Seasons To Remember In PacWest

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - June 03, 2009
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BYUH’s Latoya Wily is the PacWest’s first All-American

They held the first-ever PacWest Day at the Honolulu Quarterback Club recently. It was a nice gesture by the club that is most often reserved for exploits at the University of Hawaii or area high schools, and as PacWest commissioner speaking for our schools in the Islands and on the Mainland - HPU, Chaminade, BYU-Hawaii, UH-Hilo, Grand Canyon, Dixie State, Notre Dame De Namur, and new members Academy of Art and Dominican - we appreciated the attention.

It was indeed a year of firsts for the PacWest.

For the first time in a number of years, the league received an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament for its champions. That meant a spot was reserved for the PacWest champion BYU-Hawaii women’s volleyball team, the Grand Canyon and BYU-Hawaii men’s and women’s basketball squads, Hawaii Pacific softball and BYU-Hawaii women’s soccer.

For the first time ever, one of our softball teams won the prestigious Tournament of Champions - a mid-season tourney of all the powerhouse softball teams in the West - when HPU won the gold medal division. To add to our luster, Grand Canyon won the silver medal division, and UH-Hilo finished as runner-up in the bronze.


 

If that wasn’t enough in softball, Dixie State won the NCAA West subregionals and super-regionals, and became the first team from the new PacWest to reach the national tournament. Also, two of our teams - HPU and UH-Hilo - defeated eventual national champion Lockhaven State of Pennsylvania during the regular season, actually accounting for four of Lockhaven’s six losses on the year.

In baseball, we held our first-ever conference race, with Dixie State edging out HPU for the first championship trophy on the very last game of an exciting season. Another first happened in soccer where Notre Dame de Namur beat the second-ranked team in the nation, Sonoma State, and earned a first-ever NCAA tournament bid for the Argonauts. In men’s golf, for the first time ever, three teams from the PacWest qualified for regionals - Grand Canyon, UH-Hilo and Dixie State - and Grand Canyon made it to nationals.

In women’s basketball, Grand Canyon became the first team in the new PacWest to qualify for the NCAA regionals, as did BYU-Hawaii in women’s soccer. Both were repeat conference champions, so this year’s championship meant so much more.

In men’s basketball, BYU-Hawaii was not only the No. 1-ranked team in the West, but also the No. 3-ranked team in the entire nation. The Seasiders reached the men’s regional championship game for the second year in a row. Also, Chaminade and Dixie State played the first-ever conference game that was nationally televised when they matched up on CBS College TV in early January.

Then there were the individual honors. For the first time in conference history, a PacWest player was named Daktronics National Player of the Year, as well as first-team All-American in men’s basketball. Lucas Alves, the two-time PacWest Player of the Year from BYU-Hawaii, took home the honors after averaging 20 points and nearly eight rebounds a game during a 25-1 regular season. The best news for conference basketball fans is that Alves will be back again next year.

Meanwhile, senior Seasider Latoya Wily became the first PacWest player ever named first-team All-American in women’s basketball. The former Kahuku High School star was one of the top scorers and rebounders in the nation, finishing at 26 points and 14 rebounds a game - a combination of numbers that are almost unheard of at any level. The Laie native also earned PacWest Player of the Year honors.

All-American honors were also plentiful for the BYU-Hawaii women’s tennis team, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Undefeated Elwen Li, along with Yuan Jia, Jenny Chin and Wen-Lin Wang, were all named to the prestigious squad after leading the Seasiders to a third-place finish in the national tournament.


If that wasn’t enough honors bestowed on the beautiful campus in Laie, running sensation Amanda Whitford became the first women’s cross country runner from the conference to qualify for nationals.

Not surprisingly, in this year of firsts, BYU-Hawaii won its first Commissioner’s Cup, emblematic of the best overall year in conference athletics, with no less than five conference titles. HPU finished a close second, with defending Commissioner’s Cup winner UH-Hilo third.

Without a doubt, it was a great year for the conference. We hope you’ll join us on our continuing journey to success in years to come. Go PacWest!

 

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