The concept of Instant Nostalgia is becoming a bit of a thing in sports. Now before you ask, "Aren't those two words diametrically opposed?" Just take a moment and think about the world we are living in. We are a 24-7 plugged-in society that loves to rank things and (sometimes) overstate their importance in history.
"This is the seriously the best pizza in America. Even Yelp says so."
You get the idea.
Well, we think the 2016-17 Denison athletics year was pretty great. Was it the "best-ever?" We're not going to play that game. Instead, we thought we would just give you a little bit of instant nostalgia regarding the last nine months of Big Red athletics and let you decide.
Here are some bullet points in (mostly) chronological order.
- 2012 Denison alum, Dee Salukombo posted a time of 2:28.54 in the Olympic Games marathon while running for his native D.R. Congo.
- Football completed its most successful season in 30 years by finishing 8-2 and tying for second place in the NCAC. They even defeated 14th ranked Wittenberg, 24-21 for the first time since 1989. After starting the season 6-0, Denison was nationally ranked for the first time in program history.
- Women's soccer advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the 16th time after winning the NCAC Tournament. The Big Red defeated Wittenberg, 1-0 on a goal with under two minutes to play. Special congrats go out to veteran head coach Gail Murphy who posted her 300th career win against Allegheny. She is one of 25 coaches in D-III to reach that milestone.
- Longtime men's lacrosse coach Mike Caravana stepped in as acting field hockey coach while PJ Soteriades was out on maternity leave. The DU field hockey team went 11-3 in conference play and finished second in the league standings.
- Senior women's basketball standout, Jordan Holmes, became the NCAA Division III career leader in rebounds and blocked shots. She was named the NCAC Defensive Player of the Year and was featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" section in the March 20th issue.
- Denison men's basketball completed their most successful season in school history, going 22-5. They won 17 of their first 18 games and were ranked in the Division III top-25 for the majority of the season. Senior Jett Speelman was named to the all-region squad and was selected to play in the D-III Senior All-Star Game.
- Denison swimming & diving enjoyed another banner year. Max Levy was named National Diver of the Year after sweeping national championships on both boards. Jack Lindell won the national championship in the 400 IM, breaking his own varsity record in the event. He also swam on the national championship 800 free relay team. Denison's men's and women's swimming & diving teams won conference championships and placed third (men) and fourth (women) nationally.
- The Denison women's golf team won two tournaments this year and placed third in the conference standings. They also said farewell to head coach Rick Bailey who retired after 15 years as both and assistant and head coach at Denison.
- Softball advanced to the championship of the NCAC Tournament and finished the year with a 29-16 record. Laura Bagan and Lauren Secaras were named to the NFCA All-Region team.
- The baseball team went 29-12, good enough for the third-highest win total in the 100+ year history of the program. They were nationally ranked for a majority of the season, marking the first time in Denison history that the football, men's basketball and baseball teams were all represented in the national rankings in the same year.
- Women's lacrosse won the NCAC regular season and tournament championships and after going 15-3 they were granted a home game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994. Senior Claire Ludlow was named an All-American for the second time in her career. She leaves Denison ranked second in career goals, assists and points.
- Men's lacrosse advanced to the NCAA Final Four for the third time in program history and the first time since 2001. They were led by All-American attackman Liam Rooney who led the nation in assists with 88. That marked the third-most assists in a single-season in D-III lacrosse history. Denison ended the year 18-2, eventually falling to defending national champion, Salisbury, 12-11 in the national semifinal.
- The track and field teams sent David Carter (triple jump), Arlesha Cospy (discus) and Hannah Hall (high jump) to the NCAA Championships. All three are making their second trips to outdoor nationals. Carter placed sixth at nationals in 2016.
- Women's tennis standouts Lauren Hawley and Emma Alsup were selected to compete in the NCAA Division III Doubles Championship. Hawley was also selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They went 15-6 in doubles play in 2017.
- We also bid adieu to Senior Associate Director of Athletics, Lynn Schweizer who retired after 44 years as a coach and administrator at Denison.
So what's missing from this list? Yeah, we know…The NCAC All-Sports Championship. The little green statue has resided Granville more often than not since the NCAC's inception in 1984. This year we were just feeling a little bit more democratic about the whole thing. DePauw won the championship with 171.5 points but Denison did place second with 162 points. Denison also had 16 top-five finishes in the conference standings.