There has not been much heartache for Arkansas Tech from an athletics standpoint during the 2009-10 academic year. On Sunday night, a rare bit of bad news was delivered to Arkansas Tech via the NCAA Division II Baseball Tournament selection show on www.ncaa.com.
The Wonder Boys (35-19) were not selected for the 48-team NCAA Tournament field, ending one of the most successful baseball seasons in school history and one of the most remarkable athletics years ever seen at Arkansas Tech.
Tech had been ranked No. 7 in the last NCAA Division II South Region rankings of the regular season. Eight teams were slated to compete in the NCAA Division II South Regional, so the Wonder Boys awaited Sunday night’s selection show with reason for optimism.
Three factors conspired to knock the Wonder Boys out of the NCAA Tournament.
First, Arkansas Tech went 1-2 at the Gulf South Conference Baseball Tournament.
Then, Rollins College swept a three-game series from Florida Southern on Friday and Saturday. That sweep allowed Rollins to vault from the No. 10 spot in the final regional rankings to a No. 5 seed.
Less explicable was the jump made by Florida Tech, a team that was ranked eighth in the final regular season rankings, did not play at all last week and still managed to move past the Wonder Boys and earn the No. 7 seed in the regional.
The NCAA Division II South Regional will be played at the University of Tampa (Fla.).
Top-seeded Southern Arkansas will face eighth-seeded Albany State, No. 2 seed Tampa will tangle with No. 7 seed Florida Tech, third-seeded Valdosta State will take on sixth-seeded West Florida and No. 4 seed Florida Southern is pitted against No. 5 seed Rollins College in the four first-round games at the regional.
The 2010 Wonder Boys established a new school record for baseball wins in a season (35). Tech reached the GSC Tournament for the first time since 2007, and it won a game at the GSC Tournament for the first time since 2001.
The book on the 2009-10 athletics season at Arkansas Tech is now closed, and what a story it was.
Among the seven sports at Tech that have head-to-head won-lost records (football, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, softball and tennis), Arkansas Tech accumulated 161 wins in 2009-10.
Five Tech teams — football, cross country, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and men’s golf — advanced to NCAA postseason competition.
Tech won Gulf South Conference championships in men’s basketball and women’s basketball. The Golden Suns went on to capture the NCAA Division II South Region women’s basketball title.
The Wonder Boys football team was GSC runner-up and it reached the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
The Golden Suns volleyball team reached the GSC Tournament for a third consecutive year.
The Golden Suns cross country team matched its best-ever finish in the GSC Championships (3rd) and the NCAA Division II South Region meet (4th).
The Golden Suns tennis team posted its best GSC record ever and it reached the GSC Tournament for a third consecutive year.
The Golden Suns golf team won two tournaments.
The Wonder Boys golf team made its second consecutive appearance in NCAA regional competition.
To put a finer point on the historic nature of this year, consider this.
There are five sports with head-to-head won-lost records that Tech has continuously sponsored since the founding of its intercollegiate women’s athletics program in 1977-78 — football, volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball.
An average year over the past 32 years was a combined 88 wins for those five sports.
Before this year, those five sports had never combined for more than 109 wins. That record was set by the 1994-95 Tech teams.
Arkansas Tech not only topped that figure in 2009-10, it set a new mark that will be difficult to ever surpass.
Those five sports combined for 129 wins in 2009-10.
It is all part of history now, but the 2009-10 athletics year at Arkansas Tech is one that will be long and fondly remembered.]]>