2014 was a great year in sports for the Boise State Broncos. While there were many great moments only 10 could make the cut.
10. Swimming and Diving qualifies of NCAAs- The Boise State swimming and diving team won their second MW championship in three seasons. This also marked the fourth conference championship that the program has earned over the last eight seasons. As a result, the Broncos were able to send six swimmers to the NCAA Championships. These swimmers included Brittany Aoyama, Sam Wicks, Heather Harper, Sydney Johansen, Jessica Bottelberghe and Katelyn Martin.
9. Men’s tennis continues to dominate- Winning a MW championship is no easy task. So winning three in a row is quite the feat—and that’s exactly what the Boise State men’s tennis team was able to achieve this year. The championship was the team’s 15th in school history. To top it all off the Broncos were ranked in the top 25 for the majority of the season. At one point they got as high as 15. Finally, Boise State earned a spot in the NCAA Championships.
8. Sierra Nobley sets freshman kill record and wins MW freshman of the year- The Boise State volleyball team had their first winning conference record in almost two decades. This was largely due to the play of true freshman Sierra Nobley. Nobley burst out onto the scene for the Broncos in a big way this season.
She set a Bronco record for most kills by a freshman in a season with 432. The 432 kills were the second most kills in the conference this season. She led the conference in kills per set with 4.33. Her play this season earned her not only the MW freshman of the year award but she was put on the All-MWC team as well.
7. Ciera Perkins earns All-American Status- With an eighth place finish in the floor exercise, junior Ciera Perkins became the first Bronco in school history to earn All-American honors in the floor exercise last season. She was also just the fourth gymnast in school history to earn All-American honors. She will be back this season looking to not only repeat as an All-American but lead the team to what would be their first ever team appearance at the NCAA Championships.
6. Jake Swartz earns All-American Status- Senior Jake Swartz ended his Boise State wrestling career with a seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships. He became the 11th All-American in the past seven years at Boise State. This was especially sweet for Swartz because the year before he missed becoming an All-American by one match.
5. Marisa Howard places second at the NCAA Championship in the steeplechase- Junior Marisa Howard overcame injury to do the unimaginable. While preparing for the upcoming track and field season, Howard began to experience severe pain in her knee. She spent the next six weeks consulting several physicians but no improvement was shown. Howard didn’t want to waste the entire season and decided to compete with her bad knee. In addition, at the MW Championship she took the steeplechase title along with a second place finish in the 5,000 meter run.
4. Boise State basketball wins in dramatic fashion against UNLV- On Feb. 22 an overtime thriller ended with perhaps the most emphatic celebration by a head coach in recent memory. Boise State was down by nine points with just four minutes remaining and rallied to force overtime. In overtime, junior Derrick Marks scored all of Boise State’s 13 pointing including what appeared to be the game winner with just 3.3 seconds. However, UNLV’s Deville Smith hit a running jump shot as time expired. The officials reviewed it and before the referees could wave off the shot head coach Leon Rice let the fans and everyone else know the Broncos had just won the game.
3. Boise State football wins first outright MW Championship- It was four years in the making but on Dec. 6 the Boise State Broncos were finally able to win their first ever outright MW Championship. Following the surprising loss to Air Force, the Broncos rallied back with seven straight wins to get into the championship game against their bitter rivals Fresno State. It was a tough one but the Broncos were able to grind out a 28-14 over the Bulldogs. Fans stormed the field to helped the team celebrate their improbable championship.
2. Emma Bates becomes an NCAA Champion- Senior Emma Bates is one of the most accomplished athletes at Boise State. She has runner-up and a third place finishes at the NCAA cross country championships. But no achievement was greater for her then her first place finish in the 10,000 meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She became the first women in Bronco history win an NCAA Championship and her time was the second fastest by a women in the history of the NCAA Championship. Bates has earned an astonishing 9 All-Americans honors over the course of her career—the most ever in school history.
1. Boise State wins third Fiesta Bowl- You knew this had to be the top one right? Talk about the perfect way to end the year. The Boise State Broncos made it three for three in Fiesta Bowls with their 38-30 win over Arizona on New Year’s Eve. This capped off an incredible, unexpected season for the Broncos under first year head coach Bryan Harsin. The Broncos were able to knock off one of the toughest and most high powered offenses in the country—and did it on one of the biggest stages.
The Broncos had great performances all across the board. Sophomore linebacker Tanner Vallejo finished with 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks to earn the defensive most valuable player of the game. Sophomore wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck grabbed the offensive MVP with 12 receptions for 199 yards. Grant Hedrick finished his Bronco career passing for 309 yards and a score and finished as the most efficient passer in school history with a 70.2 completion percentage. Finally, junior running back Jay Ajayi went out with a bang. He ran for 134 yards and three touchdowns. In the game Ajayi broke the school records for most touchdowns in a season with 28 and yards in a season with 1,823.