Editor's Note: On April 9, 2012, Georgia State was officially invited to join the Sun Belt Conference and compete for 14 league titles starting July 1, 2013. This is the final story in a seven-part series looking at the Panthers' move into the Sun Belt, including an historical look back, a peek around the conference as a whole, as well as sport-specific information about GSU's upcoming league opponents.
In this seven-part series of GSU’s move into the Sun Belt, we finish with a look at cross country, soccer, volleyball, golf, tennis and track and field.
The Georgia State women’s cross country team debuted last year with a Sun Belt championship. This fall, the Panthers aim for a repeat as they return five letterwinners. Second-place Arkansas State returns a top runner who advanced to the NCAA meet and will be a tough challenger among the field vying for the title on Nov. 2 at Troy.
In women’s soccer last fall, the Sun Belt ended in a three-team tie for first place while five teams finished with 11 or more wins. With those top three teams moving on to another league, GSU’s women’s squad could make an immediate impact in the Sun Belt. GSU hopes to save its best for the tournament that will be held Nov. 6-10 at fellow newcomer Texas State.
In Sun Belt volleyball last year, there was Western Kentucky and then everyone else. With a 33-4 record and No. 17 national ranking, Western Kentucky dominated the league, putting the bar high for all teams. Rival Troy was a 21-win team and Georgia State edged it in last year’s season opener, giving the Panthers hope to make an quick impact in 2013. The league tournament begins Nov. 21 at Troy.
|SUN BELT SERIES
|Original Sun Belt Members||Video|
|Today's Sun Belt Members||Video|
|GSU's Youth Movement Heads to the SBC||Video|
|Introducing SBC Football||Video|
|Introducing SBC Men's and Women's Basketball||Video|
|Introducing SBC Baseball and Softball||Video|
In the spring, GSU’s sports could again be among the best in the Sun Belt.
The men’s tennis team won the Sun Belt championship and the women advanced to the title match this past spring. GSU’s nationally ranked programs return a strong core, meaning plenty of eyes will be on the Panthers when the tournaments take place in New Orleans in April. The women’s team returns its NCAA tournament singles star and doubles team, while the men look for ways to replace its NCAA leader and doubles team.
The golf teams will also compete with the leaders for the top spot in the Sun Belt. The men’s team returns everyone on the roster, including a freshman All-American, so the expectations will be high after finishing second in the Sun Belt in 2013. The women’s team also returns a strong roster to face a league without the top two women’s teams from last year, leaving GSU primed to challenge for the title.
The strong Sun Belt track and field programs sent 18 individuals to the NCAA Championships in 2013, so GSU will face a formidable field at the championship meet in May at Texas State. Last year’s league champion has moved to another conference, so the battle will be on for a new leader. Record-holding distance runner Katharine Showalter will return for a final season to lead the Panther charge.