The success of Missouri’s football and basketball teams is well documented. However, 2008-2009 was considered the greatest athletic year in school history due to the success of all of Missouri’s teams. Guest Contributor Tom Weyerich recaps the year in a two part series beginning today with those sports that sometimes get overlooked.
2008-2009 was a great season to be a Missouri Tiger fan. Everyone knows about the men’s basketball team’s run to the Elite Eight, but even beyond the basketball court, this was the greatest athletic year in Tiger history. The lesser-covered sports were tremendous for The University of Missouri in 2008-2009 and additionally, the Tiger athletes left fans proud off the field as well. I’ll save the big time stuff for last so for now let me fill you in on what the guys and gals not getting all the attention did.
Let’s start with Wrestling where they were one of the three teams Missouri fielded this year to finish in the top 8 in the country. As a team, they finished the year placed 7th in the nation. Five members of the team placed top 7 in their individual weight classes, as well as their overall finishes. These five were also all named All-Americans. Junior Nicholas Marable finished seventh, although he entered the season ranked no. 1 in his weight class. Senior Michael Chandler wrapped up the final match of his career with two accomplishments, a fifth place finish and the 100th win of his career, making him the 16th Tiger to hit triple digit wins. Junior Max Askren, younger brother of former Missouri wrestler Ben Askren, moved up the national ranks throughout the season. He began the year ranked 7th nationally and finished the season ranked 5th in the country in his weight class. Raymond Jordan, a senior, also improved, going from fifth to third nationally and finishing fourth in Tiger record books with 123 career victories. He also earned All-American honors in two weight classes. Mark Ellis brought back top honors for the Tigers with a heavyweight championship, the second in Mizzou history; Ellis will have the chance to defend his title in his senior campaign. Senior “utility” wrestler, Joey Garrity earned honors away from the mat as he was selected for one of the Big 12 Student-Athlete 2008-09 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship. JaNay Wooldridge from the track team was also selected. The Tigers have received 17 such scholars since 1999.
Women’s soccer was also very successful this past season. They won the Big 12 conference tournament and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they fell to the rival Fighting Illini. The Tigers provided fans with a record-breaking season, as they won sixteen games and only had five losses and two ties. Also, the ladies finished as a top 10 team in the final national rankings. Soccer Buzz Magazine recognized a pair of junior teammates to their All-Central region second team, defender Crystal Wagner and forward Kristin Andrighetto, while sophomore striker Alysha Bonnick was named fourth team All-American. Bonnick and Andrighetto were also first team All Big 12. Joining their teammates receiving awards were junior Meghan Pfeiffer who was named to the Big 12 second team and freshman Kendra Collins was named to the Big 12 All Newcomer team. Off the field, Bonnick and Wagner were Academic All Big 12 second team. Seniors Mo Redmond and Mallory Forest and junior Michelle Collins joined them, as they also earned Big 12 academic honors. Those five were not to be outdone by four of their teammates that were Academic All Big 12 first team, Seniors Janelle Cordia and Lindsay McCoy, junior Bree Thorton and sophomore Kelsey Stokes. First team members must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher while second team ranges from 3.0 to 3.19.
Missouri’s softball success received more exposure amongst Tiger fans and nationally, as they won the Big 12 Championship, made it to the College World Series and were shown in a plethora of games on ESPN. The Tigers finished ranked in the elite 8 of softball, racking up an impressive 50-12 record. The Tigers expect to be very good again next year as they return 17 players. The Tigers had two All-Americans. Senior third baseman and Lindsay Ubrun and sophomore Marla Schweisberger who were both named to the second team. Ubrun also received an Academic All-American award with a cumulative GPA of 3.82. Joining Ubrun were 11 of her teammates on the Academic All Big 12 team. 11 Mizzou softball players were first teamers and one a second teamer. Missouri had the most ladies named to the team. Ubrun, Schweisberger were also named to the All-Midwest region team along with seniors Micaela Minor and Stacy Delaney and sophomore superstar Rhea Taylor who batted over .400 for the year.
While everyone knows the success of Missouri’s more popular sports such as basketball and football (see previous article: https://missouricolumns.wordpress.com/2009/04/03/ranking-the-top-athletic-schools/), it is important to note that Missouri is succeeding in other sports as well. The future is bright for the entire Mizzou athletic department.
*Editor’s note: Be sure to check back Tuesday for Part Two as Tom recaps the success of the rest of Missouri’s athletic department.