As the 2014 calendar year comes to an end at The Houstonian, the sports staff decided to highlight some of the top moments in Sam Houston State sports from January until now. Sports Editor Jeremy Villanueva and senior reporter Shawn McFarland compiled the award winners and nominees from a wide selection of successful Bearkat athletes, coaches and teams. Congratulations to those featured. It was a tough selection.
Sam Houston State’s bowling brought home the first NCAA Division I national championship for the school after defeating University of Nebraska in April. The Kats defeated the Cornhuskers in 4-2 fashion to win the championship in the team’s fourth year as a team. Being split 2-2 after four games, SHSU was able to break away in the fifth game with a 205-191 victory. SHSU finished Nebraska with a roll from graduated senior Kimi Davidson, the team’s first recruit.
For the third straight season, SHSU claimed the Southland Conference championship. The Kats went on to the NCAA Regional Final for the second time in the last three seasons.
The Kats won their first SLC tournament since 1994 in April to top an impressive season for SHSU. In his first season with the Bearkats, now senior Zach Cabra won individual honors while graduated senior Albert Miner finished closely behind tied for fourth.
In just the fourth season of the program’s existence, head coach Brad Hagen was able to capture the NCAA National Championship for SHSU’s first Division I championship. Hagen has built the team since its birth and has advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight in three out of the team’s four seasons. He only returns three players to his 2014-15 squad. The Kats opened the fall season with a third place finish at the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawk Classic before garnering two second place finishes in the fall.
Hooten led his Bearkat squad to the Southland Conference championship game and was one win away from punching SHSU’s ticket to March Madness.
Taking reigns on the SHSU football team, Keeler turned around a 1-3 start on the season to claim the co-SLC championship and an automatic berth in the FCS playoffs.
Transfer of the Year
Jabari Peters. Transferring from Seward County Community College last season, Peters started all 35 games for the Bearkats and finished the season with the best scoring average for SHSU at 12.6 points per game. His leading performance won him the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year award and marked him down for a preseason All-SLC honor heading into the 2014-15 season. He was also named to the SLC-All Tournament team after leading the Bearkats to the championship game against Stephen F. Austin State.
Ransom joined Peters in the transfer from Seward County Community College to SHSU. He finished second in scoring for SHSU and was a third-team All-SLC selection.
Donovan Williams/Jalen Overstreet
The running back transfers have totaled for 1219 yards and 14 touchdowns to backup senior running back Keshawn Hill. Williams comes from ASA college while Overstreet is a transfer from University of Texas.
Wells-Gibson began the volleyball season with her 1,000th kill during the preseason and ranks in the top 10 in all-time SHSU kills. Wells-Gibson became the second SHSU volleyball player to earn first team all-Southland Conference honors three years in a row. Wells-Gibson led all Bearkats in every match of the season. Wells-Gibson recorded 532 kills, averaging 4.79 kills per set, 43 aces and 22 assists. Defensively, Wells-Gibson recorded 315 digs, totaled 35 solo and assisted blocks and recorded 597 points in the 2014 season.
Keshawn Hill (football)
A member selected to the All-Southland Conference offensive first team, Hill is the only Bearkat to net over 1000 rushing yards this season and has 20 total touchdowns.
Anthony Azar (baseball)
Azar led all Bearkats batting with a .368 average and 86 hits, nine home runs, and a .543 slugging percentage. Azar was selected as the SHSU baseball student-athlete of the year and the All-Region first team.
Twenty-Two inning SHSU-TCU NCAA Fort Worth Regionals
Sam Houston and TCU met in the NCAA Fort Worth Regionals in the 2013-14 baseball playoffs. Although SHSU lost the game, the 22-inning playoff match that lasted six hours and 45 minutes ended as the longest game in SHSU history and the second longest in NCAA postseason history. Twice during the game, base runner interference was called on the Bearkats that would end up costing the game for them. In the bottom of the 21st inning with one out and bases loaded, graduated senior Travis Lee hit a grounder to short stop as the Horned Frogs attempted a double play, but senior Luke Plucheck was called for runner interference to cancel the run that was scored. Nearly 600 pitches were thrown between the two teams from 13 pitchers.
SHSU-Nicholls St. 51-50 buzzer beater (women’s basketball)
SHSU senior guard nailed a game winning three-pointer as time expired to give the Kats their first Southland Conference win of the season.
SHSU-McNeese State 38-22 (football)
SHSU pulled the upset over number four FCS ranked McNeese as sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson broke the highest single game rushing record for a quarterback, a record from 1990. The Kats would go 6-1 the rest of the season to become co-SLC champions.
P.J. Hall (football)
The redshirt freshman played the first five games of the season with a broken hand, yet somehow proved to be an early leader of the Bearkat defense. Hall was added to the Jerry Rice award watch list mid-season, an award given to the top freshman in the FCS. Three SLC Defensive Player of the Week awards and a National defensive player of the week following the Kats win over Southeastern Louisiana, Hall added an All-Southland Football Team honor to his resume in his young career. Hall recorded 70 total tackles, 26 of those for a loss, 9 sacks, four blocked field goals, three forced fumbles, and one interception.
Allie Johnson (soccer)
Johnson led all Kats with eight goals in the 2014 season and tied for second with three assists totaling 19 points. Johnson recorded the highest shot percentage and a .488 shots on goal percentage after scoring only one goal in her first season.
Sam Odom (baseball)
As a freshman, Odom finished the season 10-2 with a 2.61 era as the only Bearkat to record double digit wins. Batters facing Odom hit .218, the lowest of the three-man starting rotation and Odom added 28 strike outs, the third highest of the team.