There is plenty of going on this week for Cougar athletics with Region IX volleyball action in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the opening of the basketball season for the men’s and women’s teams.
The big event is the volleyball regional tournament where the Cougars will be going for their 20th straight Region IX championship. But, unlike the previous 19 years, this year’s tournament is just one tourney between the North and South with the top two teams qualifying for the Nov. 15-17 national tourney in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The tournament will be played at Storey Gym in Cheyenne. Story Gymnasium is located at 2811 House Ave. Admission to the tournament includes a tournament pass for $40, adult one-day pass $15, student day pass $5, and children under 10 free.
The format might have changed, but the quest is still the same with a Region IX title on the line.
WNCC enters the tournament as the top seed from the South and will face the winner of a play-in game between Sheridan and McCook. Sheridan and McCook will play at 10 a.m. with the winner playing WNCC at 1 p.m.
This is where the bracket gets complicated. The first Region IX championship game will be played Friday at 4 p.m. between the two remaining winners of the eight teams that made bracket play. The winner of Friday’s title will win one Region IX championship and represent District C at nationals.
The other teams, who suffered a loss will drop to an elimination bracket with the winner of that bracket earning a berth at nationals representing District D as the other regional champion. That means, the team that losses on Friday will fall automatically into Saturday’s championship match at 4 p.m.
Sounds complicated, but in a sense, the top two teams still qualify for nationals.
Last year LCCC won the North and WNCC won the South. The last team to win a regional title when all the teams were represented was Eastern Wyoming College in 1998 when they defeated Northeastern Junior College. That year, only one team from Region IX qualified for nationals.
LCCC has never won a regional title when all the teams were represented while WNCC has garnered just one regional title in that format back in 1988. The Cougars did finish runner-up back then in 1986 and 1976.
While the volleyball team will competing in their regional tournament, the men’s and women’s basketball teams will be kicking off their season. Both teams are on the road facing ranked opponents.
The WNCC men are ranked themselves as they head to Riverton, Wyoming, for the CWC Classic. WNCC is ranked 14th in the NJCAA pre-season polls and they will open the season against the host team, Central Wyoming College, on Thursday at 6 p.m. WNCC will then wrap up the Classic when they face the College of Southern Idaho at 3 p.m. on Friday.
Last season the Cougars went 3-0 against Central Wyoming, winning 87-82 at Cougar Palace before winning 103-85 at Riverton. The third meeting between the two squads came at the regional tournament when WNCC won 77-67.
WNCC and College of Southern Idaho split a pair of games last season. The Golden Eagles won the first meeting 106-98 before the Cougars turned the trick and topped CSI 92-87 on the Golden Eagles’ home court.
The WNCC women will also open the season this weekend on the road and they will have a battle on their hands in the season-opener when they host No. 10 Seward County Community College at 5 p.m. before wrapping up the Pizza Hut Classic in Liberal, Kansas, on Saturday against Garden City Community College at noon.
Last season the Cougar women finished the year at 29-5 falling in the Region IX championship game to Casper College. WNCC earned an at-large berth to the national tournament where they competed well against Tallahassee Community College before falling 97-85. Tallahassee went on to win the national title.
The only other team that will be in action this weekend, but it will be with community service will be the Cougar softball team. The softball players will be helping out with the 10th annual Warrior Run that will be held at the Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering.
The Great Western Bank Warrior Run is a fundraising event to promote the organization and is a great way to support the local veterans. Over 95 percent of the sponsorship and registration fees go directly to helping veterans and military families in the Wyobraska area.
The race will be held Nov. 3 with registration set for 9-9:45 a.m. with the race to follow at 10 a.m.. There will be a kids fun run sponsored by Webb Orthodontics that morning at 11 a.m.