The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah’s Senior Presence Remains Key to Program Success

Curtis Lin
University of Utah senior guard Justin Bibbins (1) drove the ball in an NCAA Men’s Basketball game vs. The Stanford Cardinals in Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Thursday, February 8, 2018. (Photo by Curtis Lin/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

As the 2017-2018 school year comes to a close, it gives us time to reflect on our achievements, struggles we endured and the outlook for the future we share. The same is true for Utah athletics. With the exception of track and field, all Utah sports have concluded for the school year, and so, the senior class, who have played their last games, have also seen the field for the last time — and the achievements are much more definite.

We start with the staple of Utah athletics, the University of Utah football team managed a 7-6 record, including a dominating victory over West Virginia in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on Boxing Day. Despite having a rather average season, on the whole, the senior players demonstrated extreme leadership, on top of athletic excellence. Senior Boobie Hobbs provided the Utes another fantastic season, both on the defensive side of the ball, as well as appearances as the starting punt returner. His 651 total return yards put him at 4th all-time in team history, and his 4.38 40-yard time fixated him as the team’s fastest runner. Recent alumnus, Kylie Fitts was selected in the 6th round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, while seniors Filipo Mokofisi, Troy Williams, Leka Uhatafe, Boobie Hobbs and Harrison Handley were all signed as free agents to various teams in the NFL, including the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons.

One of Utah’s most accomplished programs, the Red Rocks dominated not only the PAC-12 but excelled at the national level in the NCAA, placing fifth in the country. Coach Megan Marsden celebrated her 200th win, and Mykayla Skinner earned All-American honors through the NCAA. Senior Tiffani Lewis showed out through her tenure at the U, earning three All-Pac-12 Conference honors and winning the Pac-12 Championship in both the floor and vault routines. Erika Muhaw and Maddy Stover bring up the rear of a well-accomplished group of senior gymnasts.

The Runnin’ Utes dominated the 2018 season, earning an 11-7 in-conference record, in coach Larry Krystkowiak’s 7th season. In his sole season with the team, Long Beach State transfer Justin Bibbins exploded Utah’s offense, leading the Pac-12 with a .439 shooting percentage and a berth on the Pac-12 First Team. Forward David Collette concluded his four-year career with the Utes with another dominant season as the team’s starting center. Tyler Rawson and Gabe Bealer round out the senior class, who helped lead the Utes to a 14-3 record at the Huntsman Center.

As we look to Utah’s presence on the diamond, we look at two teams who aim to rebuild for the future. The Utah baseball team ended their season just last week, to conclude with a 16-39 record, and softball ended the year with a 20-30 record. Softball seniors Katie Donovan and Miranda Viramontes had strong seasons on the mound, while Heather Bowen dominated the batter’s box, notching 9 home runs, 48 RBIs and starting all 48 games.

Other notable senior performances include Swedish skiing sensations Martin Bergström and Ann-Kathrin Breuning, women’s soccer star Janie Kearl and women’s basketball forward Emily Potter.

As Utah looks to provide students with successful seasons in all sports, the senior class can look back on their time at the U and know that they contributed to a rich history of athletic excellence.

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