The Mirror Best of the Year awards

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Photo via Sports Illustrated.

This was a great year for the University of Northern Colorado in athletics. There was less Big Sky Championships coming home this year, but there was an increased amount of outstanding individual awards. For individual awards there was a few MVP awards, a second place finish at the National College Dunk Contest, a participant in the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine in hopes of being an NFL Draft pick, a CFL combine and potential first round pick, two Colorado Sportswomen of the Year, a few teams to nationals and many more awards. The seniors of these seasons will be missed, but while they played here, they made us proud to be a UNC Bear (cue the marching band).

Jordan Davis. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

Male Athlete of the Year

1. Jordan Davis, Basketball 

2. Alex Wesley, Football

3. Joshua Matz, Golf

Jordan Davis is UNC’s best male basketball player in school history after his historic run. Davis is the all-time points leader, a runner-up at the National College Basketball Dunk Contest, a participant of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Big Sky MVP, and No. 11 in points per game scored in the country. Alex Wesley secures second place with being the hottest UNC player to grace the gridiron since Vincent Jackson. Two 1,000-yard seasons, a Senior Bowl performance/ participation, NFL Combine participant, and a potential NFL Draft pick. Joshua Matz is a leader on the men’s golf team as a winner of multiple Big Sky player of the week awards. 

Savannah Smith. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics.

Female Athlete of the Year

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1. Savannah Smith, Basketball

2. Mariel Gutierrez, Soccer

3. Beah Cruz, Golf

In the same year as the best male basketball player to play at UNC happens, Savannah Smith earned her way to the same ranking for the women’s team. A Colorado Sportswoman of the Year for basketball, tied the record for most player of the week awards in the conference, broke the all-time scoring record, top in the conference in three pointers and free throws, No. 8 in the nation in points per game, and No. 3 in the nation for free throw percentage. Gutierrez also had a fantastic season with a Colorado Sportswoman of the Year award for soccer, broke the record for most game winning goals, named all-conference four years straight, Big Sky soccer offensive player of the year, and Big Sky soccer MVP. Beah Cruz is a sophomore who has contributed well for the women’s golf team including bringing home the individual Big Sky Championship and helping the team to third place in the conference championship. 

UNC Hockey. Photo courtesy of Maddie Robins.

Male Team of the Year

1. UNC Hockey

2. Basketball

3. Wrestling

UNC made its second consecutive trip to nationals, this time as an auto-bid team. The team had some big moments other than nationals including several last-minute wins, swept the Utah tournament, won on both theme nights, and swept CU, CSU, and Air Force in their series together. Men’s basketball had a great season that sputtered out just before reaching the Big Sky championship. During the season the basketball team beat in-state opponents over 100 points twice, one of those games was by 70 points (126-56), beat DU and Pepperdine, and won back-to-back years in Wyoming for the first time in several decades. The wrestling team’s record of 4-10 is not pretty, but sending three wrestlers to nationals is pretty cool. Jacob Seely was the lone Bear to come away with a win. 

Swimming and Diving. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics.

Female Team of the Year

1. Swimming & Diving

2. Soccer       

3. Basketball

Swimming and diving team had a great year going 6-3 overall and 4-1 in conference. The ladies broke 13 records as one of the best years in program history. To match that team tied its highest finish in the conference tournament ever at third place. Women’s soccer had a great season as well before falling 1-0 to Montana in the conference championship, but produced a stellar season by Mariel Gutierrez as MVP and offensive player of the year  The women’s basketball team took a step back this year by missing out on the conference championship, but still produced a 21-11 season, a WNIT appearance, new all-time record holders, and the many records broken by Savannah Smith. 

Ken Fikis. Photo courtesy of UNC Hockey.

Male Coach of the Year

1. Ken Fikis (Hockey) 

2. Troy Nickerson (Wrestling)

3. Jeff Linder (Basketball)

The UNC Hockey team making a second consecutive trip to the nationals tournament was a monumental achievement for the team. That means that two years in a row UNC Hockey was among the best 16 teams in the country in the ACHA D2 league. Troy Nickerson is putting UNC on the map as a potential powerhouse in the making as he took three wrestlers to the nationals tournament and helped sign the fourth best recruiting class in the nation. 

Jenny Huth. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics.

Female Coach of the Year

1. Jenny Huth (Basketball) 

2. Tim Barrera (Soccer)

3. Lisa Ebeling (Swimming & Diving)

Jenny Huth tied for second in the nation in wins by a first-year coach this season, earned UNC its fourth WNIT appearance, and developed a young team into a success despite a large graduate class from the year before. Tim Barrera has helped keep the soccer team developing and competing at a high level with a second-place finish in conference and many awards overall. Lisa Ebeling has been a key part to swimming and diving succeeding in the pool and classroom. While the swim records are continually being rewritten for this young sport at UNC, the swim program is also an annual leader among all sports at the university in academic excellence. 

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