Men’s sports at Ouachita this year were full of ups and downs, but thankfully mostly ups. Many men’s teams advanced to the playoffs in their respective sports, and many even boasted All-Americans.
Men’s baseball at time of writing has an overall record of 14-31, with a mark of 11-19 in GAC play. At this point, the team sits at ninth in the Great American Conference, with the top eight teams advancing to the conference tourney. Highlights include a complete game shutout beauty pitched by left-handed pitcher John-Franklin Matros against nationally ranked Southern Arkansas University on March 31st and a 11-10 slugfest against the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm. The game featured a total of 29 hits and 6 errors.
Men’s basketball finished a perfect .500 overall and in conference. Overall, the Tigers battled to a 14-14 record and an 11-11 mark in Great American Conference play. Senior Lakee Westbrook was named to the first team All-GAC, while Justin McCleary earned honorable mention and Aitor Lopez-Breton was named a Crafton Tull Distinguished Scholar Athlete. Westbrook, a senior from Shannon, Mississippi, finished fourth in the GAC in scoring and led the team in four offensive categories. McCleary lead the team in scoring, while Lopez-Breton earned a 3.959 GPA.
Men’s football earned an overall mark of 7-4, culminating in a 30-27 win over Henderson State in the Battle of the Ravine. Redshirt junior quarterback Kyle Warford was was extremely proud of his team’s performance in the game.
“This past Battle of the Ravine felt different. We had lost key players to injury all season long, and it seemed like nobody was giving us a chance to win. We were the underdogs, but we liked it that way. I remember us having a great week of practice and everybody was dialed in on the coaching scheme of things. Offensively, we knew if we wanted a chance to win, we had to dominate 3rd down. Quarterback Lucas Reed moved the chains all game and kept the offense clicking. With me being injured and unable to perform, it was like watching a chess match. The first half was a back and forth battle,” Warford said. Other than Battle of the Ravine, another highlight was an overtime 40-37 win over Southern Arkansas for Homecoming.
The men’s soccer team finished the year with an overall record of 10-8 and a mark of 3-3 in conference play. Tyler Mouton, a junior from Flower Mound, Texas, was chosen as the sole All-American from the GAC. Mouton is also a captain on the squad, and was proud of the effort his team put forth.
“My team and I performed well this year. We started off great, winning important games against ranked schools. In the middle of the year, first weekend of conference, we hit a rough patch of games. We soon turned it around to end the year on a high note,” the junior All-American said.
The men’s swimming team finished a rebuilding year with a record of 1-4, taking a victory at Rhodes College. The team graduated many seniors, but a high note was Alexander Podguzov, a sophomore chemistry major from Moscow, Russia. Podguzov made his second trip to Division II National Swimming and Diving Championships in Birmingham, Alabama. Podguzov finished 25th nationally in the 200 Y backstroke and 19th nationally in the 100 Y backstroke.
Men’s tennis took a small step back, accruing a 5-14 overall record with a 2-2 mark in conference. Luis Schab, a sophomore from Oberhausen, Germany, Lennard Lonnema, and Juan Moncada, a freshman from Resistencia, Argentina all earned All-GAC honors.
The wrestling team finished with an overall record of 4-9. The team did not boast any All-Americans, but head coach Todd Allen is optimistic about the next season.
Men’s sports at Ouachita had a generally positive year, with some very notable bright spots. Between All-Conference players, scholar athletes, amazing performances and even an All-American, Ouachita fans will rejoice to find that prospects for men’s sports in the coming years are looking up. Ouachita men’s athletics will continue to be a contender, through any adversity.
by Chris DiGiovanni, Sports editor