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- 2009 football outlook
- Ground broken for golf complex
- Chattanooga Athletics Highlights
- Mocs golfers score big seasons
- UTC Bass Anglers win big at SCBFS Championship Tournament
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is about to begin its 102nd year of college football and, led by first-year head coach Russ Huesman, is on a mission to “Restore the Glory” to the proud program. Huesman has first-hand knowledge of the glory years of Chattanooga football after a standout career with the Mocs from 1978-81 that included two Southern Conference Championships in 1978 and 1979.
Huesman comes to UTC with 25 years of college coaching experience, spending the last five as the defensive coordinator at the University of Richmond. His coaching prowess was on hand for all of Chattanooga to see in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national title game at Finley Stadium on December 19, 2008. The Spider’s defense held the Montana Grizzlies to just 39 yards rushing and seven points in a 24-7 win for Richmond.
Three days later, a capacity crowd jammed into the Stadium Club at Finley Stadium to watch Huesman’s introduction as the team’s 22nd head coach.
Huesman hit the ground running immediately after being hired. Within days he had put together an impressive staff of assistant coaches and pulled together a strong 15-member recruiting class. Despite only having a few weeks to recruit, Huesman’s first class at UTC was ranked No. 9 in the FCS by Rivals.com. The Signing Day event at Smokey Bones Restaurant drew another capacity crowd.
Over 100 fans showed up for both of the team’s informal spring scrimmages during the month-long drills and over 1,100 were in attendance for the Spring Game at Finley Stadium. Season ticket sales are up from this time last year and fans throughout the city and region are anticipating the home opener against Glenville State on Thursday, September 3 at 7 p.m.
After a strong spring season, Huesman is looking for the Mocs to continue to improve during the summer months and be ready for training camp in August. “Obviously in the spring I thought we got better and we improved in a lot of areas,” stated Huesman. “I have said this for a long time and I really believe that summer is important. The kind of effort they put in during the summer will go a long way in how we do in the fall.”
As is always the case, the offense begins with the quarterback position where the Mocs are talented and deep with experience. Seniors Jare Gault and Tony Pastore both saw significant time under center last season. However, the addition of Tennessee transfer and Chattanooga native B.J. Coleman makes the QB race wide open. Coleman, who will be a sophomore and have three years of eligibility remaining, brings with him Division I experience at a high level and a significant prep resume that includes Tennessee Mr. Football honors and a four-star rating from various recruiting services. Junior Cody Romans and incoming freshmen Zach Fairchild and Graham Nichols will also be competing at the quarterback position.
“Jare had a really good spring and B.J. Coleman brings a lot to the table,” explained Huesman. “When we start evaluating quarterbacks, there is going to be a lot of competition which should make everyone better.”
Probably the most talented group on the field for the Mocs in 2009 will be the defensive secondary. Boasting six returning lettermen, the Mocs will have speed and experience to lead the defensive unit. Junior Buster Skrine and sophomore Chris Lewis-Harris will hold down the cornerback positions while sophomores J.D. Dothard and Jordan Tippit will be the starting safeties. Lewis-Harris led the team with three interceptions last season while Skrine had 48 tackles on the year. Dothard started all 12 games in 2008 with Tippit adding 37 tackles in 10 games for the Mocs. Backing up the corners are senior Chris Blanson and sophomore Joel Bradford. Incoming freshman Briant Henry, D.J. Key and Kadeem Wise will also be fighting for playing time in their first year in the program.
“I really like the secondary,” added Huesman. “They are young, athletic, can run and are fearless back there. If they continue to work hard we have the potential to be really good in the secondary.”
UTC will kick-off the season on Thursday, September 3, against the Glenville State Pioneers at 7 p.m. (E.D.T.) in Finley Stadium. GSC finished the 2008 season ranked No. 25 in the NCAA Division II national polls. The Mocs continue their home schedule the following week with a match-up against Southern Conference foe, Furman. Chattanooga steps out of conference play the next week with a trip to Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., on September 19. UTC closes out the month of September with its third home game, welcoming Wofford on September 26. Following the open weekend, the Mocs begin a three-game road swing with a trip to Samford on October 10, Georgia Southern on October 17 and Elon on Oct. 24. Chattanooga returns home against Western Carolina on October 31 before visiting Appalachian State on Nov. 7. Senior Day for the Mocs will be November 14 against The Citadel at Finley Stadium with the regular season concluding at Alabama on November 21.
“I love the Thursday night game with Glenville State,” exclaimed Huesman. “They are going to be better than most people think and should be an exciting home opener for us. Hopefully people can make it out to Finley Stadium for the opener and help to set the tone for the rest of the season.”
Head Coach Russ Huesman
Senior Captain Clint Woods in spring 2009
UTC, the City of Chattanooga and The First Tee of Chattanooga broke ground on the Player Development Complex, a joint venture that will not only benefit junior golf in Chattanooga, but also provide a comprehensive practice facility for the men’s and women’s golf programs at UTC.
“In the spirit of our metropolitan mission, which is centered on partnerships, we are pleased to partner with the City of Chattanooga and The First Tee of Chattanooga on this project,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Rick Hart. “The Player Development Complex will have a major impact on junior golf in the area as well as our nationally-ranked golf teams. This facility will give our student-athletes a much-needed practice home and enhance their college experience at UTC. We are proud to be a part of this team effort.”
Chancellor Roger Brown stressed the benefits to the Chattanooga golf programs as well as the impact athletics participation has on the lives of the youth in the area.
“Once again, UTC students will be benefitting from a remarkable partnership with our community,” added Dr. Brown. “We are appreciative to The First Tee and the City of Chattanooga for their support and leadership in this effort and look forward to a fruitful relationship. Our golfers will gain critical practice experience to further already outstanding programs, and local young people will learn the discipline and sportsmanship values that are at the heart of athletic participation.”
Situated on 28 acres, The Player Development Complex sets a new standard in the golf learning center experience. Anchored by its 10-acre, double-sided practice range, the facility will boast four auxiliary short game practice areas, a three-hole practice course and a dedicated practice area for the Chattanooga’s nationally-ranked men’s and women’s golf teams.
With distinct areas designated for instruction, numerous groups can be stationed simultaneously throughout the facility. Additionally, students can move through the various areas, mastering each station and then moving on to the next phase of development. A total examination of one’s game is possible at The Player Development Complex.
This will be a component in the vital work provided by The First Tee whose mission is to help children from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds assimilate valuable life skills, leadership characteristics and The First Tee Nine Core Values while learning to play the game of golf.
“In my mind's eye, I can see the practice areas busy with children practicing their golf skills and The First Tee of Chattanooga programs being held with parents assisting or watching from the nearby shade,” said The First Tee of Chattanooga Executive Director Kathleen McCarthy. “At the other end of the facility, the UTC teams will be fine tuning their skills in preparation for another great year of competition.
“Many individuals in the community, in government and with The First Tee of Chattanooga and UTC have come together to create a facility that will serve children and young adults for decades to come,” she added. “We are pleased to be part of this collaborative effort.”
The on-going partnership between the University and the City of Chattanooga was an important element in furthering this project.
A 16,000-square foot putting green and a nearly 8,000-square foot chipping green form the short game area. The massive putting green will simulate all types of putting challenges typically found on course. It can also be set up as a nine-hole putting course. The chipping green is designed for simple chips and bunker shots, played from close proximity to the green. All shots played in this area will improve control and finesse around the greens.
The practice range will be contoured for definition with five target greens shaped to simulate real greens. They will be positioned at 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 yards, respectively. Having practice shots appear like actual golf course situations will enable better focus for golfers during their practice times resulting in more useful sessions.
Framed between the target greens is the driving grid, designed to The First Tee specifications for driving mastery, the grid widens as it adds length.
The expansive main range can be overwhelming to a new or young golfer, resulting in a tendency to over swing for distance, rather than concentrating on developing sound fundamentals. With target greens at 50, 75, 100 and 125 yards, a properly scaled area has been created for the new golfer. Not only will this area benefit the kids, it is the perfect spot to work on honing wedge skills for the better golfer.
Flanked by two bunkers and defined with a fairway approach, the pitching area allows short game practice from 100 yards and in. All aspects of the short game can be fine tuned in this area designed to improve the participant’s ability to score around the greens.
While all of the practice facilities will be available for use, an additional short game area will be designed behind the far end range tee. This area will feature two practice bunkers and a closely mown chipping area for short game development. A fairway bunker will be positioned on the right side of the far end tee as well. Small target bumps have been positioned on the far end of the range to facilitate fine tuning from 100 yards and in.
At the far end of the range, space has been set aside for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s golf program. A clubhouse, practice tee, short game area and bent grass green are planned. Key to swing development is the ability to practice in a variety of wind conditions. With teeing areas at both ends of the range and a triangular –shaped, three-hole course, golf team members will be able to set up practice sessions that recreate all potential tournament situations.
The greens at The Player Development Complex will be surfaced with one of the premier Ultra dwarf Bermuda grasses. Traveling to tournaments throughout the country, the golf teams will encounter many different types of grasses. An A-1 bent-grass green will be built adjacent to the UTC Clubhouse.
The Player Development Complex will also feature a three-hole course with two par threes and a short par four. The design encourages learning in playing a variety of distances with multiple tees to provide a well-rounded practice experience.
Six Southern Conference Championship Teams
- Women’s Cross Country
- Men’s Basketball
- North Division
- Women’s Basketball
- Regular Season
- Regular Season
- Men’s Golf
- Regular Season
Nine Teams Represented at the NCAA Regional and Championships
- Men’s Cross Country
- Women’s Cross Country
- Men’s Basketball
- Men’s Golf
- Women’s Golf
- Men’s Track & Field
- Women’s Track & Field
Four Southern Conference Athletes of the Year
- Emmanuel Kirwa, Cross Country
- Cody Cleveland, Wrestling
- Shanara Hollinquest, Women’s Basketball
- Lara Newberry, Volleyball Libero of the Year
Three Southern Conference Coaches of the Year
- Bill Gautier, Women’s Cross Country
- Frank Reed, Softball
- Chris Bono, Wrestling
In just its second season of competition, the UTC Women’s Golf team made a strong imprint on the national golf scene.
The Chattanooga Lady Mocs finished the year ranked No. 44 in both the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings Index and Golfstat Rankings. The Lady Mocs were highest ranked team in the Southern Conference, but that doesn’t begin to tell the tale.
The Lady Mocs took full advantage of an at large bid to the NCAA Central Regional. As the No. 16 seed, Chattanooga earned a place in the NCAA Finals finishing eighth on the demanding Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio. The NCAA Finals appearance was the first in the history of for the UTC golf program.
Sophomore Emma de Groot and freshman Maria Salinas earned All-SoCon honors this season with Salinas following de Groot as the league’s Freshman of the Year. Maria Juliana Loza joined Salinas on the All-Freshman team.
Overall, it was a great year for Chattanooga women’s golf. And with a starting lineup that featured two sophomores and three freshmen, the future is bright.
The Chattanooga men’s golf team made history throughout the 2008-09 season as the Mocs continued to set new standards for the teams that follow. This year’s edition earned the school’s first No. 1 ranking in the Division I era and made its first NCAA Finals appearance.
On the way to the NCAA Finals, the Mocs won their third straight Southern Conference Championship and berth in NCAA Regionals. This year’s squad finished third at the South Central Regional in Stillwater, Okla., to advance to the first NCAA Men’s Golf Championship appearance in school history.
Early in the season, the Mocs were ranked No. 1 in the country in the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings Index. For the year, Chattanooga registered 20 wins over top 25 programs in 2008-09 as it finished the year ranked No. 25.
Stephan Jaeger, Ben Rickett, and Derek Rende were named to the All-Southern Conference team with Jaeger claiming Freshman of the Year honors.
All-in-all, it was a banner year for the Mocs…one that is just a sign of things to come.
Chattanooga’s Guhne Earns Region Honor
Men’s golf coach Mark Guhne (pronounced June) was named the Eaton/Golf Pride East Region Coach of the Year as announced Monday by the Golf Coaches Association of America. It is the first such honor in Guhne’s career.
Guhne led Chattanooga to its third straight Southern Conference Championship and berth in NCAA Regionals. This year’s squad finished third at the South Central Regional in Stillwater, Okla., to advance to the first NCAA Men’s Golf Championship appearance in school history.
After starting out in third place after day one, the Mocs ended their 2008-09 season with an 18th-place finish at the NCAA Finals at famed Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. The three-time SoCon Coach of the Year was succinct in summing up the award.
“It was a great season, and this is a tremendous honor,” said Guhne. “You have to point to our student-athletes, because of the dedication they placed into making it such a memorable year for our school and fans.”
Joining Guhne among the honorees include Greg Nye of Penn State (Northeast), Nick Clinard of UCF (Southeast), Illinois’ Mike Small (Midwest) and Matt Thurmond of Washington (West). Oklahoma State’s Mike McGraw was the recipient of the Dave Williams Award as national coach of the year.
In a field of 96 different anglers from 21 different schools, UTC Bass Anglers earned a fourth place finish at the recent Southern Collegiate Bass Fishing Series (SCBFS) Championship Tournament, beating Virginia Tech, University of Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and UT-Knoxville. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was also the highest placing Tennessee school in a group that included Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech, Freed-Hardeman, UT-Martin, and UT-Knoxville.
The UTC Bass Anglers, a club sport, is run and governed by the students in the club. Club dues generate most of the club’s budget with additional assistance from outside sponsors. Recently, the Mocs Bass Anglers have found local sponsors in Chattanooga Bakery, makers of MoonPie; Chattanooga Fish-N-Fun, a Ranger boat dealership and tackle store near Chester Frost Park in Hixson; as well as Joe Burns Custom Rods in Cleveland according to Alex Craw. Craw founded the UTC Bass Anglers in October 2008.
“One weekend night, I woke up very early and saw that there was a college bass fishing tournament on ESPN. I saw teams from around the Southeast and just knew that I wanted to start a team here at UTC,” Craw said. “The club started off with six members but has since grown to over twenty. Almost every day I either get an email or a phone call from an interested student wanting more information on the club or how they can get involved with the team.”
To qualify for the SCBFS tournament, UTC had to fish in two out of three qualifying events. These events ran from January to March at various lakes in Alabama. On Lake Guntersville, Robby Crosslin and Brandon Lester finished 10th place in a field of over 50 college teams. On Lake Wheeler, Alex Craw and Michael Shepard placed 26th to secure a spot for UTC in the SCBFS.
“Unfortunately, the SCBFS tournament could not have come at a worse time for the UTC team,” Craw said. “Several members who wanted to fish in the tournament had other tournaments in Chattanooga to fish, exams to study for, or in my case were out of town. Several of the anglers on the team, including myself, play on the club baseball team and that weekend we were in Boone, North Carolina playing Appalachian State University. However, UTC was able to send two anglers to the Championship, Robby Crosslin and Brandon Lester.”
Crosslin and Lester each brought their own boats, allowing them to weigh up to ten fish each day.
“The odds were always against them though since they faced bigger colleges that sent more teams, the majority with six to eight anglers. After Day 1 of the tournament, Robby and Brandon were in 4th place with a combined weight of 27.29 lbs. Robby and Brandon both caught their limits early in the morning by using a Choo Choo jig and various soft plastic baits. Once they had caught five ‘keeper’ bass, Crosslin and Lester used swimbaits to catch bigger bass in attempts to cull the smaller ones. This strategy won UTC a 4th place finish as the guys caught 31.22 lbs. on Day 2 for a combined tournament weight of 58.51 lbs!” Craw said.
Lester caught a five pound bass using a jig in Day 2 of the SCBFS Championship Event. This is probably the biggest fish UTC has weighed in any collegiate tournament.
The UTC Bass Anglers participated in several tournaments and they are putting together their own tournament.
“Club member, Taylor Massingill, and I have come up with the idea of hosting our own charity bass fishing tournament sometime in late June on Chickamauga Lake to benefit our club team,” Craw said. “This would not only bring in some much needed funding for the team, but get the word out about our club and sponsors, as well as promote the great bass fishing resources that Chattanooga has to offer.”
For more information on the team, please contact Alex Craw, president of the UTC Bass Anglers Club, at Alex-Craw@utc.edu.