The University of Wyoming athletics department held its annual WESPYS last week. The tradition — which is normally celebrated on campus — was accomplished via social media platforms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the spirit of honoring a memorable year in UW athletics I will announce my first-ever BUWESPYS (Bud’s UW ESPYS).

Moment of the Year — football’s 37-31 win over Missouri

Wyoming didn’t have to wait long to enjoy its finest hour of the 2019-20 athletics season. UW’s football squad served up one of the biggest victories in War Memorial Stadium history during opening weekend.

The Pokes rallied early, controlled for a lion’s share of the contest and hung on late against SEC foe Missouri. Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Chambers captained the upset, out-dueling a former national championship QB in Kelly Bryant.

Head coach Craig Bohl — who was a few years removed from a monumental victory over No. 13 Boise State — needed another big win to reestablish UW as one of the prominent teams in the Mountain West Conference.

Female Athlete of the Year — Madi Fields, volleyball

Another strong season from Fields gave her a career that’ll forever live in Wyoming lore. She did the dirty work, racking up a MWC-best 326 digs, giving her more than 1,700 for her career, which puts her atop the UW record books.

Fields was named to the All-MWC team for the first him in her career. Her efforts helped the Cowgirls clinch another postseason berth, as they participated in the NIVC.

Male Athlete of the Year — Kirby Coe-Kirkham, golf

It’s quite easy, in fact, to find the best male athlete at UW in 2019-20. Hows about a student-athlete that set a new school record?

Coe-Kirkham boasted a 71.5 scoring average, and that’s a new single-season high, or rather low, mark at UW. That scoring average included five top-25 finishes, which spearheaded the Pokes to four top-five team finishes.

Freshman of the Year — Melissa Mirafuentes, diving

That’s how you burst onto the scene and make a name for yourself. The freshman diver set a school record in platform diving en route to becoming the first Cowgirl to win a conference championship in said event.

Mirafuentes also finished runner-up in 3-meter and was named MWC Championship Diver of the Meet. The cherry on top was the All-America honor that came her way via the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America.

Team of the Year — UW wrestling

Let’s be honest, this team has been the Team of the Year for many years now. The wrestling squad is stout and has remained highly successful for the better half of head coach Mark Branch’s career, and 2019-20 was no exception.

Five wrestlers advanced to the NCAA Championships, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Big 12 Champion heavyweight Brian Andrews headlined a team that was consistently ranked inside the top 25. Montorie Bridges — an All-American alongside Andrews — also earned a automatic bid at the Big 12 Championships, while former Sheridan Bronc Hayden Hastings, Tate Samuelson and Stephen Buchanan garnered at-large bids.

Good news for next year, all five of the aforementioned wrestlers will return next season.


Pokes Notes

The University of Wyoming announced that some student-athletes from football and men’s and women’s basketball will return to campus June 1 for voluntary workouts.

The Mountain West Conference announced that it will move to a 20-game conference schedule for men’s and women’s basketball beginning in 2022-23.