There was quite a bit to talk about in the sports section last season here at The Oredigger, and we didn’t have the time or space to cover everything worth mentioning. The dust has settled, and winter sports are about midway through their seasons; so here are some of the names, statistics and anecdotes that deserve more than a footnote from fall of 2018.
Oredigger football had its best season in recent memory, coming literal inches away from an undefeated regular season in a heartbreaking loss to Dixie State. Mines yielded the best total offense, second best passing offense and third highest scoring offense in NCAA Division II.
It would be a shame to leave 2018 with only the frozen taste of a bitter loss- RMAC-rival CSU Pueblo knocking Mines out of the national tournament.
Redshirt junior running back Cameron Mayberry rushed his way to a Second-Team All-America selection. On a team that was known for its passing game, Mayberry set a Mines single-season record in rushing yards (1,615), and tied the record for the most rushing touchdowns that has stood since 1939. With one year of eligibility remaining, Mayberry cemented himself as one of the best in the nation, earning a Harlon Hill nomination (the DII equivalent of the Heisman trophy). Mayberry is also the current Mines career-record holder for rushing attempts, rushing yards and is only four touchdowns away from setting the career scoring record.
Redshirt senior receiver Brody Oliver capped off a record-breaking career with his second First-Team All-America selection, as well as an Academic All-America nod (an honor also received by redshirt junior safety Geoff Keating). He led all of Division II in receiving touchdowns (21) and was fourth in receiving yards (1,339). Oliver now owns Mines career records in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, yards-per-reception, points scored and touchdowns, as well as five Mines single-season records and three single-game records. Oliver has reserved his place in Mines football history, and, after receiving his B.A. in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering last month, has proven himself as a #HelluvaEngineer.
The Mines women’s soccer season ended in dramatic, and tragic, fashion. The Orediggers finished their season with just a single loss, and no, it was not the loss that ended their season. After a snow delay and a hard-fought 110-minutes against Dallas Baptist (20 of which were ‘golden-goal’ overtime), the game officially ended in a draw and a penalty shootout was used to determine who would advance.
The Dallas Baptist keeper guessed right three times, and that was enough to end the Oredigger season. There is no way to adequately describe the heart they left on the field. Mines outshot DBU 24 to 5, and frankly did not deserve their season to end how it did.
Junior goalkeeper Shannon Mooney earned a Second-Team All-America selection and senior defender Emily Townsend received a First-Team All-America nod for their defensive efforts this season. The pair led an Oredigger defense that ranked third in DII in goals-against average (0.355) and shutout percentage (0.682).
Townsend also picked up an RMAC Defensive Player of the Year award, led Mines field players in total minutes and racked up a career-high five goals. The Mines defense was nearly impenetrable this season, only allowing 6.4 shots per game, and Mooney executed the few opportunities she got. Senior forward Jennifer Kendall, in addition to leading the Orediggers in goals and points, earned a First-Team Academic All-America selection, and her degree in mechanical engineering last month.
The Oredigger men’s soccer season ended only a few hours after the Oredigger women, falling 2-0 against West Texas A&M in the NCAA tournament round of 32 for the team’s second loss of the season. Mines fought to the very end, but things didn’t quite bounce the right way as several Oredigger shots deflected off the crossbar and side posts. The Orediggers had a phenomenal season and future looks bright, with eight true freshman and only three seniors on this year’s roster.
Junior defender Jason Zobott, along with being named RMAC Defensive Player of the Year, was selected Second-Team All-America. He was the anchor of a defense that allowed on average less than a goal per game. Zobott also led the Orediggers in total minutes played and was a vital communicator to the team.
Senior forward John Haist ended his Mines career with a bang, setting the Oredigger single-season goals record (formerly owned by Tesho Akindele, who went on to play in the MLS) with 23 goals. That mark was enough to make him the national leader in game-winning goals, and second in total goals and points.
Haist was the leading scorer and shooter on a team that, on average, outscored its opponents three-fold. Haist earned himself a First-Team All-America nod. Redshirt junior Ben Overholt and junior Jason Zobott earned recognition for their work off the field with Academic All-America selections.
The Mines volleyball team had a chance at redemption in the first round of the NCAA tournament. After winning the first two sets in the RMAC championship match, MSU Denver pulled a come-from-behind victory and stunned the young Oredigger squad. The Orediggers still earned their spot in the NCAA tournament, and happened to be put up against MSU in the first round. Mines did was not intimidated by the spotlight, and brought revenge to the Roadrunners in a 3-1 victory. Mines was eliminated in the second round in a hard-fought 3-1 loss to Tarleton State.
Sole-senior Janice Jin ends her career as the winningest player in Mines volleyball history. Junior Abby Tiesman, who lead the Orediggers in kills, earned her second Honorable Mention All-America nod. True freshman Drew Stokes, who led the RMAC in assists and assists per set, earned a Third-Team All-America selection, and was named National Freshman of the Year. With only one graduating senior, and nine freshmen on this year’s roster, there is no telling how dominant this program can become in the next few years.
The Oredigger cross country teams led the Mines postseason effort this fall. After resting some of their top runners in the RMAC meet, the women placed fifth and the men took home a second-place finish at the NCAA national meet. With 10th, 15th, 17th and 33rd place-finishes respectively, redshirt senior Josh Hoskinson, redshirt junior Logan Ramlet, redshirt senior Grant Colligan and redshirt sophomore Luc Hagen received USTFCCCA All-America honors. Notables on the women’s side of things were junior Maddie Geesen (49th), freshman Zoe Baker (68th) and junior Brook Eberle (79th).
Despite an impressive second-place national finish, the biggest story of the race is of what could have been. Grant Colligan entered the meet as one of the few favorites for an individual title. After a false start, the Mines squad got themselves near the front of the pack. Less than 700 meters into the race, Colligan was tripped up and fell (and suffered a minor ankle injury). He picked himself up quickly and, despite some pain, managed to climb from 63rd to the 22nd spot in the next 1,000 meters. Imagine running more than five and a half miles on a rolled ankle.
The Orediggers made a name for themselves on the national stage this season. After all was said and done, Mines ended up in first place in the Learfield Directors’ Cup rankings, an award given to the best all-around athletic program nationally in each division at the end of the academic year. The Orediggers earned 340 points, led by national place-winning finishes in five sports, in addition to an NCAA football tournament berth. Mines holds a 25-point lead over Grand Valley State, who won national titles in men’s and women’s cross country.
There are still two seasons to go, but this year is already shaping up to be one of the best in Mines athletic history.