MACOMB, Ill. – The Western Illinois athletics department concluded a historic year this past spring with many records being toppled, and teams accomplishing feats for the first time in their program’s history.
Heading into the Fighting Leathernecks annual countdown of the department’s top moments and accomplishments, this year known as #WIU13n13, the Western Illinois Athletics Department wanted to take some time to recognize the numerous records that were broken, and the rare, first-time accomplishments of some of our student-athletes and teams.
To start, the men’s soccer team didn’t set any new program season or career records, but head coach Dr. Eric Johnson and the Leathernecks did win their second straight Summit League Tournament title which boosts their total to a conference-best six; not to mention they earned all six titles in the last nine years. No other league team has more than three tournament crowns.
In the football team’s season-opening game versus the Butler Bulldogs on August 30th, Nikko Watson and Caulton Ray were both effective on the ground, matching the program’s record for most 100-yard rushers in a game (13th time). Watson dashed for 109 yards on 25 carries, while Ray compiled 106 yards on 28 rushes. Achieving something no other kicker in program history has achieved was Leatherneck football player Pat Smith. He became the first-ever Leatherneck to connect on all of his field goal attempts in a season, going a perfect 10-for-10. Smith also booted the most-ever punts in a season (84).
First-year head coach Ted Flogaites and the women’s soccer team had a record-setting season kicked off by a record-setting night at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on August 24th. That evening, the Leathernecks broke the program’s record for goals in a game with eight, and points in a game with 23. The team also set or tied several single-season marks: set a new team goals against average record (0.63), tied the record for goals in a season (38), tied the record for shutouts in a season (9), and the team also earned the second-most wins in a season (13). Individually, Laura Atkinson set a record for goalie wins in a career (21) and shutouts in a career (14), while setting a new single-season mark for goals against average (0.67). Teammate Sarah Hall tied Western’s season record for game-winning goals with four.
Another head coach in her first year, April Hall, helped her Fighting Leathernecks volleyball team to its first-ever victory at North Dakota State, 3-2, and Western’s first win at Saint Louis in more than 20 years, snapping a 10-match losing streak to the Billikens.
Women’s basketball player Saule Kontautaite was dangerous from beyond the arc for the Leathernecks all winter, breaking her own record for three-pointers in a season (68), and tying Western’s record for triples in a game (7). As a team, the Leathernecks also toppled the season record for three-pointers made, dropping 235 triples on the year, and connected on 15 versus Clarke (11/15/12) which ties the program mark. Michele Salvatori also set a new mark for the women’s team, having played in more games than any other player in the program’s history. Head coach JD Gravina and the women's basketball team also swept its season series with North Dakota State for the first time ever, and for only the second-time ever swept Oakland. When the Leathernecks scored 101 points versus Fort Wayne in The Summit League Tournament, it marked the first time since 1994 that women’s basketball reached the century mark against a Division I program.
Making their second consecutive appearance in the College Basketball Invitational and earning a share of their first-ever true Summit League regular season championship was the Fighting Leathernecks men’s basketball team. Head coach Jim Molinari and his team also earned more wins than any other team in the program’s NCAA Division I history (22), while the Leathernecks’ 13-3 conference record was tied for most in the program’s DI history. Western also put together a winning streak that lasted more than a month, earning 11 straight wins, the most the program has seen since the 1957-58 season. Individually, like Salvatori did for women’s basketball, Ceola Clark III broke the program’s games played record (124). Clark also set a new career record for three-pointers with 247 after becoming the career steals leader a year before (242). Clark also dropped six straight triples against South Dakota in Western’s regular season finale which tied the program’s all-time consecutive three-pointers made record. Fellow senior Terell Parks set a new record for consecutive field goals made when he went a perfect 11-of-11 against Greenville at home. Due to the team’s defensive nature, Western also earned its first-ever victory while scoring under 40 points when it defeated Savannah State 39-35 at home.
Western’s indoor track and field team broke several records as well. Both Jamario Taylor and Dana LaRue set new program and conference records at The Summit League’s indoor track & field championships. Taylor leaped 7-01.50, while LaRue tossed 63-07.75 in the weight throw. Other Leathernecks to make program history were: Glenn Powell in the 60 meter hurdles (8.18), Michael Castel in the 5,000-meter run (14:40.24), and Zach Glasebrook in the heptathlon (4,899 pts). Along with the track & field records, cross country runners Castel and Alycia Thurston each set new program marks at Bradley. Castel broke a school record standing since 1974 in the 8K after finishing in 24:24, while Thurston broke the school record time in the Women's 6K run after posting a 21:48.
Softball’s Sammy Marshall continued her dominance on the base paths, swiping 31 bases and becoming the program’s career leader in steals with 76 as a sophomore. Marshall was also effective at the plate, setting a new single-season mark for batting average (.465).
The Leatherneck baseball team accomplished something no other team in program history had when they defeated the No. 1 team in the nation, Arkansas, 7-5 in Fayetteville on February 17th. The victory came during the team’s opening series and sparked head coach Ryan Brownlee’s record season. Western finished 2013 with 19 wins, the most for a first-year skipper in program history. The previous high for most wins for a first-year head baseball coach at Western was 15 (Dick Pawlow – 1970). Brian Loconsole set the single-season and career saves mark in 2013, recording nine on the year which also gives him a program-best nine career saves. Dan Dispensa hit six triples throughout the spring boosting his career total to 14 which ties Western’s program record. Ending the year with a 1.23 earned run average was Aaron Michel. His 1.23 ERA is the lowest single-season earned run average in Western history.
And with that brief look back at Western’s record-breaking season, the Western Illinois Athletics Department would like all Fighting Leathernecks fans to let them know what their favorite moments were from the 2012-13 season, and tweet @WIUAthletics using the hashtag #WIU13n13.
In addition to letting us know what your favorite moments were, guess what the department's top moment from the 2012-13 was, and five lucky followers who guess correctly will be entered into a drawing for a prize from WIU Athletics.
The #WIU13n13 will kick-off with the honorable mention list on June 17th.