At the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships, head coach Braden Holloway’s program finished fourth in the nation for the third consecutive year, thanks to three individual titles and two relay championships. Both the 800 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay — with Olympian Ryan Held swimming lead-off — set U.S. and NCAA records in their respective events, while Anton Ipsen (1,650 freestyle), Andreas Vazaios (200 butterfly) and Coleman Stewart (100 backstroke) all won individual titles.
In addition, senior wrestler Michael Macchiavello won the 197-pound individual championship while leading coach Pat Popolizio’s program to a fourth-place overall finish at the championship meet. The program also boasted its highest-ever number of All-American athletes, with redshirt freshmen Hayden Hidlay and Tariq Wilson joining seniors Kevin Jack and Macchiavello in earning the honor.
Other teams also performed among the nation’s best, with the women’s cross-country team finishing in the top 10 for the third consecutive season, women’s basketball advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and football winning the Sun Bowl by 52-31 over Arizona State and finishing with its highest final ranking (No. 23) since 2002.
The Wolfpack won conference championships in men’s swimming and diving, wrestling and gymnastics, while six head coaches won Coach of the Year awards in their respective sports.
Men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts was one of six new coaches who made successful debuts in the last year, along with men’s soccer coach George Kiefer, men’s tennis coach Kyle Spencer, men’s golf coach Press McPhaul, gymnastics coach Kim Landrus and volleyball coach Linda Hampton-Keith. Two more, rifle coach Emily Holsopple and softball coach Jennifer Patrick-Stewart, will field their first teams in 2018-19.
In the 2017-2018 academic year, we had 12 varsity teams finish in the top 25 nationally in their sport, and 21 of our 23 varsity teams qualified for postseason competition. Overall, the Pack produced 75 athletic All-Americans, 59 academic All-Americans and the best graduation success rate (85 percent) in school history.
It all added up to one of the best years Wolfpack athletics has ever had, with a No. 15 finish in the annual National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Director’s Cup standings — the program’s highest finish since the award began in 1993.