With the beginning of another school year looming on the horizon, several of ACU’s athletic teams are beginning to hit the ground running with workouts, two-a-days, and team meetings in preparation for the upcoming year.Â Once again, expectations for ACU athletics are sky-high, as evident by the Lone Star Conference’s release of their pre-season polls. ACU was well represented in every sport, and athletic director Jared Mosely, as well as all of Wildcat nation, is excited for the future.
“Obviously, we’re really excited for what lies ahead for all of our athletic teams. Each team has been working hard this summer and in the offseason, and we’re ready to see them in action,” Mosley said. “Also, each team returns lots of youth, so that will definitely be exciting to see as well.”
The ACU football team is slated to repeat as conference champions followed by Texas A&M-Kingsville, according to the poll. The Wildcats received 17 of 23 first place votes and 201 total points in the poll that was released July 25 at the LSC’s Media Day. Kingsville received five first place votes and a total of 177 points. They were followed by West Texas A&M, Midwestern State, Tarleton State, Angelo State, Eastern New Mexico, Commerce, and Incarnate Word.
Junior quarterback Mitchell Gale was tabbed the conference’s pre-season offensive player of the year. Last year, the Alva, Okla. native threw for 3,595 yards and 38 touchdowns, both were single season school records.
“It’s always good to be considered the best at what you do, but we’re putting absolutely no importance on what people outside of our circle think about us. We have no control over their opinions and are going to go out on the football field and work our tail off no matter where they rank us. All we can do is work hard and get better every day,” Gale said.
Senior defensive end Aston Whiteside, who had 7 sacks and was a first team all-region player, was named the conference’s pre-season defensive player of year.
Under the direction of sixth year Head Coach Chris Thomsen, ACU is coming off an 11-1 record. The team was ranked as high as second nationally and lost a 55-41 shootout to No. 8 Central Missouri in the second round of the playoffs last season. Their 2011 campaign begins September 1 at 7pm in Stephenville against Tarleton State.
The defending Lone Star Conference champion ACU women’s soccer team was predicted to finish second in the LSC this year. Midwestern State is slated to win the conference according to the poll. The Mustangs narrowly took the top spot, acquiring 11 of 20 first place votes and 149 total points. The Wildcats were on their tail, though, as they received the remaining nine first place votes and totaled 148 points. Angelo State was behind ACU, followed by Incarnate Word, West Texas A&M, Texas A&M Commerce, Texas Women’s and Eastern New Mexico.
Sophomore forward Andrea Carpenter was picked as the conference’s pre-season offensive player of the year following a season in which she rewrote the record books. Carpenter scored 21 goals and had 46 points, both of which were school records. The Amarillo native was the conference’s leading scorer in her freshman campaign and was named a third team all-American. The Wildcats return 13 players from last year’s 17-4 team and look poised for another stellar season under Head Coach Casey Wilson.
“We are looking forward to another season. Expectations around here are very high, but we can’t place too much importance on pre-season rankings. Until we step onto the pitch for the first time, those are insignificant,” Wilson said.
ACU begins their 2011 season September 1 against Dallas Baptist at 5 pm at the Wildcat Soccer Pitch.
On the volleyball court, West Texas was picked to win their sixth straight LSC championship, while ACU was picked to finish third. WT had 24 of 27 first place votes, totaling 293 points.Â Angelo State claimed one first place vote, finishing second with 262 points. ACU had the two other first place votes and accumulated 231 points. Trailing those three were Midwestern, Tarleton, Texas Woman’s, Incarnate Word, Commerce, ENMU, Kingsville and Cameron. West Texas A&M captured their fifth straight Lone Star Conference title in 2010 and extended their winning streak to 83 matches over LSC opponents. The Wildcats return 10 players from last year’s 27-6 team and are under the direction of six year Head Coach Kellen Mock.
ACU adds six freshmen to their roster and are set to begin the season September 2 at the St. Mary’s Tournament in San Antonio.
The ACU men’s cross-country team is slated to win their 21st straight conference championship, according to the LSC’s pre-season conference poll. The Wildcats received 16 first place votes en route to a 187 total points. On the women’s side, Midwestern State was the top vote getter with 196 points and receiving 20 first place votes. The Mustangs will look to defend their three-year conference winning streak this season. The Wildcats were picked to finish third, gaining one first place vote and 161 points.
The cross-country team will kick off their season Sept 2 in Waco at the Baylor Twilight Invitational.
As evident by the projections, another exciting and prominent year for ACU athletics awaits for Wildcat fans.