LA Tech Athletics Makes Marks in 2017-18

July 5, 2018

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech saw another year of individual, team and departmental success stories as its student-athletes continued to excel on the playing fields, in the classrooms and around the community in 2017-18.

As the University celebrates the fifth anniversary of joining Conference USA and Dr. Les Guice’s presidential leadership and approaches the same milestone of Athletic Director Tommy McClelland’s arrival in town, all eyes look forward to the start of another athletic season.

The vision for Tech Athletics continues to grow thanks to the many success stories of the past five years. Bulldog and Lady Techster fans have high expectations as the University strengthens its place in the state and the conference as a championship athletic program.

“Conference USA has provided us with a home competing against peer schools, both athletically and academically,” said McClelland. “We have taken advantage of the stability and competitiveness of this conference to make tremendous strides over the past five years. We have a tremendous leader at the top in Dr. Guice, and I believe we will only continue to see the University and its athletic department grow in the coming years.

“We have a great stable of coaches leading our programs and we continue to recruit top caliber student-athletes. Our alumni and supporters continue to give at record levels, allowing us to invest more dollars into our student-athletes and our programs. While we celebrate our individual and team successes from this past year, we are not ever satisfied. Our goal is to build champions on the field, in the classroom and in life. We want to continue to build upon these successes in the coming years.”

While the calendar has turned on a new fiscal year and the first competition is less than 50 days away, let’s take one more look at the past year and some of the highs from the past 365 days of Louisiana Tech Athletics.

Academically, 64 student-athletes earned their degrees with 18 of those graduating with honors. A record 47 Louisiana Tech student-athletes earned the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal while 144 were named to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Twelve student-athletes were named C-USA All-Academic for their respective sports, including Nomvula Kgoale (soccer), Haley Laque (soccer), Morgan Turkoly (softball), Jacie McClure (volleyball), Kent Hasler (baseball), Taylor Stahly (women’s basketball), Kacie Kaufman (cross country & track and field), Conner Killian (cross country & track and field), Morgan Keesee (track and field) and Elia Nero (track and field).

McClure became the 15th LA Tech student-athlete to earn CoSIDA Academic All-American honors, one of the highest honors bestowed to any student-athlete. McClure (fall), Keesee (winter) and Turkoly (spring) were the recipients of the C-USA Spirit of Service Award.

The fall saw the University induct the 17th LA Tech Athletics Hall of Fame Class with the enshrinement of Denny Duron, Tommy Joe Eagles, Pam Gant, Dale Holeman, Luke McCown, Keith Prince and Pat Tilley. Former Techster Mickie DeMoss became the ninth member of the program inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame this summer.

New records were set for giving as the Louisiana Tech Athletic Club (LTAC) set new highs in numbers of donors (1,225) and dollars raised ($1.61M), a seven percent increase over the previous year. Since Tech joined C-USA in 2013, LTAC has seen over a 100 percent growth in dollars.

On the field, the year began with the opening of the new Joe Aillet Stadium press box and suites as well as additional renovations that amounted to more than $18 million in upgrades to the 50-year-old facility. A crowd of more than 24,000 saw the new additions as well as a 52-24 Bulldog victory over Northwestern State in early September, kicking off a football season that saw its share of ups-and-downs – but that ultimately culminated in a 51-10 win over SMU in the DXL Frisco Bowl.

The win was the fourth straight bowl victory for head coach Skip Holtz and Co. Louisiana Tech is one of only four programs in the country – joining Georgia, Utah and Wisconsin – that have posted four consecutive bowl wins in the past four years.

Teddy Veal earned the C-USA Newcomer of the Year award, marking the fourth straight year that a Bulldog has garnered at least one of Conference USA’s specialty awards. Cornerback Amik Robertson became the fifth Freshman All-American, marking the third straight year that a Bulldog has garnered that honor. Tech’s senior class recorded 34 wins, the most by a Bulldog group since joining the FBS ranks in the last 1980s.

The fall also saw the Lady Techster soccer team set or tie program records for fewest losses (3), fewest league losses (1), most league points (21) and most consecutive home wins (8) while qualifying for its fourth straight C-USA Tournament. Tech is one of just three programs to qualify for each of the last four league tournaments.

Two members of Louisiana Tech’s cross country team qualified and competed in the NCAA South Central Regional Championships in November as underclassmen Austin Ballow and Conner Killian represented the Bulldogs in College Station.

Lady Techster volleyball senior outside hitter Marta Monne earned second team All-Conference USA and was also named to the all-Louisiana first team for the second consecutive season.

The Bulldog golf team saw sophomore Felix Paalson card a three-round total of 14-under-par 202 to capture the 2017 Quail Valley Intercollegiate individual title. The 54-hole total of 202 broke the previous school record of 203 by Victor Lange in 2014.

Hardwood action saw Jacobi Boykins become the 40th member of the 1,000-point club while also setting program records for three-pointers in a season (98) and a career (269). Head coach Eric Konkol became the quickest LA Tech coach to reach 50 wins (70 games), including a dramatic last second win over Evansville in the Cancun Challenge.

On the women’s side, the Lady Techsters earned their highest regular season finish (3rd) and most wins (19) since 2011-12, while competing in their second straight Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). Tech posted a win over Big 10 foe Penn State while also recording impressive road wins over C-USA regular season champion UAB and Rice (snapped the Owls’ program-record 15-game home court winning streak).

The Lady Techster bowling team earned its first ranking in school history, concluding the year with six Top 10 finishes and a win over No. 1 ranked Nebraska. Freshman Kaitlyn Eder was named the national Rookie of the Year and an honorable mention All-American. Eder also earned a spot on Junior Team USA.

The spring saw the Bulldog baseball team notch 39 wins, including a program record 21 league games. Head coach Lane Burroughs and Co. won 18 true road games (most since 1982) while finishing second in the C-USA standings after being picked eighth in the preseason coaches poll. Tech won 35-plus games for the third straight year, the longest stretch since the late 1980s. Seven Bulldogs earned C-USA honors while Hunter Wells set the single season hits record with 91.

The Lady Techster softball team won 34 games, including three over Top 25 teams, marking the fourth straight 30-plus win season – the longest stretch since the late 1990s. Junior Morgan Turkoly became only the second Techster to earn conference Player of the Year honors while teammate Preslee Gallaway become the first to ever earn league Pitcher of the Year accolades.

Junior Sonia Chen led the Lady Techster tennis team, tying the program record with 12 straight singles matches wins while posting a combined 24-8 dual record in singles and doubles. The Techsters also tied the program record with nine straight home wins during the spring season, matching a mark set in 1994-95.

The LA Tech track and field teams qualified eight entries into the 2018 NCAA East Preliminary Track and Field Championships, upping the program total to 130 since the east and west prelim championship format began in 2010. True freshman Cole Courtois broke both the indoor and outdoor school records in the men’s pole vault after claiming gold at both championship meets and qualifying for the 2017 NCAA East Preliminary Championships.

It was truly another memorable year for LA Tech fans.

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