2007 had amazing moments for SDSU

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

2007 was one amazing year for the Jackrabbit athletic programs.

The volleyball team made the first NCAA Division I sanctioned tournament appearance in school history, the football team won their first conference title since 1963 and the women’s basketball team became the first transition team to make the Women’s NIT.

Not a bad year for the Jacks. To top it all off, the Jacks entered the Summit League this January.

The women’s basketball team had one of the best years in school history, finishing with a record of 25-6 and victories over several major conference foes, including the University of Southern California, who was ranked 19 when they visited Brookings. The women became the first team in school history to go to a postseason tournament at the D-I level, hosting Illinois State and Indiana before going on the road and falling to eventual WNIT champion Wyoming.

The football team won the first conference title in 44 years with a victory over previously unbeaten and first-ranked North Dakota State. The team started with three straight losses before winning seven of their next eight, including all four in the Great West, to claim the title and finish ranked in the top 25 for the second year in a row. The Jacks will leave the Great West behind next year when they move to the Gateway Conference with NDSU. SDSU will be eligible for postseason play next year, which they would have been eligible to make the past two years.

The volleyball team clinched the first D-I conference title in school history by beating Oral Roberts seven days before the football team clinched the Great West title. Seven days later, the volleyball team won the Summit League tournament a half-hour after the football team defeated NDSU. Unfortunately for the volleyball team, they had to travel to face one-loss and second-ranked Nebraska in the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament.

Not everything that went well for the Jacks happened on the field. The new on-campus home of the Jackrabbit baseball team was completed and the team will host 15 games at Erv Heuther Field.

On Nov. 17, Dana Dykhouse and T. Denny Sanford donated $6 million to build a new student-athlete development center. The facility will be located just north of Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and will house football locker rooms and football coaches’ offices, as well as strength and conditioning facilities, athletic training facilities and an academic center for all Jackrabbit teams. The project should be completed by the spring of 2010.

“These extraordinary gifts will allow our student-athletes to reach their full potential for decades to come,” SDSU Director of Athletics Fred Oien said.

Not everything went exactly as planned for the Jacks. On Aug. 26, Kevin Morsching, a pitcher on the baseball team, passed away after suffering injuries from a skateboarding accident. The team, which his brother Kirby pitches for, has dedicated the 2008 season to Kevin.

“Our players and staff are working hard this fall and will play the upcoming season in honor and in memory of Kevin Morsching,” Jackrabbit Head Baseball Coach Reggie Christiansen said. “He is in our thoughts daily and will forever be missed.”

#1.882976:2484673282.jpg:volleyballJN.jpg:The varsity volleyball team makes an appearance at half-time during a women’s basketball game, shortly after winning the Summit League Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind.:#1.882975:3326727067.jpg:womensbballJN.jpg:Junior guard Morgan Meier makes a pass during the first half of the game versus University of Missouri earlier this season.:#1.882974:2735321960.jpg:greatwestseniorsSB.jpg:SDSU’s senior football players hold up the championship plaque after beating NDSU Nov. 16 for the Great West Conference Championship.:Stephen Brua