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Beth Maiman | NCAA.com | December 25, 2018

The best feel-good stories in college sports from 2018

The cutest interview of March Madness

When the new year comes around, it's often a time to look back and reflect. 

So we did the same at NCAA.com, and took a trip down memory lane to review some of the best feel-good stories of the year in college sports. 

There were so many awesome moments in 2018, but here (in no particular order) are some that we will remember as 2018 comes to a close. We picked 11 in honor of the new year ahead:

UMass Lowell's Lambert scores in first game after leg amputation

After sustaining a moped accident in the summer of 2016, UMass Lowell lacrosse player Noelle Lambert’s left leg was amputated. But back in April, she returned to the field for the first time, bringing cheers and joy to her teammates and fans when she stepped onto the field. 

But to make this even more of a feel-good story, in her first appearance back she scored a goal. Try to not get emotional during the celebration.  

Tyler Trent, inspirational Purdue student battling terminal cancer, witnesses huge upset over Ohio State

The story of Purdue super fan Tyler Trent has been heard all over the nation. 

The 22-year old Trent, a Purdue sophomore currently undergoing bone cancer treatment, wished to see a Boilermaker victory over Ohio State. Well, his wish was granted as he watched the victory with excitement from the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research’s suite. 

Sportsmanship shines at '18 NCAA Rowing Championship

Sportsmanship showed through at the DI Rowing Championships back in May, when some teams’ boats flipped due to the bad conditions from tropical storm Alberto. From this story by UCF athletics, head coach Will Porter, along with other coaches from Stanford, Texas and California, worked together to fix boats damaged after the weather caused havoc. 

It’s a testament to the spirit of sportsmanship,” Porter said. “Rowers are hard-working. It’s not a high-profile sport. I think we’re as competitive as (it gets), but it’s been a sport that’s attracted upstanding people.”

RELATED: The best comebacks of 2018

Plane crash survivor Austin Hatch’s impact on Michigan

Austin Hatch, a former Michigan basketball player, became an inspirational story while playing at Michigan after he survived two plane crashes.

Hatch's impact was immeasurable on the Michigan program. He was on the team until 2015 and then became a student assistant coach. Head coach John Beilein, who lived up to his scholarship commitment after the June 2011 crash that left him in a coma for weeks, made something special happen again for Hatch. 

Hatch got to suit up on Senior Day and be recognized by the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation. 

He was also able to travel to Los Angeles and support the Wolverines' run to the Final Four. 

Mississippi State retires Alex Wilcox's jersey after her courageous battle with cancer

After inspiring many in the softball community with her brave battle with ovarian cancer, Mississippi State softball honored Alex Wilcox by retiring her jersey the day before celebrating her life with an on-campus memorial service.

Wilcox became the first female student-athlete in Mississippi State history to have her jersey retired.  

UMBC upsets Virginia while its Twitter account spits fire

We all remember the epic upset when 16-seed UMBC defeated No. 1 Virginia in the first round of the 2018 tournament. 

But the sassy Twitter account of the Retrievers was just an entertaining as the upset. 

Even after the tournament, UMBC kept up laughs. They had a T-shirt giveaway that poked fun at Seth Davis guaranteeing a Virginia win a minute into the game against UMBC.

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale surprised by Kobe Bryant on Ellen

After hitting back-to-back buzzer beaters in the Final Four to beat UConn and then Mississippi State for the national title, Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale became known the the world. 

And even celebrities were taking notice, like former NBA star Kobe Bryant. 

While on the Ellen Show, Ogunbowale got a surprise visit from her idol Bryant. 

RELATED: The best individual and team performances of 2018

Florida, Colorado unite to honor the life of Buffs' Julia Sarcona

After Colorado lacrosse player Julia Sarcona tragically passed away in a car accident, the Florida and Buffs lacrosse teams came together to unite and celebrate her life. 

In a game back in February, the Gators and Buffs remembered Sarcona by wearing commemorative wristbands and T-shirts with patches with Sarcona's No. 15 on them. Sarcona's family was also in attendance to honor her. 

Sister Jean's Final Four press conference was bonkers

It’s hard to forget the sensation that was Sister Jean from this year’s NCAA tournament. The cinderella team Loyola Chicago, who made it all the way to the Final Four, had the greatest 98-year-old supporter along the journey with them. 

Check out this story from NCAA.com’s Mike Lopresti on the packed press conference for Sister Jean at the Final Four. 

Mississippi State's secret snack led Bulldogs all the way to College World Series

We have to thank the Bulldogs for their help with the laughs provided during the College World Series. The Mississippi State team adopted a rally banana that caught the attention of many — even Chiquita the banana company. 

Sasha Kelsey's journey from a Russian orphanage to Lehigh football has been far from ordinary

In this beautifully written story by Lehigh athletics, the headline says it all. You’ll want to check out this great story on the journey from Russia to FCS football for Sasha Kelsey.