As hard as it may be to imagine, collegiate competition for the Oregon Ducks in the 2012-2013 athletic year is coming to an end. Like students gearing up for their finals, 28 athletic standouts are preparing to cap one of the best athletic years in University of Oregon history.
But before getting to the championship they will be competing in, let’s quickly run through the accomplishments that have defined Oregon athletics in the past year.
Let’s start with Oregon football.
The Ducks’ football team once again contended for a Pac-12 and BCS National Championship in 2012-2013, but unfortunately came one game short of reaching the title game. Boasting a top offense once again, the Ducks cruised through the early portion of their schedule, downing opponent after opponent while heading into their matchup against Stanford undefeated.
Billed as the Pac-12 game of the year and one that could potentially decide the Pac-12, the Stanford vs. Oregon game was a thrilling contest that saw both defenses impressively limit the opportunities of the other team. But as good as the Ducks’ defense played in that game, they would eventually see themselves lose a heart-breaker in overtime that gave the Cardinal an advantage in the Pac-12 North standings. Though they would miss out on the Pac-12 Championship and BCS National Championship as two-loss Stanford navigated the rest of their schedule flawlessly, Oregon still finished with an 11-1 regular season record and saw themselves selected to play the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2013 Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl.
Their fourth-straight BCS Bowl appearance, the Ducks were pitted against an opponent that many thought they would meet in the national title game. The game had just about as much excitement, however, and did not disappoint, as Oregon jumped out of the gates quite literally, with De’Anthony Thomas taking the opening kick back for a touchdown. The Ducks would come out as victors in the game and finish No. 2 in the polls, an outstanding ranking that was merited by all their accomplishments throughout the season.
Not to be overlooked in the fall season was the Oregon volleyball team, who had what was arguably their greatest season in program history. Finishing second in the Pac-12, the Oregon volleyball team was ranked as high as No. 2 during the season and had a postseason run that was astonishing to watch develop.
Taking down Northern Colorado, Dayton, and No. 12 Brigham Young in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, the No. 5 Oregon Ducks then downed the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers to advance to a semifinal against the No. 1 team in the nation, the Penn State Nittany Lions. And in front of over 13,000 fans, the Ducks pulled off the huge upset, vanquishing Penn State 3-1 while advancing to the National Championship. Their miraculous season would come up just short, however, as the No. 3 Texas Longhorns ousted the Ducks in straight sets (3-0) to take the national title for themselves.
Still, for any program, a runner-up finish isn’t exactly something to pout about.
Oregon’s women’s cross country team, meanwhile, solidified their place in the university’s athletic history, taking home their first national championship since 1987. Led by senior Jordan Hasay, the Duck women cruised to victory at the NCAA Championships. The men, meanwhile, finished 20th in their return to the championships after missing out in 2011.
Athletic success for Oregon didn’t stop after the fall seasons, either, as the Oregon men’s basketball team recorded one of its best seasons in recent history. Picked to finish seventh in the Pac-12 before the start of the season, the Ducks used a stable of new players along with talented veterans to become the surprise team of the year, contending for a Pac-12 regular season title all the way to the end of the season. They would come up just short on the regular season title but make up for it in the Pac-12 Tournament, ultimately defeating UCLA in the 2013 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game.
Selected as a twelve-seed heading into the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Oregon once again surprised the nation, downing five-seed Oklahoma State in the first round and four-seed St. Louis to advance to a Sweet 16 appearance against one-seed Louisville. Though the Ducks would mount a comeback towards the end of their game against the Cardinals, their early deficit proved too much to overcome, as they would end up losing to the eventual national champions.
Off the basketball court, the acrobatics and tumbling team took home yet another national title, making that three-in-a-row for one of the newer athletic programs at Oregon.
Another national title winner for the Ducks emerged in indoor track and field competition, as the Oregon women took home another indoor title while the men placed 6th, proving why the University of Oregon is a top destination for track and field athletes.
Spring brought more success to the Ducks, as both the Oregon softball and baseball teams put together their best seasons in recent history.
For the Oregon softball team, it was a historic season as they captured their first-ever Pac-12 regular season title and were consistently ranked in the top-5 in the nation. Though their season would be ended in the Super Regionals by Nebraska, the program recently capped their best year in program history.
The Oregon baseball team saw their season come to an end last night, as the Rice Owls took care of them in the Eugene Regional Championship Game by a score of 11-4. Despite that tough loss that ended the Ducks’ run a little earlier than expected, Oregon managed to contend for a Pac-12 regular season title while seeing itself ranked in the top-15 throughout the year.
With all the athletic success the University of Oregon has already seen this year, it’s hard to imagine that it could all be capped by two more national championships, as the Oregon track and field team will send 28 athletes to the NCAA Championships in the friendly confines of Hayward Field.
It’s been a remarkable year for Oregon athletics, but their is still one more competition left before anticipation begins. Here’s to hoping that the men and women of Oregon track and field can solidify this as the greatest athletic year in Oregon history.