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A Nice Ring to It

Roadrunner Soccer Receives Conference Championship Rings

By GARY STALLARD

AC Athletics

            In 2023, the Angelina College men’s soccer team accomplished a program first – and it wasn’t even their trip the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Wichita, Kansas.

            No, the team already had been there, done that when it came to qualifying for a national tournament. After all, the program’s first appearance at nationals had occurred the year before.

            What the program had never done was win a Region XIV conference championship. Despite knocking on the door for several years, not until 2023 did the Roadrunners finally kick down the door with emphasis.

            The ‘Runners didn’t lose a regular-season match in 2023, finishing the year 13-2-2, with the only losses occurring in the national tournament. One of those losses came to the eventual national champion.

            And for the first time, the Roadrunners captured the Region XIV conference title, beating Northeast Texas Community College in the quarterfinals, Blinn College in the semifinals and Tyler Junior College in the finals.

            On Friday, Angelina College staff presented the team and coaches with rings commemorating the big milestone.

            “Doing something like that for the first time is a big deal, and these guys were able to bring Angelina College its first Region XIV championship,” AC head coach Martin Melchor said. “Not only that, but they did it by going undefeated and playing in spectacular fashion.”

            While the ’23 season offered memories galore, Melchor – who earned the Coach of the Year award in 2023 – said his favorite was the night his Roadrunners topped perennial powerhouse Tyler for the conference title.

            “It will hard to be the feeling of watching the guys run to our fans in the stands immediately after winning the championship,” Melchor said. “The celebration was just as good as the victory.”

            During Friday’s ceremony, several incoming freshmen were on-hand. Although they weren’t part of the ’23 squad, the new Roadrunners were there to feel a part of the newly established tradition.

            “I want to set an expectation and a standard of winning for this program,” Melchor said. “The new guys know the bar is set high, and being part of the best men’s soccer team in Region XIV comes with high expectations.”

            Along with the players, a few AC staff and administration members received rings as well. Among those was Angelina College president Dr. Michael Simon, who the players praised for his support, especially at the national tournament.

            The ceremony was indeed a big deal, but Melchor doesn’t want it to be the last one.

            “I hope this just one of many ring ceremonies we get to host at Angelina College,” Melchor said.

            The email address for AC’s Sports Information Director is gstallard@angelina.edu.

            Photo captions:

           

Luan Rangel Ring 1:

                        Angelina College’s Luan Rangel shows off his newly acquired ring during Friday’s ceremony. The Roadrunner men’s soccer team received their rings for winning the Region XIV Conference Championship in 2023 – the first league win in program history. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

           

Group Photo:

                        Angelina College men’s soccer players pose with coaches and staff during Friday’s ceremony. The Roadrunner men’s soccer team received their rings for winning the Region XIV Conference Championship in 2023 – the first league win in program history. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

           

Rings Display:

                        Angelina College men’s soccer players show off their newly acquired rings during Friday’s ceremony. The Roadrunner men’s soccer team received their rings for winning the Region XIV Conference Championship in 2023 – the first league win in program history. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

           

Ring:

                        The Angelina College men’s soccer team received this ring during a ceremony held on Friday on the AC campus. The ring signified the program’s first-ever league championship in Region XIV competition, as the Roadrunners qualified for the NJCAA Division I National Tournament for the second consecutive year. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

           

Reaction:

                        Angelina College men’s soccer players react after opening their commemorative rings during Friday’s ceremony. The team received the rings after notching the program’s first-ever Region XIV Conference Championship in 2023. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)