What a year.
From a national championship to a men’s basketball meltdown, from a stellar tennis sophomore to a damn good season from the track team, Eastern sports were nothing short of riveting.
It’s hard to believe that it’s done until next fall.
I’ll never forget flying down to Frisco, Texas, with the football team on their way to the National Championship. No offense to fans, but if you weren’t at that game, you can’t comprehend the magic that was emitting from Pizza Hut Park the night the Eagles rallied from a 19-point deficit.
I remember sitting in the press box, down 19-0 and looking at EWU Sports Information Director Dave Cook. We both shared a look of disappointment, confusion and then hope. We knew better than to count Eastern out. After the first touchdown Bo Levi Mitchell threw to Brandon Kaufman, the gut feeling sunk in, and I began to write my story as if the Eagles were going to win even though they still trailed.
But not every EWU sport’s ending was as exciting as football’s. In fact, there were more losing records than winning records this year. Men’s basketball was the biggest downfall in Eastern sports. They were expected to take a huge step with Glen Dean leading the way. Instead, Dean was injured in the first part of the year, and the team decided to give up second half leads for Lent. In the end,Kirk Earlywine’s contract wasn’t renewed and Dean transferred to the University of Utah.
In the spring, Fernando Mussolini tore it up on the tennis court. The sophomore won five of his eight conference singles matches on his way to earning All Big Sky honors. Even in his three losses, two of them were pushed to a third set. Mussolini’s ceiling has been erected, and it’s no telling when he’ll tap into his full potential.
The track and field team had another great year, as proved by the 10 athletes who attended the NCAA preliminaries, six of which are underclassmen. Seniors Erica Chaney and Krystal Deyo saved their best for their final season, both missing the NCAAs by mere seconds and feet, but Brad Wall will return to make his mark as an Eagle.
One question that has been bouncing around in my head is, “Where does it all go from here?” Does the football team repeat as champions, or do they buckle under pressure? Will Dean’s transfer to Utah and the failed Earlywine experiment set back men’s basketball even further? Will Mussolini lead tennis to the promise land?
I want answers, and those answers will slowly come within the next 12 months. It won’t be anything new, though. Sports have always been an obsession of mine.
It’s not just a good obsession. It’s a great obsession.
The views expressed here do not reflect the views of The Easterner. To contact the writer e-mail email@example.com.