Horned Frog sports are on summer hiatus and waiting to start fresh with football in the fall. Last week was jampacked with Coach Jim Schlossnagle’s diamond Frogs striving for Omaha. We should admire TCU’s most accomplished tennis player in program history. Third-seeded Alex Rybakov served and volleyed his way through the 64-player field of the NCAA men’s singles championship to fight among the final four in the semi-final match against top-seeded Mississippi State Bulldog Nuno Borges. Rybakov fell behind by two games initially but managed to break Borges’ serve and eventually deadlock the first set at 5-5 before dropping the first frame. The TCU senior star fought for every point but was consistently pushed from alley to alley by the Portuguese prodigy. Borges’ groundstrokes oozed with effortless power as he wore down Rybakov to win the second set 6-3 and advance to the championship. Rybakov will continue to the professional ranks after rewriting team record books by possessing the best singles and combined (doubles and singles) winning percentage in program history for his career. He is only the second Frog to appear in the Final Four, joining former teammate and current professional Cameron Norrie (who might have done even better if he’d delayed going pro one more season). The Frog tennis team finished among the Top 10 in the country and is the only program in the nation to accomplish such a ranking for the last five consecutive seasons. Tennis will never draw the oodles of attention major team sports do, but it’s worth noting the racquet Frogs should be considered the most successful men’s team on campus as Roditi has pulled in the fourth-ranked recruiting class with commitments from international players from Great Britain and the Czech Republic to round out an already dynamite returning squad.
Jump for Joy
The flying Frogs of TCU’s track team competed in Austin last week at the NCAA outdoor track championships. The Lone Star capital will host the championship meet for the next three years while the University of Oregon revamps its facility to host the world championships in 2021. Horned Frog track sent four qualifying events to compete for titles: men’s 400-meter individual, men’s 4×400-meter relay, women’s long jump, and men’s triple jump. Cliches, though ubiquitous, originate in fact: Horned Frogs jump. The Texas horned lizard doesn’t really hop, but these are semantics. TCU Frogs jump and do it well. Women’s long jumper Destiny Longmire flew a personal best 6.55 meters to secure a fourth-place finish in the event finals. The junior transfer from San Jose State had already been the Mountain West champion twice and elevated herself from a 14th-place finish last season to one spot off the podium. Further dramatics ensued on Friday night. Sophomore triple jumper Chengetayi Mapaya stretched to a personal record and an NCAA championship with a 17.13-meter jump to beat junior Jordan Scott from the University of Virginia. Mapaya joins women’s rifle sharpshooters Kristen Hemphill and Elizabeth Marsh as the only current individual national championship athletes grazing TCU’s tulip-lined campus. Men’s track finished the meet tied for 28th with 10 points from Mapaya’s finish and the women’s team finished tied for 41st thanks to Longmire.
It’s possible the home track advantage favored the Big 12 as the Red Raiders from Texas Tech achieved a historical men’s team championship in Austin. Tech had never won a national championship in a men’s team sport, though they were seconds away in basketball earlier this season. It was quite literally divine intervention. Sprinter Divine Oduduru burst past the competition to win the 100- and 200-meter runs. Raider graduate student and discus hurler Duke Kicinski threw his way to a national title as well. Oduduru and Kicinski locked up 32 points on their own, which would have been enough for a fifth-place tie with Stanford. Texas Tech is cementing itself as a track giant, sending 11 men’s qualifying events to Austin compared with TCU’s three. Nine of those Raider events reached the finals and collected points for the team total to beat the University of Florida by 10 points. The University of Houston was third with 40 team points, and the next Big 12 team in the standings was the Longhorns with 26 team points in ninth place.
The term is truly over. No games, meets, or matches left. It’s almost time to delete this year and gaze longingly at the gridiron in hopes of Horned glory. We will. But report cards are in the mail, and summer school might be necessary when we review these grades.