2014-15 Athletic SuccessNorth Texas boasts a history of stellar athletes and teams that includes national champions, Olympic medalists and Hall of Famers.
North Texas greats such as Abner Haynes, Don January, "Mean" Joe Greene, Hayden Fry, and Elmer and Delmer Brown charted a course that has been navigated over recent years by standouts Marilyn Marin, Chris Davis, Patrick Cobbs, Jalie Mitchell, Jamario Thomas, Casey Fitzgerald and many others.
Since 2001, Mean Green teams have been a part of five bowl games and have participated in NCAA postseason soccer, swimming, tennis, track and golf championships, as well as the NCAA basketball tournament twice.
North Texas won three conference championships in its second year in Conference USA. Individually, 64 Mean Green student-athletes were named all-conference during the 2014-15 school year, three Mean Green athletes received specialty conference awards and two coaches were named conference coach of the year.
Led by second-year coach Stefanie Slekis, the Mean Green cross-country squads paved the way for the rest of the North Texas teams. The men's team won the first Conference USA championship for North Texas, winning the title on its home course.
Troy Taylor led the way for the Mean Green, crossing the line third, earning all-conference first-team honors, one of ten North Texas athletes to receive individual honors. The women's team finished third with senior Charlotte Wilson coming in fourth. Both Wilson and senior Alejandro Valencia, who placed ninth, won Outstanding Seniors of the Meet. Slekis was named coach of the year.
The men's team finished the season ranked fourth in the NCAA South Central Region, and the women's team finished ranked eighth. Troy Taylor, who placed ninth in NCAA Regionals, went on to compete individually at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships.
The soccer team continued its winning tradition by capturing the regular-season Conference USA title in 2014. For the second year in a row, the Mean Green came up just short of advancing to the NCAA Tournament, falling in the championship game. Despite the loss, North Texas still recorded one of the best seasons in school history. The 2014 team tied a program record with 16 wins, set a single-season record with 14 shutouts and claimed its ninth conference championship with the regular-season title.
Jackie Kerestine had one of the best single seasons by a North Texas goalkeeper in school history. She shattered school records and finished the season by posting a conference single-season goals against average record of 0.51. Kerestine recorded shutouts in 14 of NT's 16 wins, setting single-season and career marks. She also broke career records in wins and saves. The junior was named Conference USA Defensive of the Week four times, the most weekly awards out of any player in the league.
Karla Pineda had a break-out season for the Mean Green in her junior campaign. As the Mean Green's free-kick specialist, she scored nine goals from set pieces and set up five tallies. Pineda, Kerestine and Rachel Holden were all named to the all-conference team. Pineda and Kerestine were also named second-team all-region.
The volleyball team also had a successful season. In his second year at the helm, head coach Andrew Palileo took the North Texas volleyball program to the next level, rewriting history along the way. Junior Carnae Dillard tore through Conference USA in the program's second year of membership, storming to the NCAA top five in six statistical categories to net the conference Player of the Year award.
North Texas knocked off C-USA powerhouse UTSA and Big 12 regional rival TCU in three set sweeps on the way to a 22-10 overall record, the No. 3 spot in the final conference standings, and a trip to the C-USA semifinals.
The swimming team continued to perform at a high level, posting its second consecutive fifth-place finish at the Conference USA Championships, where the team earned all-conference honors in the 400 medley relay and 400 IM. Mean Green swimmers set three program records throughout the season and notched NCAA B-qualifying times in five events.
Spring Teams Were Also Successful
The Mean Green track teams sent nine athletes to the NCAA West Preliminary Round in Austin, Texas after solid indoor and outdoor seasons.
In the 2015 indoor season, North Texas distance runners continued to dominate at the conference championships. Susie Kemper placed first in the mile run and fourth in the 800-meter run. Troy Taylor's win in the 3000-meter run, along with his third-place finish in the mile run, helped North Texas men place fifth overall.
High jumper Shahaf Bareni's first-place high jump contributed to the women's team's fourth-place finish. North Texas finished the 2015 outdoor season with the men coming in sixth and the women finishing in tenth at the C-USA Championships in El Paso.
Men's golf picked up the Mean Green's third conference championship of the season. Brad Stracke was named coach of the year after winning the third league crown in four years. It is the second time he has been named Coach of the Year in the last three seasons.
The 2015 season saw the Mean Green advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 34th time in school history and Juan Munoz win the Conference USA championship. Freshman Michael Cotton was named the C-USA All-Freshman team and North Texas finished the season ranked in the top-75 for the third time in the last four seasons.
The tennis team lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament after a season of close calls. The Mean Green went 9-14, but five of those losses were of the 4-3 variety, including the team's season-ending loss to No. 66 Old Dominion in the Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals. Overall, 11 of North Texas' 23 opponents were nationally ranked. Junior Anastasiya Shestakova led the Mean Green with 11 singles wins and all three doubles teams reached double-digit victories.
Seniors Kseniya Bardabush and Franziska Sprinkmeyer emerged as leaders for the Mean Green, as the two finished their careers with a combined 102 singles wins. Bardabush earned C-USA Player of the Week on April 14 for the first time in her career and was named to All-Conference First Team for the fourth-consecutive season. Sprinkmeyer was one of six student-athletes in the conference to be named to the C-USA All-Academic team and Shestakova earned C-USA Second Team honors for the second-consecutive season.