Closing the book on 2017 marks a perfect time to reflect. Wyoming athletics certainly had plenty of significant moments this past year. Here are my top five:
Meredith finally tops Heil
Call me a prisoner of the moment, but Bryce Meredith’s overtime win over Dean Heil was the finest moment for UW in 2017. Meredith is one of the best wrestlers in the nation and has been for the past few years, save for one grappler he hadn’t conquered — that was until Dec. 19 in historic Storey Gym.
Seniors Heil and Meredith are quite familiar with one another. Both wrestlers reside in the Big 12 Conference, and Meredith had lost the first four bouts against the two-time defending national champion. One of Meredith’s losses came in the national championship. Meredith, a Cheyenne native in front of more than 2,500 hometown fans, finally beat the passive Heil to end the OSU product’s 55-match win streak.
Meredith and Heil will likely meet again in the conference’s championship bout and perhaps once more in Cleveland, Ohio, with a national championship at stake.
Allen’s final game at the War
Retaining the Bronze Boot is task No. 1 each and every year for Wyoming. The 2017 edition of the Border War between Colorado State and Wyoming looked like a quintessential Mountain West Conference battle. A snowstorm descended upon Laramie and made for a low-scoring affair.
Josh Allen, in what would turn out to be his final game in War Memorial Stadium, wrote his name in Wyoming lore. Allen captained a game-winning touchdown drive, in the fourth quarter, through a fresh coat of powder, as the Pokes toppled the Rams for the second consecutive year.
Wyoming volleyball finishes second in MWC
The Wyoming volleyball team has improved tremendously since head coach Chad Callihan took over in 2013. This past season marked another banner year as the Cowgirls finished second in the MWC, their highest MWC finish ever and their highest finish within conference since winning the High Country Athletic Conference in 1989.
The Cowgirls have been knocking on the NCAA Tournament door for the past few years and 2017 represented another step in the right direction.
Wyoming golf ascends to No. 36
I guess Wyoming’s indoor golf facility it debuted in the fall of 2014 is working. The Cowboys, who have understandably struggled to keep pace with warmer-weather MWC foes, won two tournaments this past fall and earned their highest ranking in program history, vaulting up to No. 36.
Tom Johnson calls it quits
This isn’t a high moment for UW athletics but rather a time to reflect on a long-time member of the UW family. Wyoming’s head swim coach, Tom Johnson, hung up the whistle following the 2017 season after 19 years at the helm. Johnson is best known for coaching Scott Usher, who swam his way to the 2004 Olympics and placed seventh in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Wyoming basketball winning the CBI. Side note, I hate raising a banner for any championship not named Mountain West or NCAA Tournament — but the extra practice time and game minutes under first-year head coach Allan Edwards should benefit the Pokes this season.
Allen bucked the newfound trend of college football players cowardly and selfishly sitting out bowl games to protect their draft stock by starting the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Allen, a future top-five NFL draft choice, elected to give his team one last game under center and promptly led UW to its first bowl win since 2009.