ATHLETICS
On the ferry from Tacoma, Washington
Ricks Women Ice Snow
With a noisy partisan crowd cheering on the Snow College home team, there must have been ice water coursing through the veins of the Ricks women's basketball team March 4 in Ephraim, Utah.

After an 11-point lead had evaporated to only three points with 1:09 left in the game, four Ricks women stepped up to the free throw line and iced an 80-76 regional championship with six tosses from the charity stripe to earn a fifth trip to the national finals in the last eight years.

Jamie Critchfield, Candis Wilcox, Mandie Little, and Lindy Peterson connected on six of nine opportunities to bring the regional trophy to Rexburg. 

At the NJCAA finals in Salina, Kans., Ricks placed eighth. The Lady Vikings were defeated by Northeast Oklahoma in the first round. Ricks then beat Meridian, Miss. and Casper, Wyo., but lost the consolation finals to Gulf Coast, Fla. Ricks' season record of 29-8 is the 4th best ever.

For her efforts, Little was named MVP of the regional tourney. She was also a Second Team regional choice. Critchfield, named to the all-tourney team, was also a member of the regional First Team. Jessica Blake, who scored a team-high 18 points for Ricks against Snow College, was a regional Honorable Mention. Coach Lori Woodland was named Region Coach of the Year.

Ricks was ranked fourth nationally in December of 1999 after rushing off to an 11-0 early-season record. The Lady Vikings finished second in the league behind Snow College and defeated Salt Lake Community College 74-51 and Utah Valley State College 67-66 in a see-saw battle to reach the regional championship game.

Men's Basketball
At 23-8 on the season the Viking men's team did not advance in the regional finals after losing 87-83 to Dixie College in the first round. Coach Clyde Nelson's fourth-best season in seven years of coaching at Ricks was highlighted by a season-starting 15-0 run that saw the Vikings ranked tenth nationally. The streak included the team's first win (70-66) at North Idaho since 1969, ending a 27-game home-court advantage.

Women's Volleyball
The high level of competition in Region 18 of the NJCAA became even more apparent last season with two teams from the region, Salt Lake Community College and College of Southern Idaho, finishing second and third at the national finals. Ricks, competing in the northern division of the region, placed second behind CSI with a 38-13 season record. Robyn Sonju, a sophomore outside hitter, was a NJCAA Honorable Mention and Region 18 First Team choice. Freshman setter Trish Pettingill was named to the regional Second Team.

Cross Country Rules With Two Top Teams
Not only did the Ricks women's cross country team win its fifth consecutive national junior college championship in mid-November in Lansing, Mich., but the men's team also notched the national title. It was the first time since 1976 that the dual championship feat had been accomplished by one school. The women's fifth consecutive title is a National Junior College Athletic Association record. Doug Stutz, who coaches both teams, was named NJCAA Coach of the Year for both programs.
The men's team, with 53 points, defeated South Plains College of Texas (85), and Butler County of Kansas (100). (In cross country, the low score wins.) Only 22.3 seconds separated the first and fifth Ricks runner. (In cross country, the top five of seven team runners entered are counted.)
The women's team, with 61 points, shaded the College of Southern Idaho (81), and Utah Valley State College (85) in an all-Region 18 national final. For the women 59.1 seconds separated the first and fifth runner.
The men's course is five miles, the women's 3.1 miles.

Football
A Homecoming loss to Dixie College, on an extremely windy Saturday afternoon, dashed the Vikings' hopes of remaining on top of the weekly football rankings. The loss seemed to inspire the team to finish the season with eight straight wins, including an impressive 59-26 win in the 13th annual Real Dairy Bowl against bowl-nemesis Garden City Community College of Kansas. Ricks' 10-1 season record gave the team a fourth-place ranking nationally, and was the third consecutive year the Vikings have lost only one game during the season. 

Named Second Team All-Americans by the NJCAA, were sophomores Bart Teuscher, an offensive lineman, and linebacker Russell Kay. Named to the all-league team in addition to Teuscher and Kay, were running back Tom Pace, kicker Aaron Edmonds, lineman Jeremy Sorenson, return specialist Tyler Scharman, defensive lineman Anthony Ward, and defensive back Josh Thompson. Quarterback Ryan Harris broke Ricks career records for most passes completed (382), most touchdown passes (51), and the highest completion percentage (61.7). His season record of completing 62.3 percent of his passes was also a record. Edmonds broke season records for most PATS (62), most PATS attempted (64), and consecutive PATS (44).

Wrestling
Heavyweight James Huml is the first Ricks wrestler to repeat as NJCAA champion. Huml, who amassed a 79-4 record in two years at Ricks, was named Outstanding Wrestler of the national finals, pinning four of his five opponents in the first period.

As a team, Ricks placed third nationally, with all ten team members contributing points. (The 1992 wrestling team was the only other team to do so.) Others with All-American honors were Shane Wasden, third nationally at 174; Nate Ploehn, fourth at 164; Dale Boone, fifth at 184; and Jeff Ireland, sixth at 149. Ireland broke his hand in his first bout but continued wrestling for All-American honors.

Ricks defeated North Idaho for the Regional title, winning for only the second time in 29 years. (The 1992 Ricks team also won the region.) Regional champions were Jason Blue (133 pounds), Andy Messersmith (141), Ireland, Ploehn and Huml.
Ricks began the season ranked fourth nationally and moved up to second place by late January.

Ricks' James Huml is about to pin his opponent at the NJCAA finals in Rochester, Minn. Huml was named "Outstanding Wrestler" at the tourney. (Photo by Don Sparhawk)

Academic Honors
All four sports teams for the fall semester of 1999 achieved a GPA of 3.00 or higher. The women's cross country team led with a 3.63 GPA, followed by men's cross country with 3.44, women's volleyball with 3.35, and football with 3.11. Some eight athletes were named Distinguished Academic All-Americans with GPAs of 3.8 or higher and another 13 athletes were named Academic All-Americans with GPAs of 3.6 or higher.


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