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From Jim's Desk...Another year is done

UT Arlington AD Jim Baker.
 
UT Arlington AD Jim Baker.
 

June 23, 2014

As we say goodbye to 2013-14, let's pause to look back at what we accomplished on the playing field and in the classroom. This has been another special year for UT Arlington Athletics, and I couldn't be prouder of the successes of our student-athletes, coaches and entire staff.

Our first season in the Sun Belt Conference couldn't have started any better. Men's Cross Country won the Sun Belt championship back in November, setting in motion what would be a yearlong celebration. Men's Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field followed with league titles, completing the rare "Triple Crown" for the program. No school in the SBC had won the Triple Crown since Western Kentucky in 2008.

Head coach John Sauerhage completed his own Triple Crown by bringing home Sun Belt Conference Men's Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year honors. He previously secured the league accolades for men's cross country and men's indoor track. The 18-year coaching veteran has now amassed a total of 25 conference Coach of the Year awards between men's and women's cross country, as well as the indoor and outdoor track.

Congratulations are also in order for junior Clayton Vaughn on being named First-Team All-American in both the 100 meters and 200 meters. Clayton is one of just three athletes to advance to the NCAA final in both events, placing sixth in the 100m and eighth in the 200m. In doing so, he became the first Maverick to take home multiple All-America awards in individual events in the same season.

Vaughn also anchored the 4x100 relay team that earned Second-Team All-America recognition. The contingent of freshman Christian Clark, junior Cameron Newson, junior Quentin Butler and Vaughn placed 15th in the semifinals. The Mavericks had not had a 4x100 relay team honored since 2000, and Vaughn became the first UTA athlete to take home three All-America honors of any kind in one season.

Our baseball team improved as the season went on and really caught fire down the stretch. They reached the Sun Belt Conference championship game, putting a scare in eventual SBC champion and national seed Louisiana-Lafayette. Your Mavericks went 17-3 over their final 20 games to finish the season 33-26, including a 10-game winning streak going into the SBC Championship tilt.

Head coach Darin Thomas continues to attract top talent to UT Arlington, as we saw in the MLB Draft. A record six Mavericks were taken, including three in the top 10 rounds. UTA's all-time draft total is now up to 48. The six drafted players broke a single-season UTA record of four.

The roll call of Mavericks moving on to professional ball: Zach Thompson (5th round, Chicago White Sox), Greg McCall (9th, Milwaukee), Matt Shortall (10th, Philadelphia), Ryan Bottger (12th, Houston), Derek Miller (23rd, Boston) and Jess Amedee (27th, Pittsburgh).

We wish our new pros nothing but the best as they pursue their Major League dreams. Just as with every student-athlete who moves on, UT Arlington will always be home. There will always be a place for you here, which is one of the main reasons we've founded the Athletic Alumni Chapter. It's a wonderful organization committed to preserving their legacy and enhancing the future of other Mavericks.

UT Arlington placed sixth place in the Sun Belt Conference's final Bubas Cup all-sports standings. We earned 85.5 overall points, just 3.5 points shy of third-place Texas State. UTA also had solid finishes in men's golf (third), volleyball (fourth) and women's tennis (fourth). Our total is based on competing in 14 of the 17 sports sponsored by the Sun Belt. Each of the five teams that finished ahead of UTA competed in more sports.

The spring semester ended for us with the All Sports Banquet. The evening celebrates the many achievements of our student-athletes, and is more enjoyable with each passing year. We continue to make substantial academic progress. Both our spring and cumulative departmental GPAs were above 3.0. We had 111 student-athletes with a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the 2013-2014 academic year, 62 were on the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll (3.0–3.49) and 49 were on the Sun Belt Commissioner's List (3.5–4.0).

Accomplishments such as these cast our department and the University in a positive light. It's often said that athletics serves as a university's front door. We're making ours welcoming and inviting, so come on in!

In the new few weeks we should be releasing our finalized women's and men's basketball schedules, as well as season ticket information. Sun Belt Conference home games at College Park Center will feature doubleheaders Thursdays and Saturdays. Before we get to basketball, volleyball is on the horizon. The volleyball schedule and season ticket info is also coming soon.

Until the fall,

Jim Baker

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