Boise State Dominates 2017-18 MTN. West Sports
2017-18 was a great sports year for Boise State athletes across the board.
Boise State was consistently atop the Mountain West Conference winning five team MW championships (women's basketball (regular season and tournament), football, softball and swimming and diving) and 15 individual MW titles between swimming and diving (8), indoor track and field (3) and outdoor track and field (4).The five team and 15 individual (event) MW championships were No. 1 in the league in both categories.
Including gymnastics' supremacy in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference with a fourth-consecutive team conference title to go with five individual event titles, the Broncos' final totals increased to six team conference titles and 20 individual (event) conference titles.
Below is a brief synopsis on each conference title, along with a list of the individual and event champions.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL (MW Regular Season and Tournament Champions)
The women's basketball team was dominant in winning both the regular season and tournament titles, finishing the season 23-10 and earning its second-straight automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament (also third in the last four years).
Boise State secured the regular-season title after finishing MW play 14-4, including a 7-2 record in conference road games. Fittingly, the Broncos locked up the title on the road at Wyoming the final game of the regular season, defeating the Cowgirls 67-63.
The victory gave the Blue and Orange its first Mountain West regular-season title since joining the conference in 2011-12, and the first such conference title since winning consecutive WAC titles from 2007-08.
The MW Tournament saw the Broncos march to the championship game with decisive victories over Air Force (60-46) and Colorado State (76-51) in the quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively. Nevada awaited the eventual champions in the final game, and the two teams produced an instant classic.
With 28 seconds to play and the game tied at 60-60, Boise State was able to get a stop on the defensive end and call timeout to set up the final play. Marta Hermida eventually pulled up for an eight-foot jumper with three seconds left that rimmed in and out, but A'Shanti Coleman came crashing in for the rebound and scored the game-winning putback with a right-handed layup as the clocks hit zeroes, giving Boise State the 62-60 victory.
Guards Riley Lupfer and Hermida were each named to All-Mountain West honorees, while Lupfer was also named the Mountain West Tournament Most Outstanding Player. In addition, Lupfer set both the Boise State and Mountain West single-season records for 3-pointers made, ending 2017-18 with 120.
The football team continuously improved throughout the 2017 season and was rewarded with its third Mountain West Championship (2012, 2014 and 2017), giving the team its 13th conference title in program history. With an 11-3 record, the Broncos earned their 15th 10-win season, accomplishing the feat in three of the last four years.
After starting the season 2-2, Boise State rattled off seven-straight victories in conference play and wrapped up the Mountain Division before its regular season finale against Fresno State. Despite falling to the Bulldogs in Fresno, the Broncos earned the right to host the championship game against the West Division Champions.
Trailing 14-10 entering in the fourth quarter, the Blue and Orange calmly and methodically marched down the field in a seven-play, 90-yard drive to ultimately score the go-ahead touchdown to take the 17-14 lead with 4:42 to play. The Bronco defense – led by the game's Defensive Most Valuable Player, Leighton Vander Esch – held the Bulldogs to just 85 yards of total offense in the second half and clinched the game with a turnover thanks to a Vander Esch interception with 1:50 to play.
The momentum from the championship game carried over to the Las Vegas Bowl where the Broncos beat Oregon 38-28, improving the team's all-time Las Vegas Bowl record to 4-0. In addition, Boise State moved to 3-0 all-time against the Ducks and 4-1 against Pac-12 teams in bowl games.
Cedrick Wilson Jr. was named the Las Vegas Bowl MVP after hauling in 10 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Brett Rypien was also sensational, throwing for a season-high 362 yards for two touchdowns.
Vander Esch was named the Mountain West's Defensive Player of the Year while six other Broncos earned All-Mountain West First Team selections: redshirt senior center Mason Hampton, redshirt tight end Jake Roh, and senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson on offense, and Vander Esch, junior cornerback Tyler Horton, and redshirt freshman STUD Curtis Weaver. In total, Boise State had 19 All-MW honorees.
Weaver was named an All-American by Phil Steele (Fourth Team) and SB Nation (Honorable Mention), as well as to the Freshman All-America Teams of the FWAA and USA TODAY.
Vander Esch and Wilson were both drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, as Vander Esch was taken in the first round (19th) and Wilson in the sixth (208th).
The gymnastics team has been the department's flag-bearer for sustained success in recent history, and the 2018 season added to that reputation as the Broncos won an unprecedented fourth-straight Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference Title.
The team finished the season ranked No. 16 in the country and was consistently in the top 20 throughout the year. The MRGC championship meet saw Boise State tally a 196.875 for its second-highest team score of the season.
The Broncos – who never trailed in the meet – started off on floor and got off to a fast start with a 49.175. They then posted the highest vault team score of the season with a 49.300 and kept the momentum going with a 49.150 on bars. Ending on balance beam, the Blue and Orange calmly delivered and earned a 49.250 to secure the league title.
Boise State saw five gymnasts earn individual event titles with Shani Remme and Courtney McGregor both sharing the uneven bars title while Sandra Collantes (floor), Sarah Means (balance beam) and Ann Stockwell (vault) were also victorious.
The team also enjoyed several all-league honors, as McGregor (all-around, unevenbars and vault), Collantes (all-around, vault and floor), Remme (all-around, balance beam and uneven bars), Alex Esmerian (balance beam), Means (balance beam and vault), Gabby Bouza (balance beam) and Stockwell (vault) all earned first-team nods in their respective events.
Remme went on to earn All-America honors, as well, being named a National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women (NACGC/W) Second Team All-America selection in the all-around thanks to an RQS of 39.470 in the regular season. The junior then went on to represent Boise State at the NCAA Championships in the all-around where she took 18th overall thanks to a 39.3625 – the best all-around score at nationals from a Bronco in program history.
She also earned NCAA Championship First-Team All-America honors on the balance beam with a 9.900 to take seventh in the event.
The softball team was an offensive juggernaut in 2018, finishing the season No. 1 in the NCAA in both batting average (.354) and runs per game (6.77). The ability to score runs coupled with a talented pitching staff and a solid defense propelled the Broncos to its first conference title in program history.
Boise State proved all of the naysayers wrong, as they finished six spots ahead of their preseason conference ranking (No. 7) – the largest out-performance for any conference champion in MW softball history. The Blue and Orange caught fire at the end of the regular season, winning 13 of its last 14 MW games, sweeping three of its final four series.
The team's 40-16 record gave the team the most overall wins along with the most conference wins (18) in program history.
The conference title gave Boise State an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament where they were selected to the Seattle Regional along with Washington, Minnesota and Texas. The Broncos dropped their first two games, but were able to score their first NCAA Tournament runs with a two against the Golden Gophers in the elimination game.
The Blue and Orange also cleaned up in the postseason MW awards with Rebekah Cervantes being named the Player of the Year, Kelsey Broadus the Pitcher of the Year and Alison Seng the Freshman of the Year. Former head coach Cindy Ball was also named MW Coach of the Year.
Broadus, Cervantes, Seng and Madison Anthony were all named First-Team All-Mountain West while Shaelee Pearson and Makenzie Sullivan both earned Second-Team All-Mountain West honors.
Boise State graduated just four seniors and will return the bulk of the team from the banner season.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
The swimming and diving team successfully defended its Mountain West title in 2017-18 to add yet another memorable chapter to the program's storied history. With back-to-back conference championships in 2016-17 and 2017-18, the team now has won league titles in six of the last nine years.
The Broncos tallied an impressive 1,250 points to stave off San Diego State (1,105.5) and Nevada (1,033.5) at the conference championship.
Emma Chard (200 Free and 500 Free) and Abbey Sorensen (50 Free and 200 Back) both earned a pair of individual titles while four Bronco relay teams were victorious; 200 Free Relay (Sorensen, Emmie Jennings, Robin Pinger, Ally Kleinsorgen), 400 Free Relay (Cody Evans, Kleinsorgen, Pinger, Sorensen), 200 Medley Relay (Kleinsorgen, Pinger, Jennings, Sorensen) and 400 Medley Relay (Kleinsorgen, Pinger, Jennings, Sorensen).
In total, 13 Broncos combined for 49 First-Team All-Mountain West honors. Former head coach Jeremy Kipp was also named the Mountain West Swimming Coach of the Year.
The team also saw success in the regular season, convincingly winning all four of its dual meets against Idaho (167-122), at Nevada (163-137), Wyoming (187-112) and at Northern Arizona (187-113).
INDIVIDUAL/EVENT CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS (13 Individuals / 5 Relay Teams = 20 Titles)
- 200 Free Relay (Abbey Sorensen, Emmie Jennings, Robin Pinger, Ally Kleinsorgen) – Swimming & Diving
- 400 Free Relay (Cody Evans, Ally Kleinsorgen, Robin Pinger, Abbey Sorensen) – Swimming & Diving
- 200 Medley Relay (Ally Kleinsorgen, Robin Pinger, Emmie Jennings, Abbey Sorensen) – Swimming & Diving
- 400 Medley Relay (Ally Kleinsorgen, Robin Pinger, Emmie Jennings, Abbey Sorensen) – Swimming & Diving
- Emma Chard (2) – Swimming & Diving (200 Free, 500 Free)
- Abbey Sorensen (2) – Swimming & Diving (50 Free, 200 Back)
- Women's DMR (Sadi Henderson, Chelsea Walker, Alexis Fuller, Clare O'Brien) – Women's Indoor Track & Field
- Alexis Fuller – Women's Indoor Track & Field (Mile)
- Sadi Henderson – Women's Indoor Track & Field (800 Meters)
- Sandra Collantes – Gymnastics (Floor)
- Courtney McGregor – Gymnastics (Bars)
- Sarah Means – Gymnastics (Beam)
- Shani Remme – Gymnastics (Bars)
- Ann Stockwell – Gymnastics (Vault)
- Bryce Kirby – Men's Outdoor Track & Field (100 Meters)
- Yusuke Uchikoshi – Men's Outdoor Track & Field (3,000-Meter Steeplechase)
- Alexis Fuller – Women's Outdoor Track & Field (1,500 Meters)
-- Allie Ostrander – Women's Outdoor Track & Field (5,000 Meters)