Best 2016-17 championship stories from NCAA.com
Before we get ready for another college sports season, let's take a look back at some of the best championship moments we had in the 2016-17 season.
This year we saw many programs earn their first-ever titles, as well as some teams redeeming previous heartbreaks to come back and win this time around. From the trophies, confetti and smiles, many championships are forever memories for coaches, student-athletes and fans.
Here are some of the best championship stories from NCAA.com this past season:
With South Carolina's 67-55 win over Mississippi State to earn the program's first national championship, Dawn Staley added another trophy to her crowded case. Staley has been a part of five of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team’s six consecutive gold medals – as a player in 1996, 2000 and 2004, and twice as an assistant coach in 2008 and 2016. In 2004, Staley was selected to carry the United States flag into the opening ceremony of the Athens Games, leading Team USA’s delegation. As a student-athlete at Virginia, Staley participated in three Final Fours, and in eight years in the WNBA, she was a five-time All-Star selection. With all her prior accolades, we know this one still meant a lot.
Under head coach K.J. Kindler, the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team earned its second straight title back in April. Capped by a perfect 10 from freshman Maggie Nichols, Oklahoma scored a national championship record of 49.70 on the balance beam, eclipsing the old mark set by UCLA in 2004 (49.60). The championship also marked the Sooners' third title in the last four years.
NCAA.com's Mike Lopresti caught up with the family of Sean Peters, a member of the lacrosse team at UMass Dartmouth who died at 22 years old, due to complications from Type 1 diabetes. Peters passed away on April 29, about a month before the NCAA Division I lacrosse championships at Gillette Stadium. While going through heartbreak, the Peters family decided to make the trip to New England to see the action from championship weekend and to honor Sean's spirit.
4. Lucky No. 7
With an underclassman-filled roster, Stanford women's volleyball grabbed its seventh national championship, defeating Texas 3-1 in Columbus, Ohio back in December. The seven titles tie Penn State for most by a single program.
Florida baseball took home the program's first national championship this year in Omaha when the Gators defeated LSU in a two-game sweep. After 71 College World Series and Florida's third trip to Omaha, the Gators went home happy.
The Florida Gators are the Kings of College Baseball! pic.twitter.com/kSoJVbCQDM— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 28, 2017
Although it was the first time the Frozen Four was ever held in Chicago, history repeated itself at the 2017 championship. Denver defeated Minnesota Duluth 3-2 at the United Center to win the national title. The offensive spark for the Pioneers came from left winger Jarid Lukosevicius, who recorded a hat trick. The last person to tally three goals in a championship game? Well, that would be Denver's coach Jim Montgomery when he played for Maine in 1993.
This year's outdoor track and field championships was was quite the family affiar. Multiple sets of siblings competed together in Eugene. The pairs shared moments and made memories during the four-day event in the Pacific Northwest.
At the 2017 Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Oklahoma State's defending champion Dean Heil attempted to win his second NCAA title at 141 pounds. His opponent? That was Virginia's George DiCamillo, who he has been wrestling with since he was a young child. Heil went on to win and defend his title.
After a heartbreaking loss in last year's national championship game, North Carolina headed to Arizona hungry. UNC defeated Gonzaga 71-65 to erase the bitter taste from last year's buzzer-beater loss.