Category: Sports

Cross country teams dominant at Abilene Christian Invitational

by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor 

After a strong start to their season the South Plains College men’s and women’s cross country teams kept the momentum going at the Abilene Christian Invitational.

The teams returned to Abilene on Sept. 18 for the second meet in a row to compete at the ACU Invitational.

The Texans continued their dominance in the Junior College Division, posting their second first-place finish this year with a total score of 18 team points in the event.

Angelo State finished second at the ACU invitational, finishing 27 points behind SPC with a final team score of 45.

The Texans were led by sophomore Hassan Abdi for the second consecutive meet. Abdi covered the 6,000-meter course in a time of 18:39.82, placing first overall in the individual standings for the second time this season. He even out-ran Texas Tech’s Evans Tuitoek, who placed first overall in the Division I standings with a time of 18:46.45.

The second Texan to finish the course for SPC was Nicholas Rotich, who posted a time of 19:22.41 and placed second overall at the meet.

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Deric Martinez (left) and Jose Silva run during a recent practice. JAYCEE CALDWELL/PLAINSMAN PRESS

The next Texans to finish the race were fellow freshmen Jose Silva and Omero Rodriguez. The runners finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with times of 19:34.62 and 19:51.01.

Finishing just a few seconds behind his teammates was freshman Deric Martinez, who crossed the line with a time of  19:55.45.

After a tough start to their 2015 season, the Lady Texans came back strong in their second meet of the year with a second overall finish in the team standings at the ACU Invitational.

The Lady Texans battled it out with Angelo State for most of the race. ASU finished with a team score of 25 points, while SPC was just six points behind with a team score of 31 points.

Sophomore Kassidi Jones led the SPC women for the second consecutive week, wrapping up the 5,000-meter course in just 20:48.83 and placing fourth overall in the contest.

The next runner to cross the finish line for the Lady Texans was freshman Heather Maldonado, who finished the race with a time of 21:05.21 and placed fifth overall in the individual standings.

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Mya Perez (left) Heather Moldonado, and Connor Hughes (right) running on the SPC track field. JAYCEE CALDWELL/PLAINSMAN PRESS

Next to score for the SPC women were freshmen Sasha-Gay Whyte and Megan Kinsey, posting times of 21:15.79 and 22:06.71, respectively, which put them at sixth and seventh overall.

The final runner to score for the Lady Texans was freshman Mya Perez, who posted a time of 23:22.26 and finished ninth overall at the meet.

After two strong performances in their first meets of the year, the men’s and women’s cross country teams were back in action on Sept. 26, traveling to Stillwater, Okla., for the Cowboy Jambree. Results were not available at press time.

Athletes with concussions risk further injury returning to play too soon

by: STEVEN GEHEGAN/Staff Writer

In recent years, no injury has gotten the attention of the public than concussions in football.

Former National Football League players have been suffering from depression and memory loss, and some even have been driven to end their lives. With all of the problems the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have had, they started adding new rules to protect players. The NCAA has a rule that if a player leads with his head and hits another player’s head, he will be ejected from the game. The NFL also has put in place many rules along those lines. Still, players are suffering from concussions, and the problem seems to be going from the NFL all the way down to youth football. Their needs to be a change in the way concussions are treated. I think that I have the answer to this problem.

Speaking as someone who has had a concussion from playing football, which was diagnosed as a minor concussion, there is a way to deal with these head injuries and walk away from football with no mental problems. When I was dealing with my concussion, I was given a standard concussion test to see if I had one, which I did. After that, I had to see a doctor, and he told me that I only had a minor concussion. As long as I took some time off of playing football, I would be fine.

After one week, I went back to see if I could pass the concussion test to get back to football. I failed the test the first week, and then I failed the test the second week and the third week. It took me a month to get back from a minor concussion, and yet you see players in the NFL, NCAA and some high school players get a concussion then play the next week or even come back into the game. There lies the problem with concussions. The player continues to play with a head injury, even though he has passed some kind of concussion test.

If the NFL really wants to protect their players, then they will need to put in new rules to protect their players. First, if the players are passing the concussion test after a few days, then the test needs to have a higher standard of what is healthy for the player’s safety. Second, if a player gets a head injury, than the player needs to be away from football for a minimum of two weeks. The final rule is if a player is knocked out on the field, that player should not play football for a month.

There is no way to prevent head injuries in a sport like football. But if the players are allowed time to heal properly, then there would be fewer problems after the player stops playing football. If all the major football organizations apply these rules, then football will be safer long term for all who play the game.

Cross country teams have strong performances in season opened

by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor 

The South Plains College men’s and women’s cross country teams picked up were they left off in 2014, kicking off their season with a victory at the Bill Libby Invitational meet in Abilene.

The SPC men’s cross country team didn’t miss a step in their first race of the season on Sept. 5, as the Texans took five of the top 10 spots and placed first overall in the team standings with a team score of 31 points and a combined time 1:19:40.78.

Coming in second, was Texas Wesleyan, finishing a staggering 36 points behind SPC. With a score of 67 points and a time of 1:22:08.

Finishing in third place was Ranger Community College with a team score of 93 points in 1:24:04.80.

Sophomore Hassan Abdi was back in perfect form, leading the Texans on the 5,000-meter course in just 15:30:78 and placing first overall.

The next Texan to cross the finish line was freshman Nicholas Ritich. Ritich finished the race only seconds behind Abdi, posting a time of 15:49:79, and finishing sixth overall. The next two runner to score for the Texans were sophomore Kelvin Keter and freshman Jose Silva, who finished the course with times of 16:01:45 and 16:03:79, respectively, and seventh and eighth overall.

The final runner to score for the Texans was Deric Martinez, who finished ninth overall with a time of 16:14:97.

Abelene Christian dominated the woman’s race, taking the top five places and giving them a perfect score of 15 points in the race. Angelo State and Texas Wesleyan finished second and third overall with 75 and 98 points, respectively.

The Lady Texans finished with a final team score of 174 points, which was good for sixth place overall in the team standings.

Sophomore Kassidi Jones was the first Lady Texan to finish the race, posting a time of 21:25:14 and placing 26th overall.

The next runner to cross the finish line for the SPC women’s team was freshman Heather Maldonado, who ran the course in 22:17:36 and finished 34th overall.

Just seconds behind Maldonado were fellow freshmen Mya Perez and Megan Kinsey, who posted times of 22:23:60 and 23:37:02, respectively, and finished 36th and 39th overall.

The last Lady Texan to finish the race was freshman Sasha-Gaye Whyte with a time of 23:02:47.

The SPC cross-country teams will return to Abilene on Sept. 18 for The ACU Invitational.

Baylor transfer sparks reform in NCAA rules

by: NICK ALVARADO/Editorial Assistant

This college football off-season has been headlined with new coaches going to big-name programs, player suspensions and player transfers.

With the new transfer rules this season, all incoming transfers across college football have to wait to step onto the field for a year. But some transferred for the wrong reasons and had to deal with suspensions before the season started, or were suspended and went to transfer to another college or university hoping to step onto the football field for a chance to play and knowing that they were suspended from the team.

Boise State transfer Sam Ukwuachu went to Baylor with a suspension already in place. Baylor accepted him and placed him on the team in 2013. During his time in Waco, Ukwuachu was never on the roster for training camp and never went in for a single play for the Bears. Obviously, he was ineligible for the 2013 season with the new National Collegiate Athletic Association transfer rules.

This season, Ukwuachu is not included on the Baylor roster and will not play after he was found guilty of raping an ex-Baylor women’s soccer player in 2013. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years of probation and 400 hours of community service. The big question is what did Baylor know when Ukwuachu came to Waco? That question remains to be answered and most likely won’t be answered. Baylor Head football Coach Art Briles denied that he was informed of Ukwuachu’s past at Boise State, where he was accused of assaulting a former girlfriend.

After this incident, Baylor president Ken Starr created a new positon that will oversee “all student-athlete behavior.” This move is one step toward cracking down on transfers who are already suspended and are known for being trouble. All collegiate athletic programs should look deeper into student-athlete transfers who have had a history of being in trouble. If so, they shall be rejected by the university that they are transferring to. The NCAA should also check every transfer that occurs and negate any transfers who already have been suspended, or are known to have a violent past at the university that they are transferring from. Some college students are now getting involved in illegal activity and potentially jeopardizing their scholarships and their spot in the university’s athletic program.

Former Boise State head football coach Chris Peterson, who is now at the University of Washington, only disclosed the relationship of Ukwuachu and his girlfriend. Boise State did acknowledge that Ukwuachu was not suspended due to disciplinary reasons. Transfer paperwork showed that Ukwuachu was not dismissed for disciplinary reasons.

Boise State has not announced the reasoning behind Ukwuachu’s release from the team back in 2013, and that will be the biggest question everyone wants the answer to.

Rousey dominance impacts growth of sport

by:JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor

In the past five years, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey has been rocketed to stardom by her pure dominance of the women’s division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

But is her dominance really what women’s professional MMA needs?

In 2012, Rousey signed a professional contract with the UFC, making her the first woman in history to do so. That, in turn, made her the first and only women’s champion in its history.

Since her UFC debut in 2013, Rousey has proven time and time again that she deserves the women’s bantamweight title, racking up a 6-0 record in the UFC and a 12-0 record in her career.

However, I must call into question if her level of domination is really helping the growth of women’s MMA.

Sure, just about anyone can tell you who Ronda Rousey is. But what if you asked someone for the name of any other female MMA fighter, or how many female fights they had seen that didn’t include Rousey? Most people would be hard pressed to give you an answer.

Unfortunately with the women’s most important fights, the championships, reduced to predictable 30-second side-shows by Rousey, I feel that the growth of the sport has been stunted.

While Rousey’s fame and legacy continue to grow with every arm bar she inflicts, the actual women’s division of the UFC has been fairly stagnant in gaining popularity, which is understandable under Rousey’s reign as champion.

For a sport to really grow and reach new levels of popularity, as well as competition, people have to be able to enjoy more than one fighter for longer than a minute at a time.

With the rest of the women’s division being reduced to bottom feeders, it’s hard for someone to really be a passionate fan and get behind a fighter other than Rousey.

Unfortunately, what a sport really needs to be great is great competition. Competition breeds passion, not only in fighters but in fans as well. That is why leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and even men’s UFC, have risen to the heights they have, not only because of the level of competition, but because of the passion the fans have for “their” teams and “their” fighters. That is what creates historic games and fights.

But with championship matches ending in 13 seconds, I doubt that the UFC could even make a female fight a solo main event on a fight card, because nobody wants to pay $100 for pay-per-view for 13 seconds and an arm-bar.

Since Rousey signed her contract in 2012, the UFC has assembled a motley crew of female fighters to pit against her. But I can’t help wonder if these fighters are truly on a professional level with Rousey, or if they were simply the fighters available in the beginning of the new phenomena that is women’s MMA. If so, that calls into question whether Rousey is truly as good as we believe her to be, or just a trailblazer who was one step ahead of everyone else.

Preseason hurts teams as key players out with injuries

by: NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief

Football season has begun, but some fans aren’t too happy about the outcome so far.

Preseason games aren’t that exciting, but it gives fans a chance to see their favorite NFL team in action. But how can you enjoy watching players of your favorite team suffering injuries after injuries?

While watching one of the Green Bay Packers preseason games, I became shocked and in disbelief when wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL against the Steelers. Then I became more appalled when I heard he would be out for the season.

Yes, I was upset because it happened to my team, and because Nelson is a major asset to the team. But then I began to wonder if anyone else would be upset if it happened to their team.

The Packers played more preseason games, and more injuries were sustained by players. Wide receiver Randall Cobb left during the game when playing the Eagles due to an injured right shoulder, and he did not return. Defensive back Micah Hyde left the game on a cart after injuring his neck, and starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga left as well because of an injured ankle.

Cobb is expected to be back and ready for the regular season. But what if he wasn’t? I began to see what other teams have had players suffer injuries during the preseason, and there has been several. From what I researched, at least 11 players so far are going to miss the entire season because of preseason injuries, with others out for weeks.

I understand that injuries happen, but it makes no sense when the injuries happen because of preseason games. It’s unbelievable! Sports “experts” have said that the injury report from this year is no different from last year, but that’s not the case. There are still a lot of injuries happening, so it doesn’t matter if the numbers haven’t changed. There are injuries happening because of preseason games, games that don’t even matter.

I am more upset by the fact that players are getting hurt from games that don’t even matter. If you’re going to get hurt, make it count for something, instead of preseason games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that preseason games should be played by touch football rules, meaning no tackling. I honestly think that’s a bad idea, because you still need to practice tackling, and the preseason is tied to training camp.

I have a solution for the preseason injury problem. I thought that maybe they could decrease he number of games. Preseason could exist for two games or three. But then I realized is two really enough? Also, what’s the difference between three games and four?

Since most of the games are played by second and third-stringers, and draft picks, I was thinking that maybe they could shorten the amount of time played. There are 15-minute quarters, and I think they can cut the time down. This is better solution than touch football.

I watch football, and I also understand it, which is why I’m so passionate about players being injured for no good reason. Preseason is over, and there is nothing anyone can do about it now. But it’s never too late to change the rules for next year.

New athletic trainer excited for environment at SPC

by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor 

Suzy Ghattas comes to South Plains College hoping to make an impact this semester, as the new assistant athletic trainer.

Ghattas, who is originally from California, attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences.

After earning her degree from UCLA, Ghattas traveled to Texas, where she attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

Ghattas earned her master’s degree in athletic training at TTU, and says from that point there was not turning back.

“I just fell in love with working at the community college level,” said Ghattas. “I know that was what I wanted to do after I graduated.”

Ghattas says that upon arriving at SPC, she was very impressed by the ground work that has been layed in the athletic program.

“I was really impressed with the record the athletic program has here,” said Ghattas. “I took a tour and saw the Dome. When I was at my community college, we didn’t have anything this impressive. I was really impressed, and I was really excited to be a part of it.”

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Suzy Ghattas recently hired as the new assistant trainer.                   JOSHUA RAMIREZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS

Ghattas comes to SPC with prior experience at the community college level, as she served as an intern at Rio Hondo Community College in California before attending TTU.

“I worked there for about two years,” said Ghattas. “They had about 16 sports. They didn’t have rodeo, which I’m pretty excited about. That is going to be fun to work.”

Another perk Ghattas says she is looking forward to at the community college level is the freedom to work with multiple sports and athletes.

“I really enjoy working with more than one sport,” Ghattas explained. “The community college level really lets you do that. It’s and environment I really enjoy.”

Putting an individual’s health in your hands can be an overwhelming experience.

However, Ghattas says that it comes with the territory. Having confidence in her own abilities is what allows her to take an athlete’s well being into her hands.

“I enjoy it because I trust my abilities,” Ghatas said. “I’ve gone to school for a long time. I know that I can take care of the athletes, and help them anyway that they need.”

Along with the opportunities that come naturally with being an athletic trainer, Ghattas says she enjoys the more personal aspect of the job that comes with helping young athletes reach their full potential in sports, as well as everything else.

“It’s about helping an athlete, seeing them grow, and become who they want to be,” said Ghattas. “I have athletes who are coming in, and they’re here trying to find their purpose, and I can help them get to where they want to be. I really enjoy helping, and providing a pathway for the kids to find what they want to do.”

Though she has only been on the Levelland campus a few months, Ghattas says she is more than ready to help the athletes, as well as other students, find out exactly what they want to get out of SPC.

“I really encourage anyone who is interested in the athletic training profession, or even any kind of exercise science, to come in and talk to me or Will,” said Ghattas. “We can help in any way to provide some kind of direction for them so they can do what they want to do.”

Herring, Kimball ready to help regain recognition for Lady Texans

by: NICK ALVARADO/Editorial Assistant

This season, the South Plains College women’s basketball team will have two new assistant coaches alongside new head coach Cayla Petree.

New assistant coach Kyle Herring looks to take on this new challenge as he helps bring the Lady Texans back to the national spotlight. “I’ve had 19 years of coaching in my career,” Herring said.

He comes to SPC from Chipola College, located in Marianna, Fla., where he helped Chipola to a National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association championship. Herring began his coaching career at his alma mater, Southeastern Illinois College, where he earned his associate’s degree in Liberal Studies. He later earned a bachelor’s degree at Detroit-Mercy University.

“I came here for Coach Petree,” says Herring. “I was the first to congratulate her, and I’ve known her for nine years. She is full of energy and a good person to learn from.”

While Herring was at Chipola, the teams posted an impressive 69-3 record overall. He also spent one year at Clarksville Academy before moving to Chiopla College.

“Our motto for this year is win, graduate, scholarship,” Herring said. “I plan to help each player improve on a daily basis. We are talented and need to learn every drill every day.”

With numerous fresh faces on the Lady Texans, expectations are high and coaches plan to get the team back on the national level once again.

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New women’s assistant basketball coach Brock Kimball at Texan Dome. JAYCEE CALDWELL/PLAINSMAN PRESS
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New women’s assistant basketball coach Kyle Herring at Texan Dome. JAYCEE CALDWELL/PLAINSMAN PRESS

“We believe that this is a chance for South Plains College to become known on a national level again and trying to be in the top 25 once again,” said Herring. “I’m enjoying it. I’m learning the on and off-court routines. The main reason I came here is because of Coach Petree.”

Also new on the Lady Texans coaching staff is Brock Kimball. Kimball comes to SPC from Angelo State University, where he was an assistant on the staff of Chris Beard, who was named Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Angelo State finished with a record of 28-6, the best season in school history. Kimball played basketball at McMurry University in Abilene, and received his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

“This is my third year coaching,” Kimball said. “I started my coaching career at Angelo State.”

With the rich basketball history at SPC, Kimball noted that the “history of the school and Coach Petree” was the main reasons why he would come to SPC.

“I love it here,” Kimball says of his early impressions.

“The teachers, community and players are great people. My expectations are to win as many games as possible, and help players improve in every aspect of the game. We have a chance to win a national championship.”

The Lady Texans open the 2015-2016 season on Oct. 30, hosting the two-day SPC Classic.

New assistant basketball coach excited about team potential

by: NICK ALVARADO/Editorial Assistant

As the new basketball season approaches, the South Plains College men’s basketball team has a new assistant basketball coach.

Jase Herl, a Goodland, Kan. native, is ready to take on this new task ahead.

“I have been coaching for five years in my career,” Herl said. “I’m excited to coach this group of kids and to compete in the league.”

Herl earned a Bachelor of Science Degree at Colorado Mesas University, located in Junction, Colo., and received his master’s degree in Athletic Administration and Coaching from Concordia University. While at Colorado Mesas, Herl played basketball and earned the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference first team, as well as Defensive Player of the Year honors in the conference and all-academic first team. He also was also ranked in the top 13 in five statistical categories. He also played basketball at Dodge City Community College, located in Dodge City, Kan., prior to attending Colorado Mesas University.

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New men’s assistant basketball coach Jase Herl. MAKINZIE MEANS/PLAINSMAN PRESS

Herl will be involved in the recruitment of players, assisting players with course schedules and in their work in the classroom. Herl comes to SPC from Northwest Kansas Technical College, which is located in Goodland, Kan., where he led the program to the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Region VI tournament semifinals and a second consecutive 20-win season. He also earned an impressive 56 wins, the most by any coach under the age of 30 in the NJCAA.

Herl has coached five players who have moved on to Division I teams as well, including Northwest Kansas’ first Division I signee, Gian Clavell. Herl’s players have received awards including the NJCAA Region IV All-Tournament Team and NJCAA All-American honors.

Herl also served as an assistant coach at Colorado Mesas alongside Jim Heaps.

The Texans are known for having a winning tradition and having placed national runner-up at last season’s NJCAA national tournament. They expect to make another appearance at the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., once again, but this time, they hope to be crowned national champions.

Herl is also pleased to be at SPC because of the location as well.

“I like it here a lot.” Herl said. “It’s close to Lubbock.”

As the Texans prepare for the 2015-2016 season, expectations remain high from the coaching staff.

“My expectations are to help guys graduate and win games,” Herl said.

The Texans look to remain not only a conference power, but a national power as well.

The Texas will have 10 fresh faces on the team and three players returning from last season, including Dino Muminovic, Diamante Langston and Marlon Jones. The Texans will play 16 home games this season, starting with the first home game on Oct. 31, when they take on Carl Albert State College, located in Poteau, Okla., in Plano.

Vance excited to start first year as new assistant track coach

by: JOSHUA RAMIREZ/Sports Editor

Eric Vance recently became the new assistant track coach this summer, following the departure of former long-time assistant coach Blaine Wiley.

Wiley left SPC after a 10-year stint to join the track and field program as an assistant coach at the University of Alabama. In his time at SPC, Wiley helped coach the track and field team to 28 National Junior College Athletic Association championships, and had 107 NJCAA individual and relay champions. Vance received a bachelor’s degree in Health Science Studies from Baylor University in 2008, as well as a master’s degree in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University in 2010.

While at LSU, Vance coached the vertical and horizontal jumps as a graduate assistant.

Vance comes to SPC from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he won multiple Sunbelt Conference championships coaching the horizontal and vertical jumps, as well as the heptathlon and decathlon.

Vance was back home in Panhandle, Texas, this summer when a former co-worker informed him of the opportunity to coach at SPC. Vance was aware of SPC’s success in track and field, and says he was very excited to join the coaching staff.

“I got a call from one of my former coworkers who asked me if I’d be interested in coming down here,” explains Vance. “I jumped at the chance to come down here. I knew the history of South Plains, and the kind of program they ran, and the amount of success they had.”

Vance will be coaching the long jump, triple jump, and high jump events, along with all the sprinting events. He also will help coach the decathletes and heptathletes alongside head coach Chris Beene. Vance says his first impression of the coaches and athletes couldn’t have been any better.

“I’ve been very impressed with the athletes,” says Vance. “The caliber athletes they have here rivals anywhere that I’ve been. This is a great place, and we’ve got a great group.”

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After coming from a successful program at ULM, Vance is no stranger to the pressure of winning. He says he hopes to be able to help continue SPC’s tradition of track and field dominance.

“I like to win, man, I really like to win,” said Vance. “I wanted to coach high-level athletes in high-level meets, and win championships when I got into college coaching, and I really get the opportunity to do that here. So I’m excited about it.”

In addition, Vance says he would like to help keep the program on the right path on and off the field “I want to be able to continue what they have done here, and keep on the right track,” Vance explained. “Get the kids graduated, that’s the number one thing. Get the kids graduated and in to Division I schools”

Although this is Vance’s first year as assistant coach at SPC, he says he expects big things from the athletes. “The goal is to win a national championship,” Vance said. “If you start the year and you don’t think you can win a national championship, then you’ve messed up somewhere along the line. But I definitely think we could do that.

Who we are…

The Plainsman Press is a junior collegiate newspaper run by the students and advised by Charlie Ehrenfeld.

The staff consists of Devin Reyna, Sergio Madrid, Tovi Oyervidez, Steven Gehegan, Michaela Chamblee, Haiden Hawkins, Alexandria Perez, Elias Hernandez, Dominick Puente

Editor-in-Chief/ Chesanie Brantley, Editor-in-Chief/Nicole Trugillo, News Editor/Jonathan Brookshire, Opinion Editor/Matt Molinar, Feature Editor/Mallory Carver, Entertainment and Online Editor/Jennifer Garza, Sports Editor/Joshua Ramirez, Photo Editor/ Sara Marshall, Editorial Assistants/Riley Golden, Dariella Hernandez, Nick Alvarado, Brandi Ortiz, and Marcella Ivins.