The Dominion Post  
 

Unforgettable year for WVU’s Olympic sports teams

Created on:   Mon, Jan 1, 2018   11:52 PM

Last modified:   Mon, Jan 1, 2018   11:52 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Talk about a memorable 2017 for WVU sports not playing at Milan Puskar Stadium.

The rifle team secured its fifth straight NCAA championship and 19th overall.

The baseball team earned its first NCAA regional berth since 1996.

The golf team registered its initial victory since the program was reinstated, in 2015.

The women’s basketball team captured a Big 12 Conference tournament title behind a sensational effort from Tynice Martin, and the gymnastics team placed third in the NCAA Morgantown Regional, just missing out on an NCAA championships berth.

The volleyball team competed in the postseason for the first time since 1991, advancing to the Final Four of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

The women’s soccer team made the Sweet16 of the NCAA tournament, and WVU senior Dylan Cottrell became the first wrestler to win a Big 12 title.

Freshman swimmer Morgan Carr shared Big 12 newcomer of the year honors. Carr won the
200 butterfly at the Big 12 championships. Men’s swimmer Jake Armstrong won the 100 breaststroke with the second-fastest time in program history (53.09).

Amy Cashin and Shamoya McNeil, of the track team, advanced to the NCAA championships. McNeil earned third-team all-America accolades in the triple jump, placing 22nd. Cashin finished 19th in the steeplechase.

MARCH 5

HISTORY ON THE MAT

Cottrell, seeded second at 165 pounds, knocked off top-seeded Chandler Rogers, of Oklahoma State, 5-4, to claim the league title, in Tulsa, Okla.

“I’m so incredibly proud of Dylan and everything he’s been able to accomplish, on and off the mat, as a Mountaineer,” WVU coach Sammie “The Bull” Henson said. “He’s been a leader on this team for the past two years. He battled through an injury this season and came back to win. It’s fitting that a homegrown Mountaineer is our first-ever Big 12 champion, and we couldn’t be happier for him.”

Cottrell, a senior from Spencer, concluded his career in the NCAA tourney, going 1-2.

MARCH 6

CUTTING DOWN THE NETS

Tynice Martin poured in 32 points to lead the sixth-seeded Mountaineers past top-seeded Baylor, 77-66, in the championship game of the Big 12 tournament, in Oklahoma City.

WVU beat third-seeded Oklahoma (82-58) and second-seeded Texas (62-59) on its way to an improbable title that secured an NCAA tourney berth.

The players “knew coming down here that we had to win at least one, two games, and I told them after the second game we might as well win the third one since we’re here,” WVU coach Mike Carey said.

“They came out and played extremely hard and continued to play defense the whole time. … If we’re going to knock somebody off, it was an honor for us to knock off Baylor because they’re such a great program. Give all the credit to the players.”

MARCH 11

THE STREAK CONTINUES

The Mountaineers shot an NCAA-championship record 4723 in nailing down their fifth straight rifle title. TCU came in second, with a 4706. WVU won both disciplines, with a 2387 air rifle score and a 2336 smallbore mark.

Freshman Milica Babic won the air rifle individual crown, shooting a 208.1 in the final. Fellow rookie Morgan Phillips took the smallbore title, with a 464.3 in the finals.

“This was an amazing showing,” WVU coach Jon Hammond said. “We were prepared for an incredibly tight championship.

“This was an incredible performance by this team in this environment. It is crazy to shoot a season-high air rifle at an NCAA championship. This is a great result overall.”

APRIL 1

GYMNASTS FLIRT WITH NCAA BERTH

WVU scored a program regional-record 196.325 in finishing third in the NCAA Morgantown Regional, at the Coliseum.

The top two teams, Michigan and Alabama, advanced to the NCAA championships, but WVU junior Zaakira Muhammad also punched her ticket with a fourth-place finish in the all-around competition, at 39.325. She was the top competitor not on an advancing team.

“I have been confident that this team could do what they did today all season long,” WVU coach Jason Butts said.

“We’ve been building toward this all year. We wanted to make sure we peaked at the right time, and we did. To have our program-best regional score is just absolutely incredible.”

Muhammad tied for eighth place on floor exercise (9.9125) at the NCAA championships, earning second-team all-America honors.

APRIL 4

NOTHING COULD BE FINER

The golf team notched its first victory since the 1980s with a memorable final-round performance that saw the Mountaineers move from fourth place to the top of the leader board.

Sophomore Max Sear tied for first place with a
222 across 54 holes to lead the WVU charge at the Brook Haven Country Club, in Greenville, N.C.

The Mountaineers finished with a 31-over par 895, beating host East Carolina by four strokes in challenging weather conditions.

“The greens were firm and fast,” WVU coach Sean Covich said. “There were difficult hole locations and winds gusting up to
30 miles per hour. The guys took advantage on the front nine, then played hard on the back. I couldn’t be happier for them.

“They committed to us when we didn’t have a program, worked hard and have built a foundation for our team. The best feeling as a coach isn’t winning, but seeing your guys proud of their hard work.”

MAY 29

HEY, HEY, HEY NCAA

The baseball team’s
21-year NCAA regional drought ended as the Mountaineers watched their name appear on a big screen television at Monongalia County Ballpark.

This WVU squad (36-26) became the first in program history to earn at at-large NCAA bid.

“Seeing our name pop up, that was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” WVU relief pitcher Jackson Sigman said.

The Mountaineers were a bubble team the previous two seasons, but that bubble burst each time.

“We knew this day was coming, but we were impatient,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said.

“We were teased the last couple years. We thought we had a chance to get in but didn’t, which was frustrating.”

WVU went 2-2 in its regional, in Winston-Salem, N.C., losing twice to host Wake Forest, which eliminated WVU, 12-8, to advance to a Super Regional.

DEC. 9

VOLLEYBALL MAKES TOURNAMENT RUN

WVU took advantage of its first postseason appearance in 26 years. WVU reeled off victories against UMES, Temple and Syracuse in reaching the NIVC semifinals, where Mississippi eliminated the Mountaineers, 3-0, in Oxford, Miss.

“I told them before the game they did a great job this year,” WVU coach Reed Sunahara said. “The seniors did a great job. We made it to postseason for the first time in 26 years, and we made a run. That’s all you can ask for.”

WVU sophomore outside hitter Payton Caffrey was a first-team all-Big 12 selection for the second straight year. Senior middle blocker Mia Swanegan was a second-team pick.

WVU’s 21 wins were the most in a season since the 1991 squad went 26-11.