2023 was filled with highs and lows for Rice Athletics. The Roost picked out 10 moments that stood out the most along the way.
10. Rice women’s basketball beats BYU in WNIT
Getting back to the postseason was something near the top of the priority list for head coach Lindsay Edmonds and Rice women’s basketball. Not only did the Owls achieve that, qualifying for the NIT, but they were able to go on the road and get a win over a very good BYU team.
9. Forbes named Top 30 NCAA Women of the Year Award
Forbes was on pace to be one of the most decorated women’s track athletes ever to run for Rice before sickness abruptly ended her collegiate career. An excellent student an ambassador for the university, seeing Forbes continue to receive honors well after her athletic career had come to an end was extraordinary and much deserved.
8. Rice football inks another historic signing class
For the fourth time in the past five years Rice football head coach Mike Blomgren signed the No. 1 recruiting class in program history. Despite only adding 13 players in this cycle, the Owls made sure their limited scholarship slots were well utilized, bringing in a Texas-centric crop of high school athletes with five impactful transfers.
7. Field Athlete of the Year, times two
One of the final Conference USA honors before Rice made the move to the AAC, the Owls claimed not one, but two Field Athlete of the Year awards. Alexander Slinkman took home the men’s honor for his prowess in the pole vault. Tara Simpson-Sullivan took care of the women’s side of things, dominating the weight and hammer throw events.
6. Rice baseball has three players drafted
Justin Long (7th Round), Hayden Durke (13th) and Matthew Linskey (16th) heard their names called in the 2023 MLB Draft. While the Owls work to return to their winning history at Reckling Park, it’s encouraging to see the pro pipeline continue to produce results.
5. Rice basketball upsets North Texas in Denton
North Texas and Grant McCasland had been the standard in Conference USA for years and Rice basketball hadn’t faired well against the Mean Green, losing 10 of the last 11 by an average of 25 points. To win, and to win by double-digits on the road, was one of the most significant victories of head coach Scott Pera’s tenure.
4. Rice Volleyball beats USC
There have been a lot of high points for Rice volleyball under head coach Genny Volpe, but few individual matches were as impressive as a win over No. 22 USC in straight sets. It was the first sweep of ranked team for Rice since 2009 and the fans in Tudor Fieldhouse had the arena rocking the whole way.
2. Rice football goes bowling once again
Although the results of the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl left much to be desired, reaching back-to-back bowl games is a feat that has only happened on two other occasions in program history. The next step will be finding a way to win and seeing if the Owls can improve their win total once again — but those are questions for 2024.
2. Tommy McClelland named Athletic Director
Following the departure of Joe Karlgaard for the private sector, Rice president Reginald Desroches named Tommy McClelland the Owls’ newest Athletic Director. McClelland has already bolstered the athletic staff and discussed potential renovation projections at Rice Stadium. Having someone with his track record to guide Rice into the AAC will be crucial for all the Owls’ programs.
1. Rice football upsets Houston, wins Bayou Bucket
For the first time since 2010, Rice football won the Bayou Bucket, defeating rival Houston in overtime. The win would eventually become crucial for the Owls’ bowl eligibility hopes and serve as the only Power 5 win by any American Conference team in the regular season. This singular victory will go down as one of the most impactful wins for Rice football in quite some time.
How about you? Which of these moments from Rice Athletics did you enjoy the most? Cutting this down to 10 was challenging. Which Rice Athletics events should be added to the list?
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