Dec. 26, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
Highlighted by four teams reaching the national semifinals and nine winning conference titles, Western Washington University enjoyed the school's most successful calendar year in 2013.
The Vikings' Final Four appearances came in men's and women's basketball, men's golf and women's soccer. The conference championships were in those sports as well as women's golf, men's indoor and outdoor track, women's rowing and volleyball.
The program also had a significant loss in early May when Lynda Goodrich announced her retirement after 26 years as director of athletics. During her tenure, WWU won all nine of its national championships as the program grew to one of the strongest in NCAA Division II. Prior to that, Goodrich was a Hall of Fame women's basketball coach for the Vikings with 411 wins in 19 seasons.
The year began with the men's and women's basketball teams both reaching the NCAA II Final Four after winning West Regional championships. Those regionals were held together, an extremely rare happening, at WWU's Carver Gym. The Viking men finished 31-3, matching the win total of their national championship season in 2012, and the women were 29-4. Both teams posted 17-1 records in winning their respective Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season titles.
First-year coach Tony Dominguez, who became the first coach in NCAA II history to win his first 24 games, was a finalist for the Clarence Gaines National Coach of the Year and guard John Allen was named to three All-America teams. Carmen Dolfo was tabbed the CaptainU National Coach of the Year with center Britt Harris receiving Daktronics West Region Player of the Year and third-team All-America honors.
An indication of their success was the Viking hoop squads finishing 2013 unbeaten in 32 home games with the men winning 20 and the women 12. The men got off to an 8-0 start this season, including a 72-69 win over No.1-ranked Metro State.
Last spring, after tying for seventh in medal play at nationals, the WWU men's golf team upset Florida Southern to reach the semifinals. Jake Webb tied for second in medalist play after forcing a three-way playoff. He shot a 6-under 65 in the third and final round of medalist play, the best round of the tournament.
This fall, women's soccer enjoyed the best season in program history, losing 2-1 in overtime in the national semifinals to defending national champion West Florida after tying the game with 34 seconds left in regulation. WWU won the GNAC regular-season crown and its first regional title, finishing 20-2-1, the win total being a school record.
Defender Brianna Jones earned first-team Daktronics All-America honors as the Vikings ranked ninth nationally in goals against average at 0.43, and forward Kristin Maris was a second-team National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American. Maris was named GNAC Player of the Year and Jones the conference defensive Player of the Year.
The WWU rowing team placed third at nationals, continuing its streak of placing among the top three nationally every year since the regatta began in 2002. They won seven straight national titles from 2004 to 2011, finishing second three times and third twice.
Two rowers earned Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association All-America honors, coxswain Maeghan Callegari and stroke Stephanie Bluhm. The Vikings also won the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference Championship.
The Viking volleyball team reached regionals, earning an automatic berth by winning the GNAC title. They were led by two All-Americans, libero Samantha Hutchinson and middle blocker Kayla Erickson. Erickson was the GNAC Player of the Year and for the second straight season Hutchinson was the Defensive Player of the Year. Hutchinson was a first-team American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American and was a second-team Daktronics pick along with Erickson.
Both the WWU men's and women's cross country teams qualified for nationals. The women placed 18th as Katelyn Steen earned United States Track & Field and Cross Country All-America honors by finishing 34th, and the men were 20th.
Emily Warman earned USTFCCA All-America recognition by placing eighth in the women's long jump at women's indoor track nationals.
Andrew Weishaar was a third-team NSCAA All-America as he helped the men's soccer team to an 11-4-3 record, the fourth-best mark in program history, under first-year head coach Greg Brisbon. The Vikings ended the season with a 3-0 win over nationally No.2-rated Simon Fraser.
WWU had seven coaches receive GNAC Coach of the Year honors. Pee Wee Halsell was selected in both men's indoor and outdoor track, Steve Card in men's golf, Dolfo in women's basketball, Dominguez in men's basketball, Travis Connell in women's soccer and Diane Flick in volleyball.
Five Viking athletes took conference Player of the Year honors. They were Allen, Erickson, Maris, Claire Rachor in women's golf and Webb.
WWU accomplished this while maintaining a NCAA II Academic Success Rate of 84 percent, 13 percentage points higher than the national average.
Three women's soccer players earned CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America honors, Maris being a second-team choice and Catherine Miles and Ashton Griffen third-team picks. Those three were among eight Vikings receiving all-district academic honors. The others were Emily Boerger, volleyball; Maddy Hillier and Yvette Kelp, women's rowers; Chris Mitchell, men's basketball; and Weishaar, men's soccer.
WWU placed 12th nationally among 300 NCAA II schools in the final 2012-13 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings. It was the Vikings' fifth straight Top 15 finish. And WWU won a fifth straight and ninth overall GNAC all-sports championship in the 12-year history of the league.
In all, 42 Vikings were recipients of the DII Athletics Directors Association Academic Achievement Awards with cumulative GPAs of 3.50 or better, 12 were on the GNAC Faculty Athletic Representative Academic All-Star team with accumulative GPAs of 3.85 or better and 59 were named conference academic all-stars.
2013 ... An historic year for WWU Athletics.