January 27, 2015

Park University volleyball coach recognized by the K.C. Sports Commission for pulling off rare feat of 70 wins in one season

Mike Talamantes (photo Park Athletics)

Mike Talamantes (photo Park Athletics)

Two national championships in the same season.  A 40-0 record in Park University’s 2014 women’s volleyball national championship run, and 70 victories overall during the 2014 season earned Park volleyball coach Mike Talamantes the Burns and McDonnell Coach of the Year award from the 2015 Kansas City Sports Commission.

How was Talamantes able to pull off the feat?  He coaches both the men’s and women’s programs.

Talamantes started the 2014 season with a 30-4 men’s record highlighted by two national-tournament wins over tournament favorite Concordia-Irvine. The Pirates were 8-0 in the NAIA South Division, earning a spot in the NAIA National Invitational in Denver with an outright conference championship, and the team won 12-straight matches, including two in late April over No. 1 Concordia in Denver to take the Pirates’ first of two volleyball championships in 2014.

Park’s second title came after the women’s program completed a perfect 40-0 season, win 120 sets in 126 tries. The Pirates were outright conference champions in the American Midwest Conference for women’s volleyball.  In the championship match, Park won over the University of Texas at Brownsville, in three sets.

Now in its third year, the honor has previously been awarded to two collegiate head football coaches – Kansas State University’s Bill Snyder at the 2013 banquet, and Northwest Missouri State University’s Adam Dorrel in 2014.  Talamantes beat out 2015 finalists, Royals manager Ned Yost, UMKC volleyball coach Christy Posey, Central Missouri and current Mizzou head men’s basketball coach Kim Anderson, and Jim Aziere, who coaches swimming at Raytown High School and Raytown South High School.

“2014 was an incredible ride personally and professionally, but I am just one reason why both teams were able to take home National Championships,” Talamantes told ParkAthletics.com.  “I also want to thank all of the players who were instrumental in leading us throughout the year and thank them for letting me be a part of it.”

Talamantes had enough All-America awards between his teams to fill a lineup sheet, including Rob Cordero and Daniel Arteaga on the men’s side, and  Wendy Romero,Juliana Barros and Wanessa Siqueira from the women’s program. Siqueira earned two All-America designations, earning one of the NAIA/AVCA All-America positions, as well as the most prestigious award to combine academics and athletics, the 2014 Capital One Women’s Volleyball Academic All-American of the Year, an award given by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

His teams also had two national championship MVPs, including Wendy Romero from the women’s championship and Rob Cordero.

In addition to Talamantes’ award, Royals GM Dayton Moore was named executive of the year…no surprise there…getting the Royals to the World Series. Mizzou defensive end Shane Ray was named the Sportsman of the Year.

The Kansas City Sports Commission banquet is on April 15, at the Muehlbach Tower in Kansas City.

Park University has campuses in Parkville, Mo., Kansas City, Mo., and Independence, Mo.

Kuligowski staying at Mizzou. Pulls name out of running for Illinois opening

Craig Kuligowski (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

Craig Kuligowski (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

University of Missouri Assistant Football Coach Craig Kuligowski announced today that he has withdrawn his name for consideration for a co-defensive coordinator coaching position at Illinois, and will remain at Mizzou.

“As a coach, you’re always looking to advance yourself professionally in hopes of someday having a chance to become a head coach. It was important for me and my family to consider this opportunity, and I’m grateful to have gone through the experience, but after evaluating everything, what is best for us is to stay here at Mizzou. We’ve built something special here at Mizzou, and I’m excited to continue to be part of it.”

If Kuligowski leaves for Illinois, with reports saying it’s likely, is Pitts in line for a quick promotion at Mizzou?

Phil Pitts addresses his Helias players after a recent football game. (photo/HeliasCrusaders.com)

Phil Pitts addresses his Helias players after a recent football game. (photo/HeliasCrusaders.com)

With the announcement that Dave Steckel was leaving as Missouri defensive coordinator to join Missouri State as their head football coach, the most valuable assistant that Gary Pinkel had on his staff was defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski.  The Missouri Tigers best position that has generated the most pros in recent season comes from the defensive line that “Kool” coaches.

So why would Kuligowski leave a gig like Missouri, where he’s had success and been with Pinkel for 23 seasons?  Was Kuligowski bitter over the fact that he wasn’t named as the replacement to Stec?  If he takes the Illinois job, he’ll have the title as “co-coordinator.”  It’s not necessarily a lateral move, but at the same, he’s still not a defensive coordinator.  It just doesn’t seem like a coach of Kuligowski’s stature would make a sideways move just to try something different.  Is it likely Kuligowski could replace Tim Banks who just completed his third season as Illinois’ defensive coordinator?  They were calling for Banks’ job after the 2013 season. He was hired in January 2012 as part of Tim Beckman’s first staff at Illinois.

The timing of this news comes just days after Pinkel announced that former player and Helias Catholic head football coach Phil Pitts was joining the staff as a defensive analyst, where Pitts will be responsible for focusing on assisting new defensive coordinator Barry Odom with a day-to-day evaluation of the Missouri defense, which includes self-scouting, as well as various other duties related to the operation of the football program. (That’s straight from the Tigers’ mouth).

This could be a natural move up for Pitts, who compiled a 40-15 record while winning district championships each year and finishing as Missouri Class 4 state runner up in two of those years (2012 and 2013). Prior to that, Pitts was an assistant coach on the Helias staff for six seasons (2005-10).

He also played in 40 games at Mizzou as a defensive lineman.  For Pitts, d-line was his natural position, and he was in Pinkel’s system.  “Here’s a guy who came through our program during our building phase, and he demonstrated great leadership in some difficult times, and clearly had a passion for the game of football. He’s done great things at a first-class program like Helias, and we are looking forward to Phil adding his skills to our team,” Pinkel said.

Chris Carpenter, Billy Butler and the ’69 Missouri Tigers among the many inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame held the 2015 Enshrinement Ceremony Sunday night the University Plaza and Convention Center in Springfield, which honored a class consisting of 14 individuals, one team and one program. The Hall of Fame also named Ned Reynolds the 28th Missouri Sports Legend.

The other inductees include:

Chris Carpenter – Baseball, St. Louis Cardinals

One of the great Cardinals pitchers in franchise history, Chris Carpenter was with the Cardinals from 2004 until his retirement following the 2012 season. He is a three time All-Star selection as well as two-time World Series champion, the NL Cy Young Award Winner (2006), NL Comeback Player of the Year (2009) and NL ERA Champion (2009). He is the winningest post-season pitcher in Cardinals history and amassed a 95-44 regular season record with a 3.07 ERA in St. Louis.

Billy Butler – Baseball, Kansas City Royals

Drafted by the Royals in 2004, Billy Butler made his debut for KC in 2007 and would become the face of the Royals for the next eight seasons. Butler, nicknamed “Country Breakfast,” was not only a fan favorite but was also one of the most consistent Royals during his tenure. In those eight seasons with the Royals, Butler had a .295 average with 127 home runs and 628 RBI. He was an All-Star selection in 2012 and won the Silver Slugger Award that same season as well as the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. In Butler’s final season with the Royals, 2014, he helped the team to the AL Wild Card Championship, Division Championship and ALCS title before falling in seven games in the World Series. In his first postseason, he hit .262 (11 for 42) with eight RBIs, three doubles and a stolen base in 13 games as Kansas City won its first American League pennant since 1985.

Nick Lowery – Football, Kansas City Chiefs

[Read more…]

University of Illinois football making a run at Mizzou’s top assistant coach Craig Kuligowski

Craig Kuligowski (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

Craig Kuligowski (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

FootballScoop.com is reporting that Mizzou defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski has been offered the co-coordinator and defensive line coaching position at Illinois. Coach “Kool” has been with Gary Pinkel for 23 years, including 19 as defensive line coach.

According to the website’s sources, Kuligowski is expected to accept the offer.

Kuligowski has coached the last two SEC Defensive Players of the Year in Shane Ray (a projected first-rounder) and Michael Sam in 2013.  Kuligowski has coached nine Tigers to 1st-Team All-Conference honors, including eight overall in the last eight seasons – Lorenzo Williams in 2007, followed by Ziggy Hood in 2008, Aldon Smith in 2010, Dominique Hamilton in 2011, Sheldon Richardson in 2012, and two more in 2013 – Michael Sam and Kony Ealy and Ray in 2014.

How valuable is Kuligowski to the Mizzou program? According to STLToday.com, there are eight former Mizzou defensive lineman playing in the NFL. Kuligowski has coached seven of them.

The two schools could be reversing roles.  Just prior to the 2014 season, Missouri hired away A.J. Ricker from Illinois to become the new offensive line coach.