During a two-week span last November, the Colorado School of Mines athletics program rode a wave of euphoria that helped define an entire season. The Orediggers came away with either outright claims to or shares of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) regular-season and/or tournament championships in four sports. Mines participated in the NCAA Division II postseason in five out of six sports, including the first-ever D-II Final Four appearance, and is currently ranked third in the D-II Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings. Here is a glance back at a fall season that ranked near the top of the best ever for the Orediggers:
In a year that was supposed to be about rebuilding, 11 true freshmen were on the roster, the Mines men won the conference tournament title for the third time in five seasons. The team earned the No. 2 seed in the RMAC Tournament, and a victory over Regis in the semifinals was followed by a shootout triumph over University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. The program received another nod when former All-American Tesho Akindele was selected the Major League Soccer (MLS) 2014 AT&T Rookie of the Year in late November. Akindele, the Orediggers’ all-time leading scorer, finished his first season in MLS with seven goals and three assists.
For only the third time in the program’s long history, the Mines football squad earned a D-II playoff berth after sharing the RMAC title with CSU-Pueblo. The Orediggers finished 10-1 in the regular season, with the only loss coming by eight points to eventual national champion CSU-Pueblo. Kole Kadavy and Cole Spurgeon were All-Americans, with Kadavy setting single-season records for total tackles (132) and solo tackles (79). Longtime coach Bob Stitt, the program’s all-time leader in victories, resigned at the end of the season to accept the head coach position at the University of Montana. Former New Mexico State offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Gregg Brandon was named the new coach in late December, becoming only the sixth coach to lead the program since 1937 (see page 12 in this issue).
Despite battling a course that was besieged by rain and mud, Mines came away with a fourth-place finish and two All- Americans in men’s cross country on December 6. Senior Chloe Gustafson led the women to 10th place overall and captured the second All-American honor since 2009 with a 13th-place finish. The men’s team finished second in the conference and regional meets, while the women took third at regionals. Both the men and women qualified for nationals for the second time in three years. Chris Siemers was named the RMAC Coach of the Year, the first Oredigger to earn that honor since 1991.
The 2014 season included a sixth consecutive appearance in the D-II national championships. The Orediggers earned a share of the RMAC title, along with Colorado Mesa University, the third regular-season crown in a row for the program. Mines was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation, won 25 games, and had three All-Americans: Danielle Johnson-Hazlewood, Alanna Winfield, and Megan Peterson.
For more on Mines athletics, visit csmorediggers.com.