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Falcons look back on 2009-2010 athletics

May 7, 2010

The 2009-10 athletic season of UW-River Falls is scheduled to conclude in May, with track and field and softball expected to compete in their conference finals and for a chance at an NCAA berth.

The fall sports season at UWRF was the busiest time for athletics, with parts of seven seasons being held over this time. Perhaps one of the most controversial seasons was that of swimming and diving.

The team, which competed October through February, almost had their season cut short due to the failure of the Karges pool on campus, according to an October Student Voice article. After a recommendation by Athletic Director Rick Bowen to end the team, the decision was ultimately made to keep the team as a varsity sport. The uncertainty was still a distraction to the team throughout the season, said Head Swim Coach Bill Henderson.

“The recommended suspension of the swim team by Rick Bowen did, indeed, have an effect on the swimmers, myself and our supporters,” he said. “I know the swimmers were distracted somewhat, and they were certainly worried about their swimming future.”

Despite the distractions, the team said they had a relatively normal season. Both the men and women’s teams finished sixth out of six teams in the WIAC.

“The season went very well, especially considering having to fight the suspension of the team through nine weeks of the start of the season,” Henderson said. “We hosted the third annual Falcon Invite, the largest collegiate invitational in the nation at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.”

The football team once again did not have a winning season, turning in their ninth consecutive losing season. Head Coach John O’Grady said that this season was not quite what he expected from his team.

“Losing stinks, and nobody should ever feel good about a losing season,” he said. “I thought we were close to turning this program back in the right direction, but losing two of three overtime games set us back.”

Falcon volleyball had a winning season, finishing in a three-way tie for third in the WIAC. Head Coach Patti Ford said she was impressed with the season that her team had.

“Volleyball had a very solid season. After an 0-7 start, the Falcons went on to a 20-15 overall record and 5-3 in the WIAC,” she said.

The Falcon women’s soccer team also had a good season, finishing third in the league with a record of 5-3-0 in the conference.

Winter sports for the Falcons was also a busy time, with winning seasons from both of UWRF’s hockey teams, as well as the women’s hockey team making it to the NCAA tournament. The women’s hockey team made the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season, by winning the NCHA playoffs. The tournament berth was short lived, however, as the Falcons lost to Gustavus Adolphus College in the first round.

Coach Joe Cranston said the team did not quite meet expectations, and he hopes to make it further in the NCAA tournament next season.

“The biggest disappointment was the ending game in the first round of the NCAA’s against Gustavus,” he said. “We will step the program up next year.”

The men’s hockey team also had a winning season, coming within one game of making the NCAA tournament. The Falcons made it to the NCHA finals, playing St. Norbert for an automatic bid. They lost 7-1, however, ending their season.

Head Coach Steve Freeman said he felt positive about the season, but is looking forward to improvement.

“Our team was very young, so we didn’t know how long it would take us to get on the same page, get comfortable with our systems and understand the expectations for our program,” he said. “It was an outstanding year, but we want to improve and be in the hunt for a National Championship every year.”

The Falcon women’s basketball team also had a positive season. Despite losing the first playoff game of the season to UW-Stout on the road in the first round of the WIAC tournament, the team finished tied for third in the WIAC with a 10-6 record in the conference, and 18-7 overall.

The men’s team had a different type of season. The team went 3-13 in the WIAC, and 9-16 overall.

Spring sports at UWRF are still in progress, with track and field gearing up for the NCAA tournament, and the softball team finishing up their regular season. The softball team is currently 8-4 in the conference, and 24-14 on the season. The team is sixth in the WIAC and is scheduled to begin the postseason May 7 at Oshkosh.