As I write this letter, all of our teams have completed their seasons with the exception of women’s golf and track and field. In reviewing our year competitively, there were some very encouraging accomplishments that provide much promise for the future. This spring, the men’s tennis, men’s golf and the women’s golf teams were all ranked consistently in the top 13 in the country.
Not only were our men’s golf, women’s golf and men’s tennis teams highly ranked, but field hockey and men’s soccer were also among the nation’s top 25 teams in the fall with field hockey ranked as high as No. 5. And nearly every one of our teams across the board has established positive momentum going forward into the 2015-16 season. When you look at our team sports, we will have more than 80 percent of our starters returning next year, and 12 of our 16 first team All-ACC selections will also return.
The women’s golf team is in Bradenton, Fla., at the NCAA Nationals where 24 teams are competing for the national championship. Our team is ranked No. 14 going into the tournament. We have finished the season strong in our last few tournaments, and the team is in good shape to challenge for a very high finish.
Men’s tennis finished second in the ACC Tournament and then won the NCAA Regionals, beating George Washington and Pepperdine on our home courts. The team advanced to the NCAA Championships and finished tied for ninth in the country. Freshman Noah Rubin, widely considered the best high school player in the country last year, had an incredible freshman year as he was named the ACC Rookie of the Year, first team All-ACC and the nation’s top freshman tennis player.
Men’s golf had an excellent fall and spring season but faltered in the ACC Tournament and NCAA Regionals. However, freshman Will Zalatoris was named the ACC Rookie of the Year and a member of the All-ACC Team. Our top three finishers at the NCAA Regionals were freshmen in Zalatoris, Paul McBride and Tanner Owen. The combination of outstanding returnees and one of the top-ranked incoming recruiting classes in the country certainly suggests another highly rated team next season with the experience and talent to compete for the ACC Championship and advance deep in the NCAA Tournament.
Our baseball team was the best offensive team in the ACC as the team finished second in team batting average, fourth in runs scored, first in doubles and second in total bases and slugging percentage. Additionally, sophomore Will Craig was named the ACC Player of the Year and was joined on the All-ACC Team by sophomore Nate Mondou and freshman Stuart Fairchild. All of our eight position players were freshmen and sophomores this year, so our offense is a proven commodity going into the 2016 season. However, we do need to strengthen our pitching staff, and help is on the way with seven freshmen pitchers leading an excellent recruiting class. The 2016 season should be a really exciting year for the Diamond Deacs.
Women’s tennis took another step forward this year even though we did not advance to the NCAA Tournament. However, the No. 7-ranked recruiting class in the country will become Demon Deacons next year, which should boost our team to a much higher finish in the ACC and an anticipated NCAA Tournament bid.
Our track teams also showed considerable improvement this year. Senior Nyki Caldwell won the indoor and outdoor ACC Championship in the high jump, becoming the first Wake Forest high jump champion in both the indoor and outdoor championships. Jessie Merckle earned her third consecutive first team All-ACC honors, and John Maurins was a first team All-ACC selection in the shot put. All three, along with 11 other teammates, will head to the NCAA Track and Field Regionals in late May and will attempt to qualify for the national championship.
We are building our program on the field and distance events. That strategy fits Wake Forest perfectly, and we anticipate very positive results as we move forward.
As you can see, our spring sports all have a very promising future. In addition, our fall sports as well as both basketball programs are well positioned for continued improvement and success. Next year should be an exciting one for the Deacs. I look forward to sharing some great moments with you!
All NCAA Regional qualifiers
- Samantha Jones, 5K
- Kathleen Darling, 10K
- Katie Adair, pole vault
- Sydney White, PV
- Kathryn Lazarchick, 800/1500m
- Casidy Callahan, discus
- Sebastian Fischbach, 1500m
- Kyle Graves, 1500 & 800
- Simon Holden, 1500/800
- Charlie Ionata Hammer
- John Maurins, Shot
- Max Adams, Discus