The Rice Thresher, Vol. 90, No. 28, Ed. 1 Friday, April 25, 2003 Page: 16 of 20
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THE RICE THRESHER SPORTS FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2003
Men host meet tonight
by Dylan Hedrick
THRESHER EDITORIAL STAFF
While the weather in Houston
may have been less than perfect
for a holiday weekend, the men's
track and field team enjoyed more
than just the beautiful weather in
two meets in California.
This weekend, the Owls are
hoping to build off of their strong
performances in California by
competing at home in their sec-
ond and last home meet of the
season. Tonight's Rice Twilight
Meet will include local rivals
Texas A&M University, the Uni-
versity of Louisiana at Lafayette
and sixth-ranked Louisiana State
"It was a great meet last year
with some great performances,''
head coach Jon Warren said.
"This year, it should be a fairly
short meet. The schedule is set
up for an exciting chain of
events, and there shouldn't be a
long delay between events. We
[need] to have the fans out there
and see just how good the
[freshman] Luke Stadels,
[freshman] Bhansen Millers
and [junior] Adam Davises are.
They are some of the best ath-
letes on campus, but most
people don't even know about
The Owls competed in the
Mount San Antonio Community
College Relays in Walnut, Calif.,
and the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational
Meet in Claremont, Calif. Other
runners who did not travel to Cali-
fornia stayed at home to compete
in the Houston Invitational at the
University of Houston.
At the Mt. SAC Relays, senior
Vaughaligan Walwyn regionally
qualified in the long jump by
jumping 24 feet, 5 3/4 inches.
Walwyn had taken the previous
two weeks off from competition
to rest his hamstring and said he
was happy to qualify in his first
"I took a few weeks off to get
some treatment and get my legs
back underneath me," Walwyn
said. "It's better now, and they
feel strong. These next couple
of weeks will be important for
showing what we can do at
Rice also enjoyed strong per-
formances from their 800-meter
run squad. Junior Adam Davis
tuned up his 800-meter race for
the regionals by finishing fifth in
one minute, 50.07 seconds. Jun-
ior Daniel Pessing finished 20th
in 1:51.32—the third fastest time
in the Western Athletic Confer-
ence this season.
At the Pomona-Pitzer Meet,
junior Erik Mazza crossed the
line in 1:52.23, and sophomore
Aaron Redman knocked four sec-
onds off of his season-best time
by finishing in 1:52.63. Senior
Jeremy LaBuff cut his previous
time by 17 seconds in the 800-
meters by finishing in 1:53.63.
Also at Pomona-Pitzer, senior
Keith Pierce improved his 1,500-
meter run time to 3:52.93, rank-
ing him fourth best in the confer-
ence. Back in Houston, sopho-
more Matt Davis earned seventh
in the 1,500-meters, while senior
Craig Dos Santos took tenth in
In the field events, sophomore
Jason Powell earned sixth place
in the triple jump at Mt. SAC,
jumping a distance of 49-7.
"[Powell] had a good perfor-
mance," Warren said. "His knee
started bugging him a bit
though, and he will probably be
off [from competition] until con-
Freshman Luke Stadel con-
tinued to show improvement at
Pomona-Pitzer with a discus toss
of 160-0 and a shot put throw of
"[Stadel] set a personal
record in the discus by throw-
ing 160 feet," Warren said. "That
throw qualified him for the Jun-
ior National Track and Field
Championships to be held the
week after the NCAA Champi-
After this weekend of com-
petition at home, the Owls will
travel to the Texas A&M All-
Comers meet May 8 as a tune
up for the WAC Outdoor Cham-
pionships in El Paso May 11-14.
Rice's regional qualifying run-
ners will head to the NCAA Re-
gional Championships May 30-31
to attempt to earn a spot at the
NCAA Outdoor Championship
Meet held June 11-14.
Owls hope to get back on track
by Jonathan Yardley
THRESHER EDITORIAL STAFF
Mired in its seemingly annual
late-April slump, the baseball team
will try to right itself this weekend
against Louisiana Tech University
in its final series before a 10-day
break for final exams.
The teams squared off last night
in the first game of the series, which
continues tonight at 7 p.m. and to-
morrow at 2 p.m. at Reckling Park.
Rice did win its weekend series
against the University of Nevada, the
chief challenger to die Owls in the
Western Athletic Conference, but
Sunday's 6-5 loss and a 9-5 setback
Tuesday against Lamar University
have the Owls reeling once again.
In recent games, Rice's stellar
pitching has not lived up to expecta-
tions, as the starting pitchers have
been unable to maintain the season-
long trend of pitching deep into
ballgames. Sophomore righthander
Jeff Niemann was the only Owl
starter to reach the sixth inning last
week, running his consecutive score-
less inning streak to 29 1/3 with a
complete-game shutout of the Wolf
Pack. The 6-foot-9 Niemann was 5-1
last year as Rice's fourth starter, but
he has developed into an ace in 2003,
tying North Carolina State's Vern
Sterry with a 10-0 record, the best in
the country. Ironically, head coach
Wayne Graham said Lamar head
coach Jim Gilligan helped Niemann
..nprove in the offseason.
"I'm very confident in what I do,
but Lamar's Jim Gilligan is a friend
of mine, and I've always thought he
was a really good pitching coach,"
Graham said. "I'm the one that told
Niemann he had to have a slider and
that he had to take care of his body,
but we needed some help with the
arm action. [Gilligan] recommended
a couple of things, and then [volun-
teer assistant coach] Zane [Curry
(Baker '02)] worked on it, and
[Curry]'s followed through with it."
Graham said Niemann's arm
movement is just one of several major
"He's improved his arm action,
and he's gotten in better shape, so his
velocity has gone up," Graham said.
"He always had pretty good control.
Experience has obviously gone up,
so every category has gone up."
Niemann's shutout in Rice's 3-0
win Saturday was not only the first of
his career, but it allowed the 2003
Owls to tie the school record with
now available in the
In Rice Village
Large one topping pizza
One two liter Coke"
After 9 p.m.
Large one topping pizza
One two liter Cokec"J
We support Rice athletics.
••• •'• V : • ■ ' .
. • w ; •
Junior third baseman Craig Stansberry throws out a runner on a spectacular
barehanded play against Nevada Saturday at Reckling Park.
their eighth shutout of the season,
equaling the mark set by the 1981
and 1984 teams.
Rice's other pitchers have not been
able to match Niemann's excellence.
Every other pitcher has had at least
one bad outing in the recent two-
week stretch that has seen the Owls'
record drop from 33-1 to 37-7. Rice
has dropped from the unanimous
choice as the top-ranked team in the
nation to the third-ranked team in
three of the four polls.
Senior catcher Justin Ruchti said
the bad outings happened to hit the
Rice pitching staff at the same time.
"I think our pitchers, like every-
one else, are mortal," Ruchti said.
"Every once in a while, no matter
how good your stuff is, somebody's
going to hit it. You can't be perfect
all the time. I think we've been a
little spoiled with how good our
pitching has been."
The team ERA, still ranked fourth
nationally, has increased from 2.16
on April 9 to 2.55 after Tuesday's
loss. Rice led the nation in ERA last
season with a 2.79 mark.
Ruchti said the series against Li.
Tech is a chance to break out of the
"[The key] is just to put what's
happened these last couple weeks
behind us and not worry about what
the polls say," Ruchti said. "I still
think we're one of the better teams
in the nation, [so we'll] come out and
try to take all three from
La. Tech — these are important
games for us."
The Bulldogs are 13-24-1 on the
season and are currently fifth in the
six-team WAC with a 6-12 confer-
"They're not having a good year,
but they're dangerous because
they've got four pitchers who throw
well," Graham said. "They also have
decent players — their shortstop is
one of the best in the league. I guar-
antee you they're as good as Sam
Houston State, and [Sam Houston
beat us] 8-1."
Rice swept I>a. Tech March 7-9 in
Ruston, I.a., but the first two games
were close encounters before a Sun-
day blowout. The Owls have won 17
consecutive WAC series following
last weekend against Nevada.
Although sophomore righthander
Philip Humber did not last long Fri-
day night, freshman lefthander Colin
Matheny and sophomore righthander
Wade Townsend combined for
61/3 innings of four-hit relief, giving
up no earned runs and striking out 10
batters. Matheny got his second ca-
reer win, and Townsend earned his
fourth save of the season.
The Owl bats woke up in the sixth
and seventh innings to score seven
runs, rallying from a 4-3 deficit for a
10-5 win. Senior designated hitter
Dane Bubela had a career-high four
hits in the win. After Niemann pow-
ered Saturday's win, Sunday's 6-5 loss
was especially painful.
Senior righthander Steven Herce,
still recovering from shoulder sore-
ness that caused him to miss the first
half of the season, could not hold a
5-3 lead in a turbulent seventh inning.
Herce was replaced after walking in
the tying run on a contentious
3-2 pitch before being ejected by
home plate umpire Steve Mattingly
for arguing from the dugout.
Wolf Pack second baseman Ryan
Strain caused some controversy by
allowing himself to be hit by a Herce
pitch that just missed the inside
corner, incensing the entire Rice
dugout. Nevada reliever Zachary
Basch was masterful to earn the
victory, allowing just one hit in the
final five innings.
"I didn't think [Herce] ever
pitched badly," Graham said.
"Things went haywire when he hit
[Strain] in [his] second inning. I'm
determined that as long as [Herce]
is motivated, and his arm doesn't
hurt, that if he comes all the way
back, we're much better."
The Owls can hope that things
came full circle Tuesday night, as a
charged-up I^amar team beat Rice
9-5 in Beaumont 13 days after the
Cardinals ended the Owls' 30-game
winning streak at Reckling Park.
"It just seems like nothing really
is clicking right now," Ruchti said. "I
think [Lamar is] one of the better
teams we've played. [The Cardinals]
have a good lineup, and they have
solid pitching, and the way that they
play us is they usually mix the pitch-
ers up quite a bit. I think they found
a couple guys who were effective
and stuck with them, and we didn't
make many adjustments."
The Baha'f Faith
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Berenson, Mark. The Rice Thresher, Vol. 90, No. 28, Ed. 1 Friday, April 25, 2003, newspaper, April 25, 2003; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth398435/m1/16/?q=april%202003: accessed October 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.