Men’s basketball run to the NCAA: The Aggies push to a WAC championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance was memorable because of all they had to overcome.
Marvin Menzies’ squad got off to a rocky start to the season, beginning the year 3-6 and losing a handful of times in blowout fashion. The team also was without key frontcourt players Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater, before both righted themselves in the classroom.
Still, Menzies held things together and the team closed the year strong, going 11-5 in conference to close out the regular season.
NMSU then went on to run through the WAC Tournament, beating host team Nevada on a Jahmar Young buzzer beater and then longtime nemesis Utah State in the tournament finals, advancing to the NCAAs.
Beating New Mexico in football: Granted, this was a game between two of the nation’s worst programs in 2009 under two first-year head coaches.
But for the Aggies, anytime you can beat New Mexico in football, up in Albuquerque no less, it needs to be considered a qualified success. When looking at how the team managed to nail down the victory, it was even more of a stunning, and memorable, outcome.
Down 17-13 late, Jeff Fleming came on in relief of starting quarterback Trevor Walls to drive NMSU 59 yards on 17 plays. It was running back Seth Smith who did most of the damage, rumbling downfield for 34 yards on eight carries. The game-winning play was a Fleming pass to wide receiver Marcus Anderson in the back of the endzone on fourth down, a play which eventually put NMSU up three with less than a minute remaining.
UNM answered with a desperation drive of its own, but a James Aho 47-yard field goal attempt at the gun went wide right.
DeWayne Walker: The first-year head coach took over at NMSU and led the team to a 3-9 record.
NMSU got off to a 3-3 start to the season and, despite the poor record, still exceeded many outside expectations during the 2009 campaign, lending fans to believe that, with adequate time and resources, Walker could eventually lead the program to a bowl game.
Those plans almost went up in smoke in early January, however, as multiple media outlets had Walker heading to the Pacific Northwest to join newly minted Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. Alas, Walker put a rest to the speculation, announcing on Jan. 14 that he would return to NMSU.
Men’s golf team winning WAC — again: It’s become normal circumstances at this point - the New Mexico State men’s golf team winning the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and advancing to regional play.
It’s been three straight years now the team has moved on to regionals, with each year the team falling just short of its ultimate goal - the NCAA Championships.
This year’s version saw the Aggies sputter for the better part of the spring season. NMSU hit its stride in the WAC Tournament, however, with a super-human performance by Tim Madigan — he fired a 14-under-par 202 during the three-day event — and a solid showing by his supporting cast led by freshmen Justin Shin and Justin Knauber.
The Aggies finished seventh at the San Diego Regional, missing the NCAA cut by two spots. Still, the program continues to build as the WAC’s best, and could make another push in 2011.
Women’s soccer holds its own: When a first-year program finishes with a .500 record in league play and advances to the conference tournament in its inaugural season on the field, it’s considered a success. That’s exactly what the Aggie women’s soccer team did in 2009.
Head coach Michael Needham deserves a lot of the credit for getting the program off the ground, as the team was anchored by a steady defense and solid goalkeeping from senior Katie Graul.
The Aggies won six-of-seven matches at one point and never seemed out of place on the Division-I stage.
Jahmar Young: One of the most confounding figures on the NMSU sports scene, Young embodied everything that was good and bad with the Aggie basketball team in recent years.
The team’s leading scorer and most talented offensive presence, Young showed a fearless mentality on the court and with the basketball in his hands. He hit game winning shots against Hawaii in the regular season and Nevada in the conference tournament while consistently displaying his ability as one of the WAC’s most dangerous — if not the conference’s most dangerous — offensive presence, with unlimited range and a swagger that every elite player must have.
He also found his fare share of trouble away from the court. Let it be known that Young did good as well — he was a presence with the community’s youth and worked relentlessly on his basketball game. He was never a problem in the classroom for the Aggies.
But two arrests in three years, along with other brush ups with the law are tough blemishes to touch up. His last, charged with battery of a peace police officer on April 11 at a Las Cruces Pic Quick, was the last straw before he officially hired an agent and went full-bore into the NBA Draft.
We wish Young the best as he pursues his professional dreams. His personality and performances — on and off the court — made him a unique personality in Las Cruces.
Aggie baseball: Lets just get it out of the way — the ending of the 2010 season was tough for the New Mexico State Aggie baseball team.
NMSU managed to lose 10 of its final 11 games, a run that came to a crashing halt in the WAC Tournament, as the No. 2-seeded Aggies dropped their first two games of the competition to be effectively eliminated from postseason play.
The freefall began with a four-game sweep at the hands of Fresno State at home. The series opened with the Aggies in first place and looking to clinch the No. 1 seed in the WAC. It ended with the club in second and scrambling to pick up the pieces.
The rest was history, as NMSU eventually dropped its first two games of the WAC Tournament, despite being the No. 2 seed.
The sad part is that much of 2010 was good for the NMSU baseball team. The team did lose key players during the season in catcher Ben Harty and infielder Mike Sodders. It held first place for much of the regular season and got a nice mix of performances from veterans and younger players alike. But it’s not about how you start, it’s often about how you finish. And the ending was bad.