Midwestern State enters uncharted territory entering the 2013-14 campaign ranked No. 7 by the Women's Division II Bulletin released Wednesday morning.
The Mustangs return all five starters and 12 letter winners from last season's South Central Region finalist which posted the program's best record since entering NCAA Division II at 26-6.
The defending Lone Star Conference champions are led by returning All-America forward Andrea Carter (13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds per game) and all-region performer Kirsti Degelia, who paced the team with 16.4 points a game.
The Bulletin also tabbed Carter as a honorable mention preseason All-American heading into the 2013-14 season.
LSC Tournament MVP Dianna Jones (9.8 ppg, 3.4 apg), Shatoia Gober (9.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Shambreka Jones (3.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg) filled out the starting five in 2011-12.
The Mustangs also received great contributions from senior Skyler Warrick (5.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg), junior Lisa Hampton (5.0 ppg), junior Taylor Dowd (3.6 ppg), sophomore Katie Brown (1.1 ppg), sophomore Jennifer Sissel (1.1 ppg) as well as sophomores Hannah Selzer and Rhea Levy last season.
Sophomore guard Nicole Smallwood brings 3-point shooting capability transferring from Missouri State, while Janae McJunkins makes her debut after serving a medical redshirt after transferring in from Murray State (Okla.) prior to last season.
The Mustangs are one of just two teams from the South Central Region mentioned in the preseason poll joining 2014 Elite Eight participant Colorado Mesa as the Mavericks check in at No. 19.
Lone Star Conference foes Tarleton State and West Texas A&M are listed as others to watch.
MSU opens exhibition play with a Halloween night showdown against Big 12 Texas at the Erwin Special Event Center in Austin.
The Mustangs open regular season play at the Adams State Conference Challenge on Nov. 8-9 in Alamosa, Colo. before taking on Texas A&M International in its home opener on Nov. 12.
The early season slate also features a showdown at Emporia State (Kan.) on Nov. 23. The Hornets are ranked 9th in the preseason poll.
Women's Division II Bulletin has selected a preseason top 25 every year since 1993 and is celebrating its 21st anniversary this season.
Midwestern State's Tatyanny Griffiths and Kallie Essary earned top Lone Star Conference weekly honors Wednesday afternoon helping the Mustangs to a pair of crucial league wins last week on the road.
Griffiths started and ended the scoring with a pair of goals to lead MSU to a 3-2 double overtime win over 24th-ranked Texas A&M-Commerce Sunday afternoon to earn LSC Offensive Player of the Week accolades.
It was her first career multiple-goal game as she played a hand in each of the Mustangs' three goals against the Lions.
The senior midfielder from Dallas chipped in a deflection for the first tally in the game's 21st minute then served in a cross which led to the second and equalizing goal in the 79th minute.
Griffith's rip toward an open net in the closing seconds of the first overtime period bounded off the hand of an A&M-Commerce defender resulting in her game-winning penalty kick.
Essary earned top defensive honors after clinching her third shutout of the season and allowed one goal in the run of play in Midwestern's wins last week.
The senior from Carrollton stopped four shots in MSU's 1-0 win over the Pioneers Friday night then recorded six saves allowing two goals -- one on a penalty kick -- in a 3-2 overtime win over Texas A&M-Commerce.
Essary improved to 7-3 with a 0.81 goals against average and a .843 save percentage.
Midwestern State returns home to face Eastern New Mexico Friday night at 7 p.m. at the MSU Soccer Field before resuming the First United Bank Highway 287 Cup series against West Texas A&M Sunday at 2 p.m.
Midwestern State remained at No. 17 in the latest United Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association Poll released Wednesday afternoon.
The Mustangs took a third-place showing at the South Plains College Cross Country Festival Saturday in Levelland with its second group.
Sophomore Brittany Adams led the squad with her season-best 5K time of 19:40.11 to take 11th individually, while junior Lucia Trejo and redshirt freshman C.J. Frizzell clocked personal bests with times of 20:08.01 and 20:15.45, respectively.
The Mustangs tallied 71 points to finish behind Eastern New Mexico's full squad (19) and South Plains College (47).
Midwestern is one of six teams from a competitive South Central Region to receive national mention joining No. 2 Adams State (Colo.), No. 3 Western State (Colo.), No. 8 Metro State (Colo.), No. 10 Colorado-Colorado Springs and No. 20 West Texas A&M.
Regionally, the top five teams remained the same led by Adams State, Western State, Metro State, Colorado-Colorado Springs and MSU while the bottom five experienced a lot of movement.
West Texas A&M moved up two spots to No. 6 and Eastern New Mexico remained at No. 7, while Tarleton State jumped into the rankings at No. 8.
Dallas Baptist dropped three spots to No. 9 and Colorado Mines slipped a place to No. 10, while Chadron State (Neb.) fell out of the poll.
Midwestern State plays host to the MSU Cross Country Carnival Saturday morning at the former Hawk Ridge Golf Course on Loop 11. The 6K race begins at 9 a.m.