By Jonathan Okanes
Cal Bear Blog
On-field accomplishments, extraordinary individual achievements and significant changes marked the 2013-14 athletic year at Cal. The Bears once again brought home multiple national championships and produced some everlasting moments. The year also saw the departure of some familiar faces, as well as the coming together of a community after a tragedy.
Here are the Cal Bear Blog’s top-15 stories for 2013-14.
15. Cal Adds Sand Volleyball. For the first time since 1999, the athletic department added a new sport when sand volleyball began intercollegiate competition in the spring. The inclusion of the fastest-growing sport in Division I athletics allowed Cal to continue to meet Title IX obligations and do so at minimal cost. Using mostly players from its indoor team that plays in the fall, the Bears went 5-6 in their inaugural season, playing home matches at the Clark Kerr Sand Courts. The Bears will play the 2015 season with almost strictly sand-only, non-scholarship student-athletes.
14. Women’s Gymnastics Sees Exponential Improvement. Cal’s women’s gymnastics team finished the 2014 season ranked No. 16 in the country, which is 33 spots higher than it ended 2012. That 33-spot jump is the best two-year improvement in NCAA women’s gymnastics history. Part of the 2014 success included a third-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, which took place at Haas Pavilion and was the best conference placement in school history. Senior Alicia Asturias was a second team All-American and the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
13. Jared Goff Rewrites Record Books As Freshman. True freshman Jared Goff had a record-breaking season for the Cal football team, setting Cal single-season marks for passing yards (3,508), total offense (3,446) and passes completed (320). He also eclipsed the school record for passing yards in a game when he threw for 504 against Washington State. Goff became the first true freshman in school history to start a season-opener at quarterback.
12. Missy Franklin Arrives On Campus. One of the most accomplished athletes ever to attend Cal, decorated Olympian Missy Franklin began her freshman year in August. Franklin captured five medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, including four gold medals. After swimming for coach Teri McKeever for the U.S. National Team, Franklin was reunited with the Cal coach when she joined the Bears in the fall. Franklin won the NCAA championship in the 200-yard freestyle with an American-record time of 1:40.31 while also anchoring the Bears’ 800 free relay team that won the NCAA title.
11. Men’s Track and Field Wins First-Ever MPSF Championship. On a historic day in March, the Bears won the first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation team championship in school history, totaling 96 points to beat out Arizona State at the conference meet in Seattle. Cal took home four individual championships, including a sweep of the long jump with Hammed Suleman and Malaina Payton capturing the title. Chioma Amaechi won the women’s weight throw and Jordan Locklear captured the mile run.
10. Rugby Wins Second Straight CRC. Cal’s storied rugby program added yet another title to its legacy when it won its second consecutive Collegiate Rugby Championship in Philadelphia by defeating Kutztown 24-21 in the finals. The Bears had the most tries and the largest point differential in the tournament. The Bears have now won 28 total national championships in program history.
9. Women’s Tennis Wins First-Ever Pac-12 Championship. The Bears forged a perfect conference season, going 10-0 and clinching their first-ever Pac-12 title by defeating rival Stanford on the final day of the conference season. Cal also won at Stanford for the first time in 15 years, handing the Cardinal just its fifth home loss since 1999.
8. Crew Teams Secure Three National Titles. Cal’s men’s and women’s crew teams combined to win three national championships, with the men capturing titles in the second varsity eight and third varsity eight at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championship and the women prevailing in the varsity four at the NCAA Championship. It was the women’s second national title in the past four years in the varsity four event.
7. Cal, Kabam Form Partnership. In December, it was announced that Cal and Kabam, a world-leading mobile gaming company, formed a 15-year partnership that included naming rights to California Memorial Stadium. Valued at almost $18 million, it is the largest field naming rights deal in collegiate sports. The field is now known as “Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium.” The partnership also includes a scholarship program, an internship program, speaking engagements and other partnerships on campus around innovation and technology.
6. Men’s Soccer Ranked No. 1 For First Time Ever. The Bears began the 2013 season with wins over No. 3 Georgetown and No. 2 Maryland, exploding on to the national scene and staying at the top of college soccer throughout. On Sept. 24, Cal earned the first No. 1 national ranking in school history with a 5-0-1 record. The Bears stayed atop the polls until two weeks before the NCAA Tournament. They advanced to the Elite Eight for the third time ever.
5. Mike Montgomery Retires; Counzo Martin Takes Over Men’s Basketball Program. After leading the men’s basketball program to its winningest six-year stretch in school history, Mike Montgomery announced his retirement on March 31. The Bears advanced to the postseason in each of Montgomery’s six seasons at Cal and won their first conference championship in 50 years in 2010. Montgomery was replaced by Cuonzo Martin, the former coach at Tennessee and Missouri State who has led his teams to postseason berths in each of the past five years.
4. Cal Remembers, Celebrates Ted Agu. The Cal community was saddened by the sudden passing of football player Ted Agu in February. All corners of the Cal community came together to celebrate his life and remember the profound impact he had on everyone around him. Student-athletes from other sports wore patches on their uniforms to honor Agu.
3. Sandy Barbour Transitions To New Role At Cal. After a 10-year stint as director of athletics that saw one of the most successful periods in history, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced that Sandy Barbour will transition to Berkeley’s Extension Program to develop an academic program in sports management. Under Barbour’s stewardship, the Bears won 19 national team championships and 92 individual national championships. Cal finished in the top-10 in the Directors’ Cup standings six times.
2. Cobbs’ Buzzer-Beater Sinks No. 1 Arizona. In one of the most indelible moments of the 2013-14 college basketball season, Cal point guard Justin Cobbs hit a baseline jumper with 0.9 seconds remaining to lift the Bears to a 60-58 upset of No. 1 Arizona at Haas Pavilion. Playing in front of a capacity Gold Out crowd, Cal secured its first-ever win over a top-ranked opponent at home and its third overall. The win also handed Arizona its first loss of the season after entering the night 21-0.
1. Cal Men’s Swimming Wins NCAA Championship. The Bears won their third NCAA title in the past four years, outlasting runner-up Texas 468.5-417.5. Cal, which also won the national championship in 2011 and 2012, captured its fifth NCAA title overall. The Bears won back-to-back crowns in 1979-80. Freshman Ryan Murphy won individual championships in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
Best Of The Rest: Golfer Brandon Hagy wins Byron Nelson Award; Cross Country runner Kelsey Santisteban gets highest Cal finish ever at NCAA Championships; Cal breaks ground on renovation to Hellman Tennis Complex; Women’s Soccer beats Stanford for first time since 2006.