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Rutgers Olympic Sports: who’s up, who’s down? Part 1

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The fall season is over and, except for women’s soccer, it was a season of ups and more than a few downs.

Wake Forest vs Michigan - Field Hockey Photo by J Rogash/Getty Images

The fall season is over. For some sports, it ended in the post season. For some, it just ended and lasted too long.

Cross Country

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country there were good moments, but nothing to say they had arrived on the Big Ten or national scene. The men finished 11th at the Big Ten Championships with sophomore Conor Murphy placing 58th overall, the best Scarlet runner. At their last meet, the IC4A Championships, RU finished third behind Northeastern and Fordham. Again, Murphy was the best finisher for the Knights, coming in tenth.

The women were not as successful in their wrapping up the season. At the Big Ten Championships, the women finished last with Alexandra Juzwiak the Scarlet Knights’ top runner finishing 95th. At the NCAA MidAtlantic Regional, RU finished 23rd of 28 teams with Juzwiak the top runner in 114th place.

Men’s Soccer

Men’s Soccer, a team picked for fourth in the Big Ten, was a great disappointment, going 1-14-2 overall and being winless in conference play. The biggest issue was scoring: Rutgers only tallied 16 goals, less than one per game. Defensively the Knights gave up 43 goals. The year-over-year difference was stark and told a great deal about the season.

A team that was picked preseason to finish fourth in the conference, the future should not be all bleak. Dan Donigan is a good coach, he knows how to recruit, and this team should be back. But we’ll discuss that more later.

Field Hockey

While not a great season, the team finished better than their 2015 record and had a Top 30 RPI ranking at season’s end. RU finished the year at 9-9, 2-6 B1G. But compare that to its 7-11 record in 2015, which included zero wins in conference.

Rutgers field hockey had two underclassmen named to the NFHCA All-Region team. Sophomore midfielder Linde van Schaik was named First Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region, while freshman midfielder Katie Larmour was named Second Team All-Mid-Atlantic Region.

Volleyball

It was a very long season for this squad. After picking up four wins in several tournaments at the start of the season, the Big Ten - which is one of the best volleyball conferences in the country - took its toll. After a very successful 3-1 start at the Bryant Invitational, the team went to 4-3, then to 4-9 and then on to a winless conference schedule, finishing at 4-29, 0-20 B1G.

Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup

Yes, we’re talking about it again. The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup doesn’t cover all sports, and there are those who don’t care about any “other” sports not called football and basketball. And they also find fault with the scoring used in the Directors’ Cup. But it is still a recognition of success. And nobody who has won it has ever turned it down.

The first Fall standings - covering men’s and women’s cross country and field hockey - were released on December 1. There were only 74 D1 schools that received any points. Rutgers was not one of them.

Of the Top 20 teams, only three scored points in all three sports: Stanford, Michigan, and Penn State. That means that they all made the NCAA championships and/or had place winners in the tournaments. Northern Arizona made the list solely on its winning the Men’s Cross Country Championship.

For the record, four additional Big Ten schools made the rankings: Maryland (39), Illinois (51), Minnesota (59), and Indiana (67).

Where’s the trajectory heading?

Pat Hobbs’ primary goal right now is rebuilding football and basketball. But he needs to look at all the sports, and at some point decide whether the current status - and the trajectory of the team - is what he, and we, want.

Back in March, our Aaron Breitmann looked at some coaching decisions that Hobbs would need to make during this year. He looked primarily at the close of the 2015-16 school year, but he was also addressing the long term goals of the athletic department. Among the Olympic sports, he talked mostly about wrestling, gymnastics, soccer....the more notable and visible sports. He didn’t talk about cross country...or field hockey...or volleyball. But maybe he should have, because those sports count, too, and the Big Ten looks at all sports as important.

Tomorrow, we’ll do a more in-depth look at the fall sports. What is the trajectory of those “other sports”? And what will Pat Hobbs do with the Olympic sports while he rebuilds the big three revenue sports?