The Stride Report said it best, “If you’re looking for a team to root for, look no further than the Cowboys.” I’ll piggyback off that and state that if UW fans are looking for multiple brown and gold teams to rally around amid a football season that has disappointed, look no further than the men’s cross-country and volleyball teams.
The men’s cross-country team at UW has exceeded expectations, and recently broke through into the USTFCCCA top 25 at No. 13 — marking the first time the Pokes have ever boasted a national ranking.
The season started in unique fashion as Wyoming hosted a meet in Cheyenne for the first time since 2011. Even though the field was small, Wyoming took second.
The Cowboys really hit their stride about a month later in South Bend, Indiana, placing runner-up at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. Wyoming placed second behind only No. 2 BYU and beat nationally-ranked Furman and host Notre Dame.
The Pokes backed that up most recently with a fifth-place finish at Pre-Nationals in Madison, Wisconsin, to vault into the top 25. Wyoming finished ahead of six nationally ranked teams.
The Mountain West Conference championships lay just on the horizon with the NCAA Mountain Region championships shortly thereafter. If the Pokes can continually improve over the next few weeks who knows how good this year’s breakthrough team can become.
The volleyball team began its season in impressive fashion, toppling nationally-ranked Colorado in five sets to garner top-25 votes. UW continued to remain just on the outside looking in until a rough patch that included five losses in a seven-game stretch.
A couple of those defeats occurred in MWC play, one of which was to 1-14 San Diego State. UW head coach Chad Callahan said it best, “I think this team realizes that we can beat just about anybody across the net from us, and we can probably lose to anybody across the net from us.”
Since that tough span of games, Wyoming has won four of five to improve to 6-3 in conference play, and position itself toward the top of the MWC.
Callahan is in his sixth season with the Cowgirls, and the last four have all ended with Wyoming ranked inside the top 100 of the RPI. Callahan has built a consistent winner in Laramie, and many more young pieces this season shows he isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
The head coach’s first season — after a successful coaching career at Georgia Southern — ended with a 21-13 record, which was the second-most victories for a first-year head coach in program history.
Callahan’s second season featured 12 conference wins, which marked the most for Wyoming since joining the league. That season also featured a school-best 14-match winning streak, dating back to 2013. Last year’s second-place conference finish stood as the best for the Cowgirls.
Callahan has gotten UW close and an NCAA Tournament and MWC championships appear as the logical next step.
So while the football team continues to slog through a down season, fans of Wyoming can turn their attention to a couple programs doing big things in Laramie.
• Former University of Wyoming basketball player Larry Nance Jr. signed a $44.8-million extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
• UW basketball player Justin James was named preseason first-team All-Mountain West Conference.
• UW’s women’s soccer team logged a 0-0 tie and a 3-2 victory against Fresno State and San Jose State, respectively, to move to 4-2-2 in MWC play.