The Fifth Lap
Pull out the color-coded calendars. Get ready to set more Google and iPhone reminders. Syllabus Week may be over, but below are the must-see events for this spring.
Women's Basketball vs. UTEP,
Jan. 24, 7 p.m.
Rice enters Conference-USA play at 8-5, with three of its five losses coming against top-25 opponents. One of the Owls' biggest conference tests will be the University of Texas at El Paso, which won both the league and the conference tournament last year. Led by junior Jessica Kuster, who is averaging over 17 points and 10 rebounds this season, as well as standout freshmen Megan Palmer, Rice could pick up a potentially pivotal home win.
Men's Basketball vs. Houston,
Jan. 30, 7 p.m.
Rice will look to avenge a controversial home loss last season against our crosstown rival, in which the University of Houston took the lead on two free throws with 2.7 seconds left after then-senior Connor Frizzelle was whistled for signaling a timeout after Rice had exhausted all of them. Even with that loss, Rice has won three out of the last four meetings.
Men's Tennis vs. Texas A&M,
Feb. 7, 1 p.m.
While not the highest ranked opponent scheduled to visit Jake Hess Tennis Stadium, the regional rivalry makes Rice's match against Texas A&M University among the season's most compelling. Rice, which enters the season ranked No. 55 in the nation, will look to turn the tables on last year's loss in College Station against the No. 26 ranked Aggies. Rice last beat A&M in 2009.
Men's Baseball vs. Stanford, Feb. 15-17
This June will mark 10 years since Rice won the NCAA Baseball College World Series. The anniversary season starts off with a three-game series against the same club Rice conquered on that historic day in Omaha: the Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal visits Reckling ranked ninth in the collegiate baseball preseason poll, 11 spots ahead of the Owls, who are ranked No. 20. Rice is 2-7 against the Cardinal since its College World Series victory, with all nine meetings having been played in the last three years.
Women's Swimming C-USA
Championships at UH, Feb. 20-23
The Rice Women's Swimming Team has established itself as a consistent contender at the top of the conference standings. The Owls have placed in the top three every year since 2007, including a championship in 2011 and a runner-up finish last year. Individual Owls have also made themselves regulars atop the medal stand. Last year featured 12 individual medals, including two golds and five relay medals.
Women's Tennis vs. TCU, March 24, 11 a.m.
Women's Tennis exploded onto the scene last year as one of Rice's best teams, advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the program's best-ever finish. Rice returns five of six starters from the tournament team and enters the year ranked No. 29 nationally. Among its toughest home tests will be Texas Christian University, which enters the season ranked No. 35. The Owls will look to avenge a 4-3 loss last year in Fort Worth.
Men's Tennis vs. SMU, April 14,
Rice's final home tune-up before the conference tournament features a regional conference rival. The Mustangs will visit Jake Hess Stadium just four days before both teams open conference tournament competition in Memphis. In last year's tournament, Rice defeated Southern Methodist University 4-3 to advance to the semifinals.
Women's Tennis C-USA Championship Tournament, April 18-21
If there was one accolade missing from last year for Rice's women's tennis team, it was a conference championship. The Owls will attempt to complete that goal on their own turf this year, as the C-USA Championship Tournament comes to Rice. Jake Hess Stadium last played host to the championship in 2009, where Rice finished as runner-up to SMU
J. Fred Duckett Twilight Track Meet, April 20
Beyond the aesthetics, the J. Fred Duckett Twilight Meet consistently proves to be one of the fastest competitions of the year. Last year, 15 Rice men and seven Rice women set season-best times and marks at the meet. Rice also brought home 10 top-three event finishes on the women's side, including five wins, while the men contributed 10 top-three finishes and four wins.
C-USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, May 9-12
Graduation weekend also features the conference outdoor track and field championship at Rice Track/Holloway Field. The men will look to dethrone UH, which has captured the team title since 2009. Meanwhile, the women will attempt to duplicate the success of the 2007 squad, which raced its way to the top on its home track. Individually, All-American Decathlete Clayton Chaney will defend his title on the men's side, while the women will look to a new generation to fill the holes left by last year's senior gold medalists Sharae Robinson and Becky Wade.
Men's Baseball C-USA Tournament, May 22-26
Last time Rice hosted the C-USA tournament, it also hoisted the trophy, winning the 2006 tournament before continuing on to qualify for the College World Series. The Owls will look to emulate that success when the competition returns to Reckling Park this May. The University of Southern Mississippi and East Carolina University enter the season as the teams most likely to threaten Rice. championship chances.
More from The Rice Thresher
On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.
Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.