From thrilling victories to championships to the move to NCAA Division I, the 2019 calendar year will go down as one of the most historic in the history of Tarleton State University.
In 2019, Tarleton had all 14 intercollegiate sports compete in the Lone Star Conference championships and eight programs competing in the national postseason championships. Hundreds of student-athletes were recognized for their efforts on the field and in the classroom at the conference and national levels.
In the classroom, Tarleton boasted 161 student-athletes that qualified for the Dean's List in the spring and fall semesters. Tarleton had 25 student-athletes receive undergraduate degrees in 2019, as well as one master's graduate.
Below are just a few bright spots from the 2019 year as Tarleton Athletics counts down its Top 19 in 2019:
#19 / Tarleton, Ford enter into largest advertising agreement in school history
On Oct. 15, Tarleton Athletics announced a seven-year, $555,000 agreement as the title sponsor for the Tarleton Sports Network. The Tarleton Sports Network encompasses all of Tarleton's digital platforms including live video, radio broadcasts, and select social media content. The network was created in 2014 and partnered with the North Texas Ford Dealers on a five-year deal at a then-record $100,000.
#18 / Cross Country opens season with pair of team wins, men boast perfect score
On Sept. 13, the Cross Country teams got their season under way with two victories in the season-opening meet at the Bob Gravett Invitational. The women (5k) scored a 33 to finish 16 points higher than their closest competition while the men's team (8k), led by freshman Kevin Baez, recorded a perfect score with a Texan finishing in each of the top five positions.
#17 / Golf erases 11-stroke deficit to close fall schedule with a win
Oct. 15 makes its second appearance on the list as the women's golf team enjoyed its best day of the fall slate to win the Oklahoma Intercollegiate in Lawton. After a fifth-place finish and 11 strokes behind the leader in day one, Tarleton turned things around on day two with an 18-stroke improvement to upset tournament leader Midwestern State by a single stroke. Tarleton shot a 292 on the final day. Sofia Rodriguez shot a career-best 145 (+3) to win her first tournament title.
#16 / McQuirter shines on national stage at NCAA Championships
Jasmine McQuirter capped off her 2019 season at the NCAA Championships where she competed in the long jump. She finished 16th in the nation with a leap of 18' 11.75'' at the national meet. In 2019, McQuirter was a bronze medalist in the Lone Star Conference for the long jump.
#15 / Douglas-Miron wastes no time building a head coach resumé
After longtime head tennis coach Lance Drake announced he would be retiring on May 1 due to health concerns, graduate assistant Elianne Douglas-Miron was tasked with leading her team into the Lone Star Conference Tournament. The rookie interim head coach wasted no time in racking up a resumé booster as she guided Tarleton to its fifth LSC Championship match in program history by upsetting Cameron and No. 18 Angelo State on May 3. She was later named the 12th head coach of the women's tennis program on July 18.
#14 / The Kids Are Alright for Men's Basketball
The No. 14 showing on the list is the freshest memory in recent history. Led by a 25-point performance off the bench from freshman Javontae Hopkins, Tarleton earned a signature win under second-year head coach Chris Reisman as Hopkins scored 25 points - including 12 of 15 Tarleton points late in the fourth quarter to turn a seven-point deficit with 7:15 left in the game into a five-point lead that the Texans would not relinquish. Hopkins was joined atop the scoring leaders by fellow freshman, Isaiah Range, who added 15 points in his first career start. It was a crucial win for the Texans against a Commerce team coming off back-to-back victories over the No. 10 and 11 teams in the nation.
#13 / Meade ends whirlwind summer for baseball coaching search
To say that 2019 was a whirlwind for the Texan Baseball team might be an understatement. Veteran coach Bryan Conger resigned in January to pursue a career in major league baseball, turning the program over to first-year assistant coach Brennan Rogers who led the Texans to an LSC Tournament appearance in his interim season at the helm. As soon as the regular season ended, Tarleton hired Mike Sirianni from Regis (CO) to be the next skipper but he was offered a Division I position with Wichita State a month later. On July 23, the program found its guy. Aaron Meade was named the eighth head coach in program history to bring stability back to Texan Baseball.
#12 / Bostad's buzzer-beater sparks women's basketball
Trailing by six with four minutes left to Cameron in Wisdom Gym, Tarleton women's basketball fought back and pulled within one with 21 seconds left on the clock. After a free throw tied the game, Tarleton forced a miss on Cameron's next possession and Lucy Benson pulled down the rebound and called a timeout with 1.17 seconds on the clock. Tarleton advanced the ball to half court and Katie Webster threw the inbounds pass to McKinley Bostad on the backside of the Aggie defense. Bostad banked in the pass as time expired to lift Tarleton past the Aggies in thrilling fashion. It was the third of a five-game win streak that sparked Tarleton to the No. 3-seed in the LSC Tournament and ultimately helped Tarleton reach its third straight NCAA tournament.
#11 / Withrow perseveres for two-day no-hitter
Patience is a virtue and there may not have been a more virtuous student-athlete at Tarleton than Jordan Withrow after having to wait just over 17 hours to officially lock in her second career no-hitter. Withrow was dealing through the opening game of a three-game series at UT Permian Basin on April 5. With Tarleton leading 8-0 after the top of the sixth, the game was three outs away from completion and Withrow had not allowed a hit. Then the rain came and forced the game to come to a halt. The game would be resumed the following day before the Saturday doubleheader. Withrow got a pop-up and walked a batter before back-to-back strikeouts finished off her second no-hitter of the season.
#10 / Texan Football begins 2019 with road win over Division I SFA
The much-anticipated season opener between Tarleton and Stephen F. Austin had plenty of storylines to go around - the year-long wait after the 2018 meeting was cancelled due to weather, the first home game for former Texas A&M-Commerce coach Colby Carthel against the Texans who ousted his Lions from the D2 playoffs the year before, Tarleton head coach Todd Whitten returning to his alma mater (SFA) where he was a Hall of Fame QB, and Tarleton proving their worth against an in-state Division I foe. Tarleton stepped up and took down the Lumberjacks 37-26 in the season opener. Daniel McCants rushed for 190 yards and two scores, including a 99-yard rumble that tied an NCAA and LSC record.
#9 / Cumpian blazes to 100th career win
With a 6-2 win over No. 20 Angelo State on March 8, Mark Cumpian joined some elite Tarleton company. He became the second-fastest coach (any sport) in Tarleton's senior-college era to reach 100 wins, behind only Lonn Reisman. It took Cumpian only 138 games in his career to reach 100 victories, which was five games shy of Reisman's 133 games to reach 100. Georgia Capell and Amanda Conner combined for six RBI in the game to lift Tarleton past the Rambelles.
#8 / Texan Football secures LSC Championship
With a 41-24 road win at Western New Mexico, the Tarleton Football team capped off its second consecutive undefeated regular season and Lone Star Conference Championship with an 11-0 record. QB Ben Holmes would throw for 451 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Texans past the Mustangs.
#7 / Zimari Manning becomes first Texan named national finalist for Harlon Hill
After arguably one of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of Tarleton Football, Zimari Manning became the first Texan to be named a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy - which is awarded to the top college football player in NCAA Division II. The Texans have had multiple regional nominees but, on December 4, Manning was the first Texan to reach the final ballot of eight. Manning led all receivers in touchdowns (22) at any level of NCAA football last year and broke the school records for receiving touchdowns in a career and season, as well as the single-season receiving yards record. He finished the voting in third place, which was the highest finish by a wide receiver since 1991.
#6 / Schindler reaches 300-win plateau with win over #12 Central Missouri
The winningest coach in the history of Tarleton Volleyball and the winningest active head coach at Tarleton State University, Mary Schindler continued to pile up the victories as she notched her 300th career win at Tarleton with a four-set win over No. 12 Central Missouri at the Colorado Premier Challenge on September 14. She remains the only coach in program history to lead the Texans to an NCAA regional tournament - six consecutive trips since 2014, including the 2019 season.
#5 / E.J. Speed becomes highest NFL draft pick in school history
It's only fitting that the man who wore the No. 5 jersey for the purple and white should take the No. 5 spot in the countdown as E.J. Speed was chosen in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. This made Speed the highest NFL draft pick in program history. Through 14 weeks of his rookie season, Speed has been active in 10 games. He made a career-high six tackles against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 29.
#4 / Reisman immortalized in Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame
The legacy of Lonn Reisman will forever be a part of Tarleton Athletics. His name was added to the illustrious list of Tarleton greats on May 4 as the 30-year head men's basketball coach was named the 169th member of the Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame in front of the largest crowd in Athletics Hall of Fame history at Wisdom Gym. Reisman, who stepped down from coaching and is now devoting 100-percent of his time as athletic director, finished his basketball coaching career with 691 career wins - 654 of them at Tarleton - which is the most wins by anyone in Tarleton history and, at the time of his retirement from coaching, the most wins of any active head coach in the state of Texas at any NCAA level. He's one of 14 coaches at the Division I and II levels combined with more than 650 career wins and ranks within the top 15 in the country in winning percentage by a Division II head coach.
#3 / Athletic teams unite under 'Texans' moniker
Following a unanimous decision by the Student Government Association and the President's Cabinet, all of Tarleton's 14 intercollegiate athletic teams united under the Texans name beginning in August. Three members of the women's basketball program - Mackenzie Hailey, Hannah Hyde and Maddie Oliver - wrote the bill to discontinue the use of "TexAnns" and name all the sports teams Texans. The bill was presented to the Student Government Association (SGA) in November, then advanced to the vice president for student affairs and the President's Cabinet. The teams all transitioned to Texans beginning last fall.
#2 / Memorial Stadium receives $26 million renovation
Coming in at No. 2 on the countdown is the opening of the Lonn Reisman Athletic Center at Memorial Stadium. A renovation project over 30 years in the making, Tarleton's Memorial Stadium opened its brand-new gates on the west side for the first time. The new facility provides more seating, concession, merchandise, suite accessibility and much more to the thousands of fans that filled the stadium - not just for Tarleton football, but local high school games as well. In the new facility, Tarleton set two new attendance records in 2019 with over 10,000 fans at the Family Weekend and Homecoming games.
#1 / Tarleton accepts NCAA Division I invitation
No surprise here - Division I is number one. Tarleton's wait to join the NCAA Division I rank is finally over after President Dr. James Hurley accepted an invitation from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) to join beginning in the fall 2020. In Tarleton's 120th year as an institution of higher education, the university has elevated itself to the highest level. Tarleton and WAC officials announced the news with several dignitaries from across the country and state on hand in Stephenville, including Hurd, A&M System Chancellor John Sharp and state Reps. J.D. Sheffield and DeWayne Burns. The invitation is contingent on Tarleton completing the four-year reclassification process from NCAA Division II. The Texans will begin WAC regular-season competition during the 2020-21 school year and be eligible for NCAA Division I postseason play beginning with the 2024-25 season. The football program will advance to NCAA Division I as an independent program.