Cougar Sports Enjoy Memorable 2014
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
With the year coming to a close, fans of the Church-owned Brigham Young University can celebrate the success of the school’s many sports teams.
The Cougar football team recently wrapped up its regular season with a memorable road victory over the PAC-12’s California Bears. The November 29 42-35 shootout victory in Berkeley will likely be remembered as the highlight of the team’s 2014 8-win, 4-loss campaign.
“I’m so happy for our team. … We knew this was a really tough opponent,” said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. “It was going to take at least 30 points to win, and it played out exactly as we planned it.”
The 2014 football season had its highs and lows. Wins in the first four games—including a road victory over Texas—were highlighted by the stellar play of their quarterback, returned missionary Taysom Hill.
Then things turned sour. On October 3, Taysom suffered a season-ending injury against Utah State, and BYU would drop their next four games. November proved to be a kind month with the Cougars winning their last four games.
The football team can add one more victory to this year’s record. The Cougars will play in the December 22 Miami Beach Bowl against a yet-to-be-named opponent.
Throughout the season, the team continued its tradition of hosting devotionals on the eve of several games, including a memorable gathering at the Utah State Prison.
Several other Cougar teams enjoyed memorable moments in 2014.
The men’s basketball team again qualified for the NCAA Tournament after compiling a 23-11 record. Regular season highlights included wins against Stanford and nationally ranked Gonzaga.
Despite losing in the title game of the West Coast Conference Tournament, the Cougars were invited to their seventh NCAA tournament appearance in the last eight years. They lost in the opening round to Oregon, 68-87.
The 2014-2015 season is off to a promising 6-2 start. Senior guard Tyler Haws is among the 50 players named to the Naismith Trophy watch list. The award recognizes college basketball’s top player.
Meanwhile, the 2013-2014 women’s basketball team reached the Sweet 16 for just the second time in the program’s history. The Cougars won 28 games before falling 70-51 to no. 1 seed Connecticut.
Multi-sport athlete Jennifer Hamson was named to the AP’s Honorable Mention All-America team for her senior season. The 6-foot-7-inch center has also received three All-America citations in women’s volleyball.
The 2014-2015 team has started their season with a 3-3 record.
BYU’s cross-country program continued its tradition as a national power. The men’s team finished in 16th place at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Senior Steve Flint was the school’s top individual runner, finishing 67th overall.
Meanwhile, the BYU women’s cross-country team claimed its first West Coast Conference championship. Carrie Jube placed second overall in the November 1 race.
The BYU men’s golf team capped off a successful 2014 season with a second-straight appearance in the NCAA regionals. Their counterparts on the women’s team finished third in the West Coast Conference.
On February 22, the men’s swimming and diving team defended its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in a meet that included several strong individual performances. The women’s team placed third.
The Cougars added additional chapters to their strong volleyball history in 2014. The men’s team claimed its second straight league regular-season and tournament titles, dominating the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
The squad reached the NCAA tournament semifinals before losing to Stanford in five sets.
Meanwhile, the nationally ranked women’s team claimed the 2014 West Coast Conference trophy following an outstanding 25-4 season. The Cougars started NCAA Tournament play on December 5.
Junior outside hitter Alexa Gray was the WCC player of the year.
The women’s soccer team once again qualified for post-season play in 2014 after winning the West Coast Conference. The Cougars overcame a slow start to finish in the national rankings. Their campaign ended with a 0-2 loss to Colorado in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round.
Sophomore striker Ashley Hatch earned conference player of the year honors, while BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood was named the conference’s top coach.
Several of BYU’s club sports also enjoyed a strong year. For the first time in several years, the men’s soccer team qualified for the USL Premier Development League playoffs.
Meanwhile, the men’s rugby team won the Varsity Cup National Championship for the second year in a row over California-Berkeley.