Sep 302012

LAKE CHARLES–  Monday is the first official practice for women’s basketball teams across the country and the McNeese Cowgirls will hold their first official practice at Burton Coliseum beginning at 4:30 p.m.


“We are ready to get started. This group has truly had a special pre-season, maybe our best in my time here at McNeese. They have worked extremely hard in the weight room, on the field, on the court and in the classroom. We have pushed each other to get better everyday. We are all ready to get on the court together and see where we are, said head coach Brooks Williams”.


The Cowgirls will begin their quest for a conference championship, a goal every team sets prior to the season.  The back-to-back Southland Conference Tournament champions and NCAA Tournament team is coming off a 26-8 overall record and a 13-3 conference record.


McNeese returns the Baggett twins (Ashlyn and Cailtyn) along with senior Adrienne Minor, junior NeTanya Jones and sophomores Alaina Verdin, Taylor Gaedtke and Ashley Salazar.  Verdin is coming off a redshirt season after a season ending knee injury.  Also returning is redshirt freshman Shayln Riley who also suffered a season ending injury prior to last season.


The 2012-13 team will boast six newcomers in freshmen Allison Baggett (Iota High), Jayln Johnson (Jennings High), Jasmine Prophet (Hightower High), Charity Robinson (Ouchita High) and transfers Cecilia Okoye (Tyler JC) and Arianna James (Lon Morris JC).


“We have some new faces, players and coaches, mixed in with the old and we are anxious to see how everyone works together on the court. We have battled in individual workouts. The competition level has definitely increased. We have girls battling each other every single day which is extremely fun to watch and be a part of.”


McNeese will host Wiley College Oct. 29 in a 7 p.m. exhibition game at Burton Coliseum before the regular season opener at Vanderbilt on Nov. 10.  McNeese’s regular season opener is a noon contest against Texas Southern on Nov. 17.  McNeese will open Southland Conference play on Jan. 3 at Northwestern State.


“We have a ton of work to do on the court. Defensively, it is time to get to work. We lost our top two rebounders and post defenders so we have a big challenge to fill those shoes. I have confidence in the young ladies that are here and know it will be a battle.

Monday can’t come soon enough for me. We are ready to get after it.”



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Sep 302012

LAKE CHARLES—The McNeese soccer team suffered its first conference loss at the hands of Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday as the Lady Lions escaped with a 3-2 victory.


With the loss, the Cowgirls fall to 6-5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Southland Conference while the Lady Lions improved their record to 7-5 overall and 1-1 in the conference.


“It was different conditions today with the field being wet,” said head coach Scooter Savoie.  “We should have stepped up a little more in the first half.  Our pressure wasn’t good and they got the goal but I thought that we were in a manageable position with it being only 1-0 going into the second half.”


Southeastern La. got on the board first scoring on a Kelsey Salcido goal in the 13th minute of the match.  The Lady Lions would take a 1-0 lead into the half.


McNeese had to make a quick change at goalie in the 21st minute as Katie Seeber would leave the game with an injury.  Freshman Maggie Marks played the rest of the 68 minutes recording five saves.


The Cowgirls scored two unanswered goals in the early minutes of the second period to pull ahead of the Lady Lions. 


Senior midfielder Rebekah DeJonghe tied the game in the 56th minute scoring off of a cross from sophomore Sarah LaLanne.  The goal was DeJonghe’s first of the season while LaLanne picked up her team-leading fourth assist.


LaLanne then capitalized on a break away to score her third goal of the season giving McNeese the 2-1 lead heading into the 70th minute.


“Doing what we wanted to do in the second half with bringing numbers forward led us to fight back into the game and then take the 2-1 lead,” said Savoie. 


It seemed as if the Cowgirls were taking control of the half until a goal by Southeastern midfielder Kerry McWhirter tied the game again at 2-2 in the 70th minute.


The Lady Lions responded to the momentum change and in the 72nd minute a Maiya Cooper goal gave Southeastern the lead and the victory.


“We just hit a little bit of a lull late in the half and they got the momentum back and they were able to go get two goals and get back on top,” said Savoie.  “We should have finished the game but it is something that we can learn from. 


McNeese finished the game with 12 shots while Southeastern recorded 15.  The Lady Lions also led in corner kicks, 9-5.


LaLanne led the team in shots with 6 while also scoring one goal and one assist.  The goal and the assist also give LaLanne the most points on the team with 10.


The Cowgirls will be back in action on Friday as they continue conference play at Nicholls State. The match is slated to begin at 4 p.m.  McNeese will then finish out the weekend at Central Arkansas in a 1 p.m. match on Sunday.

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Soccer Falls To Southeastern Louisiana, 3-2
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Sep 302012

CHOUDRANT – A week away from action after coming off a respective showing in the Moe O’Brien Intercollegiate, the McNeese men’s golf team will be back in action on Monday and Tuesday at the Jim Rivers Intercollegiate hosted by Louisiana Tech at the Squire Creek Country Club.


The Cowboys placed fourth overall in the 7-team field in the Moe O’Brien with scores of 289 and 294 in the two round event.


Michael Killam led the team with a 6-under par 138 after he scored rounds of 68 and 70 while Scott Sweeney finished 3-over with rounds of 73 and 74.


“We made some nice progress between our first and second events so far this year,” said first-year McNeese coach Austin Burk.  “We shot 289 the first round out last time out.  It was the first time in years that McNeese had broken the 290 barrier.”


Sweeney and Killam will be joined by teammates Kendall Magee, Cole Glass and Jack Clyde to round out the five-man team.


“The guys are working hard and seeing the progression each day and each round,” said Burk.  “Squire Creek is a great venue and we hope to play well.”


Magee shot rounds of 73-76 in his last outing while Glass scored rounds of 75-74 and Clyde 78-76.


“(Mike) Killam had a good week last week but those other four players making the trip did just as well.  They need to step it up and play like they know they can.”


The 54-hole event will include 36 holes on Monday with an 8 a.m. shotgun start followed by the third and final round on Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.


Fans can follow all of the action through live stats at



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Sep 302012

(NOTE:  story is reprinted with permission from the Lake Charles American Press)

            James Leitz, the former McNeese State golfer who is now in his 30th year as head pro at Slidell’s Pinewood Country Club, was at Medinah  for the final round of the Ryder Cup matches.

            He was walking outside the ropes but will probably rub shoulders with Sean Foley, the swing coach for Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose and Stephen Ames .  Leitz and Foley have become buddies over the past year and a half, ever since the McNeese graduate became noted as one of the top analysts of the golf impact swing.

            “I decided a long time ago that if I was to stay in this business, I had to learn a lot more about the golf swing,” Leitz said.

            He was on the same golf team at McNeese as Tim Graham and Ty Armstrong, two who went on to play on the PGA tour, both having earned their way by being the top qualifier at their respective tour schools.

            Leitz  played on one of the Cowboys’ Southland Conference championship teams in the 1970s and following graduation (degree in Marketing) he took over as the head professional at Pinewood.

            “I think that I got the job because I was the only applicant who turned in a type written resume and plan of action,” he joked.

            “I had worked with Tim when we were in college and in 1982 he was on tour and having some problems and came to Slidell to see if I could help him.  I had just purchased a video camera so we got his swing on tape and looked at it.  I don’t think that I helped him that much but I know that at that point I decided that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

            Leitz then began to study golf swings, read as much as he could and gather all the information he could. He began to understand that physics and geometry were involved, that each part of the swing had to be deciphered….the speed the club moves, the path the club takes at impact, the direction of the ball, where the ball lands on the fairway, etc.

            Armed with these results, he found that he could make changes to help a swing.

            He began to gain a following and would become a featured speaker in seminars for club professionals and others.  Twice he’s been the main speaker at the Better Golf through Technology Conference at MIT and  he’s been as far away as Spain  to talk to professional golfers and teachers.

            A short video he put out enhanced his position as one of the nation’s most knowledgeable mentors of the golf swing as well as one of the top instructors.  Twice he’s been named winner of the Gulf States PGA instructor of the year award and he’s been both the Louisiana and the Gulf States Golf Professional of the year.

            After the video came out, Foley contacted  him wanting to learn more about his analysis of the swing and impact.

            “We got together. I stayed at his house and we went over everything.”

            During last year’s PGA tournament, Foley invited Leitz up and for two days he followed Foley and Woods in the tournament.

            “All of my work has been through Foley,” Leitz said, “but on one of those days Sean asked me to explain to Tiger why he could not cut his stinger shot.  Sean knew and understood but he wanted me to explain it to Tiger.”

            Shortly after that Foley was quoted in the New York Times as saying hat he “had learned a lot from a hidden gem in Louisiana by the name of James Leitz.”

            In golf swing circles, Leitz has now become one of the nation’s top hands.  He has invented what he calls a golf impact plane model which he uses in his teaching.

            He also participated in a driving instructional book that was published this year by Golf Magazine.

            “It’s my understanding that they had the book ready to go to print when the editor saw the video.  I got a call and they said they wanted to add a chapter if I would take part.  They also said I would have the first chapter,” Leitz said.

            The book is titled The Best Driving Instruction Book Ever and can be purchased over  Letiz’ chapter is entitled The Secret to Driving Success.

            “Getting in touch with how your clubface position and path at impact affect your drive is Step 1 in your quest to dominate off the tee,” Leitz explains on his first page.

            Since taking center stage as an expert of the golf swing , Leitz has had his speaking engagements rise from two a year to more than a dozen and a half.  He’s also become a monthly participant in the prestigious Core Golf Academy in Orlando where he not only lectures students of the game but also teaching professionals.

            He also recently had a speaking engagement in Chicago,  talking his game as the featured lecturer at a session for  the members of the Illinois PGA.

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Sep 302012

LAKE CHARLES – Heavy rains played a big part in the running at the McNeese Cowboy Cross Country Stampede on Saturday but not bad enough for Cowboys runner Stephen Kerr to come away with the individual championship in the men’s 4-mile run.


Kerr ran a 21:05 to edge out Walter Whitfield who was running unattached.  The next college competitor was LSU’s Roger Cooke who finished with a 12:20.


But it was Louisiana-Lafayette, with three top 10 finishers, who came out on top in the team scoring with 37 points followed by McNeese with 44.  LSU ranked third with 49 points and Louisiana Tech rounded out the 4-team event with 88 points.

Alex Kiptoo was the second Cowboy runner to finish as he placed sixth with a time of 21:28 and Brock Moreaux was eighth with a 21:38.  McNeese ran without its top runners because they were taking part at the Notre Dame Invitational the day before.


On the women’s side, LSU ran away with the team title after having all of its runners finish in the top 10 including first, second and third place.  McNeese followed with 54 points, Nicholls State came in with 78 and Louisiana-Lafayette at 92.


McNeese’s Fionnuala Ross was the Cowgirls’ top finisher after she crossed the line in fourth place with an 18:21.  LSU’s Laura Carleton won the 5k race with a 17:51.

Amy Talbot placed ninth for the Cowgirls with a 19:30 and Laura Casey was 12th with a 19:50 time.


Women’s 5k Team Standings:

1.  LSU           19

2.  McNeese   54

3.  Nicholls      78

4.  ULL            92

McNeese Individual Finishers:

4.  Fionnuala Ross          18:21

9.  Amy Talbot                 19:30

12.  Laura Casey            19:50

15.  Allison Crawford       20:05

17.  Lauren Cooper         20:39

19.  Corissa Storms        20:43

23.  Sarah Van Horn      20:58

27.  Kaitlyn Jeter            21:26

28.  Jillian Biagini           22:06


Men’s 4-Mile Team Standings:

1.  ULL                   37

2.  McNeese          44

3.  LSU                  49

4.  La. Tech            88

McNeese Individual Finishers:

1.  Stephen Kerr               21:05

6.  Alex Kiptoo                  21:28

8.  Brock Moreaux            21:38

11.  Andrew Kogut            21:56

27.  Delguste Martin         23:18

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Sep 302012

LAKE CHARLES–  McNeese State’s women’s golf team, fresh off a third place finish at the UL-Monroe Fred Marx Invitational last week, will travel to Tulsa to take part in the Oral Roberts Shootout Monday and Tuesday.


Making up the Cowgirl squad this week will be senior Lena Lagergren, juniors McKayla Anderson and Kelsey Haynie and freshmen Dolores Brown and Rebekah Pruett.


Anderson is coming off a tie for third at the Fred Marx Invitational with a 218.  She leads the team with a 72.7 stroke average while Haynie has a 74 average.  Haynie posted her career low rounds of 73 in the first and third round last week while Lagergren shot a 69 which tied McNeese’s second best career low round.


The tournament is scheduled for 36 holes on Monday with an 8:30 a.m. start and 16 holes on Tuesday with a 8:30 a.m. shotgun start.


Other teams taking part besides McNeese and Oral Roberts are Arkansas State, Drake, Houston Baptist, Lamar, McLennan Community College, Sam Houston State, Southern Utah, Stephen F. Austin, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Texas-El Paso and Texas-Pan American.

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Sep 302012

Today’s soccer match has been rescheduled for a 3 p.m. start this afternoon due to weather.

McNeese will host Southeastern Louisiana in a Southland Conference matchup.  The Cowgirls won their last game against Lamar, 1-0 improving their record to 6-4-2, 1-0-0 SLC on the season.

Southeastern Louisiana was downed by Stephen F. Austin, 5-0, in its conference opener.  The Lady Lions come into the match with a 6-4-0, 0-1-0 SLC record.

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Sep 302012

It was all in the eyes, the way Daryl Burckel came to McNeese State and became one of the  school’s all-time great linebackers, being inducted into the university Hall of Fame in 2002.

            He had played prep football at Archbishop Rummel High in Metarie, good enough to earn all-state, all-district and all-city (defensive MVP) honors but had received no college offers.

            Rummel’s athletic director then – Ronald Doyle – had spent a year at McNeese and had a contact in then Cowboy track coach Bob Hayes.  Arrangements- and this was after the 1976 prep season was over –  were made to ship film of Burckel’s play to the school so the coaching staff – then headed up by Jack Doland – could watch him.

            The Cowboys liked what they saw and invited Burckel for a visit.

            “When I went in to see Coach Doland,” said Burckel. “He said that he thought I was a great player but he was worried about my height (5-10).  I asked him then if my eyes were an inch higher on my head would that make me a better football player.

            “Coach Doland laughed and then he said that I had a scholarship.”

            So began  a solid career, one that would find him leading the Cowboys to an undefeated regular season, to two Southland Conference titles and to two trips to the Independence Bowl.

            Along the way he racked up such honors as all-Southland Conference and the league’s defensive player of the year, team defensive player of the year, all-Louisiana and winner of the Independence Bowl Spirit of Independence award.

            Following graduation and after a period in private business, deployment during Desert Storm and the achieving of a PhD, Burckel returned to McNeese where he has spent the past 23 years as a professor, teaching accounting, economics and  finance.

            Among his football playing highlights with the Cowboys, Burckel points to the team’s 1980 victory over then USL (now Louisiana-Lafayette) and the battle against Syracuse in the Independence Bowl the year before.

            “Being from New Orleans, when I first came to McNeese, I didn’t understand the significance of the annual game with USL.  It only took me one season to find out what this game meant not only to the team and university but also to the community.

            “We closed out the season in 1980 against them at home (24,000 attendance and a 10-6 victory) and I remember that earlier in the week I caused a bit of a ruckus when they put on tv an interview I had had saying that we were not about to lose that game to a team with no class.”

            He would finish the year with a team high 104 tackles.

            Of the Independence Bowl game in 1979, Burckel said, “this was a great Syracuse team we played, one that had six or seven guys who would go on to play pro ball, players like Art Monk, Joe Morris, Craig Woolfy, Bill Hurley.  They led 3-0 at the half and were only up by a 17-7 score into the fourth quarter.”

            After graduating from McNeese – with honors – Burckel served as a student coach with the football team and earned his MBA.  He then fulfilled an obligation with the U.S. Army (he had been in ROTC) and went to Mississippi State where he obtained his PhD.

            Then he was back to McNeese as a teacher, on to UNO as a professor, to Mississippi State and then a year back in the Army when his unit was called up for Desert Storm.

            He returned for good to McNeese in 2002, serving as head of the Accounting, Finance and Economic Department for seven years.  He holds the Thelma and Ray Dingler Endowed Professorship in Business Research at the university.

            The 53 year old professor has authored over 75 journal articles on financial accounting, taxation and various business topics, has presented academic papers at professional meetings, taught continuing education classes for CPA’s and given numerous talks to civic clubs and professional organizations.

            He has conducted extensive service to the Southwest Louisiana business community through numerous local and state economic development studies.  He presently serves as a commissioner for the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District and as a member of the board of directors for Jeff Davis Bank, the Louisiana Housing Corporation, the Louisiana Land Trust Board, Christus St. Patrick Hospital, A Better Louisiana Board and is a member of the Lake Charles Regional Airport Master Plan Advisory committee.   He is also a former city councilman.

            Wife Mary is a graduate of McNeese as is daughter Kelly who is a registered nurse currently working on a master degree.  Daughter Laura is in medical school in New Orleans and daughter Natalie is a senior at Barbe High School.

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Sep 292012

                                    VIEW PHOTO GALLERY


McNeese’s Ford Smesny intercepted a Brad Henderson pass with 1:06 to play in the game to seal a

Marcus Wiltz vs. NSU


The win moved the 21st-ranked Cowboys to 4-1 on the season and evened their league mark to 1-1.  The win was also the eighth straight over the Demons (2-3, 0-1) and increased the home winning streak over NSU to 11 consecutive.


“We’re excited to win,” said Cowboys coach Matt Viator.  “It certainly wasn’t a perfect game but we’re excited to win.”


One week after having its streak of 200 yards or more rushing snapped in a loss to Southeastern Louisiana, the Cowboys racked up 209 yards on the ground led by Marcus Wiltz‘s 76 yards on 21 carries.


McNeese’s defense, ranked 4th nationally in rushing defense and 14th in total, held the Demons to 58 yards rushing and 345 total but not after stuffing the visitors to 83 yards in the first half.


“Our defense was fantastic in the first half and I thought the offense moved the ball really well but we missed out on a lot of chances,” said Viator.  “We had too many field goals and not enough conversions in the red zone.”


McNeese opened the scoring on a 17 yard pass from Cody Stroud to Josh Jordan with 6:29 to play in the first quarter to put the Cowboys up 7-0.  The lead increased to 14-0 early in the second when Stroud hit Diontae Spencer for a 43-yard score with 14:07 to play in the half.  A 17-yard field goal by Josh Lewis at the horn gave McNeese a 17-0 lead at the half.


Northwestern put its first points on the board early in the second half when Henderson hit Clifton Brown on an 18-yard strike to cut the lead to 17-7 with 13:56 to play in the third quarter.  The score was set up by a 60-yard kickoff return by Phillip Harvey, than nation’s 12th leading kick returner.


The Cowboys followed with a 9-minute drive that consisted of eight rushes for 32 yards by Wiltz to help set up a 21-yard field goal by Lewis to make it 20-7 with 4:33 to play in the third quarter.


“I thought getting him (Wiltz) back on the field, especially with the field conditions, was huge,” said Viator. 


NSU struck back quickly with a 6-play drive that covered 74 yards in 1:49 to cut McNeese’s lead to 20-14 after Henderson hit Harvey from 41 yards out.


McNeese fumbled the ball on its next possession when Babin pushed a pile down to the Demons 14-yard line.  Northwestern went 3-and-out on its next possession and after a 34-yard punt by Nic Russo was flipped with a 17-yard return by Darius Carey, the Cowboys got a 31-yard field goal by Lewis to make it 23-14 with 10:19 to play.


On the Demons’ next possession, Henderson fumbled the ball on the first play and was recovered by McNeese’s Kevin DornJavaris Murray picked up four yards on the first play and scored from 18 yards out on the next to make it 30-14 with 9:28 to play.

Terrence Cahee vs. NSU

The Demons cut the gap to 30-22 after Henderson found Jovhan Jilbert down the sideline for 58 yards then converted a 2-pointer to make it a one possession game.

Everett Ellefsen led the Cowboys with 10 tackles to go along with a sack, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.  Joe Narcisse, playing in Malcolm Bronson‘s jersey in honor of the injured team leader, had seven tackles and one for a loss.


“I give a lot of credit to Joe (Narcisse),” said Viator.  “He’s now the emotional leader on the team.  He wanted to wear Malcolm’s jersey.  He hasn’t hit anyone in three weeks.  His shoulder still isn’t in good shape but he insisted that he play, so I give him a lot a credit.”


McNeese rolled up 404 yards off offense while Stroud connected on 12 of 25 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns.  Spencer led the receiving corps with four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.


Murray added 60 yards rushing with a score while Champlain Babin finished with 30 yards on nine carries.

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Sep 292012

LAKE CHARLES–  McNeese State’s volleyball team picked up its first Southland Conference victory of the season with a straight set win over Lamar (25-22, 26-24, 25-23) here Saturday to extend its winning streak to three matches.  The Cowgirls improve to 6-12 on the season and 1-4 in league play.  Lamar falls to 9-10 overall and 1-4 in league play also.


“I’m really happy in the way we fought.  We stress that all the time in practice.  Being so young and experienced, they don’t know the difference right now,” said head coach Terry Gamble.


In the opening set McNeese held a 8-5 lead but allowed Lamar to come back and tie the set at 11.  McNeese would regain the lead on a Lamar attack error then would hold a 13-11 lead on a Courtni Bauer kill.  McNeese would stay ahead and Lamar would only get as close as one point (21-20) before McNeese would score four of the next seven points to take set one.  McNeese had to come from behind in the second and third sets to win the match. 

Rachel Cagnina

In the second set, Lamar took a 5-2 lead before McNeese tied the set at six all.  The score would tie four more times until Lamar would take a 21-17 lead.  This is when the Cowgirls began their comeback.  The comeback was sparked by Rachel Cagnina who put down back-to-back kills to cut the Lamar lead to 21-19.  Lamar would extend its lead to 23-19 on a kill and a Cowgirl error.  Four straight points by the Cowgirls would even the set at 23 all. A service error by Lamar would start a Cowgirl rally and an error would cut the lead to 23-21.  Back-to-back service aces by Cagnina tie the score at 23.  Lamar would come up with a block assist to take a 24-23 lead but one that wouldn’t last long as McNeese tied the set again on a Lamar error.  A kill by Megan Carlton gave McNeese a 25-24 lead and a kill by Kelly Graham gave to Cowgirls the second set victory and a 2-0 overall match lead.


“I thought fighting back from being down in set two was big because it kind of led into set three when we got down big.  The difference today for us was the girls did the adjustments that we were doing and it showed in our blocking.”


Lamar took a 7-2 lead in the third set and held a 15-9 lead before McNeese would make another comeback in the match.  A kill by Carlton would get this rally started and cut the lead to 15-10.  McNeese would eventually tie the set at 15 on an Amber Fryer kill and with the set tied at 22 all, Cagnina would come through again for the Cowgirls with a kill then a block assists by Graham and Bauer would gave McNeese a 24-22 lead.  After a kill by Lamar’s Christina Hobb’s, Malina Sanchez ended the match on a kill to give McNeese with win.


“We have been working with Rachel Cagnina on her jump serve and we cut her loose today and it scored us some big points.  She had a big night for us.”


Cagnina le the Cowgirls with 11 kills and a .588 hitting percent and a match high three service aces.  Whitney Ellisor led all players with a match high 14 digs and Graham led McNeese with 34 assists.


Lamar was led in kills by Wendy Krell who had a match high 14.  Courtney Moore added 13.

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