STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Attending a school with Division I level athletics is definitely a privilege that comes along with going to a prestigious university, but it’s even better when that school’s teams are as talented as the Drake Bulldogs.
Every season brings excitement and intense competition to Des Moines, but this past year has been especially exciting for us Bulldogs. From buzzer beaters to last second touchdowns to tournament victories and upset, you never know what’s going to happen in Drake Athletics.
Our football team had one of their best years in recent memory, their season riddled with close games, five of 11 games being decided by one possession or less.
The Bulldogs ended the season with seven wins and four losses overall and posting a 6-2 record against conference opponents, third place in the Pioneer Football League.
This was thanks to a string of victories coming at the end of the season, the Bulldogs winning five of their last six games, all of them against conference opponents.
Junior Andy Rice led the team as quarterback, scoring 16 total touchdowns and throwing for over 2,000 yards.
Both the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams have had outstanding seasons on the court. The women have only lost four matches all year, and each one of them was against a ranked opponent.
The men are currently ranked 31st in the nation one year after the team picked up their first ever NCAA Tournament win, with senior Alen Salibasic and junior Ben Lott each consistently ranked among the top-75 collegiate players in the country.
However, one of the biggest stories in Drake Athletics this year was the success of the Women’s Basketball team. Entering the season predicted to take third in the Missouri Valley
Conference, the Bulldogs got off to a weak start with three losses to open the season. To make matters worse, star senior guard Kyndal Clark went down with an injury in the first game of the season, and would be out for the rest of the year.
And yet, things may not have been quite so bleak. Sophomore and reigning Freshman of the Year Lizzy Wendell took the helm, leading the Bulldogs into a season that can best be described as “historic.”
The Bulldogs snapped their early season losing streak with an upset over the University of Wisconsin-Madison on November 23, Drake paced by 33 points from Wendell.
Drake would also go on a stretch where they won nine games in a row to start 2015. The streak was sparked following a two-point loss to the University of Iowa.
The final game of the win streak was a 64-61 victory over conference rivals Wichita State. Two weeks later, however, Wichita State would exact their revenge, demolishing the Bulldogs 80-59.
This loss killed much of the momentum the Bulldogs had been building, just three games before the conference tournament.
Regardless, Drake was confident entering the tourney, earning a bye with their second seed. They faced off with 7th seed Evansville in the second round, but nobody saw what was coming in that game.
Setting a school record for most threes in a game, Evansville’s shooting doomed the Bulldogs. Drake pushed the game into an extra period behind 21-point performances from Becca Jonas and 2014-2015 Freshman of the Year Maddy Dean, but Evansville killed Drake’s hopes with an 84-79 overtime win.
One week later the team played against Eastern Michigan in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), but Drake again fell in another high scoring matchup, 70-80.
Regardless of the losses at the end of the season, the Bulldogs still the most wins they’ve had in a season since 2008.
Currently, the Drake Softball season is now in full swing and their 24-12 record is the best the team has had since 2010.
This is a result of strong hitting, led by Megan Sowa, Hayley Hybo and Laura Brewer. Even bigger than the Bulldog bats is the dominant pitching from freshman Nicole Newman and senior Rebekah Schmidt, who has the most wins as a pitcher and the highest batting average on the team.
This is just a quick look at a handful of the many successes this school has had this year, and possibly a look at things to come as Drake Athletics continues to improve itself for the future.