Now it’s time to reveal our top five programs from the past school year. If you may remember, I mentioned in the first part of the list that the location of the program may also be based on the past years and future of the program.
This occurs more often in this list, as the next five teams mentioned all made it to their respective Elite Eights or further, which is pretty good for an athletic program (especially one that doesn’t have all these aquatic sports like the PAC-12).
Once again, feel free to comment below for any arguments you may have. And here’s the prior lists if you didn’t read them already.
|Staking the Plains Top Ten|
|Athletes (Part 1/Part 2)||Plays (Part 1/Part 2)||Games (Part 1/Part 2)||Moments (Part 1/Part 2)||Programs (Part 1/Part 2)|
No. 5 Men’s Golf
|Finish||Best Tournaments||Top Performers|
|7th in Big 12; 5th in NCAA Columbus Regional; 3rd in NCAA Stroke Play; L3-2 in NCAA Quarterfinals||Columbus Regional/NCAA Stroke Play||Fredrick Nilehn, Ivan Ramirez, Adam Blomme, Hurly Long, Kyle Hogan, Sandy Scott|
Why They Were Chosen?: Despite losing their All-American and Big 12 golfer of the year with injury prior to the NCAA Stroke play, the Red Raiders still managed to have their highest qualifying finish in program history.
The Red Raiders didn’t do fantastic in the Big 12 play, as they finished seventh place in the conference championship even though they were the No. 12 seed in the nation. However, they finished in the top five at the Columbus and made the NCAA Stroke Play for the third time in the past six years.
Then, much like a few other programs on this list, the men’s golf team achieved something that no other team has done in Texas Tech history. They finished third overall in stroke play with a team score of +9, the highest finish in school history.
Unfortunately, the Red Raiders would be upset by Alabama 3-2 in the quarterfinals, but at least they can say they lost to the NCAA runner ups. The program losses both Fredrick Nilehn and Hurly Long, but they have a strong core returning to the Red Raiders for the upcoming season. They have a bright future ahead.
Read how it happened ➡ https://t.co/cu4VfAzWcb
Watch how it happened (You’ll want to see these shots) ⬇ pic.twitter.com/mE39kocwNy
— Texas Tech Men’s Golf (@TexasTechMGolf) May 29, 2018
No. 4 Women’s Tennis
|Finish||Best Matches||Top Performers|
|T2nd in Big 12; 23-7 overall (7-2 in Big 12); Elite Eight appearance; L4-1 to No. 3 Duke in NCAA Quarterfinals||W4-2 over No. 13 UCLA; W4-1 at No. 11 Oklahoma State (twice); W4-2 over No. 19 Illinois; W4-1 over No. 6 Texas||Gabriela Talaba, Felicity Maltby, Katelyn Jackson, Alex Valenstein, Lana Rush|
Why They Were Chosen?: The women’s tennis team achieved history once again, as they advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year, and Gabriela Talaba advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the individual tournament.
Although the Red Raiders didn’t win the Big 12 like they did the season prior, they did finish second and finished relatively strong in the regular season. They won 20 matches prior to the NCAA tournament and were ranked as high as No. 6 during the season.
The highlight of the season came in the Sweet Sixteen again Texas. The Longhorns had won the contest, but the Red Raiders were able to upset the Horns and advance to the Elite Eight for the second straight year. Not only that, but Red Raider great Talaba finished her wonderful career.
There is some concern about the team last year because of the amount of seniors that graduated. However, the women’s tennis team is a lot like the baseball and track and field team where they have succeeded for an extended period and are consistently reeling in good recruiting classes (the No. 3 class in the nation is coming in next year).
No. 3 Men’s Basketball
|Finish||Best Matches||Top Performers|
|T2nd in Big 12; 27-10 overall (11-7 in Big 12); Elite Eight appearance; L71-59 to No. 2 Villanova||W85-73 over No. 10 Kansas; W72-71 over No. 2 WVU; W69-66 over No. 23 Florida; W78-65 over No. 11 Purdue||Keenan Evans, Zhaire Smith, Jarrett Culver, Zach Smith, Justin Gray|
Why They Were Chosen?: It was a magical season for the Red Raiders. Unlike the team prior or the next two teams, the basketball team had not seen deep postseason runs in recent years. However, this year the team made history and one of the programs at Texas Tech.
Technically-Texas-alum-but-treated-as-Texas-Tech-alum Chris Beard recruited well the season prior and was able to get players to make an immediate impact while expanding the game of Tubby Smith’s recruits. The Red Raiders nearly won the Big 12 and might’ve if Keenan Evans wouldn’t have gotten hurt.
Despite this, it was still the best season the program had ever seen. They won their second most games with 27 (James Dickey won 30 in 1996), and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. Not only that, but Zhaire Smith was the second Red Raider to be a first round pick (Tony Battie was the other).
I picked this team over the women’s tennis team because they lost to the eventual champs and gave them their best competition of the tournament. They also have a ton of pressure due to TV rights and popularity. The team loses some key players, but return a couple key members from last season and best recruiting class the team has ever seen.
No. 2 Baseball
|Finish||Best Matches||Top Performers|
|3rd in Big 12; 45-20 overall (15-9 in Big 12); College World Series appearance; 1-2 in Omaha (1-1 vs Florida, 0-1 vs Arkansas)||2-1 series win over Oklahoma; Sweep at Oklahoma State; W6-2 over Duke; W6-3 vs No. 1 Florida||Josh Jung, Grant Little, Caleb Kilian, Zach Rheams, Gabe Holt|
Why They Were Chosen?: For the third time in five years, the baseball team advanced to Omaha. This year was a little different than the previous years, though, for a few reasons.
Unlike the previous two trips, the Red Raiders lost two possible weekend starters early on, but were still able to have their best year yet. Outside the Dylan Dusek, the Red Raider squad was completely different than the first team that went to Omaha. They also advanced to the winner’s bracket of the tournament for the first time ever and were ranked as high as No. 3.
They also have a rotation of great talent coming into Lubbock. Although last recruiting class wasn’t quite as good as years past, the Red Raider continually get the top talent around. Grant Little was one of the highest Texas Tech players ever drafted, Josh Jung became one of the best players in the game and Tim Tadlock was named coach of the year by D1baseball.com.
The baseball team has been absolutely outstanding the past five years. With their continuation of incoming talent and a great coach at the helm, they will continue to be good. They are probably the second best program at Texas Tech right now. But there is one that is better.
— Texas Tech Baseball (@TTU_Baseball) June 13, 2018
No. 1 Track and Field
|Finish||Best Meets||Top Performers|
|1st in Big 12; T5th overall at NCAA Tournament; One National Championship||Big 12 Championship Meet; NCAA Championship Meet||Divine Oduduru, Odaine Lewis, Trey Culver, Zarriea Willis|
Why They Were Chosen?: The Texas Tech Track and Field team is one of the best in the nation. Even though the team doesn’t have a national title yet, they consistently finish high at the NCAA Championships, are a threat to win the Big 12 every year and have Olympic athletes.
This season, the men’s track and field outdoor team took home the Big 12 title and were able to finish fifth place overall in the NCAA Championships. Divine Oduduru was the Big 12 athlete of the year for Track and Field and was the NCAA champion in the 200 meter dash.
Trey Culver had one of the best high jumps ever back in January during the Indoor Track and Field season. Zarriea Willis continued to impress for the women’s team. And Odaine Lewis, who is overlooked due to the accomplishments of Oduduru and Culver, medaled twice at the NCAA Championships.
The last two teams mentioned are in the eye of the public more, but the Track and Field team under Wes Kittley was continued to be great for several years now (longer than any other program) and consistently have guys competing on national stages outside of college.
Well, that’s it for our Texas Tech Top Ten lists this month. Hope it was a fun way to revisit all the awesome athletes, plays, games, moments and programs from the past season.
Now it’s early August. Football is starting back up, the Soccer and Volleyball teams are getting ready to go, and all year sports are continuing to practice. Who’s ready for another great year for Tech athletics. (By the way, it wouldn’t feel right unless we mentioned just how brilliant Kirby Hocutt has been. He built this).