(Posted July 6, 2009)

By Pete Lefresne, Juniata Sports Information Director

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The beginning of July has always meant one thing to me over my years in Sports Information - it has always been when I mentally "turned the page" from one athletic year to the next, and began (in earnest) getting things ready for the upcoming season.

With no new wins to talk about during the summer months, going through old game releases, photos, and box scores from 2008-09 brought back plenty of memories of great wins, epic contests, and some unforgettable phone calls from incoherently excited coaches eager to tell me about the road victory they sealed just moments earlier.

So, I've put together a list of my ten favorite moments in Juniata athletics from 2008-09. Both wins and losses, some I was lucky enough to attend and others I wasn't, from an unforgettable past 12 months. I hope this trip back through 08-09 will help you recall the memories you savored from this past year; if nothing else, I hope it can be a conversation starter for all Juniata fans about the best of 2008-09.

First a disclaimer: these are my personal favorites, nothing more. There was no voting and no committee in their selection - although it's possible I might have consulted my "Magic 8 Ball" in breaking a few ties. All decisions were solely the responsibility of... well... me. I'll tell you how to offer your feedback at the end of the list.

So, without further delay, the best ten moments of 2008-09 - at least from my perspective as Juniata's sports information director.

Honorable Mention #1 - Matt Regan tosses two-hitter in baseball's 4-2 win over Scranton
Okay, I lied. I really tried to get it down to 10, but there were four events that didn't make the top ten that I just couldn't leave out.

Freshman Matt Regan segued from basketball right into baseball season, and began his collegiate baseball career in rough fashion. Over his first four appearances, he had nearly as many hit batsmen (10) as he did innings pitched (10.2 IP), and his earned run average soared as high as 10.12.

But the newcomer began to settle down over his next four appearances, and redeemed himself with a masterful performance in a complete game, two-hit win over the University of Scranton on April 19.

Regan yielded just a single and a double while leading the Eagles to the 4-2 victory, in a nine-inning game that allowed Juniata to take the three-game series against the Royals. Regan fanned four Royals and walked four, and managed to force Scranton hitters into 10 ground outs with another nine fly outs or pop-ups, including five three-up, three-down innings.

Honorable Mention #2 - Kyle Mazur's NCAA qualifying throw at Roanoke College Maroon Invitational
Head Track and Field Coach Jon Cutright offered up one of the "incoherently excited" phone calls I mentioned earlier when he called in Kyle Mazur's javelin throw of 209-feet, 10-inches at the Roanoke College Maroon Invitational on March 21 in Roanoke, Va.

Mazur, already an NCAA All-American in the javelin with his effort in the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, surpassed his previous personal best in the javelin by nearly 13 feet with his mark at Roanoke. That allowed Mazur to qualify for the 2009 NCAA championship meet by hitting the automatic qualifying mark on the first weekend of the outdoor season.

Mazur went on to finish second in the javelin at the NCAA championships in late May, with his throw of 203-feet, 10-inches. That finish earned the Ogdensburg, N.J.,native All-America honors for the second time in his career.

Honorable Mention #3 - Women's tennis sets new program record for wins with victory over Catholic
Coming off a 4-14 season in 2007-08, Juniata women's tennis was poised for greater things in 2008-09. The Eagles didn't really lose any key contributors, returned a healthy cadre of veterans, and had several promising newcomers joining the lineup.

That combination proved lethal as Juniata mowed down the rest of the Landmark Conference on its way to a 13-6 record, 5-1 in league play.

A watershed moment came in Juniata's 8-1 dismantling of Catholic University on the Raffensperger Tennis Courts on April 13, which marked the Eagles' 11th win of the season and set a new program record for wins in a season. Juniata took all six singles matches to complete the win, which was the team's seventh straight victory.

Honorable Mention #4 - Women's volleyball cruises past Eastern, 3-0, to win NCAA Regional
There's a cautionary tale in here for parents - be careful what you say about potential upcoming opponents while you're in the stands, at the local corner store, or out to dinner at a restaurant. You never know who's within earshot.

That was the motivation for Juniata women's volleyball in their NCAA Regional championship match against Eastern University on November 15 at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Let's just say that some exchanges about who was the better team were overheard at various points over the three-day NCAA Regional. By the time the inevitable matchup with Eastern rolled around, the Juniata women were anxious to send a message to an Eastern squad that included many old high school and club teammates and friends. The message: it's not personal, it's just business.

An hour and 15 minutes later, they were finished with the transmission.

With set scores of 25-6, 25-16, and 25-23, Juniata walloped Eastern behind a .350 hitting percentage. Erin Albert led Juniata with 13 kills with a .545 attack clip, while Amber Thomas posted 11 kills in her final match in Memorial Gym. Beth Kozak and Steph Strauss combined for 36 assists, while Megan Sollenberger kept the ball in play with 21 digs.

These two programs will hopefully be good rivals for a long time, as Eastern's program continuously improves. But every good rivalry needs a little touch of vinegar to get it going, and that was provided in 2008.

That concludes the Honorable Mentions - the moments that were noteworthy, but not quite good enough for the top ten.

I'll start in with events ten through six on the list tomorrow, with five through one getting unveiled on Thursday.


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.