In November of 2002, the UC Davis student body voted in favor of increasing student fees to help its athletics program move to the Big West Conference and the Division I ranks.
It paid off last week.
From funding initiatives to being ineligible for postseason play during the transitional process (2003-2007) to finally having the chance to feel out the Division I waters, the Aggies’ nearly seven-year wait for a Big West title came to a close on Tuesday.
The first-seeded UC Davis men’s golf team knocked off defending champion UC Irvine by seven strokes to win the Big West Tournament at the San Luis Obispo Country Club.
“Man, it’s about time,” said coach Cy Williams. “We had a lot of fun today. We’re really going to enjoy this win.”
The men’s golf team won’t be the only one enjoying it. The rest of the UC Davis athletics department will be smiling, too.
Seventeen Aggie teams had a shot at a Big West championship during the 2007-2008 school year – UC Davis’ first official year of Division I eligibility. Each of them came up short.
Thirteen more have had a chance this academic year – some of which came very, very close – but couldn’t pull off the trick, either.
The men’s golf team’s Big West title is about more than being the conference’s only club to break par at the tournament (3-under 861). It’s about more than firing a tournament-low 284 in the final round. It’s about more than watching sophomore Austin Graham and senior Ramie Sprinkling finish first and second, respectively, among individuals.
The Aggies’ win on Tuesday was about writing the first championship story to a book that had been seven years in the making.
It’s official. The UC Davis men’s golf team has done it.
It won’t be the only one, though. Stay tuned.
Big West disappointments, too
The only thing tougher than losing out on a championship is being beaten for that title by one.
The UC Davis women’s golf team suffered that fate last week.
The Aggies, Long Beach State and UC Irvine were all within one stroke of each other when the Big West Tournament came to a close. Long Beach ended up claiming its first league title, although it was outshot by UC Davis in the tournament’s final round.
That’s what will leave a bad taste in the Aggies’ mouths: the fact they played well enough to win.
“It’s tough,” said coach Anne Walker. “To come that close and come up short – it’s just really hard.… We wanted to win so bad.”
The UC Davis women’s water polo team ends its Big West season having come up short, too.
The Aggies, who finished the regular season in a three-way tie for first place, were upset by UC Irvine in the semifinals of the Big West Championships.
The women’s golf and women’s water polo teams have more in common than a pair of Big West disappointments, though. Both squads return the talent necessary to make another run at a league title.
Maybe next year will be the year.
Feeling a draft
Former UC Davis defensive tackle John Faletoese went unselected during the National Football League Draft over the weekend.
A potential seventh-round draft pick, Faletoese was named an All-American by both the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation. He was also selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 17.
Going undrafted, though, isn’t the worst thing in the world that could have happened to Faletoese. In fact, it could be a positive.
Faletoese is now a free agent, meaning he can sign with the NFL team of his choosing. He’ll be able to decide which team’s roster he has the best chance of making, as opposed to being a late-round selection by a club that may or may not have actually had him in its future plans.
The 6-foot-3, 292-pounder has made a name for himself as a special teams player. It’s hard to imagine that NFL teams wouldn’t be interested in adding a potential field-goal-blocking presence in the form of Faletoese.
Guard Jonathan Compas and receiver Brandon Rice are also expected to test the NFL’s free agent waters.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN didn’t win a Big West title last week and wasn’t taken in the NFL Draft. Oh well. He can be reached at email@example.com.