Fall and spring sports pace Western in 2008
Dec. 24, 2008
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Yet another NCAA Division II national championship in women's rowing and a run to the Far West Regional final in women's soccer highlighted the 2008 calendar year for the Western Washington University athletics program.
The national rowing title was the Vikings' fourth straight, the first time that a school in any NCAA division had performed that feat. Seniors Metta Gilbert, Samantha Marikis, and Staci Reynolds were named Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-Americans, Reynolds for the second time. National CRCA Coach of the Year honors went to John Fuchs for the second straight year and third time overall.
Western continued a streak that began in 2005 by not losing in varsity eight or varsity four competition to a Division II school.
The finest fall sports season in school history was led by the women's soccer team which won its first Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship and reached the regional final. There it lost to eventual national champion Seattle Pacific, 1-0 in overtime, a team the Vikings had defeated and tied during the regular season. Anchored by National Soccer Coaches Association of America first-team All-American senior defender Katie Warner, Western finished 17-3-2. The win total was a school record, and its 16-game unbeaten streak was the longest since 1986.
Named NSCAA Far West Region and GNAC Coach of the Year was the Vikings' Travis Connell. He also earned the GNAC distinction in men's soccer, the first time in league history the same coach had earned both honors in the same season.
Western won the GNAC men's soccer title with a 7-1-0 record and was 11-5-3 overall, going unbeaten in its last seven games. Senior midfielder Matt Pele was the GNAC Player of the Year and a second-team NSCAA All-American, the first Vikings' player since 1990 to earn All-America honors other than honorable mention.
Both the Western men's and women's cross country teams placed 10th at the NCAA II National Championships as both squads qualified for nationals in the same season for the first time since the school joined the NCAA in 1998.
Western's football team made its first post-season appearance since 1999 a winning one, defeating Colorado Mines 25-10 in the Dixie Rotary Bowl. Named the Vikings' MVP in that contest was senior quarterback Adam Perry, who set a number of school season records, throwing for 3,318 yards and 28 touchdowns.
The volleyball squad, which had a school-best 13-0 start in 2008 after being the national runner-up in 2007, did not receive a berth in the national playoffs despite a 21-3 record.
Western, ranked as high as No.3 nationally, was led by senior middle blocker Angie Alvord, a first-team American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American, and sophomore libero Allison Gotz, who received All-America honorable mention as she ranked second nationally in digs per game at 6.10. Junior setter Kari Rice was seventh nationally in assists at 11.62.
Last spring, Western tied for sixth nationally in women's golf and the men's squad tied for eighth.
The Viking men were led by junior Jake Koppenberg, who had a school-record scoring average of 71.3, and senior Sean Packer, who tied for second at nationals, the second-highest finish in school history, just one stroke behind the co-leaders. Koppenberg, who was both the GNAC Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, was a second-team Golf Coaches Association of America All-American, and Packer received third-team recognition.
Western sent a school-record five competitors to the outdoor track and field national meet, and three earned All-America recognition. Sophomore Monika Gruszecki, the defending national champion, placed second in the women's javelin; junior Heidi Dimmitt was fourth in the women's 400-meter hurdles and senior Keith Lemay was sixth in the men's 800.
The Vikings set 12 school indoor track records, and in softball sophomore first baseman Meghan Flem upped her career home run total to 14, already a school record, and Jessica Rosencrants had an 11-7 record and a 1.89 earned run average.
The men's and women's basketball teams are off to respective 6-2 and 7-3 starts in 2008. Playing a big role for the women, who suffered an epidemic number of injuries last winter, is sophomore guard Amanda Dunbar, the GNAC Freshman of the Year. The men are led by all-league senior guard Ira Graham, who is averaging nearly 20 points per game for the second straight season.
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