With 2018 coming to a close, here is a look back at what I think were the best moments for Rutgers athletics over the past year, both individual and team acommplishments as well.
Tyler Scaife’s Comeback
Speaking of women’s basketball, the courageous comeback of star Tyler Scaife deserves to be remembered as well. After missing the previous season due to having open-heart surgery, Scaife returned to eclipse the 2,000 point mark in her career, as well as making All-Big Ten First Team. She averaged 19.7 points her senior season and finished second all-time in scoring in program history.
Men’s Basketball Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal Run
We are in the thick of the current season for the men’s basketball team, but that doesn’t mean the Big Ten Tournament run last March at Madison Square Garden is forgotten. It was as fun a three day period for the program in a very long time that ended the season with plenty of optimism for the future. The wins over Minnesota and Indiana followed by the close loss to Purdue produced some memorable moments and helped build momentum for Rutgers to land Texas Transfer Jacob Young, 2018 recruit Caleb McConnell and 2019 recruit Paul Mulcahy. It was also a tremendous three game stretch in what were the finals days of Corey Sanders’ Rutgers career, helping him earn All-Big Ten Tournament First Team honors.
Nick Suriano Becomes First National Finalist In Program History
The New Jersey high school legend and Penn State transfer made the most of his first season at Rutgers, making it all the way to the national final for the 125 pound weight class at the NCAA Championships. Rutgers also had its best NCAA’s team result ever, finishing in 11th place. Hopefully the wrestling team, with Anthony Ashnault healthy, along with Suriano, can do even better in 2019 at the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh. Both wrestlers have legitimate national title hopes and Rutgers has the potential to produce more All-American’s in one season than ever before.
Rudy Winkler Sets Big Ten Record In Winning Hammer Throw Title
The Spring season brought a lot of positive results for the men’s track and field team. Former NCAA nation champion Rudy Winkler, who transferred to Rutgers a graduate transfer from Cornell, shattered his own program record, as well as the Big Ten’s at the conference tournament last May. His hammer throw of 73.85 meters (242’ 3”) was the longest in Big Ten Championship history. While he didn’t repeat as national champion a few weeks later, Winkler, a former Olympian, finished his college career as a four-time First Team All-American.
Field Hockey Makes NCAA Tournament For First Time Since 1986
Rutgers field hockey had a breakthrough season this past fall, finishing with a 13-6 record and producing two top ten wins, including its highest ranked win in program history over #6 Princeton. They earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in 32 years and finished 11th overall in the final RPI rankings of the season. With many core players returning in 2019, the field hockey team is positioned very well moving forward under head coach Meredith Civico.
Women’s Soccer Equals Best Rutgers Big Ten Finish In Any Sport
Head coach Mike O’Neill has turned the women’s soccer program into the most consistent winner within all of Rutgers athletics. While the Scarlet Knights fell just short of winning the first Big Ten title for any Rutgers sports team ever, their second place result during the regular season tied the 2016 Men’s Lacrosse team for the best finish since the school joined the conference in 2014. The program advanced to its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament this past season and is poised to compete for a Big Ten title in 2019.
Women’s Basketball Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer Earns 1,000th Win
On November 14th, women’s basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer won her 1,000th game with a convincing victory over Central Connecticut State. The postgame celebration was a sight to see and showed how revered she is by so many important figures within the game of basketball. The team is off to an 8-3 start this season so far after beating Northwestern in the Big Ten opener last Friday.
All-Americans In Many Different Sports
Last March, Rutgers saw two wrestlers in Nick Suriano and Scott DelVecchio earn All-American status, while diver Addision Walkowiak became the first to do so in program history. In Late May, three men’s lacrosse players, Michael Rexrode, Jules Heningburg and Christian Mazzone were all named All-Americans. They were the first in the program in a decade and a half and it was the first time multiple players had been named Second Team AA’s since 1963.
A few days later, six men’s track and field athletes earned All-American Status at the NCAA Championships. Freshmen Boaz Madeus and Taj Burgess are exciting athletes showcased what bright futures they have at Rutgers in the seasons to come.
This past fall, two sophomores earned Second Team All-American status, Amirah Ali of women’s soccer and Daphne Groothuis of field hockey. Both players are set to lead their respective programs to even better days in 2019 and beyond.
That’s fourteen players from six sports that saw athletes earn All-American status in 2018. While the athletic department wasn’t successful in every sport this past year, as you can read from this article, there were a lot of accomplishments from this past year that Rutgers fans should be proud of. Hopefully, 2019 will bring even more success, both for individual athletes and for the many teams in Scarlet.
What do you think was the best moment for Rutgers athletics in 2018? What do you think I missed? Sound off in the comment section and vote in our poll here.
What Was The Best Moment For Rutgers Athletics In 2018?
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Men’s Basketball B1G Tourney Run
Nick Suriano Making National Finals
Rudy Winkler Making Rutgers & Big Ten History
Field Hockey Making First NCAA Tournament In 32 Years
Women’s Soccer Finishing Second Place In Big Ten
C. Vivian Stringer’s 1000th Career Victory
Tyler Scaife’s Comeback From Heart Surgery
Fourteen All-Americans In Six Sports