Track competes in Day 1 of conference championship

The women’s track & field team traveled to the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in New York to compete this weekend in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Friday, the first day of competition, was highlighted by graduate-junior Blanca Fernandez, who finished fourth in the mile run with a time of 5 minutes, 4.73 seconds. This finish qualified Fernandez for the final round of the mile, which will take place on Saturday.

Senior Kiersten LaRoche earned a combined 3,555 points in the women’s pentathlon, awarding her fifth in the event and putting Temple on the board in the team scoring.

Sophomore Bionca St. Fleur placed eighth in the long jump with a distance of 5.78 meters, which also qualified her for the event finals.

Personal-best performances were brought in by freshman Katie Pinson, who finished 13th in the mile with a time of 5:13.53, as well as sophomore Sydnee Jacques with her 16th-place mark of 9.10 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles.

First-year coach Elvis Forde said the competition at a conference level is fierce, showcasing some high-level talent.

“[It was] a pretty tough [day] in regards to our performances,” Forde said. “Our athletes competed really hard, and this is what this conference is all about in terms of the quality of athletes that are here. Although our kids performed well, I am going to have expectations that now we have to raise the bar if we are going to match up with the current athletes that are [at the championship].”

The Owls currently stand in last place in the overall rankings with five points scored, and will continue performances on Saturday.

-Tyler DeVice

O’Connor signs six recruits

Seamus O’Connor will have six new freshmen to work with next season.

Goalkeeper Jordan Nash, Midfielders Juliet Esposito and Sarah McGlinn, and defenders Katie McCoy, Olivia Novak and Kelcie Dolan have all decided to join the team that set a program record with 11 wins last season.

O’Connor didn’t go far to find his recruits. Mccoy and Novak are both from Pennsylvania, while the other four players are from New Jersey.

With senior Alyssa Kirk as the only Owl gone from last season’s roster, it looks like the incoming freshmen will help bolster the team’s depth, which was lacking last season. gave three-star rankings to McCoy, McGlinn and Nash, the only three players ranked by the site.

McGlinn played at Cherry Hill West High School, while McCoy played at Neshaminy High School, Kirk’s alma mater and Nash played at St. Rose High School.

Esposito played her high school ball at Camden Catholic high school. She was a first-team all-conference and all-state honorable mention selection in this past season.

Novak is out of Manheim Central High School. She received first team Lancaster-Lebanon League honors after her senior season.

Dolan, from Absegami High School, was also a first team all-conference selection for her team this past season in the Cape Atlantic League.

-Owen McCue

The American releases schedule

The American Athletic Conference released its full schedule Monday, completing the football team’s slate of games for the 2015 season.

Week 4 will mark the Owls’ lone bye week of the season, after the team had three on last year’s schedule.

In The American’s first season operating on a 12-team, two-division format, Temple will play eight conference games – five within its own East division. It’ll also play Houston, Memphis and Tulane – three teams in the west – along with Penn State, Massachusetts, Charlotte and Notre Dame in non-conference action.

Game times have yet to be released, as does much of the television coverage. The Owls’ visit to East Carolina on Oct. 22 is set to be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2, while the Owls’ trip to Southern Methodist will be broadcast either on ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Temple will host Penn State in the season opener at Lincoln Financial Field, while Notre Dame, which finished outside of the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since the 2011 season with an 8-5 record this past fall, will visit the Linc in a Halloween matchup on Oct. 31.

The American will also introduce a playoff game on Dec. 5 to decide the conference champion. The game will feature the team with the best record from each division, and will take place at the site of the school with the better record.

2.17 Issue: Sports in brief

Fernandez eclipses 3,000-meter mark

Temple’s newest track & field athlete, graduate-junior Blanca Fernandez, shattered Temple’s indoor 3,000-meter record at the Valentine Invitational at Boston University last Friday.

Fernandez established a new record mark of 9 minutes, 16.24 seconds, finishing in eighth overall.

First-year coach Elvis Forde said he was impressed with Fernandez’s performance, which could allow her entry into the NCAA National Championships.

“[Fernandez] had a really good run,” Forde said. “[She] really put herself in the position to get a chance to be in the NCAA [championship]. It will just be a waiting game now until that selection process begins.”

However, Forde will give Fernandez one more opportunity to improve her time further and qualify for the national meet, as she’ll travel to Notre Dame on Saturday to compete in the Alex Wilson Invitational.

“We will run her one more time over at Notre Dame next weekend to see if she can get in automatically,” Forde said. “They only take so many people to the event, so we’re going to keep our fingers crossed for her and hope that things go well.”

Tyler Device

St. Fleur breaks 21-year-old record 

Sophomore Bionca St. Fleur also set a new all-time mark for the university on Friday, as she finished the 200-meter dash in 24.30 seconds, shattering a 21-year-old Temple record.

With the record-breaking time, St. Fleur finished the event in 12th overall. The previous Temple indoor 200-meter dash record of 24.50 seconds was set by Toya Adams back in 1994.

“I was actually really surprised,” St. Fleur said. “I always wanted to go sub-25 [seconds], and before I got on the [starting] line, all [coach Elvis] Forde was saying was, ‘You need to break 25.’ I think I had great preparations, just with all the workouts that coach Forde has been putting us through.”

St. Fleur also said she feels like she is following the path of a fellow runner, Jamila Janneh, who also holds Temple records of her own.

“I know [Janneh] broke a record her sophomore year, too,” St. Fleur. “I feel like I’m following in her footsteps, and [she’s] inspired me to just do the best I can and put on for Temple track.”

-Tyler DeVice

Former lineman honored

A member of the Temple team that went to the Garden State Bowl in 1979 will be honored next month.

Former Temple defensive tackle Matt Lauck will be enshrined in the Gloucester County Hall of Fame on March 24, it was announced Thursday. He spent the 1979 and 1980 seasons with the team.

He’ll be honored for his career at Pitman High School, where he was a standout football player and wrestler. His accomplishments in high school included his participation in the first New Jersey North-South all-star football game, along with a New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association state heavyweight wrestling championship in 1979.

-Andrew Parent

Butts earns weekly award

Freshman guard Alliya Butts was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week Monday for her performances against Tulsa and Houston last week. It marks her second time this season winning the award.

In a 75-67 loss to Tulsa on Feb. 10, Butts scored a team-high 17 points and added two assists and two steals. On Feb. 14 against Houston, she scored a team- and game-high 22 points and had six assists in a 72-60 victory.

In 14 games since entering the starting lineup on Dec. 28, 2014, Butts has averaged nearly 16 points per game.

The Edgewater Park, New Jersey native is averaging 13 points per game and has posted double-figure scoring marks in 10 consecutive games.

-Michael Guise

Cummings honored by conference

Senior guard Will Cummings led the way for the men’s basketball team in a pair of wins last week, and it helped earn the Jacksonville, Florida native his first career American Athletic Conference Player of the Week award.

The honor, announced by the conference Monday, comes after Cummings led the Owls with 21 points, five assists and four steals in the team’s 75-59 defeat of Cincinnati last Tuesday. He followed Tuesday’s showing with a 17-point game this past Saturday in Temple’s 66-53 victory against East Carolina. He added seven rebounds and six assists in the win, the Owls’ seventh straight.

He’s averaging 13.7 points per game in his senior season, along with 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals in 25 games played. After suffering a left-leg muscle strain against the University of Tulsa on Jan. 10, Cummings has started each game since he missed Temple’s 84-53 road loss at Cincinnati Jan. 17, and logged 40 minutes against the Bearcats last Tuesday, his first time playing the entirety of a contest since his injury.

-Andrew Parent

Murphy suspended, investigation pending

Temple Athletic Director Kevin Clark announced via press release on Tuesday night that women’s gymnastics coach Aaron Murphy has been suspended as a result of a pending investigation involving violations of athletic department policy.

Murphy’s suspension will last through the duration of the university’s investigation.  Assistant coach Deirdre Mattocks Bertotti will take over coaching duties on an interim basis, as the investigation is ongoing.

The 2015 season is Murphy’s ninth as Temple’s coach. The team’s next meet is on Saturday afternoon, when the Owls host the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational.

Butts earns conference honors

Freshman guard Alliya Butts made the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll Monday for her performances last week.

The Owls’ point guard started the week with a season-high 30 points in a win over Memphis. She followed that by dropping 19 points in a loss against Tulane on Saturday.

Despite some trouble shooting the basketball at times this week, Butts was able to consistently get to the free-throw line, as she scored 12 of her 49 points this week on foul shots. The Edgewater Park, New Jersey native also contributed on the defensive end, where she had three steals in both of the team’s games last week. She’s recorded a steal in seven straight games.

Butts also saw a jump in her playing time last week, as she logged at least 30 minutes in both contests, compared to the 23.6 minutes per game she’s averaging on the season.

-Owen McCue

Owls post undefeated result

The women’s fencing team crossed the border into New Jersey to collect its second undefeated record of the season on Saturday.

“We have been working hard all week and it really paid off today in the quality of fencing and how well the girls did,” coach Nikkie Franke said. “The whole team did every well, I was very pleased.”

The Owls went 5-0 at the Fairleigh Dickson University-hosted meet to improve to 23-8 so far this season.

John Hopkins handed the Owls their biggest challenge of the day, as they were able to escape with a 16-11 victory.

After fencing in 15 bouts Sunday, sophomore Rachael Clark led the epee squad with a 13- 2 record. While freshman epeeist, Safa Ibrahim, continued her spectacle season with a 12-3 record. Jessica Hall also cemented the same score of 12-3.

Junior foilist Fatima Largaespada went 11-2 on the day, securing an undefeated record of 3-0 record against Fairleigh Dickinson University and Brandeis University. While Becca Standford return to the strip today, as she was restricted by injuries at the Northwestern Duals last weekend. The freshman went 9-1.

Sabre fencer, Victoria Suber, walked off the strip on Saturday with a 8-0 record while teammate Gloria Aguilar went 8-1 on the day.

A few of the Owls are continuing to nurse injuries, including sophomore foilist Miranda Litzinger.

The Owls now look to the Junior Olympics next weekend as some of the fencers will compete in the competition.

2.3 Issue: Sports in brief

Field Hockey: Tiernan earns conference honors

Temple junior midfielder Nicole Tiernan was selected as the Owls’ lone representative on the 16-player All-Big East Conference preseason women’s lacrosse team last Tuesday. The conference’s eight coaches voted on the roster.

Her 29 goals ranked second-most on the team in 2014, and helped result in her Big East second-team selection last season, as well as an invitation to try out for the U.S. Women’s national team last summer.

Big East newcomers Florida and Vanderbilt both contributed players to the preseason all-conference squad, including a league-best four from the Gators.    

-Matt Cockayne

Track & Field: LaRoache takes gold

Senior Kiersten LaRoche was the only Temple track & field athlete competing on Friday, but she kicked off the team’s win with a victory.

Hosted by George Mason University, the two-day event started off with the men’s and women’s pentathlon competitions.

LaRoche’s event, the Pentathlon, was a five-part competition consisting of the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run.

LaRoche dominated the competition, placing first in three out of the five events – the 60-meter hurdles in 8.91 seconds, the shot put with a distance of 10.89 meters and the long jump in 5.49 meters.

She placed second in the high jump, clearing 1.64 meters, and in the 800 with a mark of 2 minutes, 31.52 seconds. These finishes were enough to accumulate 3,671 points in the women’s pentathlon, which awarded LaRoche the first-place finish.

The event was worth 10 points and gave Temple the early lead in women’s competition.

LaRoche finished fifth in the 60-meter dash with a mark of 8.80 seconds in Day 2 of the competition on Saturday. The Owls swiped four gold medals en route to finishing fourth overall.

-Tyler DeVice

Football: Rhule honing in on four-star recruit

As the time dwindles in the 2014-15 recruiting period, the Owls are making a concerted effort to land four-star running back T.J. Simmons to its Class of 2015.

Per a report from the Inquirer, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound back visited Main Campus last week and – after decommitting from UCLA, is expected to sign with the Owls next Wednesday, during national signing day.

Simmons is ranked the No. 17 running back in the country by, a recruiting website.

Simmons is one of two four-star recruits expected to sign with the Owls, the other being New Jersey defensive back Kareem Ali Jr., who has already signed his letter of intent, according to

-EJ Smith

Women’s basketball: Covile makes honor roll

Junior forward Erica Covile was named to the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll Monday for the third time this season.

In games last week against Connecticut and Central Florida, Covile averaged 13.5 points, 9 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists. She is averaging 11.2 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game for the season.

The Owls, who went 1-1 through the two-game stretch, are fourth in The American with a 6-3 conference record and a 10-12 overall record.

-Michael Guise

Men’s basketball: Owls earn multiple honors

Will Cummings and Obi Enechionyia each earned American Athletic Conference honors Monday for their performances in wins against Central Florida and Tulane last week.

Enechionyia is the conference’s rookie of the week after averaging 10.5 points per game and 3 rebounds per game for the week.

Cummings was included in The American’s weekly honor roll after he averaged 13.5 ppg along with 5 rebounds and 4 blocks per game, respectively, through both games for the Owls (15-7, 6-3 The American).

-Andrew Parent

Softball: Cut team set to return as club

After being one of the five varsity sports cut by the athletic department last year, the softball team will return to play next season as a member of the National Club Softball Association.

The softball team ended its final season 15-30 (5-13 American Athletic Conference) and would have returned 15 players had the program stayed afloat.

The squad joins men’s gymnastics, men’s track & field and the baseball team as former Division I sports that are now club teams at the university.

-EJ Smith

Sánchez bound for Big 5 Hall of Fame

Pepe Sánchez, a former Temple All-American, was announced Monday to be headed to the Big 5 Hall of Fame. He’ll be inducted Monday, April 13 at the Palestra during the season-ending Big 5 banquet.

The Argentina native will be enshrined alongside longtime Philadelphia Daily News reporter Stan Hochman, former University of Pennsylvania forward Ugonna Onyekwe and Fox Sports 1 broadcaster Bill Raftery.

In a Temple career spanning from 1996 to 2000, Sanchez was named Big 5 MVP for his junior and senior seasons, while he still owns the university’s all-time record with 5.9 assists per game through his four years with the Owls.

While scoring wasn’t a primary aspect of his game, his assist numbers and 365 career steals helped him play two seasons in the NBA. After the 2002-03 season, Sanchez played for four teams overseas before closing out his career with Weber Bahia Estudiantes in Argentina from 2010-2013.

No. 16 Nittany Lions blank Owls

No. 16 Penn State dealt a 7-0 blowout defeat to the men’s tennis team Sunday. The Owls lost each match in straight sets.

The shutout marked the first instance this season in which the Owls were held without a point. They managed to get one point in matches against St. Joseph’s and Drexel in the City 6 Tournament.

The Nittany Lions controlled each match, and did not allow the Owls more than four games in any set.

Although the Nittany Lions dominated the Owls, coach Steve Mauro said this match is a stepping stone for his team.

“When you are winning games against these better teams and players, it gives you some confidence that you can compete with stronger teams if you put in the time to get better,” Mauro said.

Mauro said Penn State was better than squad Sunday, but that it can use this match early in the season as a judgment of where it stands as a team.

“Penn State was just better than us today,” Mauro said. “I think that something that the guys can take away from the match today is that we can compete with some of the better teams in the country … some of the scores were close on some of the courts, especially [junior Santiago Canete’s] match.”

The Owls (2-3) will have some time off before taking on Philadelphia University Feb. 13.

-Dalton Balthaser