UTD concluded the 2022– 23 athletic season with five American Southwestern Conference championship titles — the most won titles out of all Division III schools in the conference.
The Comets saw major victories in men’s and women’s golf, volleyball, women’s basketball and women’s tennis. Seven of UTD’s sports teams attended the ASC Championship Tournaments this season — a feat that has only been accomplished two times in the program’s history. Additionally, the Athletic Department added 197 new entries to the program and individual records book.. Cody Usher,assistant athletic director for media relations, believes that this season saw an endearing development in the departments’ competitiveness which will continue with the efforts of new coaches.
“We’ve won at least one championship title each year since 2012,” Usher said. “One of the amazing things is that for four out of five titles that we won were by first-year head coaches in the first year here at UT Dallas.”
The men’s and women’s golf team not only dominated the ASC season but saw high individual achievements with three UTD players being placed in the top 25 for best Division III players nationally.
Placing first place in six out of 10 tournaments including the ASC, the women’s golf team averaged a record-breaking score of 309.61 overall and an average 21.09 versus par. Their final game took place May 9through May 13 in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, where they placed 14 nationally. The team clocked 49 entries into the record program book with 18thnationally ranked graduate Karen Lee and ASC –Scholar-Athlete graduate Karen Alvarez making the majority of these records.
Meanwhile, men’s golf made 38 new records and honors this season, averaging a score of 295.88 overall — 0.73 above their previous program record of 295.15 from 2021– 22. The team claimed the ASC championship — the first time they’ve done so in 20 years, and second time overall — ￼￼14th at Nicholasville, Kentucky to wrap up the season. Sophomore Daniel Shofner made program history after being nominated for the by the Golf Coaches Association of America and being labeled the 22nd best men’s Division III golf player in the US by Golfstat. PING All-Region 7 Team by the Golf Coaches Association of America and being labeled the 22nd best men’s Division III golf player in the US by Golfstat.
At the end of the season, Cole Sondgeroth, head coach for both the men’s and women’s golf team, was recognized for breaking nearly every single UTD program record within his first year — most notably making new milestones in scoring average, tournament wins, rounds played, birdies and eagles.
Despite a coach change for 2022 volleyball season, new head coach Zach Villarreal led the Comet Volleyball team into their eighth ASC championship title, recording their highest winning percentage of 77.8% overall and a win rate of 87.5% in the ASC conference. Earning their sixth ASC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Fall Team Sportsmanship Award at the end of the season, they also led the ASC with the best hitting percentage of 19.9% and best blocking average of 1.79 per game. Several athletes were recorded as season leaders, including graduate Karle Lynd, graduate Abby Jones, senior Emma Sevening and senior Rachel Baxter.
The volleyball team finished in 2ndplace in the NCAA semifinals, pushing the No. 1 ranked and unbeaten Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to the limit.
“It’s a constant battle to stay successful,” Villarreal said. “I think that gets taken for granted for. These young women have been able to help us have success.”
The women’s tennis team also made history in their respective program as they ended the season with their fifth ASC title and fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, playing their last game against the Claremount-Mudd-Scripps in the second round, one to seven. Winning every single conference game and 13 out of 20 general season games, the Comets claimed 12 new records into the program and were recognized 31 times as game leaders in this season of the ASC record book. Players that received the most recognition this season include Rebecca Jackson, Saumya Vedula, Elyssa Ducret and Megan Zeng.
The women’s basketball team, which The Mercury followed closely during the latter 2022– 23 season, visited nationals for the seventh time in program history after proving to have the best ranked defense in the ASC season. They earned the ASC championship title after winning 12 out of 18 conference games and holding a five-game win streak. Five players were honored with ASC titles, including graduate Jordan Maxwell who was awarded Defensive Player of the Year and graduate Lauren Fulenwider who was the Newcomer of the Year.
Although not competitive for the ASC Division III standard, the women’s chess team also won their national championship and the Spirit Team won four national category championships, totaling 10 championship titles for various sports teams this year alone.
The 2022-23 season provided one of the most exciting developments for UTD’s athletics department, setting new expectations for excellence in the upcoming 2023-24 season, which will kick off in early September with golf, volleyball, soccer and cross country.
“I think everybody is pretty excited about what they got coming back [in the 2023-2024 season],” Usher said. “It’s a fun time, it’s competitive, and there’s good camaraderie here in the department and everybody supports each other. I’m happy to come over here to UTD and work here so because I saw what the department had and the success they’ve had, and I was excited to be a part of it.”