A Super Sports Year For PacWest
This past week, we wrapped up the 2012 PacWest meetings in Newport Beach, Calif. As the conference commissioner, I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished.
In the past five years, we’ve grown from the smallest NCAA Division II conference in the nation to the point where we will be the largest DII conference in the West region this fall. With 14 schools located in Hawaii, California, Arizona and Utah, we also will grow to 15 official conference sports with the addition of men’s tennis, women’s golf, and men’s and women’s track and field.
Among the more notable achievements by some of our Mainland members, newest member California Baptist won an unprecedented six conference titles and took home the PacWest Commissioner’s Cup. Grand Canyon won a national title in men’s indoor track and field, and clinched the NCAA Learfield Cup for Division II. Dixie State received the highest ranking ever by a PacWest baseball team and advanced to the NCAA regional finals. Dominican and Academy of Art scored huge upset wins in men’s and women’s basketball, and Notre Dame de Namur had its best softball season yet.
Locally, our Hawaii teams also had a great year. BYUHawaii’s women’s volleyball team was one of an unprecedented three PacWest teams to earn a trip to the NCAA regionals. Wil Navalta’s team suffered only one defeat to a DII opponent in the regular season and advanced all the way to the regional semi-finals. In the winter, Ken Wagner’s Seasider men’s basketball team finished as the PacWest runner-up, and Jet Chang was named to several NCAA All-American teams while also garnering conference Player of the Year honors.
In the spring, Dave Porter’s women’s tennis team was ranked No. 1 all season long and Annie Hwang was the top-ranked singles player in the nation. BYU-Hawaii advanced all the way to the national championship finals before finishing as NCAA runners-up.
Hawaii Pacific also was nationally ranked in women’s tennis. The SeaWarriors were No. 5 in the nation and advanced all the way to the NCAA quarterfinals. Meanwhile, HPU’s men’s tennis team was ranked No. 6 in the nation and also made the national quarter-finals. First-year head coach Hendrik Bode was named Regional Coach of the Year.
HPU also hosted our Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Retreat in the fall, and a few weeks later won a share of its first-ever PacWest men’s soccer championship.
UH-Hilo hosted our men’s golf championships at Waikoloa and advanced to the regionals in both women’s volleyball and men’s golf. Hillary Hurley, the Vulcans’ two-way star in women’s volleyball and basketball, was nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year, as was HPU’s Zora Vickova. (Last year, BYUHawaii’s Elwen Li was a NCAA finalist for the award).
Finally, Chaminade introduced its new head men’s basketball coach Eric Bovaird and his exciting uptempo style to the PacWest. Softball coach Kent Yamaguchi earned a historic win over traditional powerhouse HPU, and first-year shortstop Rayna Strom-Okimoto was named the PacWest Newcomer of the Year after hitting .433 during the 2012 season.
Without a doubt, the PacWest was a big hit in 2011-12. We’re looking forward to being even bigger and stronger as we move forward. Check us out at thepacwest.com.