June 22, 2014 in Sports

Plenty of EWU representation in Big Sky’s rankings of great athletes, moments

By The Spokesman-Review
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EWU football coach Beau Baldwin holds the national championship trophy after the Eagles beat Delaware on Jan. 7, 2010.
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Eagles among top 50 Big Sky male athletes

No. 12: Erik Meyer (2002-03-04-05) – 2005 Walter Payton Award winner

No. 20: Bo Levi Mitchell (2010-11) – 2011 Walter Payton Award winner

No. 22: Michael Roos (2001-02-03-04) – All-American and FCS Lineman of the Year

No. 37: J.C. Sherritt (2007-08-09-10) – 2010 Buchanan Award winner

No. 39: Greg Peach (2005-06-07-08) – 2008 Buchanan Award winner

No. 47: Matt Nichols (2006-07-08-09) – EWU/Sky record 12,616 career yards, 96 TDs

EWU’s rankings among top 50 men’s sports moments

No. 5: Eastern won its final 11 games of the season to win the 2010 NCAA Division I football championship. Eastern won the title with four straight playoff wins, including a 20-19 victory over Delaware in the championship game on Jan. 7, 2011, in Frisco, Texas. The Eagles rallied from a 19-0 deficit and ended their season with a school-record 13 victories. Eastern finished 8-0 on its new, red turf at Roos Field.

No. 6: Walter Payton Awards: The Big Sky has won seven Payton Awards, given to the top player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Included are EWU winners Erik Meyer (2005) and Bo Levi Mitchell (2011).

No. 11: Buck Buchanan Awards: The Big Sky has been represented in six of the past 11 years, including EWU winners Greg Peach (2008) and J.C. Sherritt (2010). The Buchanan Award is given to the top defensive player in FCS.

No. 30: Former Eagles offensive tackle Michael Roos and former Idaho State defensive end Jared Allen selected as NFL All-Pro picks in 2008.

No. 37: EWU’s 2013 comeback vs. Sam Houston State, a 45-42 loss in the semifinals of the FCS playoffs after trailing 35-0 at halftime.

No. 42: Bashir Levingston’s three kickoff returns for TDs vs. Sacramento State in 1998.

Eagles among the top 25 Big Sky female athletes

No. 12: Kim Exner (1995-96-97-98) – ’97 and ’98 Big Sky volleyball MVP

No. 20: Kari McKay (1990-91 and 1991-92) – ’92 NCAA All-American in 10,000 meters

EWU’s rankings among top 50 women’s sports moments

No. 9: EWU volleyball team defeats Oregon State in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2001, equaling the highest advancement ever for a Big Sky school.

No. 12: EWU volleyball team one of three from Big Sky to advance to NCAAs in ’99

Thanks for the memories.

Eastern Washington University has made a lot of history during the first 50 years of the Big Sky Conference, especially when you consider that Eastern didn’t join the league until 1985.

This year, the conference celebrated its golden anniversary with a yearlong stroll down memory lane, each moment ranked and revealed, one at a time. Athletes and teams, male and female, were honored throughout the year.

“We had some terrific moments, especially when we haven’t been there for 100 percent of the time,” said Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves, who watched most of them unfold during a tenure that began in 2007.

“This was an outstanding thing for everyone, creating memorable experiences,” Chaves said.

In Eastern’s case, most of those moments were created on the football field, none bigger than the Eagles’ national Football Championship Subdivision title in 2010.

“It’s going to be hard to beat that,” Chaves said.

Yes, and no.

The Eagles’ national title rose to No. 5 on the Big Sky charts, a subjective list that won’t make everyone happy but will make many wistful.

For quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the momentum was bigger than the moment itself, the hard work eclipsing the hardware.

“It’s the fact that you put that much work to get to that one game,” said Mitchell, now with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

Trailing Delaware 19-0 in the third quarter, Mitchell said that he and his teammates could only “look at yourself, knowing how many times you have been there, down on the scoreboard.

“So why not? You leave your body out there for your teammates,” Mitchell said.

It’s the same for individual honors. In 2008, Greg Peach won the school’s first Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the FCS. The honor resulted in a No. 39 ranking for Peach among Big Sky male athletes.

“The Buchanan was cool, but I don’t think about it much,” Peach said. In fact, Peach had to pause for a moment before recalling that the trophy is currently residing at his grandmother’s house in Lake Stevens, Washington.

“It’s not even the games,” Peach said. “It’s your best friends, the guys who were at my wedding.”

Peach rattled off the names – Lance Witherspoon, J.C. Sherritt, Matt Nichols, Nicholas Ramos and others. “I still see those guys, friends for life.”

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