Stories That Mattered in 2014

2014 was a big year for AState athletics. With all the accomplishments you would expect some argument over the biggest story of the year. That wasn't the case. The top story was easy to select.

Arkansas State track standout Sharika Nelvis not only had the best year of any A-State athlete she had one of the greatest years in school history.

She was one of three finalists for the prestigious Bowerman Trophy, presented to the top performers each year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The NCAA 100-meter hurdles champion and indoor 60-meter hurdles champion, Nelvis is the first student-athlete from the Sun Belt Conference to be named Bowerman finalists. She is a three-time (2012-14) Indoor and Outdoor All-America selection by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, won the 2014 Honda Sports Award for women’s track and was a nominee for the 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

Nelvis earned top individual honors at the 2014 conference indoor meet in the long jump, 60-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 60-meter hurdles events en route to accumulating a meet high 40 points.

Nelvis strong performance in NCAA events helped push Arkansas State to it's first ever top 100 finish in the Director's Cup.

No. 2: Facilities upgrade: By the time we enter Centennial Bank Stadium next September for the Missouri game we won’t recognize the old ball yard. A new press box and concourse renovation, covering 39,673 square feet, will change the face of the stadium and the west bleachers. Included will be 42 loge boxes, 20 suites and 300 club seats. A donation of $5 million from the family of alum Johnny Allison was used to jump start the project. Also by spring, the new student activity center will be completed behind the north end zone that will allow athletic teams an indoor workout facility and will also be used by the student population.

No. 3. And the beat goes on: While the Red Wolves’ streak of consecutive conference titles ended at 3, the team did earn a fourth straight trip to a bowl game with another winning season. A-State faces Toledo in the GoDaddy Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 4.

No. 4. The Pack of 10: The 100th season of Red Wolves football also featured one of the most improbable and invincible spirits in college football with 10 players who played for five coaches in five seasons. The group – Quashaun Lee, Andrew Tryon, Tyler Greve, Brock Barnhill, Alan Wright, Frankie Jackson, Sterling Young, Kenny Rains, William Boyd and Ryan Jacobs – were the remaining members of the foundation of the program’s revival that led to 3 conference titles and four bowl games.

No. 5. Women’s basketball breaks through: Coach Brian Boyer’s Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference title, the school’s first in Division I, in 2014 and finished 22-12 and came within seconds of the school’s first trip to the NCAA tourney. Sophomore Aundrea Gamble was named the league’s player of the year.

No. 6. Mobile Magic: No one in Arkansas State history has ended their career like Ryan Carrethers. The large nose guard blocked the tying field goal on the final play of the GoDaddy Bowl to save Arkansas State’s 23-20 victory over Ball State. It was the second straight bowl victory for the team.

No. 7, Basketball rarity: Coach John Brady’s team scored one of the biggest victories in his tenure when the Red Wolves won at Mississippi State 69-55 on December 17. The game created a buzz because it was broadcast on the SEC Network. Three days later sophomore Anthony Livingston turned in the one of the top games in Division 1 in the last decade with 20 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in a 67-58 victory over Marshall.

No. 8, Baseball tops No. 2 ULL: Coach Tommy Raffo’s rising program topped ULL 6-4 on May 4. It was a big weekend for the Red Wolves, who could have easily taken two of three from the Cajuns. The 3-game series drew more than 2,500 fans, one of the best attended series in school history. Raffo’s team finished 33-27 and reached the semifinals of the Sun Belt tourney.

No. 9, NFL draft streak: When the San Diego Chargers selected Ryan Carrethers in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft it ran the Red Wolves’ streak to 8 years with a player drafted by the top professional league. The streak is tied for third among Group of 5 schools and tops several Power 5 conference teams.

No. 10, Bowling goes to the NCAA again. The Arkansas State bowling team finished 5th in the NCAA tournament. It was the Red Wolves seventh straight tournament appearance. Arkansas State ended its season with a record of 98-32, setting the school record for wins and finished the regular season ranked #1 in the nation.