Success was rampant throughout the Texas Tech Athletic Department as both men’s and women’s teams, athletes posted record seasons.
Whether it was actual, record-breaking success, or the promise of future success, 2019 will be a year long remembered by Texas Tech University athletics fans.
From coming within seconds of achieving the pinnacle of college basketball to securing the first men's team championship in school history to a new era dawning in football, the past year was eventful, breathtaking, heartbreaking and historic all rolled into one. And while Texas Tech achieved heights of athletics success never before reached, it only set the tone for the future.
"I couldn't be prouder of the success our student-athletes achieved this past year," Texas Tech director of athletics Kirby Hocutt said. "From setting a new school record for highest term GPA, to the majority of our athletics programs competing deep in the NCAA Tournament, 2019 was an exceptional year we will all remember. Most importantly, we look forward to building off this year as we continue to strive each and every day to make Texas Tech Athletics the top athletics program in the country."
For four weeks, the Texas Tech men's basketball team captured not only the attention of Red Raider Nation during the NCAA Tournament, but also the attention of the college basketball world.
After securing the school's first Big 12 Conference men's basketball championship and first league title since the 1996 Southwest Conference crown, Texas Tech entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 3 seed in the West Regional. Meanwhile, head coach Chris Beard became a national sensation with his fiery demeanor on the court and his love for all Red Raiders through his weekly online "fireside chats" that featured players and special guests throughout the season.
Building on an Elite Eight run in the 2018 tournament, the Red Raiders made quick work of Northern Kentucky University and University of Buffalo in the opening rounds, then easily dispatched No. 2 seed University of Michigan to return to the Elite Eight. But the Red Raiders weren't done, making school history with its first men's Final Four appearance with a six-point win over No. 1 seed Gonzaga University.
With all eyes on the Red Raiders, Beard's bunch, led by Lubbock native and sophomore Jarrett Culver and senior transfers Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens, blasted perennial power Michigan State University in the national semifinals to earn a date with the University of Virginia in the national title game. Texas Tech led by three late in the game until Virginia hit a tying 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, and the Cavaliers prevailed from there to claim the title.
It was evident, however, that the buzz had returned to Texas Tech basketball. Culver went on a few weeks later to become the No. 6 overall pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA draft, and Texas Tech returned in the fall of 2019 ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press preseason poll. Crowds once again filled United Supermarkets Arena, and the Red Raiders are again in the fight for a Big 12 title and postseason berth.
As the calendar year switched to 2019, a new era was dawning in women's basketball at Texas Tech.
Head coach Marlene Stollings reinvigorated the Lady Raider fanbase with a turnaround year in 2018-19. Not only did the Lady Raiders double their win total (14) from the previous season, they had the second-best single-season turnaround in the nation by a first-year coach in a Power Five conference and re-established United Supermarkets Arena as a difficult place for opposing teams to win, going 11-7 at home, the best home mark for the program in two years.
With an influx of talent led by Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year guard Chrislyn Carr and steady veteran play from All-Big 12 honorable mention forward junior Brittany Brewer, the Lady Raiders set a new foundation for success going forward.
Carr led all freshmen in the nation in points per game (18), total points (558), field goals made (201), field goals attempted (542) and 3-point field goals attempted (253). Brewer averaged 16.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, which earned her College Sports Information of Directors (CoSIDA) first-team academic All-America honors and a spot later playing that summer for Team USA.
Texas Tech picked up in the fall where it left off in the spring, coming out of the gate with a 12-game winning streak going into Big 12 Conference play and continuing to build on the momentum created in 2019.
After struggling for decades to reach college baseball's pinnacle event, Texas Tech is now becoming a College World Series (CWS) regular. And the Red Raiders are racking up Big 12 Conference titles in the process, claiming their third regular-season crown in four years on the final day of the regular season.
For the third time in four years and fourth time in six years, the Red Raiders made the trip to Nebraska as one of the final eight teams alive for the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. The berth was secured during an emotional, highly charged Super Regional series at Rip Griffin Park against Big 12 rival Oklahoma State University where a late-game three-run home run by sophomore Kurt Wilson helped push the Red Raiders back to Omaha.
Led by consensus All-American and future first-round MLB draft pick junior Josh Jung and senior Cameron Warren, the Red Raiders also made history in their fourth trip. Despite falling to a surging Michigan team, which Texas Tech swept in a three-game series in Lubbock in March, the Red Raiders made their farthest advancement at the CWS in school history. Texas Tech bounced back from the Michigan loss to eliminate perennial powers University of Arkansas and Florida State University to reach the final four.
Michigan, the hottest team at the CWS, ended Texas Tech's run to keep the Red Raiders away from that elusive title, ending their season with a 46-20 mark. It marked the third straight year a Tim Tadlock-led Texas Tech squad amassed at least 45 victories.
In the process, Jung, a native of San Antonio, was selected as the No. 8 overall pick by the Texas Rangers in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Texas Tech became the only program in the nation to host an NCAA Regional in each of the last four seasons, one of three to earn a top-eight national seed in three of the last four years and one of three to reach the CWS in four of the last six years.
And 2020 appears to be shaping up the same way as the Red Raiders are ranked in the top six in five major college baseball preseason polls (Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, DI Baseball, PerfectGame, USA Today Coaches poll).
Track & Field/Cross Country
While the men's basketball team and baseball team both came close, neither of them broke through to win the national championship.
Texas Tech's men's track and field team did.
On a warm June night at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, the No. 1-ranked Red Raiders, who earlier in the year captured their fourth straight Big 12 men's outdoor title, lived up to their billing and showed out in grand fashion, receiving points from every single competitor that suited up on the final day of the meet to capture the crown.
The Red Raiders were led by outstanding sprinter junior Divine Oduduru, who blazed the trail by winning the 100- and 200-meter races, running a sub-10-second time in the 100 and a sub-20-second time in the 200 on the same day for the third time in his career. He also led the 400-meter relay team to the win with one of the fastest finals in championship history, a school-record 38.45 seconds.
Sophomore Norman Grimes took the silver medal in the 400-hurdles, and senior Duke Kicinski clinched the crown when his throw of 205 feet, 2 inches won the discus competition.
Veteran track coach Wes Kittley was named the National Men's Outdoor Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, and Calvin Robinson was honored as the top assistant in the country. Oduduru was named the Co-Men's Track Athlete of the Year.
On the women's side, the Red Raiders earned five individual bids to the national title meet after a strong showing in the preliminaries.
Building off a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 championships, the women's team was led by senior hurdler Alaysha Johnson, a transfer from the University of Oregon who qualified for nationals in both the 100- and 400-hurdles.
Johnson just missed a spot in the finals in the 100 hurdles after breaking her own program record with a time of 12.93 in the semifinals.
Junior Chinne Okoronkwo tied for 16th in her first collegiate NCAA championships in the pole vault. The 400-meter relay team just missed the finals after running a 44.30, one of the top 10 times in school history.
The fall saw the Texas Tech cross country teams have a solid season.
The men's team finished fifth in the Big 12 Championships, ahead of a 16th-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships in Salt Lake City.
The women's team also finished fifth at the Big 12 Championships, then finished in 14th at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships.
Women's basketball wasn't the only sport to experience a tremendous turnaround in 2019.
Texas Tech's softball team came within one victory of reaching the Super Regional round after beating Louisiana State University on the Tigers' home field in the finals of the NCAA Regionals. But the Tigers proved to be too much, coming back to eliminate the Red Raiders in the if-necessary game in Baton Rouge.
It was a heartbreaking ending to a tremendous season. Texas Tech finished the year 42-16 and earned the No. 19 overall final ranking in the country. It was the best season under sixth-year head coach Adrian Gregory, with the Red Raiders spending 14 weeks ranked in the Top 25 with a peak of No. 10 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll.
Texas Tech opened the season with 13 straight wins and was 27-2 going into Big 12 Conference play, where the Red Raiders finished fourth to earn a berth in the NCAA Regionals.
Texas Tech tied a program record with six All-Big 12 selections, led by unanimous first-team selection Karli Hamilton. The redshirt junior outfielder hit .427, which ranked second in the conference, with 73 hits and seven triples. She hit .460 in league play.
Freshman Peyton Blythe, sophomore Heaven Burton and senior Jessica Hartwell all earned second-team honors, while Blythe and Zoe Jones were named to the all-freshman team.
It was another solid year for the Texas Tech men's and women's golf teams, both of whom came up just shy of a spot in the NCAA championships.
The men's team earned a trip to the NCAA Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Regional after finishing fifth at the Big 12 Championships. In the NCAAs, the Red Raiders finished sixth, one spot out of the running for a chance at nationals.
Junior Sandy Scott earned All-Big 12 honors for the Red Raiders on the strength of one tournament win and five top-five finishes while setting a program record with a 70.2 stroke average.
On the women's side, Sofia Garcia helped lead the Red Raiders to a fifth-place finish in the Big 12 championships and a berth in the NCAA Norman (Oklahoma) Regional, where Texas Tech finished seventh, two spots out of the running.
Garcia earned All-Big 12 honors. She led the conference and was fifth in the nation with a 71.6 stroke average.
The Texas Tech men's and women's tennis programs underwent some organizational changes in the offseason after another solid season.
Women's coach Todd Petty was named Director of Tennis with a supervisory role over both the men's and the women's program. He will remain coach of the women's team.
Daniel Whitehead, an assistant coach with the Red Raiders the past two seasons, was elevated to head coach of the men's program.
On the court, both coaches will have top talent to work with.
In 2019, the women's team reached the postseason after making it to the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. But the Red Raiders lost in the first round to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Senior Felicity Maltby earned 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year honors and earned the Big 12 individual title. She reached the NCAA quarterfinals to earn International Tennis Association (ITA) All-American status.
Kennedy Bridgforth and Denise-Antonela Stoica earned All-Big 12 freshman team honors.
The men's team also reached the NCAA tournament, falling in the first round to University of California-Santa Barbara after being knocked out of the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.
The doubles team of juniors Bjorn Thomson and Parker Wynn earned a berth to the NCAA Doubles Championship and were named ITA All-Americans.
The story of the 2019 Red Raiders began before the calendar flipped from 2018 when Matt Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury as head coach of the Texas Tech football team.
Despite having some key pieces in place, Wells faced a rebuilding task with the Red Raiders in 2019, and that task seemingly got harder as the season went with injuries to key players, most notably at quarterback, where sophomore starter Alan Bowman was lost early in the year with a broken collarbone.
Attrition forced the Red Raiders to play most of the season with junior third-string quarterback Jett Duffey, who was solid as a starter, throwing for 2,840 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Running back depth also took a hit as Wells' top three backs all missed time throughout the year with injuries.
Defensively, the Red Raiders were led by two of the top players in the country in junior linebacker Jordyn Brooks and senior safety Douglas Coleman. Brooks, who also played through injuries for most of the season, led the team with 108 tackles while Coleman was one of the top safeties in the country with eight interceptions.
Success did not come easily, or often, for the Red Raiders, who finished the year 4-8. But there were key victories to build upon, such as the early win over Oklahoma State and a late-season road victory at West Virginia.
With a year under their belt and a full season to recruit, things should be better for the Red Raiders, who will get key injured players back in order to build around.
The Texas Tech volleyball team got off to a strong start in non-conference play, winning 11 of their first 15 matches en route to finishing 17-13 overall.
Despite missing the postseason, the Red Raiders took several steps forward in building the program. Its senior class leaves as the winningest class in the program since 2003, and the Red Raiders' 7-9 mark in Big 12 play was its best since 2002. Its fifth-place finish in the conference was its highest in program history.
Senior Emily Hill led Texas Tech with 491 kills in earning All-Big 12 first-team honors.
Texas Tech finished the season strong, winning three of its final four matches to build momentum heading into 2020.
It was another tremendous season for the Texas Tech soccer program.
Head coach Tom Stone's group came up just shy of capturing the Big 12 crown, finishing two points back of Oklahoma State for second place. Texas Tech's only loss in league play came against Texas Christian University.
At 15-4-3, No. 15 Texas Tech racked up 15 or more wins for the fifth time in program history, all of which have come in the last seven seasons. For the sixth time in program history, the Red Raiders hosted an NCAA first-round match, beating Pepperdine University in dramatic fashion in penalty kicks, 4-3, after playing to a 2-2 draw in regulation and overtime.
In the second round, however, Texas Tech couldn't overcome a strong second half by No. 19 Michigan, which scored two second-half goals to eliminate the Red Raiders.
Junior Kirsten Davis was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 selection after leading the league in scoring with 15 goals and six assists in 18 regular-season games.
Goalkeeper Madison White was named Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Big 12 goalkeeper. She took over the starting job after junior Marissa Zucchetto suffered a season-ending injury nine games into the season. Here .800 save percentage led the Big 12.
Sophomore defender Cassie Hiatt and junior utility player Jordie Harr earned first-team All-Big 12 selections as well.
Cheer and Pom
When the Texas Tech University men's basketball team entered the court in Minneapolis during the first trip to the Final Four in program history, they were cheered on by another group of 2019 national champs: members of Texas Tech Spirit Program's Co-Ed Cheer and Pom squads.
The squads competed at the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) & National Dance Alliance (NDA) Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Co-Ed Cheer Squad took first place in the Co-Ed Cheer category in their division and took the Grand National Champion title with the highest score among all divisions.
The Pom Squad finished in first place in the Division IA Pom category and second in the Division IA Dance Jazz category. The Pom Squad also won the choreography award in both categories for each routine.
This is the second national title for Co-Ed Cheer. The squad won the national championship and Grand National title for the first time in school history in 2017, and has finished in the top three for the past decade. It is the fourth national title and third consecutive year the Pom Squad has returned to Lubbock as national champions. The squad finished first in jazz in 2017 and 2018 and first in pom in 2018, the first year they competed in the pom category.