We were in Orlando last week at the annual convention for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). It was great to see so many old friends and faces from across the nation and I loved telling them about the promise of the UNLV Rebels and what the future has in store for us in Las Vegas.
But for this update, I wanted to take the opportunity to look briefly to the recent past. Below is a quick list of some of the great accomplishments of our student-athletes, coaches and even our supporters this past year. We hope you are as proud of your Rebels as we are.
Mountain West Top Honors
This spring alone saw six different Rebels from five different sports receive Mountain West Conference Player of the Year honors:
- Mehdi Bouras, Men’s Tennis – Bouras finished 67th in the singles national rankings and second in the region. In doubles, Bouras and partner Bernard Schoeman finished 45th nationally and first in the Mountain Region.
- Derek Ernst, Men’s Golf – Ernst was also named to the PING All-West Region team for the season.
- Therese Koelbaek, Women’s Golf - Koelbaek, a four-time All-Mountain West Conference performer at UNLV, also won the MW championship.
- Ashli Holland, Softball - In league play, Holland hit .356 with eight extra base hits, including a team-high four home runs.
- Tanner Peters, Baseball - The 2011 Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Year – UNLV’s first in school history – was also the 13th Rebel to earn All-American honors.
- Cody Roberts, Men’s Swimming – Roberts was named the MW’s Men’s Swimmer of the Year after winning three individual titles.
Rebel Baseball reaches 30 wins
Led by new head coach Tim Chambers, UNLV Baseball reached 30+ wins for the first time since 2005. Junior pitcher Tanner Peters was named a Louisville Slugger
Third-Team All-American while Zack Hartman garnered Freshman All-America honors. In addition to Peters, the Rebels also saw Brandon Bayardi, Trent Cook and Trevor Kirk named to the All-Conference team. A strong recruiting class has us excited about the future of the program.
Young softball team on rise going into 2012
In Rebel Softball, freshman Amanda Oliveto became the first Rebel to toss a no-hitter in over 16 years … and she did it twice. The Rebel hurler shut down Cal Poly on March 27 and then tossed a second consecutive no-hitter in an April 1 victory over Seattle… The Rebels finished the season with 33 wins and were led by their four All-Conference performers, Tayler Aleman, Paige Emerson, Ashli Holland and Tayler Van Acker. Holland was also named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-West Region Second Team…. With five-straight wins to end the season, the Rebels finished second in conference while starting five freshmen.
Men’s, Women’s Golf reach NCAAs - again
Both the men’s and women’s golf programs continued to prove why they are some of the best in the country. Led by two-time National Coach of the Year Dwaine Knight, the men’s team recorded its 23rd consecutive appearance at an NCAA Regional, an NCAA record. Equally impressive, the women appeared in an NCAA regional for the ninth consecutive time in just 10 seasons as a program. First-year head coach Amy Bush did an outstanding job of leading our women and I know she’ll continue make that program and this university proud… Both teams also produced their sport’s respective conference golfer of the year in Derek Ernst and Therese Koelbaek, and Blake Biddle was named the league’s freshman of the year for men’s golf.
Tennis programs continue to shine
On the court, both the Rebel men’s and women’s tennis teams continued to impress. The women’s squad once again took home the regular-season championship with a perfect 8-0 mark and made its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships. Individually, Lucia Batta was named the Mountain West Conference’s Freshman of the Year while overall four different Rebels were named to the All-Conference team (Batta, Aleksandra Josifoska, Nives Pavlovic and Anna Maskaljun). On the men’s side, the Rebels claimed their highest year-end national ranking since 2005, finishing 60th in the final Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings.
All-Americans in Track & Field
The women’s track & field program capped what was an amazing year by sending juniors Amanda Bingson and Chelsea Cassulo to the NCAA National Championships earlier this month. The Rebels finished fourth and fifth respectively in the hammer throw, earning them both All-American status. Being an All-American is an AMAZING feat… We’d also be remised in not mentioning the stellar work of our cross-country team both on and off the trail. In the classroom last fall, five Rebel runners were named to the 2010 Fall Academic All-Mountain West team.
Rebel soccer programs start season strong
At the start of this athletic year, our men’s and women’s soccer programs got things started off right. For the women, first-year head coach Jen Klein became the youngest in all of Division I women’s soccer at 26 years of age. In her first season, she led the program to 11 wins (11-7-3; up from five wins the previous season) and is poised to build upon that success this coming fall... On the men’s side, Rebel alum Rich Ryerson has done an excellent job of leading a program on the rise. An outstanding fundraiser as well as a coach, Ryerson has kept his players poised on the field and in the classroom. Stefen Sifuentes was an NSCAA All-Region pick last season while three other members of the team were named to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Academic Squad (Scott Branson, Jaime Calvo and Zach Kupfer).
UNLV men’s swimming continues domination
Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs have continued to demonstrate why they’re regarded as some of the finest in the country. This season, eight men’s swimmers qualified for the 2011 NCAA Championships with five earning honorable mention All-American status. That success came on the heels of the team’s third overall regular season championship and seventh consecutive victory at the Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championship meet. On the academic side, Cody Roberts was voted to the Capital One Academic All-District VIII University Division At-Large Men's Second Team, while Anja Crawford was named to the At-Large Women's Second Team. Head coach Jim Reitz just wrapped up his 31st season the helm of both the men’s and women’s program and was named men’s swimming coach of the year… a tremendous feat without question.
Volleyball program makes change
In volleyball, the Rebels had four student-athletes named to the 2010 Fall Academic All-Mountain West Conference team (Sekola Falemaka, Kelsey Keeler, Sara Nehfand and Madeline Westman). Nehf, a senior in 2010, was also selected to the All-Conference team for the first time in her career … a terrific accomplishment and great way to end her playing career here at UNLV. The excitement for Rebel Volleyball is high entering 2011 as new head coach Cindy Fredrick gets set to make her debut. Fredrick brings 24 years of head coaching experience to the table including stops at Iowa and Washington State.
Lady Rebels continue progress
On the basketball court, sophomore Kelli Thompson received All-Mountain West Conference Honorable Mention honors. Thompson will return for the 2011-12 season to lead a program that proudly watched as five players crossed the podium for graduation this spring. Despite the loss of the seniors, the Lady Rebels will return a large number of players who received most of the minutes last year, including former Mountain West Freshman of the Year Jamie Smith.
Bobby Hauck begins to rebuild football program
On the football field, Bobby Hauck made his debut as the Rebels’ new head coach and his team battled through one of the Top 20 most difficult schedules in the nation (facing nine bowl teams). Bobby and his staff have already done an outstanding job of laying the groundwork for future success with two strong recruiting classes and developing a culture of success in the program… We’ll be one of the youngest teams in the nation next season, but that means there is a lot of excitement about the possibilities. The Rebels begin the year in prime time on ESPN, Thursday, Sept. 1 at Wisconsin. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT. The home opener is slotted for September 17 vs. Hawaii. We look forward to seeing you out at Sam Boyd Stadium next season as season tickets start as low as $75.
And, of course, our men’s basketball team capped another outstanding season in 2010-11 with 24 wins and its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past five seasons. In fact, the program has averaged over 25 wins a season the past five years… The Runnin’ Rebels will return seven players who averaged over 11 minutes a game last season (Oscar Bellfield, Justin Hawkins, Carlos Lopez, Anthony Marshall, Brice Massamba, Chace Stanback and Quintrell Thomas), including four starters for new head coach Dave Rice. Dave has been with us for over two months now and everyday he is making an impact on this program… It is truly a great time to be a Rebel and I think I speak for all us here when I say I can’t wait for the season to start. Let’s Run!
Winners in the classroom
With the recent release of the most up-to-date Academic Progress Rate (APR) data, 2009-10 was a record year for UNLV setting the one year APR high score of 979 and the four-year high mark of 977... In fact, nine of our 17 programs posted perfect one-year scores of 1000 in 2009-10: men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s swimming, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, cross country, women’s tennis, indoor track and outdoor track.
Rebel supporters continue to step up
And success this past year wasn’t just achieved by our student-athletes… The Rebel Athletic Fund grew by nearly 20% in both gifts as well as the number of members. Being a member of the RAF is crucial as we strive to help our student-athletes leave UNLV with a diploma in one hand and championships in the other… And our basketball team was once again in the Top 25 in attendance in the nation and No. 1 on the West Coast… Thank you, Rebel fans!
As you can tell, we had many amazing individual and team performances during the 2010-11 school year. But more importantly, these performances set us up for even bigger and better things during the 2011-12 year.
It is a GREAT time to be a Rebel, indeed.