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Patriot Athletics Season Highlights

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Continuing their tradition of excellence, athletic teams at The University of Texas at Tyler achieved significant milestones in the 2008 spring season, earning championship titles, national recognition and prestigious postseason athletic and academic honors.

It was the Patriots’ first spring season as full-fledged members of the NCAA Division III, after four years of provisional membership. They became eligible for postseason tournaments, national rankings and other benefits of full NCAA membership in August 2007.

Highlights of the spring season included:

UT Tyler’s R.J. Cowan was selected as the American Southwest Conference Men’s Track & Field Distinguished Scholar-Athlete of the Year, after receiving the same honor in the 2007 fall season for men’s cross country.

The ASC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete award is voted on by the league’s sports information directors. To be nominated, a student-athlete must participate in 50 percent of his or her team’s events and have at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average.

Also selected as UT Tyler’s Male Athlete of the Year and Student-Athlete of the Year, Cowan had an outstanding year in both cross country and track & field. The studentathlete from Whitehouse won the Rhodes Invitational and the NCAA South/Southeast Regional in cross country and finished as the runner-up in the ASC Cross Country Championships and 5K and 10K events at the ASC Track & Field Championships.

The College Sports Information Directors of America and ESPN The Magazine named Cowan to the 2008 Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field Academic All-District team. The health and kinesiology major has a cumulative GPA of 3.81.

Other UT Tyler student-athletes named to their respective sport’s Distinguished Scholar-Athlete team were Brett Holland, baseball, 3.49 GPA; Kristen Akin-Henton, softball, 3.91 GPA; Brandon Ellis, men’s golf, 3.25 GPA; Amber Grounds, women’s golf, 3.56 GPA; Nick Kreines, men’s tennis, 3.93 GPA; Beth Launius, women’s tennis, 3.77 GPA; and Ashton Wells, women’s track, 3.46 GPA.

Cowan and Patriot softball player Kate Lightfield were UT Tyler’s recipients of the ASC Scholar-Athlete award, given annually to one male and one female graduating studentathlete at each ASC institution. Recipients are those who have compiled an outstanding record of academic, athletic and leadership accomplishments over his or her collegiate career.

Lightfield, a nursing major from Houston, has maintained a 4.0 GPA at UT Tyler. As a member of the 2008 UT Tyler NCAA Regional qualifying softball team, she played in 32 games and batted .321 on the year with nine hits off of 14 runs and six RBIs. Lightfield is a two-time All-ASC and All-West Region selection. She is a member of the UT Tyler Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership team.

Cowan has been active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. He has volunteered with Relay for Life, the Salvation Army, the Children’s Cabinet, the Children’s Diabetes Association and local nature trails and libraries.

Thirty-five UT Tyler student-athletes and support staff received ASC Academic All-Conference honors. Students earning the honor must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA through the spring semester. Honorees, including studentathletes, student trainers and sports information assistants, were:

Baseball – Blake Booher Jr., Andrew Damewood, Kody Evans, Brett Holland, Joe Towns and Andrew Splawn.
Men's Golf – Brandon Ellis.
Women's Golf – Amber Grounds and Cynthia Sciba.
Softball – Kristen Akin-Henton, Lindsey Peters, Julie Smith, Kara Turner and Nicole Willhoite.
Men’s Tennis – David Ashlock, Steven Campbell, Brad Fenter, Nick Kreines, Will McDonald and Jordan Repsher.
Women’s Tennis – Nicole Barrett, Beth Launius and Brittany Ude.
Men’s Track & Field – Brendan Bierman, Michael Colvin, R. J. Cowan, David Kelley, Kirk Hesse and Marc Randle.
Women’s Track & Field – Ashton Wells.
Athletic Training – Griffin Hawthorne, Shannon Hinsley and Candace St. Julian.
Sports Information – Jarrett Hill and Arron Swink.


UT Tyler finished he year at 36-9 (15-3 ASC), captured its third ASC East Division Championship in five years and clinched its first ever postseason berth. The Patriots finished third in the conference and finished the season at No. 15 in the final American Baseball Coaches Association Division III poll.

Turning Pro – Following the Patriots’ impressive season, right-handed pitcher Brett Holland (Lindale) and baseman Clay Baker (Henderson) and were drafted into professional baseball.

Holland was taken in the 48th round by the Oakland Athletics in the 2008 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June. He is the fourth player in UT Tyler baseball history to be taken in the first-year player draft and 18th Patriot to be offered or sign a contract to play professional baseball.

Holland played three years for the Patriots and amassed an impressive 18-0 record. He led the Patriots, along with starting pitcher Blake Booher (Hurst), in career strikeouts with 170. In 2008, Holland went 11-0, with 113 strikeouts and a season ERA of 2.76.

Baker signed a contract in May to play professional baseball with the 2007 Frontier League Champion Windy City Thunderbolts. He joined former Patriots Brett Amyx, Phil Grau and Kevin Noles on the Thunderbolts roster.

In Baker’s only season with the Patriots, he hit .401 with 57 runs off of 70 hits, nine doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 triples with a .640 slugging percentage and a .550 on-base percentage.

ASC Player, Pitcher of Year – Baker and Booher headlined the ASC East Division baseball awards, receiving Player and Pitcher of the Year honors, respectively.

Booher set a single-season ASC record for most wins with 11. He finished 2008 with an ERA of 2.06 and 84 strikeouts.

Joining Baker and Booher on the All-ASC East First Team were Patriots Joe Towns (Carrollton), Jeremy Harding (Houston), Jared Hood (Marshall), Andrew Damewood (Plano) and Beau Ziegler (North Wales, Penn.). Other honorees were Holland and Kendall Fox (Carrollton), Second Team; and Chris Goss (Waco) and Corey Farra (Lewisville), Honorable Mention.

All-Region – Booher was named NCAA Division III West Region Pitcher of the Year by Rawlings and the American Baseball Coaches Association. Baker and Holland joined Booher on the First Team. Other honorees were Harding and Towns, Second Team; and Hood, Third Team.

All-American – Baker, Booher and Holland were named NCAA Division III All-Americans byD3Baseballl.com. Booher and Holland also were named All-Americans by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

Academic All-America – Towns and Holland received ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America College Division District 6 baseball honors. Both were named to the Second Team.

Teams are chosen from nominated athletes who are academic sophomores or higher, have completed one full year at their institution, have at least a 3.2 GPA and play in at least 50 percent of their team’s games. Towns had a 3.75 GPA. Holland’s GPA was 3.49.

In their first year of eligibility for postseason play, the Patriot men’s and women’s teams made their presence felt in the ASC. Both teams earned playoff berths and the women had the special treat of hosting the ASC Tournament by virtue of capturing the East Division Championship. The men finished second in the East and thus earned a berth in the ASC Tournament.

Men’s Honors – Coach Kenny Bizot was named ASC East Division Coach of the Year and four of his players received Eastern Division honors in the postseason awards, voted on by the league’s 15 head coaches.

Bizot guided the Patriots to a 14-12 overall finish in his first year as a head coach, including a 13-7 record in the ASC East. The 14 wins overall were the most in program history and the 13 conference wins tied the most ASC wins in program history.

Brandon Weasby (Houston), Patrick Branche (Houston) and Anthony Reese (Longview) were named to the ASC All-East Division Second Team. Joining Reese on the All- Defensive Team was Jeff Cotton (Allen).

Women’s Honors – Coach Terri Deike guided the women’s team to its third East Division crown in the program’s five-year history. They ended the year with a 17- 9 overall record and a 14-6 record in the ASC East. Kasey Buggs (Lake Dallas) and Melissa Thomas (Austin) received two of the top East Division honors in the ASC women’s basketball postseason awards.

Buggs was honored as East Division Player of the Year and named to the ASC All-Conference team and ASC All- East Division First Team. Thomas was named as the ASC East Co-Freshman of the Year, along with Tillisha Givens of Louisiana College, and was named to the ASC East All- Freshman Team.

Buggs finished her senior season by averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. She ended her career at UT Tyler as the Patriots’ second all-time leading scorer with 1,219 points and as their all-time leading rebounder with 675 rebounds. UT Tyler honored her as 2007-08 Female Athlete of the Year. She also received D3hoops.com All-South Region 3rd Women’s Basketball Team honors.

Thomas ended her inaugural season by leading her team with 16.8 points per game, shooting 82.5 percent from the free-throw line and 42 percent from 3-point range.

Other Patriots receiving ASC East Division honors were Alyssa Ploof (Plano), Honorable Mention Team; Becky Taylor (New Caney), All-Defensive Team; and Lindsay Eaton (Austin), All-Freshman Team.

All-Academic – Patriots receiving ASC All-Academic honors were Buggs, Ploof, Taylor, Matt Riccardi (Plano), Alyse Bell (Soldotna, Ala.) and Erica Aguilar (Plainview). To qualify for the honor a student-athlete must be an academic sophomore or higher and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Academic All-American – Cowan was the first student- athlete in UT Tyler history to be named Academic All- American by the College Sports Information Directors of America and ESPN The Magazine. Receiving the honor for both cross country and track and field, Cowan was just one of 45 honorees out of more than 300 finalists representing over 160 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA institutions.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore with a 3.20 cumulative GPA, a varsity starter or key reserve and be nominated by his or her sports information director and named to the first team in his or her CoSIDA district.

In addition, Cowan and cross country runner Corey Kellam (La Grange, Ky.) were named Academic All-Americans by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The award honors student-athletes who have succeeded both academically and athletically. To be eligible, a student- athlete must carry a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA and finish in the top 25 percent of the field at their respective NCAA regional meet.

Cowan led the Patriots to their third consecutive ASC men’s cross country championship last fall and was the top individual finisher at the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional Championship. Kellam, a junior economics major, also helped lead the Patriots to the conference title and finished 20th in the regional meet.

All-Academic Team – The men’s and women’s cross country teams were named USTFCCCA All-Academic Teams. For a team to be considered for the USTFCCCA All- Academic Team award, it must have competed and compiled a team score at an NCAA Regional Meet. The team must also have a minimum 3.10 team cumulative GPA.

First Track Season – UT Tyler’s inaugural men’s and women’s track teams took third and fifth places, respectively, in the ASC Track & Field Championships in Abilene.

The highlight for the women came in the 10,000-meter run as Sarah Hankla (Tyler) missed the podium by just seconds to come in fourth in the event. On the men’s side, Bojan Kajtaz (Kakanj, Bosnia) was just five hundredths of a second from third place in the 800-meter run.

Warren Brown (Lindale) won the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events, while Cowan finished second in both events. Chauncey Deller (Gladewater) finished third in the 10,000 to complete the podium sweep for the Patriots. Dellar also finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

The UT Tyler men’s 4x100 team of Marc Vestal (North Richland Hills), Zach Costlow (Mabank), Paul Metzner (Whitehouse) and Marc Randle (Edgewood) finished third in the event. The other men’s relay team of Michael Colvin (Jacksonville), Ben Donnan (Paris), Brendan Bierman (Cedar Hill) and Corey Daniel (Deer Park) placed third in the 4x400 relay.

The UT Tyler men’s golf team won the Mary Hardin-Baylor Spring Invitational, UT Dallas Spring Classic and LeTourneau Spring Classic. In women’s golf, UT Tyler’s Samantha Humphrey (Flower Mound) came out on top in scorecard playoff to finish as the top individual in the LeTourneau Spring Classic.

The men’s and women’s golf teams finished third in their respective tournaments in the ASC Golf Championships. Humphrey won the ASC Women’s Individual Championship.

All-Tournament – Humphrey received All-Tournament First Team honors for the women, while Brian Jennings (Bullard), Matt Stephens (Mt. Belvieu) and Jacob Walsh (Lewisville) received Second Team honors for the men.

National Qualifier – Jennings became the first-ever Patriot golfer to compete for a national championship when he qualified for the 2008 NCAA Division III Men’s National Golf Championship as an individual.

Finishing in the top half of the 120-player field at the national championships, Jennings was named to the NCAA Division III PING Men’s All-West Region Team by the Golf Coaches Association of America.

The Patriots finished the season with a record of 43-9, the most wins in the history of the program and the third best record of the season in all of Division III softball. They came in second in the ASC Softball Championship tournament, received an at-large bid into the NCAA Division III Softball Championships and hosted their very first regional championship tournament.

The team finished the season at No. 11 in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III poll. UT Tyler was the highest ranked team from the West region in the poll.

Top Awards – Senior Lindsey Peters (Shreveport) and junior Megan “Roo” Richardson (Platteville, Colo.) received two of the top East Division awards offered by the ASC.

Peters ended her 2008 season just as she began it, as ASC East Player of the Year. The second baseman led UT Tyler with a .432 batting average, to go along with 53 runs off of 67 hits with 15 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 51 RBIs, 24 walks and eight stolen bases. Peters also was named to the ASC All-Tournament team.

Richardson had a .362 batting average, 37 runs off of 50 hits, 13 doubles, three triples, 13 homeruns, 21 walks and four stolen bases for 2008.

Joining Peters and Richardson on the All-ASC East First Team were Sara DeStefano (Franklin), Julie Smith (Huffman), Carly Collins (Ennis) and Kelsey Harrington (Texarkana).

Other honorees were Amanda Busby (Elysian Fields), Kate Bell (Forney) and Stacy Shepherd (Houston), Second Team; and Brittanni Hanna (Mesquite) and Kristen Akin-Henton (Longview), Honorable Mention.

All-Region/ASC – Peters, Richardson and DeStefano were named to the Second Team All-East Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Harrington, Collins and Busby were named to the Third Team. All six Patriots also received All-ASC East softball honors.

Academic All America – Akin-Henton and Peters received ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America College Division District 6 softball honors. Akin-Henton (3.91 GPA) was named designated player for the First Team. Peters (3.28 GPA) was named to the Second Team.

Sportsmanship Award – Peters won the 2007- 2008 ASC Fred Jacoby Sportsmanship Award. The league’s athletic directors presents the award to a male and female student-athlete who best displays the attributes of sportsmanship, leadership, citizenship and academic integrity in their athletic, academic and life pursuits.

All-Star Team – Peters and Richardson were chosen for an American Softball Association regional All-Star team to play against Team USA Softball.

Coming off their most successful season in school history, UT Tyler men’s and women’s tennis teams both finished 2008 ranked in the top 25 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The men finished the year at No. 22 and ranked sixth in the West region, while the women ended their season at No. 25 and ranked fifth in the West.

During the season, both teams won their first ASC titles and received bids to the NCAA National Team Tournament. The men and women each won a match during the tournament, with the women going to the second round and the men advancing to the third round. The season came to a close with the Dustin Phillips (Houston) and David Ashlock (Arlington) qualifying for the NCAA National Singles and Doubles Tournament.

Men’s Honors – The UT Tyler men received 15 ASC awards with Phillips leading the way as East Division Newcomer of the Year and head coach Chris Bizot named East Division Coach of the Year.

Receiving All-Conference Team honors were Phillips, Ashlock, Steven Campbell (San Angelo), Robert Sajovich (Austin), Will McDonald (Houston), Nick Kreines (Houston) and Jordan Rephser (Friendswood).

In the division honors, Phillips, Ashlock and Campbell were named to the First Team, while Sajovich and McDonald received Second Team honors. Kreines received East Division Honorable Mention.

Sajovich and Bizot also were named region Rookie of the Year and region Coach of the Year, respectively, by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the sports governing body.

Sajovich went 9-7 in singles play and 14-3 in doubles play during his first year as a collegiate tennis player. Bizot led UT Tyler to its fifth consecutive American Southwest Conference East Division title.

Women’s Honors – The women’s team garnered 14 year-end awards with junior Rachel Anders (Lindale) and Bizot receiving two of the top honors. Anders was named East Division Newcomer of the Year and Bizot was named Co-East Division Coach of the Year.

Bizot led the women to a team record of 17 wins in the 2008 season and their third consecutive ASC East title. His Co-Coach of the Year was his college coach, David Boteler of Mississippi College.

Named to the All-Conference team were Anders, Nicole Barrett (Allen), Beth Launius (LaGrange), Brittany Ude (Corpus Christi), Michelle Hagler (Austin) and Lauren Giovannini (Dallas).

In East Division honors, Anders, Launius and Hagler were First Team selections, while Barrett and Ude received Second Team honors. Giovannini received All-East Division Honorable Mention.

Academic All-District – Kreines and Launius were named to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine College Division At-Large Academic All-District men’s and women’s teams, respectively. Kreines is a business major with a 3.95 GPA. Launius, a mechanical engineering major, has a 3.81 GPA.

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