Highs and lows from an eventful year of EWU athletics

Highs+and+lows+from+an+eventful+year+of+EWU+athletics

Malati Powell for The Easterner

By Drew Lawson, Sports Editor

The wildly eventful, usually unpredictable and never expected school year that has occurred around the country in 2019-20 extends to EWU athletics. In this article, The Easterner takes a chronological look back at five highlights and five lowlights from a fascinating year of Eagle sports.

High: Roos Field renovation project approved

One of the renderings of the proposed football stadium renovation. Construction will begin as soon as the $25 million is raised. (Courtesy of EWU)

The EWU Board of Trustees approved of a plan to renovate Roos Field while raising $25 million in private donations to fund the project in September. Former managing editor Dylan Harris covered the story in this article.

Low: Football falls on road to rivals

The EWU sideline looks on as Idaho marches down the field during EWU’s 35-27 loss in Moscow on Sept. 21. (Drew Lawson for The Easterner)

It was a difficult year for the EWU football team, as the Eagles lost their first five road games. Included in those five losses were disappointing defeats at the rival Idaho Vandals in September and Montana Grizzlies in October. Sports editor Drew Lawson was at both games, and you can relive them here and here.

High: Volleyball snaps conference skid

EWU junior Catelyn Linke celebrates during the Eagles’ victory over Southern Utah Thursday. (Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner)

A conference losing streak that extended back to 2017 ended for EWU volleyball on Oct. 18. Lawson recaps the game here.

High: Football extends its home winning streak

EWU senior running back Antoine Custer Jr. cuts in the open field. Custer had a career-high 218 rushing yards and two touchdowns in EWU’s 53-46 win over PSU Saturday. (Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner)

It wasn’t all bad for the EWU football team, as the Eagles won all five games at Roos Field in 2019 after a similarly perfect home run in 2018. It was the first time EWU had back-to-back perfect records at home. Lawson recaps the final home game of 2019 here.

Low: Football misses FCS playoffs for second time in past three years

 

From Easterner Sports Twitter account

EWU football managed to win its final four games to finish 7-5, but a 3-5 start proved too much to overcome. When the FCS playoff field was announced on Nov. 24, EWU wasn’t included for the second time in three years.

High: Groves makes top play on SportsCenter while Peatling has historic night

Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner

Dec. 13 was a night to remember for EWU men’s basketball. Senior forward Mason Peatling set a school and conference record by scoring 54 points. Toward the end of the game, redshirt sophomore forward Tanner Groves rocked the arena and the rim with a thunderous, one-handed putback dunk off a Mike Meadows miss. The dunk was SportsCenter’s top play that night. Lawson recaps the eventful night here.

 

Low: Women’s basketball suffers through 4-26 season

EWU freshman wing Kennedy Dickie attacks the basket. (Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner)

EWU women’s basketball had high expectations going into the 2019-20 season after advancing to the Big Sky Tournament championship game in March 2019. Instead, the Eagles struggled mightily, winning just four of their 30 games and falling in the first round of the BSC Tournament to Portland State. Social media editor Isaiah Gessner recaps the season-ending loss here.

High: Men’s basketball wins Big Sky regular season title while Peatling and Legans are named league MVP and Coach of the Year, respectively

The EWU men’s basketball team celebrates its Big Sky regular season title. EWU clinched the title with a 78-69 victory over Weber State Saturday. (Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner)

It was a banner year for EWU men’s basketball. The Eagles won the BSC regular season title outright for the first time since 2004. After the regular season, Peatling was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, while head coach Shantay Legans won Coach of the Year. Lawson recaps the title-clinching victory over Weber State here.

Low: COVID-19 causes cancelation of Big Sky Tournament, NCAA Tournament and spring sports

From Easterner Sports Twitter

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into all things EWU athletics. Concerns of the virus forced the cancelation of the Big Sky Tournament and NCAA Tournament, ending the men’s basketball season before it reached the postseason. All spring sports were also canceled, forcing seniors in those sports to make some tough decisions. Lawson spoke to some of those seniors here.

Low: Budget cuts, virus unknowns cause uncertainty around athletic department

It’s currently unknown whether there will be football home games with fans present this fall or not. (Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner)

COVID-19 is still making an impact, as fall sports are surrounded by uncertainty at EWU. Coupled with the uncertainty of the virus is the fact that the athletic department must cut between 20-30% of its budget. Lawson discusses the uncertainty here, while reporter Aaron Hutchinson talks about the budget cuts here.