owls, completing the 4.75 kilometer course in just over 15 minutes to claim fourth place. Freshman Alex Weinheimer followed Cuadra by 12 seconds and crossed the finish line three seconds ahead of redshirt sophomore James Llamas. Junior Michael Trejo helped the Rice effort by coming in 10th place and redshirt freshman Anthony Lauriello rounded out the scoring effort for the Owls in 15th place.