Minnesota Twins Announce 2020 Pensacola Blue Wahoos Coaching Staff

January 11, 2020

The Minnesota Twins announced their Double-A minor league coaching staff assignments for the 2020 season on Friday, bringing a new-look staff to Pensacola with a familiar face at the helm. 2019 Blue Wahoos manager Ramon Borrego will return to lead the Blue Wahoos in 2020 after taking the team to the Southern League playoffs with a 76-63 finish last season.

Borrego will be surrounded by an almost entirely new support staff in 2020. Ryan Smith will join the Blue Wahoos from the Twins level A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, to serve as hitting coach. Pensacola will once again employ two pitching coaches with both Luis Ramirez and Nat Ballenberg joining the Blue Wahoos from High-A Fort Myers. Former Quinnipiac baseball assistant coach Joe Mangiameli will serve as a coach for Pensacola. Travis Koon returns as Pensacola’s strength and conditioning coach while Chris McNeely, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, becomes the team’s athletic trainer.

Ramon Borrego has coached in the Twins organization for 15 seasons, including 11 as a manager. After reaching Triple-A in a seven-season playing career with the Twins, Borrego became a coach in his native Venezuela for four seasons with the Twins affiliate in the Venezuelan Summer League. In 2009, he was promoted to manager of the Twins Dominican Summer League team before moving up to manage the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) Twins from 2010 through 2017. In 2018, he was promoted to High-A, leading the Fort Myers Miracle to the Florida State League title. In his first season at the Double-A level in 2019, he took the Blue Wahoos to the Southern League playoffs and graduated eight players from the team’s roster to the Major Leagues.

Ryan Smith joins the Blue Wahoos as hitting coach from the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Twins A-affiliate. With Smith coaching hitters in 2019, the Kernels finished second in the Midwest League in home runs and qualified for the playoffs with a 78-62 record. He played collegiately at the College of Central Florida and Valdosta State University and spent three seasons as a coach at Central Florida before joining the Twins organization in 2019.

A pair of pitching coaches move up from High-A Fort Myers to Pensacola in 2019: Luis Ramirez and Nat Ballenberg.

Ramirez spent four seasons as a pitching coach with the Twins rookie level affiliate Elizabethton before being promoted to Fort Myers in 2019. Under his tutelage, the Fort Myers pitching staff posted a 3.11 team ERA during the season, second best in the Florida State League and led the league with 1,188 strikeouts. Prior to his coaching career, he played professionally for 14 seasons in the United States, Venezuela, Columbia, and Taiwan.

Ballenberg joined the Twins during the 2019 season, assisting the Fort Myers coaching staff with performance evaluation and training to enhance player development. He spent nine seasons as a coach at Haverford College before joining the Twins organization. He holds a degree in economics from Haverford College and a Masters in Sports Leadership from Northeastern University.

Mangiameli enters his first season of coaching professionally in 2020 with the Blue Wahoos after spending 2019 with Quinnipiac University baseball and the three previous seasons with Eastern Connecticut State University. A 2016 graduate from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Sport Management, Mangiameli played collegiately for the SNHU Penman.

The Blue Wahoos training staff will consist of strength coach Travis Koon, a returnee from the 2019 staff, and athletic trainer Chris McNeely, who joins the Twins organization following four seasons as a coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system.

Argos For The Win: UWF Athletics Top 10 Moments Of The Decade

January 9, 2020

The lobby of the UWF Field House was remodeled early in 2019 to enhance presentation for the Argos growing treasure chest of athletics awards.

Looking back, the timing was perfect.

With the football team’s national title trophy now the latest, gleaming part of the display, UWF rings in a new year and new decade Wednesday on heels of its greatest past decade of athletics in school history.

From 2011 through 2019, the Argos won five NCAA national championships in four sports, along with four teams finishing national runners-up in various other years.

The Argos surpassed the century mark for Gulf South Conference championships across all sports. They had athletes win national awards for player/athlete of year and had coaches reach rare milestones for career wins.

This is truly the best of times in Argos’ athletics. The UWF brand has furthered its national profile in the NCAA, but most importantly, the Argos have made a major impact in the Pensacola area with awareness and support.

What better way to honor success than a Top 10 list of greatest achievements in the past 10 years? It was not an easy selection. And there are many others worthy of mention.

But here goes.

10. Volleyball twice hosted NCAA D-2 Championships – In addition to winning seven GSC volleyball titles during this decade, including the latest in 2019, plus reaching the NCAA tournament all 10 seasons, the UWF volleyball program under Melissa Wolter hosted the NCAA Championship tournament in 2012 and 2017.

It gave the Argos a chance to twice showcase the sport’s national stage in the Pensacola community. This season was Wolter’s 17th at UWF and 20th overall. She has been part of the coaching staff for USA Volleyball, the NCAA D-2 Women’s Volleyball National Committee and has taken the Argos to the NCAA Tournament in 14 consecutive seasons

9.  Women’s Swimming Program Launched, Champions Crowned – In 2013, UWF added its eighth women’s sport when the swimming and diving team began its inaugural season. It didn’t take long to make an impact.

The Argos finished No. 23 nationally in their first season, climbing to a pair of sixth-place NCAA finishes in 2016 and 2017.  During the program’s first six seasons, the Argos have honored a national swimmer of the year, Theresa Michalak (2017), who won five D-2 individual event titles in her career and two-time, national diver of the year, Monica Amaral (2016, 17), who swept the 1-meter and 3-meter diving titles.

8. Men’s Golf Has NCAA Champion – Chandler Blanchet created his special legacy in UWF golf program history by rallying from a three-shot deficit on the final three holes to win the 2017 NCAA Division II individual championship. He has gone on to build a solid start to his professional career, playing on the PGA Tours in Canada and Latin America the last two seasons while earning conditional status for the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.

He joined former UWF player Orjan Larsen (the 1998 D-2 NCAA champion) in winning the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award and the Arnold Palmer Award as medalist in the national championship tournament. Both players were mentored by long-time UWF coach Steve Fell, who has led UWF to a pair of D-2 national team championships and won national coach of the year three times in his 23 seasons.

The following season, UWF finished as 2018 NCAA D-2 national runner-up. In 2017, 2019 the team finished tied for third in the national tournament.

7. Men’s Basketball Has Historic Season – In his third season as UWF coach, Jeff Burkhamer led the Argos to their greatest heights. They reached the 2018 NCAA D-2 Tournament for the first time in school history, following a school-record 28-4 season.

The Argos cracked the national top 10 in the coaches poll for the first time in school history en route to winning their first GSC Tournament title. Though falling against Barry University in the first round NCAA South Regional, the breakthrough season brought large crowds to the UWF Field House and increased awareness in the community.

6. Softball’s Special Year – Under first-year coach Ashliegh McLean in 2019, the Argos produced their second-most wins as an NCAA-member program and second trip in three seasons to the Women’s College World Series. The Argos were ranked No. 1 nationally during four weeks of the regular-season and finished No. 5 in the final coaches poll.

The team’s 54-11 record was surpassed only by a 2005 team that won 60 games. The Argos won the GSC regular-season title, the GSC Tournament title and two NCAA regional titles enroute to reaching the national stage in Denver, Colo.

5. Women’s Basketball Reaches Elite Eight – In 2017, the Argos produced their greatest season in school history with a 28-7 record, including 18-4 in conference play and first-ever GSC regular-season title, plus the first-ever trip to the national quarterfinals.

In D-2, the final eight teams reach the national tournament stage and UWF battled No. 2 ranked California Baptist all the way, before losing 77-69. The game in Columbus, Ohio occurred during the height of March Madness and was shown by Pensacola area sports-theme restaurants.

4. UWF Men’s Tennis Gets Third National Title – After winning back-to-back championships in 2004 and 2005, the Argos produced the trifecta in 2014 with a 29-0 record and 5-3 win against Hawaii-Pacific in the national title match. They added a fourth three years later with a 32-1 slate in 2017.

In his 21 seasons, coach Derrick Racine has taken the Argos to the final four an astonishing 11 times. His teams have included four NCAA champions in singles, including Bruno Savi in 2013 and two doubles teams winning national titles, including Alex Peyrot-Pedro Dumont in 2016.

3. UWF Women’s Soccer Back-To-Back Title Appearances – In 2012, UWF capped an undefeated season (22-0-1) with a 1-0 victory against University of California-San Diego in the NCAA Division II national championship game.

Chelsea Palmer, the most decorated women’s soccer player in UWF history, scored the goal in the 76th minute. Palmer also scored the game-winner in the national semifinal. She was named the national player of the year and this year was inducted into the UWF Athletics Hall of Fame.

In 2013, UWF advanced to the national title game again, finishing runner up after a 2-0 loss to Grand Valley State. During the 2019 season, UWF’s long-time coach Joe Bartlinski attained his 500th career win. It’s been quite a decade for this program.

2. Baseball Team Wins 2011 D-2 College World Series – Three years after beloved coach Jim Spooner passed away after battling leukemia, his coaching prodigy, Mike Jeffcoat, took the Argos to the mountaintop.

They won their first NCAA region championship in dramatic fashion at Jim Spooner Field, then rolled through the CWS bracket in their first-ever appearance to win the national title. The Argos won a school-record 52 games that season, shattering the previous best of 43, which also happened under Jeffcoat’s guidance in 2007.

Beyond baseball, however, the win elevated UWF’s entire athletic profile in the Pensacola community and set the stage for what followed in succeeding years.

1. Football Team Wins Historic National Title – An easy choice. This was historic in NCAA football history across all divisions. The riveting, edge-of-seat, 48-40 triumph Dec. 21 against Minnesota State in the Division II title game in McKinney, Texas completed an improbable, dizzying odyssey in just four seasons of existence.

UWF went from a start-up program in 2016 — born a year earlier from practices on a well-used intramural field — to twice playing on ESPN broadcast for a national championship. It’s never happened before in college football history.

The 2017 breakthrough run and title game loss was topped in 2019 by playoff wins over unbeaten, No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6 ranked teams, all on the road. Incredible barely describes what this football program has attained in four years.

* UWF women’s golfer Paloma Vaccaro finished second in the 2018 NCAA D-2 Women’s Golf Championship tournament, the highest finish in school history.
* The UWF women’s tennis team produced a program-best 31-4 record in 2018 and reached the national championship match before losing to No. 1 ranked Barry University in the final.

Tate JV Cheerleaders Named Grand Champions At Chipley Tiger Cheer Challenge

January 5, 2020

The JV Tate Aggie cheerleaders brought home first place and the Grand Champion title Saturday from the Tiger Cheer Challenge at Chipley High School. They also won the title of Strongest Stunt Group in a stunt-off.

The Aggie cheerleaders took to the mat with a recently modified routine with changes that included increased difficulty in stunting.

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Pete Shinnick NameD D2Football.com National Coach Of The Year

January 1, 2020

For the second time in the last three years, UWF head coach Pete Shinnick was named the National Coach of the Year by D2Football.com as announced by the outlet on Tuesday afternoon.

Additionally, redshirt freshman Austin Reed and senior Samuel Antoine were named honorable mention All-Americans.

UWF finished 13-2 overall in 2019 after winning the program’s first national championship, 48-40 over Minnesota State, on Dec. 21. The Argonauts completed one of the most remarkable postseason runs in NCAA history, defeating three number one seeds and four-consecutive undefeated teams for the first time ever en route to the University’s 10th team national championship.

Shinnick, who earned the award in 2017, is 35-17 in four seasons at UWF, which includes a 9-1 record in postseason play. He is 138-63 all-time as a college head coach spanning 18 seasons with stops at Azusa Pacific and UNC Pembroke.

Reed threw for 4,089 yards and 272.6 yards per game – 13th nationally – while going 13-1 as a starter after taking over the role after week one. He completed 57 percent of his passes and tossed 40 touchdowns while rushing for six more. The St. Augustine, Fla. product was responsible for 278 points and ranked 12th in the country with 18.5 points responsible per game.

Antoine completed a standout career with 13 starts in 2019 while appearing in all 41 contests during his three seasons at UWF. In 2019, the left tackles from Weston, Fla. native helped UWF average 412.3 yards of total offense, with 281.2 through the air and 131.1 on the ground. The offensive line allowed just 1.4 sacks per game.

Reed and Antoine are the ninth and tenth All-America selections in program history.

The D2Football.com All-America Team was selected by the staff of D2Football.com with input from coaches, staff, scouts, and sports information directors from around the country. D2Football.com has named an All-America Team since its inception in 2000.

Photo Morgan Givens/ UWF Athletics for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Tate Soccer Players Attend Disney College Showcase

December 31, 2019

Five Tate High School Aggie soccer players competed in the Disney College Showcase in Orlando. The event gives college coaches a chance to see prospective student athletes. Tate players attending (pictured above) were: #9 Nathan Bailey, #6 Chase Mills, #4 Logan Tyree, #00 Caleb Thompson and #23 Owen Jacobs. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

College Football Bowl Games, And Where To Watch Them On TV

December 27, 2019

The 2019-20 college football bowl schedule with kickoff times and TV information is below:

Dec. 28

Camping World Bowl — Dec. 28
No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State
Camping World Stadium
Orlando, FL
11 a.m. | ABC

Cotton Bowl Classic — Dec. 28
No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 17 Memphis
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, TX
11 a.m. | ESPN

Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal) — Dec. 28
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Atlanta, GA
3 p.m. | ESPN

Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal) — Dec. 28
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Clemson
State Farm Stadium
Glendale, AZ
7 p.m. | ESPN

Dec. 30

First Responder Bowl — Dec. 30
Western Kentucky vs. Western Michigan
Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Dallas, TX
11:30 a.m. | ESPN

Music City Bowl — Dec. 30
Louisville vs. Mississippi State
Nissan Stadium
Nashville, TN
3p.m. | ESPN

Redbox Bowl — Dec. 30
California vs. Illinois
Levi’s Stadium
Santa Clara, CA
3 p.m. | FOX

Orange Bowl — Dec. 30
No. 9 Florida vs. No. 24 Virginia
Hard Rock Stadium
Miami Gardens, FL
7 p.m. | ESPN
Dec. 31

Belk Bowl — Dec. 31
Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, NC
111 a.m. | ESPN

Sun Bowl — Dec. 31
Arizona State vs. Florida State
Sun Bowl
El Paso, TX
1 p.m. | CBS

Liberty Bowl — Dec. 31
Kansas State vs. Navy
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Memphis, TN
2:45 p.m. | ESPN

Arizona Bowl — Dec. 31
Georgia State vs. Wyoming
Arizona Stadium
Tucson, AZ
3:30 p.m. | CBSSN

Alamo Bowl — Dec. 31
No. 11 Utah vs. Texas
San Antonio, TX
6:30 p.m. | ESPN

Jan. 1, 2020

Citrus Bowl — Jan. 1
No. 13 Alabama vs. No. 14 Michigan
Camping World Stadium
Orlando, FL
Noon | ABC

Outback Bowl — Jan. 1
No. 12 Auburn vs. No. 18 Minnesota
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, FL
Noon. | ESPN

Rose Bowl Game — Jan. 1
No. 6 Oregon vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
Rose Bowl
Pasadena, CA
4 p.m. | ESPN

Sugar Bowl — Jan. 1
No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, LA
7:45 p.m. | ESPN

Jan. 2

Birmingham Bowl — Jan. 2
No. 21 Cincinnati vs. Boston College
Legion Field
Birmingham, AL
2 p.m. | ESPN

Gator Bowl — Jan. 2
Indiana vs. Tennessee
TIAA Bank Stadium
Jacksonville, FL
6 p.m. | ESPN
Jan. 3

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — Jan. 3
Nevada vs. Ohio
Albertsons Stadium
Boise, ID
2:30 p.m. | ESPN
Jan. 4

Armed Forces Bowl — Jan. 4
Southern Miss vs. Tulane
Amon G. Carter Stadium
Fort Worth, TX
10:30 a.m. | ESPN
Jan. 6

LendingTree Bowl — Jan. 6
Louisiana vs. Miami (Ohio)
Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Mobile, AL
6:30 p.m. | ESPN
Jan. 13

College Football Playoff National Championship Game — Jan. 13
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, LA
4 p.m. | ESPN

UWF Ends Season At No. 1 In Final AFCA Coaches Poll

December 26, 2019

The University of West Florida’s football national championship was confirmed in the latest coaches poll.

The UWF football team was voted number one in the final coaches poll as announced by the American Football Coaches Association this week.
UWF finished the season 13-2 after winning the program’s first national championship, 48-40 over Minnesota State, on Saturday night. The Argonauts rose 19 spots from 20 at the end of the regular season as they completed one of the most remarkable postseason runs in NCAA history, defeating three number one seeds and four-consecutive undefeated teams for the first time ever en route to the University’s 10th team national championship.

UWF received all 31 first place votes and is ranked number one in the coaches poll for the first time in history. The previous best was number two at the end of 2017 following the run to the title game that season, and during the first two rankings of 2018.

The Argos beat each of the other four teams in the top five during their 2019 run. MSU finished second, followed by Ferris State at No. 3, Lenoir-Rhyne at No. 4 and Valdosta State at No. 5. Wingate, UWF’s opening round opponent, ended the year at No. 19.

UWF was playing in it’s second NCAA Championship Game in four seasons of football. The team improved to 35-17 all-time after starting in 2016. The Argonauts are 9-1 in NCAA postseason games and own the highest winning percentage in D2 history among teams who have played a minimum of 10 playoff games.

UWF Argos Win National Championship (With Photo Gallery)

December 22, 2019

Redshirt freshman Austin Reed had a record-setting performance and senior Quentin Randolph saved his best for last as 20th-ranked UWF defeated fourth-ranked Minnesota State, 48-40, for the program’s first Division II National Championship at McKinney ISD Stadium Saturday.

UWF (13-2) completed one of the most remarkable postseason runs in NCAA history, defeating three number one seeds and four-consecutive undefeated teams for the first time ever en route to the University’s 10th team national championship.

Reed finished with a school and NCAA Championship single-game record 523 passing yards and tied both organization marks with six passing touchdowns. He was 33-of-54 on the day with his completions tying the finals mark and his attempts setting a new top effort. He had 399 yards by halftime to break the previous yardage mark of 361 which had stood since 2002.

With all that passing, Randolph and Lehtio were the beneficiaries. Randolph had 10 receptions for a school-record 254 yards and tied the championship game mark with three touchdowns. Lehtio set the title game record with 13 catches for 139 yards and a score.

But for all the fireworks the Argonauts were putting up, MSU was keeping pace. UWF scored first and the teams traded touchdowns for the first five possessions of the game. That’s when the Argos forced the first of their three turnovers.

UWF converted a Nate Gunn fumble into an Austin Williams 31-yard field goal to go up 24-14. The teams again traded touchdowns before the Argos got a fourth down stop at the 1-yard line with 56 seconds left. Rather than run the ball and accept a 10-point lead, head coach Pete Shinnick dialed up a 37-yard strike to Ka’Ron Ashley, a 14-yard route to Lehtio before Randolph ran down a 48-yarder in the end zone to go up 38-21 at the break.

The Mavericks came out and drove inside the UWF five before Myles Meyer forced another Gunn fumble that the Argos recovered. But after a 3-and-out, they were forced to punt. Dawson Hamlin boomed a 55-yarder as he stood back deep in his own end zone and the third MSU fumble followed as Justin Arnold muffed the punt, giving the Argos possession at the MSU 40.

Seven plays later, Reed hit Lehtio on a slant from the eight to put UWF up 45-21 midway through the third.

MSU scored on a special teams miscue by the Argos a few minutes later and got within 45-29 after a 2-point conversion. UWF got three points back on a 30-yard Williams field goal at the start of the fourth for a 48-29 lead.

The Mavericks got a field goal of their own with 9:52 left and then pulled to within 48-40 on a Shane Zylstra touchdown with 4:03 to play.

UWf ran 1:51 off the clock on its next possession before MSU got the ball at he 20 following a Hamlin 59-yard touchback. The Mavericks drove down to the UWF red zone in less than a minute before the Argos defense made the key stop. After a 2-yard run, Andre Duncombe, Jr. hurried Ryan Schlichte into an incompletion and followed it with a sack to set up fourth down. Schlichte went to the All-American Zylstra but Marcus Clayton was there for the break-up to clinch the title for the Argos. It was his fourth break-up of the game to go along with six tackles. UWF ended the game with five sacks and seven tackles for loss.

MSU (14-1) finished with 562 yards of total offense – one more than UWF.

UWF was playing in it’s second NCAA Championship Game in four seasons of football. The team improved to 35-17 all-time after starting in 2016. The Argonauts are 9-1 in NCAA postseason games and now own the highest winning percentage in D2 history among teams who have played a minimum of 10 playoff games.

The road to the title featured wins over No. 16 Wingate (38-17), No. 1 and defending national champion Valdosta State (38-35), No. 6 Lenoir-Rhyne (43-38) and No. 2 Ferris State (28-14). The wins over the Blazers, Bears and Bulldogs ended the three longest home field winning streaks in Division 2 and those victories, along with Saturday’s were all over teams that entered the game undefeated..

For a photo gallery, click here.

Photos Morgan Givens/ UWF Athletics for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

1979 Ernest Ward High School State Championship Football Team Holds Reunion

December 20, 2019

The 1979 Ernest Ward High School state championship football team recently held their 40 year reunion. The reunion was held in the gymnasium of what is now Ernest Ward Middle School.

Under the leadership of head coach Steve McCord, the Ernest Ward Golden Eagles won the 1979 Class A state title with a 13-6 upset of the No. 1 ranked Benjamin High School Bucs of Palm Beach Gardens at Booster Stadium in Ocala.

The 1979 Ernest Ward-Benjamin game still holds the state record for the fewest two-team turnovers during a state final. Both teams were turnover free. The 1979 Golden Eagles were the only team in state football history to knock off three No. 1 ranked teams in the same season.

Ernest Ward High School and Century High School were combined to create Northview High School, which won the Class 1A state crown in 2012. The Century Blackcats with head coach Joe Cardwell  fell short of a title by just one point back in 1986 with a 8-7 loss at home to Glades Day High of Belle Glade.

Pictured top: The 1979 Ernest Ward High School state championship football team  (front, L-R) Tommy Van Pelt, Marion Cooper, Eric Sanders, Mike Dignam, David Bell, Byron Vaughn, Todd Wiggins, Bill Smith and Perry Byars; (back) Coach Steve McCord, Kevin Beck, Scott Ward, David Beck, Mike Solomon, Mark Hanks, Kenny Bryan, Todd Linam, Phillip Robbins, Glen Sharpless and Kevin Morgan. Pictured below: The 1979 Ernest Ward High School state championship football  team. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Tate High Aggie Soccer Defeats Pine Forest 9-0

December 19, 2019

Tate High soccer beat Pine Forest Wednesday night and fell to Navarre Monday night.

Tate 9, Pine Forest 0

Wednesday night, the Tate Aggies defeated Pine Forest 9-0.

For Tate: Junior Owen Jacobs 2 goals, 1 assist; junior Logan Tyree 1 goal, 1 assist; senior Gustavo Pineda 2 goals, 2 assists; sophomore Sam Megginson 1 goal; junior Nathan Bailey 1 goal and 1 assist; senior Braedon Ladd 2 goals; and junior Calenj Arnevik 1 assist.

Up next,  Tate Senior Night is this Friday versus Milton High at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium.

Navarre 4, Tate 1

Monday night, Tate lost to Navarre 4-1.

The lone goal was shot by Junior Nathan Bailey with the assist from Junior Logan Tyree.

NorthEscambia.com file photo by Mitch Arnevik, click to enlarge.

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