With football season less than two weeks away, App State fans are buzzing at the possibilities with good reason. The team is fresh off its third straight Sun Belt conference title and returns most of the starters from 2018. They also have opportunities to beat big-time programs like UNC-Chapel Hill and South Carolina before getting back into conference play.
Football isn’t the only sport on campus set to have a good season; the other programs should not be forgotten. The volleyball team had a nice bounce-back season in 2018, finishing with a 22-9 record after going just 12-20 in 2017.
The squad returns senior outside hitter Emma Longley, who was named First Team All-Sun Belt as a junior after leading the team with 409 kills. A slew of talented players is also back this season, including junior defensive specialists Emma Reilly and Kara Spicer and outside hitter Grace Morrison. The team was predicted to finish second in the East Division of the Sun Belt by the preseason coaches poll. Longley, Reilly and Spicer were also selected as preseason All-Sun Belt players.
Women’s basketball also posted over 20 wins last season, going 22-14 with a 10-8 Sun Belt conference mark, its best effort since head coach Angel Elderkin arrived on campus in 2014.
Like volleyball, women’s basketball returns most of its 2018 contributors, including junior guards Pre Stanley and Tierra Wilson and junior forward Lainey Gosnell.
Redshirt senior guard Ashley Polacek, who led the team with 36 starts and finished second in the Sun Belt with 158 assists is also back. The team will face some stiff competition when it travels to play South Carolina and Michigan.
The wrestling team showed faith this summer by signing long-time head coach JohnMark Bentley to a contract extension through 2023. He’s clearly earned it.
Three App State wrestlers won the Southern Conference titles for their weight classes in 2018, including redshirt senior Randall Diabe, senior Cary Miller and junior Codi Russell. The program finished last season ranked No. 13 in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association poll and returns four wrestlers who appeared in the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Football has a lot to look forward to and will likely bring home a lot of success in 2019. But, the popularity of the football program has a tendency to draw attention away from other App State teams that put in just as much hard work and will bring just as much success, most of which couldn’t be mentioned here. Let’s remember to root for them, too, as we head into this 2019-20 school year.