2011-12 Wake Forest Season in Review

With the 2011-12 sports season coming to a close following Wake Forest baseball's snub from the 2012 NCAA Tournament, it's time to sit down and look back over the year that was for Wake Forest sports. There were many ups and downs, just like any other athletic year. There were memories made by solid Wake Forest teams (women's soccer, women's basketball, etc.), and there were some lower marks by teams which will hopefully be on the rise in the future (women's tennis winless record in conference play).

Over the course of this week, Blogger So Dear will be providing discussion on each of the 16 teams that Wake Forest offers. Starting today, we will take a look at the teams which did not quite make it into the top ten countdown which will begin tomorrow. Tuesday through Thursday will feature an analysis of nine of the ten finalists with Friday focusing on what we at Blogger So Dear perceived to be the top team on Wake's campus this past year as well as various awards. So without further ado, we embark upon the 2011-12 Wake Forest season in review.

Click through after the jump for the "best of the rest"

The Best of the Rest

Editor's Note: These teams are in no particular order.

Women's Volleyball (9-21, 6-14 in conference play): The Wake Forest women's volleyball team started the season with a decent showing in the Deacon Invitational, hosted in Reynolds Gym, and posted a 2-2 record through four games to get the ball rolling for the squad. The team, led by seniors Carlin Salmon, Kadija Fornah, and junior Andrea Beck, followed up the opening invitational by losing three in a row on the road in Western Kentucky. After this setback, the Deacs responded by pounding intra-state rivals Duke and High Point in back-to-back games in an attempt to right the ship, but faced a brutal schedule over the next month, falling in 13 of their next 14 games.

The end of the season showed a lot of promise however, as the Deacons reeled off four conference wins in their final seven games to bring their record in the ACC to a 6-14 mark, after starting the conference season 2-11. Head Coach Kahl Holmes just completed her seventh season as the volleyball coach and has a total record of 97-120, with a conference record of 61-85. The volleyball team did not qualify for any post-season play.

Four of the members of the volleyball team were named to the All-ACC Academic Team including Salmon, Beck, and freshmen Dani Thompson and Danae Rosendall. Beck was also named to her second consecutive NCCSIA All-State Volleyball squad, as well as being recognized by the team as the most valuable player to go along with All-ACC honors. The team also recognized Salmon as the best offensive player, and Fornah as the best defensive player. Rosendall was named the rookie of the year for the Demon Deacons and made the All-ACC Rookie team.

Holmes' 2012 recruiting class features five fresh faces and behind Beck's senior leadership, hopefully the Deacons will turn things around next season.

Women's Track (12th in ACC, No NCAA Participants):

The Women's track team really struggled during the outdoor season under the tutelage of second-year head coach John Millar, who oversees both the cross country and track programs. The team placed last in the conference, with the brightest spot having two relay teams place in the top 10 (of 12) of the 4x100 relay (with a team of Anneve Waithe, Myesha Barr, Montasia Golden, and Mytoia Gathings) and the 4x400 relay (Gathings, Barr, Brianna Dekine, and Molly Binder).

Caitlin Crawford and Casey Fowler finished in sixth and 11th in the finals of the 1,500 meter run while Golden followed up her relays performance with a 10th place finish in the triple jump in a leap of 12.49 meters. Unfortunately, it does not appear that any Deacons qualified for the NCAA Championships, or even met the regional standard to appear in the initial qualifying round. Although in all fairness, it was rather difficult to sort through on both the Wake official website and the NCAA website if any Deacon appeared. If the research was indeed correct, Wake Forest was the lone team from the ACC not to place a single individual or team in any regional.

Hopefully the Deacons will improve moving forward and it appears that Millar is well aware of what it takes to put the team back on the right track, as he has experienced very good success with the two cross country teams, despite having a noted specialty in hurdles and sprints.

Women's Tennis (3-18, 0-11 in ACC):

There is really no other way to discuss women's tennis without first clarifying that this season was a complete and utter disaster. The team lost their first three matches before drubbing South Florida 6-1 to secure their first win of the year. The Deacons won back-to-back matches in the middle of March against East Tennessee State and UNC-Wilmington but then fell in every single conference match they contested this year. This included only two of the eleven matches (against N.C. State and Virginia Tech) being within one point.

Due to injury, the Deacs were also forced to cancel trips to some dual meets near the beginning of the year, yet these matches are nowhere to be found on the schedule and were promptly removed with no sort of warning or explanation from media relations.

The team was led by seniors Kayla Duncan, Ryann Cutillo, and junior Kathryn Talbert. Duncan performed very well throughout the course of the year playing in the number one position and following the Deacons' loss to Virginia 4-0 in the first round of the ACC Tournament, was ranked 69th in singles in the nation. In doubles play with Talbert, the tandem finished ranked 56th in the nation. These were the only rankings the roster achieved over the course of the season.

Head Coach Jeff Wyshner has done a solid job recruiting, bringing in top 30 classes in each of his first two years at the helm of the Demon Deacons. This bodes well for the future and there is no reason to believe the women's tennis will not be back to the Wake Forest standard soon enough. For now though, this was a brutal season for a team which has traditionally experienced some success on the hard court.

Men's Basketball (13-18, 4-12 in ACC):

Since nearly everyone reading this site is well-versed in Wake's basketball tradition, I won't spend long looking at the men's team from this year. The year got off to a considerably better start than the 2010-11 version and behind head coach Jeff Bzdelik in his second season, won the conference opener at home against Virginia Tech. The Deacons, led by junior C.J. Harris and sophomore Travis McKie, also posted a road win over Nebraska in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

An 85-56 win over bottom-feeder Boston College was the second largest win of the Bzdelik-era (behind a victory over Marist in 2010), and the Deacons managed to sneak into a ninth place finish in the conference, fueled by the Virginia Tech win, a sweep over the Boston College Eagles and a nine-point home victory over Georgia Tech.

The upcoming recruiting class features six players and is touted by many recruiting services as a top 25 class. It is headlined by promising point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, and swingmen/inside players Aaron Rountree and Arnaud Moto. It will be an exciting year for the young Deacons as returning veterans Harris and McKie will look to guide the freshmen and the Demon Deacons to another five-game improvement from last season.

Additionally, the Deacons will be taking a trip to the Virgin Islands around the Thanksgiving Holiday to play in a holiday tournament. The Deacs will be matched up with Connecticut in the first round, a marquee matchup for Wake Forest.

Men's Tennis (14-15, 3-8 in ACC):

The men's tennis team faced a brutal schedule in the stacked ACC, and limped to a 3-8 conference record. The Deacs recorded a first round win in the ACC tournament over Clemson in a tightly contested 4-3 battle before falling to the 17th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in the second round in a 4-0 sweep. The Deacs finished the season ranked 74th in the tennis rankings and were led by junior Danny Kreyman and senior David Hopkins.

Hopkins and Amogh Prabhakar finished the year ranked 55th in doubles, the only national ranking the Deacs finished with on the season. Wake got off to a solid start, winning their first four matches of the year including a big win over Miami 4-3 in the ITA Kickoff Weekend. Following a rough stretch of four losses, the Deacs responded with four more consecutive wins right before conference play started. Unfortunately for the Deacons injuries slightly hindered the team and they were unable to keep up their solid play from the beginning of the year in the conference.

The Deacons did win 5 of their final 8 matches, including victories over Maryland, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and the aforementioned ACC Tournament win over seventh ranked Clemson. The team finished 10th in the ACC. This was Head Coach Tony Bresky's first year at the helm of Wake Forest and he is generally regarded to be one of the best young coaches in the game.

Next year's recruiting class is ranked sixth in the nation and is one of the best ever for Wake Forest in men's tennis. Like women's tennis, the team appears to be on a definite upswing and will be a non-revenue sport that Wake fans should all be excited to watch over the next few years.

Men's Track (9th in ACC):

The Men's Track team had a solid year under second-year head coach John Millar. Junior Ben Lincoln set a school record in the javelin, finished third in the ACC Championships, and is slated to throw in the NCAA Finals taking place this week. Lincoln's record-breaking performance occurred in the ACC Championships in a distance of 240-3. Senior Paul Loeser performed admirably in the 3000 Meter Steeplechase and was named to the All-ACC squad for the event following his third place finish in the ACC Championships. Loeser also qualified for the NCAA regionals with a time of 8:57.21 in the Steeplechase. Joining Loeser and Lincoln in the NCAA Regionals was sophomore Alexander Rose who ran a 3:45.89 in the 1500, good enough for the fourth fastest time in Wake Forest history.

In the regionals, Rose failed to qualify for the finals by a mere second and a half with a time of 3:49.99. Loeser failed to qualify for the finals as well, but finished 28th in the region in a time of 9:05.91. Loeser also was also named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team in addition to collecting an ACC Top Six for Service Award, and being named to the Indoor All-ACC Academic Team.

Senior Alex Hill placed eighth in the decathalon in the ACC Championships as well as being named to the All-ACC Academic Team for the fourth time in four years. Hill was the first-place finisher in the shot put for all decathalon entries in the ACC Championships.

With Millar at the helm, the track and field programs are clearly on the upswing. Millar has shown an ability to get the best out of his athletes and ensuring that they peak at the correct time: the end of the season. After two years, Millar has certainly proven to be a solid hire for the future of the track and field programs.

That wraps up the coverage of the "best of the rest" of Wake Forest sports from the 2011-12 seasons. Tomorrow will feature the unveiling in the rankings of the 10th, ninth, and eighth best teams as ranked by Blogger So Dear. As always, questions, criticisms, and commentary are always more than welcome. Go Deacs!

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