Women's Softball is Hardcore
The University of Washington women's softball team earned its first No. 1 ranking since 2000 and its first-ever top billing in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll. Led by junior pitcher Danielle Lawrie, a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team, the Huskies posted their best start ever at 18-0 and finished the year 41-10. Lawrie went on to earn Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year honors. As Columns went to press, the team had just advanced to the NCAA Super Regional with an epic 15-inning victory over UMass.
Men's Basketball wins Pac-10 Title
The UW won its first outright conference championship since 1953 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in Lorenzo Romar's seven years as coach. Romar was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the second time, while seniors Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon earned first-team all-conference honors and freshman Isaiah Thomas was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
Men's Golf Aces Pac-10 Tournament
The UW men's golf team won its fifth Pac-10 title and first since 1988 with an impressive four-round total of 16-under par. The Huskies bested second-place Oregon by 18 strokes at Seattle Golf Club, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. Darren Wallace became just the fourth Husky to win the Pac-10 individual championship, finishing four strokes ahead of teammate Nick Taylor at 11-under 277. The Huskies went on to place second at the Central Regional tournament, earning their ninth trip to the NCAA championship in 10 years.
Hansen Retires as Pac-10 Commish
After 26 years on the job, Tom Hansen, '59, is stepping down as Pac-10 commissioner July 1. The longest-tenured Division I conference commissioner in the country, Hansen helped develop the Bowl Championship Series and enhanced the Pac-10's television deals. He also championed women's opportunities and oversaw more than 200 NCAA titles won by Pac-10 teams.
Swim Teams Cut
The UW swim teams will take their final laps this year after a difficult decision by the UW Athletic Department to eliminate the program, part of $2.8 million in budget cuts to the department. The news surprised and disappointed members of the team, especially after huge improvements in their performances over the past few years and solid finishes at the NCAA finals by both the men's and women's teams. The swimmers will have their scholarships honored, but can transfer to other schools without affecting their eligibility.