Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oliver not drafted and other ACU notes

ABILENE -- In case you were waiting to hear ACU centerfielder Aaron Oliver's name callled in this week's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, you waited through 50 round and more than 1,500 picks without hearing his name called.

That means that the Lone Star Conference Player of the Year and first team all-America could be back at the top of the Wildcats' lineup in 2011.  Oliver could still decide to try and sign a free agent contract or go the independent league route if he doesn't want to return to school, which is a possibility.

Or he could come back to Abilene, get busy in summer school and work hard in the fall and be ready to go again in February when the Wildcats will once again try to get back to the NCAA Division II College World Series.  And after losing Willie Uechi, Chris Hall and Bret Bochsler, you think ACU head coach Britt Bonneau isn't a tad excited about the possibility of getting Oliver back at the top of the lineup?

A team that won 50 games this past season and reached the regional tournament championship game could be even better next year.  The season is still eight months away and the possibilities make you wish that February would hurry up and get here.

Other ACU notes:

* On Monday, July 7, a familiar face to ACU fans / alumni / lettermen returned to work in the athletics department as Vince Jarrett took on the role of associate director of athletics.  Vince coached the ACU golf team from 1985-2003 before returning to his alma mater at Houston where he was the head coach from 2003-10.  He'll be assisting director of athletics Jared Mosley with fundraising and special projects, joining director of athletics emeritus Wally Bullington in helping maintain the program's long-term viability.

* In case you missed it, former ACU head softball coach Chantiel Wilson was recently  hired as the new head coach at Drury University in Springfield, Mo.  The 2011 season will be just the fourth for the university's newest athletics program.

* ACU discus thrower Nick Jones -- who sat out the 2010 outdoor season after winning back-to-back national championships in 2008 and 2009 -- has been selected to represent the United States in the North American / Central American / Caribbean Under-23 Championships.  The event will be July 9-11 at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar, Fla.  Nick is the top-ranked age-eligible athlete in the discus in the United States.  We'll keep you updated on Nick's performance at the meet.

* Also, a little birdie told me not to count out Nick participating in football again in 2010.  It was originally thought that he had given up football in order to concentrate on track and a possible run at the U.S. Olympic Team in eithe r2012 or 2016.  But after some further consideration, a return to the gridiron in 2010 isn't out of the question.  Stay tuned.

* Former ACU tight end Kendrick Holloway is back in the football program as he takes over as the Wildcats' running backs coach for 2010.  Kendrick replaces Keith Wagner, who was at ACU for one season as running backs coach.  Keith is now the running backs coach and strength and conditioning coordinator at Winston-Salem State University.

* Also on the football coaching staff, former Gene Upshaw Award-winning center Sam Collins will coach the defensive line, replacing Clayton Farrell, who is now coaching at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville.

* With Alex Guiton having moved on from the women's basketball coaching staff (she was the grad assistant the last two years), Jamie Meyer is stepping in as the graduate assistant this year.  She could be joined by Kat Kundmueller, but Kat had an interview for the assistant coaching position at Faulkner University in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday.

* Doing a little bit of research earlier today and stumbled on this number:  the ACU women's tennis team has now recorded 30 straight winning seasons (1981-2010), including 12 straight 20-win seasons (1999-2010). Congratulations to head coach Hutton Jones for keeping those streaks alive, and next year he could field maybe the two best teams he's had in his long tenure at ACU.  Should be fun to watch the Wildcats on the courts in 2010-11.

* The ACU volleyball team, which somehow has won 55 matches the last two seasons and yet hasn't been invited to the regional tournament, is taking steps to make sure that doesn't happen in 2011.  If the Wildcats don't win the Lone Star Conference Tournament -- and don't think they aren't a strong favorite to make that happen given that they have every starter returning -- they'll have to count on an at-large bid.  The Wildcats are headed straight into the lions' den to try and up their strength of schedule in 2010 as they're scheduled to play six MIAA teams this year.  If this team wins close to or more than 30 matches in 2010 and doesn't find a way into the regional tournament then the NCAA needs to blow up its ranking system and start over.  I've got a sneaking suspicion, however, that it won't come down to that.

* In some housecleaning news around the sports information office, Phillip Dowden -- who served as an intern last year -- has been hired full-time as the Assistant Director of Athletics Media Relations.  Lance Fleming has been promoted to Assistant Director of Athletics for Media Relations.  Michael Bacon will also return to help us during the year as will a few others who make things work in our office.  Looking forward to another great year in ACU athletics.

* And, finally, a huge thank you to Chuck Statler for his more than 15 years of service as the Wildcats' color commentator for football broadcasts.  After serving as the color commentator on road football contests for the last three years, part of my new duties are to do the same for home games.  So, for better or worse, the Grant Boone-Lance Fleming Show will roll on from both home and road games.  We're working on some exciting new additions to ACU football broadcasts, and we'll keep you informed of those during the summer.

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