Mustang News Staff Report
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After yet another year of sports here at Mustang News, we have seen our fair share of ups and downs. While the student-athletes’ experiences mainly hinge on success, as a sports reporter in the press box, we thrive on drama and particular events.
Our sports reporting staff has put together a small compilation of our favorite moments throughout the year, ones we feel we were lucky enough to experience in our college media careers.
Kinesiology senior Nick Larson, sports editor
I grew up in a soccer family, playing the game at a decently high level until college and growing up a Los Angeles Galaxy season ticket holder. When I began to hear rumors of Cal Poly announcing a new head soccer coach, I was intrigued at not only a journalistic level, but a personal one as well. I was encouraged by our faculty advisers to find out who the coach was going to be before the athletics department announced it. I’m not a typical bulldog reporter — I’m better sitting behind a desk — but when this story came up, I was determined.
I heard from a source that the guy’s name was Steve, and I automatically went to Steve Sampson.
I went around attempting to get some confirmation, and around an hour before the announcement I had it. I struggled with whether or not to publish the information because, as I said, it’s not my style to be that way, but after some persuasion I did.
Our photographer and I headed to the press conference in Alex G. Spanos Stadium, excited to meet the man who once coached the Galaxy team I grew up watching. I remember his first line after being introduced: “Well, I guess this is no surprise, because this was the worst-kept secret in school history.” My bad — kind of. Everyone else knew it was going to happen as well. The hire is going to be huge for Cal Poly soccer. Having a coach with that sort of knowledge, experience and impressive resume — Sampson coached the United States Men’s National Team in the 1998 World Cup — will be vital in the continued improvement of the Cal Poly men’s soccer program.
The worst part for me? I won’t be here to cover it.
Biomedical engineering graduate student Stephan Teodosescu, assistant to the sports editor
This season wasn’t quite the banner year for Cal Poly baseball that 2014 was, but there’s something to be said for heading out to Baggett Stadium on a weekend basis to cover the Mustangs.
Cal Poly finished at .500 this season after going 47-12 with an NCAA Regional host bid for the first time in history the year prior.
The first half of the year doomed the Mustangs this time around. They lost six of their first seven and eventually fell eight games below .500 20 games into the season. They committed 36 errors and hit .253 as a team in that span.
I didn’t start covering the team until Big West play, though. They wound up winning 17 of their final 26 games to finish fourth in conference. Is it a coincidence that Cal Poly picked things up once I started frequenting the Baggett Stadium press box? I like to think so.
No matter the record, or whether the team is ranked No. 1 in the country (like it was at one point last season), heading out the ballpark every weekend is as good as it gets if you follow Cal Poly sports.
English senior Harry Chang, sports reporter
It’s hard to pick just one.
When Cal Poly football beat both Montana and Montana State in back-to-back weeks. When basketball came back against Northeastern and gave Gonzaga a run for their money. When Larry Lee pulled his senior starters in the ninth inning of a home finale win.
But, if I had to pick one favorite sports moment of the year, it would have to be when freshman wrestler Nick Feigener beat the top 10 nationally ranked senior from Brown with a takedown in the final seconds of the last round in Mott Athletics Center. It was not only an incredible individual effort, but also in many ways represented the excitement that was building around all Cal Poly sports in the four years I’ve been here.
Economics junior Keenan Donath, sports reporter
I had the chance to cover the last home baseball game of the season. Though 2015 was not the best year for Mustangs baseball, this was the last game at Baggett Stadium for Cal Poly’s seniors and a few draft-eligible players.
For the final out of the game, head coach Larry Lee replaced everyday center fielder Jordan Ellis with senior Michael Dingilian, who missed the whole season due to injury. Not only was Ellis’ departure met with an ovation from a loyal home crowd, Dingilian’s entrance was also met with applause from the audience. Applause that quickly turned to gasps when Dingilian was surprised with a screaming base hit up the middle.
In a year where Cal Poly came up short, Dingilian’s last-minute substitution was the type of moment that doesn’t show up on the win-loss record.
Journalism freshman Jesse Summers, sports reporter
After last year’s NCAA Tournament berth for men’s basketball, I was really excited to watch them respond to the hype this year.
However, I didn’t know I would be watching most of the games from the perspective of a reporter instead of a fan. I’ll admit my admiration for the game showed more often than a good reporter should reveal, but I truly cared about how they did.
When I think back on the season, I remember the first men’s basketball game I covered alone, which was against UC Santa Barbara. I thought that I knew what a rivalry was before college, but after that game I had a completely different idea. The building was totally electric, it almost felt alive. Obviously, games at Duke or Kentucky get much more rowdy, but for a relatively small basketball fanbase, Mott had some serious energy. There was definitely a point when I stood up and cheered after a dunk from one of our players, despite that not technically being allowed on press row.
It was one for the books, but I’m sure there are more to come.