Midwestern State takes a No. 14 NSCAA/Continental Tire Preseason Division II Rankings into the 2012 season as released Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs return just three starters and seven letter winners off of last season's 13-4-1 squad which used a late season seven-match unbeaten streak to advance to the NCAA Division II postseason for the sixth consecutive year in 2011.
Senior forward David Freeland leads the charge as the Lone Star Conference's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after notching seven goals and four assists last season. He is joined by a pair of fellow starters in senior midfielder Fernando Garza (2 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore defender Sam Bartek.
Other returning lettermen include junior forwards VcMor Eligwe (3 goals, 3 assists) and Chase Robertson (2 goals, 1 assist) and junior midfielders B.A. Catney (1 goal, 1 assist) and Brett Helm (1 goal).
The Mustangs will count on a large signing class of 15 transfers and 12 incoming freshman to buoy a strong roster.
MSU, which has been ranked in each of its last 67 eligible NSCAA polls, is one of four teams from the South Central Region to receive mention in the preseason poll including No. 1 Fort Lewis (Colo.) and No. 10 Incarnate Word while Texas A&M International is receiving votes.
The Mustangs open regular season play by playing host to Texas A&M International on Aug. 31 at the MSU Soccer Field where they posted a 41-game unbeaten streak dating back to the 2007 season.
Midwestern plays a pair of exhibition matches on its home turf, taking on Oklahoma City on Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. before challenging Texas Wesleyan on Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.
Midwestern State is receiving votes in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Division II Preseason rankings as released Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs return seven starters off of last season's 14-6-2 record which claimed the program's first postseason victory – a 1-0 result over St. Edward's – after claiming the Lone Star Conference Championship over previously unbeaten Abilene Christian.
Senior center back Hanna Staley returns to lead a back line which limited the opposition to a 0.70 goals against average while posting nine shutouts. The Austin native, who was named 2012 LSC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, is a two-time Daktronics All-America performer.
In fact, MSU's entire starting defensive unit is back as senior Megan Barnhart, junior Anna Molen and sophomore Callie Briseno combined for 52 starts.
Senior goalkeeper Mallory Whitworth, who was tabbed the 2012 LSC Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, posted a 0.72 goals against average and a .838 save percentage while recording six clean sheets.
Junior midfielder Emily Saville and junior forward Mickey Brown are the top returning goal scorers with three tallies each while senior midfielder Maddie Fraser (1 goal, 7 assists) and sophomore forward Payton Fookes (2 goals, 2 assists) are the starters back on the front two lines.
The Mustangs are one of five teams from the south Central Region to receive mention in the poll which also includes No. 5 Colorado Mines, No. 7 Abilene Christian, No. 10 Fort Lewis (Colo.) and No. 15 Dallas Baptist
MSU opens its 2012 campaign against 10th-ranked Fort Lewis at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31 at home as part of the MSU Classic. The Mustangs close the weekend with a 1 p.m. showdown against Colorado Mesa on Sunday, Sep. 2.
Midwestern State coach Koby Styles announced the addition of 14 runners who signed National Letters of Intent to compete in cross country and track and field for the Mustangs for the 2012-13 academic year.
"I'm so excited for this group," he said. "We lost two really good runners, but we've gained 14."
MSU claimed its first South Central Region cross country championship on the heels of winning the Lone Star Conference championship for the fourth straight season last fall under the leadership of All American Brissia Montalvo and former all-region performer Lindsey Pate.
"We've won a conference championship and a regional championship so now there's one more trophy to bring home. I really think this is the group to bring a national championship to MSU."
The class includes three junior college transfers and 11 prep signees who will mix with a solid core of returners which includes three all-region performers in juniors Ashley Flores and Janel Campbell and sophomore Michelle Krezonoski.
Three-year letter winner Heather Owens joins a stellar mix of sophomores in Sara Cuba, Erin Dombkowski, Kim Krezonoski, Cara Mack and Erin Willeford. All participated in MSU's return to the oval for outdoor track and field last spring.
"The challenge will be to bring the group together," Styles said. "A lot of these girls could be No. 1 runners for a lot of teams but these girls came together to win championships. We'll have the most depth as we've ever had."
Former Graham High School standout Abigail Gonzalez tops the list of transfers after claiming Top 10 National Junior College Athletic Association finishes in the 10K and 5K last season at Western Texas College as a sophomore.
"I recruited Abigail out of high school and I'm definitely glad to have her now," Styles said. "She's one of those runners you want on your team. She has family ties to Midwestern and she will help us out a lot."
Junior Danielle Chavarria makes the move to MSU after helping Antelope Valley College to a Foothills Conference championship in 2011.
"Danielle is coming to us from California and was the coached by the legendary Mark Colvert -- one of the first employees of Nike," Styles said. "She has loads of experience competing at a high level in California. I'm excited to have someone come from that far to help us win championships."
Graduate student Nadia Majed is set to complete her eligibility with the Mustangs after earning President's Honor Roll, Mortar Board and was an All-Sooner Athletic Conference selection while competing at Oklahoma Baptist.
"Nadia is still relatively new to the sport," Styles said. "She'll be one of the older runners with strong leadership ability, but her talent and skill is unlimited."
Styles believes the ability to compete for championships is buoyed by participating in high level meets. That concept is clear in the mix of the 11 prep stars preparing to make the move to Wichita Falls this fall.
Former Castleberry High teammates Brittany Adams and Katy Kipp led the Lions to the Texas Class 3A championships.
Adams, who boasts PRs of 5:14 in the 1,600-meter run and 11:18 in the 3,200-meter run, took the bronze in the 1600 and fourth in the 3200 at the state championships this spring.
"Brittany is coming in with some very good credentials and has the potential to be one of our top 5-7 runners this fall," Styles said. "Katy likes to work hard and that will help her continue to improve. That both have worked really well together to lead the team to a state qualification."
Tylo Farrar has been a part of a state track and field dynasty at Spearman High School which has won the last four Class 2A team titles. She owns PR best times of 5:16.07 in the 1600 and 11:21 in the 3200.
"Tylo is coming off of a state championship team so she already knows what it takes to win at a high level," Styles said. "I'm excited to have her come in and bring more of that team experience to us."
Hereford High's Ana Lopez is coming off of a sixth-place showing the Texas Class 4A state meet this spring with very impressive PR times of 5:07.65 in the 1600, 11:11.08 in the 3200 and 2:21.56 in the 800.
"Ana is one of the runners that you are lucky she is on your team," Styles said. "She's one of the top runners in the State of Texas. She's a girl that likes to work hard and hates to lose. She's here for one reason -- to win a championship."
Luling High's Maira Salinas placed fourth in the 3200 and sixth in the 1600 at the Texas State Class 2A championships last spring while posting PR times of 5:12.61 in the 1600 and 11:28.02 in the 3200.
"Maira is going to be right in the mix as well for one of the top five spots," Styles said. "She was a state champion in 2011. She has shown when the pressure is on, she is ready to respond."
Danielle Androes joins the Mustangs after a sixth-place showing the Texas State Class 4A meet this spring. She boasts PRs of 5:20.06 in the 1600 and 12:41.81 in the 3200 in her first year of moving her concentration from hurdles to distance running.
"I'm really excited about Danielle," Styles said. "She's a raw talent and hasn't been running long distance for very long. I feel she can be a good steeplechase runner with her background in hurdles."
Mackinsey Flores joins the Mustangs after enjoying a stellar prep career at Weatherford High.
"Mackinsey will be a dark horse," Styles said. "If she can get in here and work hard, I definitely think she can develop and grow to help us in the future."
Carrie Finson continues in what Styles hopes is a growing tradition of attracting high level runners from the State of Kansas. Finson placed eighth in the 3200 and 11 in the 1600 at the Kansas State Class 4A Track and Field Championships.
"The last time we had a Kansas runner, ever worked out just right," Styles said. "Carrie got to know (former LSC Runner of the Year) Sydnee (Cole) at the Kansas championships. She was recruited by a lot of the teams in our region and has a ton of potential."
Alex Kohrs signed with MSU after finishing eighth in the 1600 at the Continental League Championships competing at Thunder Ridge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She boasts PRs of 5:31.71 in the 1600 and 12:56 in the 3200.
"Alex has done all of her racing at altitude," Styles said. "Bringing her down closer to sea level will drop those times tremendously. She will be an asset when it comes to racing in November."
Styles is also excited to sign a pair of track and field specialists as the team moves into its season of competition on the oval next spring.
Burkburnett High's Darianna Walker enjoyed a stellar career for the Bulldogs narrowly missing a state medalist finish in the 2010 Class 4A state championships. Walker has posted blazing times of 12.83 in the 100, 27.97 in the 200 and 56.82 in the 400.
"'D' is the best 400-meter runner in the area," Styles said. "To give great athletes this kind of opportunity is the reason we have a track team now. She will be part of the DMR (distance medley relay) and 4x400 team. I'm excited to see what she can do at the conference and national levels."
Canyon High's C.J. Frizzell has shown versatility while competing for coach Ray Baca.
"C.J. is coming from a great program," Styles said. "She is really new to middle distance having run the 800 and cross country. Her 800 time is very good and should compete well in the LSC. If we can add a little endurance to that, she can be a good weapon."
Midwestern State reports for workouts on Aug. 23 before competing in the season opening Strohman Dental Stampede on Aug. 30 at the Memorial Athletic Complex.
"There will be a lot of girls right there fighting of those top spots," Styles said. "It will make my job hard picking the travel squad each week, but it's going to be a fun. I'm ready to get the year started."