Here’s a look at the top 10 NCAA stories from the 2011-12 sports season at UVU.
10. Stellar start
In 2010-11, the softball team won 20 games.
The 2011-12 version reached that mark at roughly the midway point this season, making for the best start in program history.
9. Cinderella in Chicago
The women’s hoops team entered the Great West Conference Tournament in Chicago with a middling 5-5 conference record.
The third-seeded Wolverines then qualified for the championship game by knocking off New Jersey Institute of Technology with one of its best games of the season, led by sixth man senior Jenna Johnson (18 points) and Erika Newbold (11 points, eight rebounds). Both Johnson and Newbold are graduating this year.
8. It’s in the blood
Wolverines golfer Mason Casper had the best fall season of his career, cracking the nation’s top-10 in
scoring average while notching four top-10 finishes in NCAA invitationals.
The son of PGA legend Billy Casper, Mason was far from the only weapon on the men’s golf team.
The Wolverines logged three top-two finishes in the fall and have continued to contend in the spring with
Michael Dart, Joey Olson, Brayden Eriksen and Stratton Schulz all turning in career performances.
7. Comeback over ‘Cuse
Playing its fourth match in three days, Utah Valley’s volleyball team looked dead in the water against visiting Syracuse after going down 2-0.
The Wolverines then stormed back forcing a fifth and final set they ended up winning 15-13.
Three players finished with double-doubles, led by soon-to-be graduate Chelsey Heaps’ 12 kills and 16 digs.
6. Indoor – about time
After three-plus years of outdoor conference championships, the men’s and women’s track teams finally conquered the indoor event in 2012, a prize they had yet to achieve.
The breakthrough was dominant. The men’s team won by a team margin of 101 points, with the women forging an even bigger winning margin of 121 points.
Zandrea Nelson (Female Athlete of the Championship), Michael McPherson (Male Athlete), Rusty Jones (Newcomer of the Year) and head coach Scott Houle (Coach of the year) were all honored at the indoor season’s culminating event.
5. Visiting champions
It didn’t matter that UVU’s three national qualifiers from 2011 were already gone.
It didn’t matter that the Wolverines lost by 36 points.
To the crowd of 5,470, all that mattered were in-match points scored by the 11 UVU wrestlers and – most of all – Blake Mangum’s match win over Frank Martelloti of defending national champion and No. 2 ranked Penn State
The local fans gave Mangum, as well as the entire wrestling program, a standing ovation.
4. Baker’s dozen
The men’s basketball team suffered a controversial and heartbreaking home loss to Wyoming on Jan. 3.
They wouldn’t lose again until March 3.
The Wolverines won 13 straight games, a stretch that became the third-longest in NCAA basketball before expiring on the road against North Dakota.
Two of the wins came against Seattle University, the program picked over UVU to be invited to the Western Athletic Conference.
3. On top in OT
They had lost nine seniors from the previous year’s regular season championship team. They were down 1-0.
And then they were champions.
Such was the climactic ending to the women’s soccer team’s season, as the Wolverines beat Houston Baptist 2-1 in overtime of the GWC championship game.
Ashley Burdett scored the equalizer and Regan Clifford scored the winning goal in the extra frame.
2. One more game
48 hours after bowing out early in the GWC tournament, the men’s hoops team was extended after being invited CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the first national NCAA postseason in UVU athletics history.
The Wolverines played at Weber State in the first round, where UVU guard Isiah Williams outplayed likely top-10 NBA prospect Damian Lillard.
Williams scored 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting and had seven rebounds to Lillard’s 21 points.
UVU came up just short of upsetting the heavily favored Wildcats and handing them their only home loss of the season, falling 72-69 in a dramatic finish.
1. Diamond dominance
A road win over No. 11 Arizona State. A home win over No. 4 Arizona. 16 straight victories and counting as of Friday.
The Wolverines baseball team is well into its argument for an NCAA postseason berth, one that could get stronger should they dominate conference play. Last season they went 22-2 against GWC opponents, and as of Friday, Texas Pan American was the only other undefeated conference team.
Content provided by Matt Petersen, Sports Editor.