Some major moves were made in 2019 within the University of Utah athletics. It was a year that got people to notice and grew national recognition, added the furthest lacrosse team in the west, reached the semifinals in gymnastics, won another championship for the Ski Team and yet again took down BYU in many “Deseret First Duels” among many other accolades. It was a good year to be a Ute, but 2020 boasts just as much fun as the last year did.
With a relatively young team, the University of Utah baseball team took on the top teams in the country with a mostly young team. There were only a few returning starters after the past few years of multiple MLB draft picks. While they still play at Smith’s Ballpark in downtown Salt Lake City, the athletic department has plans of opening a new field on campus in the coming years.
Men’s basketball continued into PAC-12 play at the top of 2019. They secured a first-round bye in the PAC-12 tournament and got some serious recognition for it. Parker Van Dyke even made it on Sportscenter after defeating UCLA on a last-second shot! After graduating Sedrick Barefield moved on to play for the Oklahoma City Blue and rep the U. Into 2020 lookout for a young team that’s fun to watch. Rylan Jones earned PAC-12 freshman of the week and the team is 9-1 at home. Students get in free +4 guests.
Women’s basketball started the 2019 season with their best start in history and quickly made their way up the ranks of the national AP Poll. The team dominated in PAC-12 play and won the recognition of the people all around. Reaching #14 on the AP top 25 the team was playing some fantastic basketball This season they return with the same fire and power that they had last season. They seem to be looking to continue their winning stamina from last season. They beat USC for the first time in the Huntsman since 2012 recently and are not backing down anytime soon.
Beach Volleyball season comes in the spring and they compete nationally, impressively for a team that sits in a state known for snow. The team plays in pairs and hosts many diverse athletes from the indoor volleyball team as well as some who compete in both. They even hosted their first tournament in 2019 and will kick off the 2020 season soon. They’re hoping to back the indoor success onto the sand.
The cross country team ran all over people this season as they finished the best season to date. They advanced the national championship after taking down the #1 team in the country earlier in the season. They earned #16 at the national championship and added to the record books as the highest they’ve ever finished. The 2020 cross country seasons looks just as promising as they will work to beat their record and earn a trip to the championship for the 4th time since 2010.
Utah earned a national spotlight as they competed as a top 10 team in the country all season. With the preseason polls taking Utah as an underdog contender from the beginning. With an undefeated home record, a continuous sell-out crowd and one of the best teams the school has seen the Utah football team got its name on the map. Before falling to Oregon in the PAC-12 championship game the Utes were being considered as a college football playoff team. This season made people take notice and next season starts off on the same level as they attempt to beat BYU for the 10th time in a row to start off the season. Carrying a national ranking in and competing against a dominant PAC-12 schedule, the season is shaping to have as much potential as 2019.
The golf team traveled and played all 2019 season while competing against teams all over the country. Kyler Dunkle competed in the National Championship round and made history with the highest placement of a Ute in modern history placing 28th. The golf team is back competing and placing in tournaments in 2020 with a few new teammates and a new season on the rise. They’ll continue to play into the year but make sure to cheer them on (with a golf clap) when you can.
The NCAA changed how teams advance to win the national championship in gymnastics last season, but that didn’t stop Utah Gymnastics from making their way down and competing per usual. After a trip to the semifinals, the gymnastics team continues to be one of the best in the country. Mykayla Skinner left the team to continue her dream of being an Olympian, but while she’s gone there are more women to step up into her place. The team is ranked #5 in early season polls and won “Best of State” against competing schools in Utah. Want a fun weekend activity, go watch them flip around!
New team, who dis? Before 2019 Denver hosted the furthest west lacrosse team in the country but when the Utes kicked off their season in Rice Eccles Stadium they took over that title. Lacrosse if the newest team on campus and they played against some D1 powerhouses all season. The team is the first in the Pac-12 and will continue to play teams from all around the country in their second year. They kick off their season in Rice Eccles again on Feb. 1st.
Adding a national championship to their list of accomplishments is one way to end a season. What else is there to do. Skiing continues to be a national powerhouse for the school and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. When the most beautiful snow is in your backyard, there’s no reason to.
The soccer team started this year off on a different foot because they started playing on a new field. With the new dorms going up the new Ute field made its debut. The team also made an appearance in the NCAA first round after having a successful season with a tough preseason and rigorous PAC-12 schedule. A large senior class closed out an impressive four years as they left their legacy on the program. With an abundance of new signees, the next season looks promising in continuing the legacy this senior class carried.
Softball’s schedule never settles as the PAC-12 hosts some of the best teams in the country. The softball team hosted many different events throughout their season and built upon their previous history-making seasons. Two Utes, Anissa Urtez and Hannah Flippen, were even invited to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games after the season’s completion. The team has been making their name known for years and will continue to do so this next season.
Swim & Dive
The team swam through last year as both men and women competed. The men’s team ranked #20 in the country during the 2019 season. The swim and dive team also added to the Deseret First Duel count taking down in-state rival BYU for both men and women. During their meet against UNLV, they hosted a belly flop contest! The season is still ongoing as they enter 2020 and they continue to push into the season and toward the NCAA’s.
Men’s tennis boasted the mountain region coach and senior of the year in 2019. Dan Little competed in the singles championships and the team earned a spot in the NCAA tournament to end the season. While getting there they took down the powerhouse Stanford team at home. The team hosts players from around the world as they continue to bring momentum into 2020 with the season just starting.
The women’s tennis team made waves as they became ranked as one of the top 50 teams in the country last season. They also took down BYU as they worked to get this ranking and also rallied back from being down. Madison Tattini and Whitney Hekking ended 2019 ranked #24 doubles pair in the country. To end 2019 strong and enter the 2020 season, the team started 5-0, continuing to add to their power from last year.
Track & Field
An addition of eight qualifications from the track and field team to the NCAA tournament allowed for the track and field team to have an exceptional year. While building team strength and competing all around the country in indoor and outdoor track and field. This year the team will continue on the same path and work for more qualifications.
A trip to the sweet 16 capped off an impressive 2019 season for the Volleyball team and earned them recognition within the country as one of the top 16 teams. They beat BYU and won the Utah Classic Tournament. Berekely Oblad signed to play professionally in Hungary to rep the U on an international scale. The Utes hope to continue their success in the 2020 season where they will compete in the Huntsman Center. Still playing some of the best teams in the country and in-state rivals.
There was nothing short of incredible effort, work and play given by every athlete here at The U. With some plays that topped the charts, some history-making seasons and even more to look forward to, 2019 proved to be another year competition. In 2020, look forward to upping the Holy War win streak to 10, home matches, meets, and more thrill coming from all teams on campus. 2019 was good, but bring it 2020.