Navy Sports Central

Celebrating the Top 10 Moments In Navy Sports This Year

June 10, 2023 Episode 50
Navy Sports Central
Celebrating the Top 10 Moments In Navy Sports This Year
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Welcome to Navy Sports Central - The Official Podcast of the Navy Sports Nation!

In this episode, we'll be celebrating the Top 10 Navy Sports Moments of the 2022-23 season. These selections were based  their impact the program, their overall significance (regular or post season)  and record-breaking performances. Join us as we relive the excitement and pay tribute to these incredible Navy athletes that made this season one for the books!

So tune into the 50th episode of Navy Sports Central for as we recognize the talent and tenacity of these remarkable athletes. Don't forget to share your thoughts and feedback with us on the Navy Sports Nation group Facebook page, and be sure to follow us wherever you get your podcasts. Go Navy! Beat Army!!

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When was the last time a Midshipman won a national championship in Outdoor Track & Field?

A. 1945

B. 1982

C. 1996

D. 2004

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Karl :

Hi everybody. My name is Karl Darden and I'd like to welcome and thank all of you for joining us today on Navy Sports Central. I'm your host and this is the official podcast of the Navy Sports Nation, where we take a deeper dive into Navy Sports. In this episode, we'll be counting down the top 10 moments of the Navy Sports season. I'll set things up by discussing the basic criteria I used to make my selections, and then I'll give you a little bit of the backstory before providing the details for each one of the top 10 entries. So start thinking about some of your favorite moments during the year and we'll see how closely we match up. I will look forward to getting your feedback on the Navy Sports Nation group Facebook page. We'll get started here in a second. Okay, thanks for joining us on this 50th episode of Navy Sports Central. Definitely a nice milestone. So, whether you've been with us from the very beginning or jumped on board somewhere along the way, i appreciate you taking the time. As I mentioned in the intro, i put together a list of the top 10 moments in the Navy Sports season. I did something similar last year and it went over pretty well, so I figured I'd give it another shot. Of course, when you go back and look at the last, we'll call it nine months or so. it wasn't easy cutting the list all the way down to 10. So I did want to share with you some of the things I focused on when making my selections. First was overall impact. In other words, what was my initial gut reaction as a Navy fan when I either witnessed the moment or read about the result? How fired up did I get? So here we're talking about an emotional response and how close it comes to pegging the meter. The second factor was what was the significance of the moment and what did it mean for the program? Did it happen in the regular season or was it during the playoffs? Was Army the opponent and was there some sort of title on the line? So the more significant the moment, the more weight it carried in the final rankings. The third criteria was were there any records broken? This is a testament to how much hard work these athletes put in to prepare for that moment. There's no doubt they'll tell you when they're out there competing. It's much more about performing at their absolute best, but establishing a new record is always a nice bonus. Alright, so that gives you an idea of how I went about making these choices, but before we get into our countdown, i did want to run through a couple of honorable mentions. So here we go. Our first honorable mention goes to the Navy Women's Lacrosse team for defeating two ranked opponents on their way to a 13 and 6 season, while achieving a national ranking themselves by the end of the year. First, here's a little bit of background. The Mids made it all the way to the Patriot League Championship game in 2022. And they had quite a few seniors on that team who were key contributors that moved on after graduation. Probably the biggest loss was Reagan Roehlofs, who led the team in scoring, but they also lost their excellent goalkeeper, Jo Torres, to the transfer portal. As a matter of fact, she ended up at Towson, so there were a few question marks going into this spring. The Mids had a lot of talent, but they were very young and that made it kind of tough to predict how the season was going to go. But the one thing I've learned since I began following Navy Women's Lacrosse is that Coach Timchal always finds a way to put a highly competitive team on the field every year. She and her staff know how to pull in strong recruits and develop them quickly so they can make an impact right away. And this year, the player that was the biggest difference maker was freshman midfielder Eva Yovino. I watched quite a few games this season and there were times where I would just track Yovino just to see what she was doing. First of all, there's no doubt that she could put the ball in the back of the net She was second on the team in goals but what really caught my eye was how well she distributed the ball And she was a super accurate passer as well. I don't know how many times I saw her thread the needle between two defenders to hit someone cutting to the cage, which resulted in a goal for the Mids. Yovino finished the season with 92 points on 42 goals and 50 assists. Two of her favorite targets were fellow midfielder Emily Messenese and attacker Leelee Denton. On defense, senior Athena Carroon led the team in ground balls and caused turnovers, while sophomore Emma Richardell really stepped up to take over at goalkeeper. So the team was sitting on a 3-2 record by the time they traveled down to Richmond to face the 18th ranked Spiders. In their first game of the season, the Mids lost to 11th ranked Duke 15-10. They started off really slow in that game and never really recovered. But that wasn't the case against Richmond. They got on the board first and led by as many as four goals before taking a 10-8 lead into the half. And when they came out of the locker room to start the third quarter the offense continued breaking down the Spiders' defense. Led by Yovino, Messenese and Denton. The Mids scored another 10 goals while the defense completely shut down Richmond. In the second half Navy won, going away 20-9. And the result was significant because that tied the record for the largest margin of victory over a ranked opponent. That win got the Mids a lot of attention, but they were still unranked. And then two weeks later the 19th ranked Jacksonville Dolphins came to Annapolis. This game started off just like they went against the Blue Devils, but once again Yovino Messenese, and Denton helped Navy pull ahead early in the second quarter 7-5. From there it was a really tight game. The two teams traded the lead back and forth several times in the second half. Then about halfway through the fourth quarter, jovino assisted on Denton's 15th goal of the year to put the Mids up by 2. The defense made that stand up. Jacksonville did score a goal to get within 1, with about 4-1.5 minutes left, but that's as close as they got. Navy won the game 13-12. Now, the fact that they were knocking off ranked opponents wasn't necessarily a big surprise. Coach Tim Shaw's teams had a habit of doing that, but this was different because the Mids were so young. They sure didn't play like it, though. The team ended up finishing 6-3 in the Patriot League, and they made it all the way to the semifinals in a tournament before losing a heartbreaker to Army 12-11 in overtime. Now the really good news is that the Mids will return all of their key players next spring, and they'll look to take another step towards getting back to the Patriot League championship game and winning that first title since 2018. Given how young the team was this year, i thought they totally exceeded expectations. They finished ranked 25 in the final IWLCA poll of the year, and that was good enough to earn them one of our honorable mentions in this year's countdown. Okay, that brings us to our second and final honorable mention, and it goes to Alex Rizzo, who is a senior on the Navy Men's Track team. Rizzo set a program record for the indoor mile. He did that at the David Henry Invitational held at Boston University back in February. Now this place is known for having a very fast track. In fact three years ago Jake Brophy became the first mid to break the four-minute mile at that very same venue. He ran a time of 359.98. Rizzo is coming off a very strong junior year after making second team on Patriot League in the mile and he continued to perform consistently across all the middle distances Up in Boston. He set his sights on the current Navy record for the mile, which had been lowered by Dave Nelson last year to 359.52. I actually did a little digging and managed to find the results of that race, including the split times. So I figured we could check out how Rizzo did on each quarter to see exactly how he set the new record. First of all, indoor tracks are typically a 220-yard oval. Some easy math tells us that two laps around gives us that quarter-mile distance. Rizzo ran the opening quarter in 58.75 seconds. So he got off to a really quick start, which is good, because typically I think when you go off to these records you want to get off to a good start, kind of settle into a pace in the middle distances and then go ahead and finish strong. So that second quarter he came in with a time of 101.31, which put him almost right at two minutes. At the half-mile mark, in fact, his time was two minutes.30 seconds. The third quarter split was just a fraction of a second faster, at 1 minute.72 seconds. So with two laps to go, rizzo's time was 301.014. By now I'm sure his lungs are starting to burn, but somehow he managed to find another gear, because he finished that final quarter in 57.34 seconds and that gave him an official time for the mile of 358.748 seconds, shaving about three-quarters of a second off the previous record set by Nelson. It was an amazing effort by Rizzo. He went on to help the team win the indoor and outdoor Patriot League championships, but this was the individual performance that earned him the honorable mention. So great job, alex. All right, we're going to go ahead and take a short break and then we'll jump into our top 10 Navy sports moments of the season with numbers 10 through 6. Stay with us. All right, we are done with the preliminary. So now it's time for our deep dive segment, where I'll count down what I thought were the top 10 Navy sports moments of the season. This is by no means an official list. I did my best to apply my criteria objectively, but I will say that I tried to dig down to find some great performances among the sports that we don't hear about as much, and I think I managed to identify at least a couple, but I'll let you guys be the judge of that. All right, anyway, let's get started Coming in at number 10, we've got the Navy football team defeating Central Florida for the second straight year. Now I know you might be asking how does the Navy team that goes four and eight qualify for a top 10 spot? And look, there's no question that it was a disappointing season, but there were a couple of games that the team played last year that reminded you of their potential and what could be in store for the future. That game back in November against the Knights was one of them. So just to kind of set the stage, the Mids were coming off a tough loss to Notre Dame in a game where they rallied from 22 points down to get within three before the Irish ran out the clock after recovering an onside kick. That was with just a little over a minute left in the game and they escaped with a 35 to 32 win. Now the Mids had to go on the road to take on Central Florida. The Knights were ranked 20th in the country and were one of the American Conference's most efficient teams on offense. They put up nearly 33 points a game, while averaging 240 yards through the air and almost 230 on the ground. The Mids, on the other hand, were struggling to put together sustained drives on a consistent basis. But the one big plus was their defense. They had a way of disrupting the opponent's passing game even though they were at a considerable size disadvantage, and they were among the best at shutting down the run in all of Division I college football. As I broke down this game, the one thing I realized was that, in terms of timely big plays, this was probably the Mids best game of the year. Xavier Arline only attempted one pass and that one fell incomplete, but he directed the Navy offense to two scores in the first half, including a one yard run of his own to get the Mids on the board first, and at halftime Navy led 14-6. From there, the defense just basically shut UCF down. The Knights only had 84 rushing yards the entire game, which was almost 150 below their average, And even though they put up over 200 passing yards, the only one that did any major damage was a 28-yarder that went for a touchdown early in the third quarter. The one guy on the Navy defense that was giving Central Florida's quarterback migraines was Senior Striker John Marshall. That guy was all over the field blowing up play after play. This was basically his line for the game. He had a total of 10 tackles, including four sacks, and every time the Mids needed a big stop, marshall was there. The defense played an amazing second half as a unit and took complete control of the game. Bijan Nichols kicked a 45-yard field goal with about seven minutes to go in the third quarter And that was basically it for the scoring. The Knights' last four possessions went punt, punt, punt and then they turned it over on downs. From there, arline and fullback Daba Fofana took turns running the ball and they ate up the last six minutes of the clock to close out another Navy win over a ranked opponent. The final score was 17-14. That was probably the high point of the Mids' season. We all know what happened in their next game against Army, but as disappointing as the year was, the win over Central Florida was a clear indicator of the team's potential And being able to get a win on the road against a ranked opponent without their starting quarterback. Remember the tie-lavetie was lost for the year with a torn ACL back in October. That was enough to get the Navy football team on my list at number 10. Next up at number 9, i've got the Navy Sprint football team going undefeated to win their second straight CSFL championship. These guys were pretty dominant all year long. They were 8-0 and held their opponents to less than 11 points a game while averaging over 36. Alex Totta was in Mids' leading rusher. He averaged about 139 yards per game. And quarterback Brandon Atwood completed over 64% of his passes while posting a passer rating of about 145%. Now Totta just graduated, but Atwood will be back for his senior year On defense. The Mids' leading tackler was junior linebacker Jack Costigan. He had a total of 55. And then defensive lineman David Niskey was the team's sack leader with 8.5. Now, most of the time the Mids just clobbered their opponents, but the two games against Army were pretty close and in fact the championship game was a real nail-biter. The Black Knights scored their second touchdown about 5 minutes into the second quarter to go up 14-0. And then the Mids finally got things going. Atwood connected with receiver Andrew Margiotta for a 28-yard touchdown. The kick was no good, but the Mids did put together another drive before halftime, and then Atwood punched it in from a yard out to cut the lead to 1, 14-13. Now neither team scored in the third quarter, so things stayed the same until Alex Tato took it in from a yard out with about 6 minutes to go in the fourth. That gave the midzer first lead. It was 21 to 14. After they got the two-point conversion Less than three minutes later, army tied the score, though, and now it was up to the Navy offense. As they took the field, they had about three minutes and 40 seconds left on the clock, so as long as they could put together good drive, any kind of score would basically give them the championship. Atwood drove the Navy offense down to the Black Knights 41, and that's when Alex Tata broke around the right end and outran everybody down the sidelines to score what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, and there was just about a minute and a half left. The final score was 28 to 21. So the Mids had gone undefeated for a second straight season on their way to winning another sprint football championship, and that's what earned them the number nine spot on my list. Okay, now it's time for number eight on our countdown, and that's where I put the Navy men's soccer team, after they won their second Patriot League title and their first since 2013. This was kind of a weird year for college soccer. There was one significant rule change and I'm thinking it was basically just an attempt to cut down on potential injuries that can occur, you know, when you start playing in overtime. So the NCAA rule that there would be no more overtime played during the regular season, obviously during the tournament, that would be different, but for the regular season, essentially, if the game was tied at the end of regulation, that was it. There's no, no overtime, no penalty kicks, no, nothing. So what do you think was the outcome there? If you guessed it'd be a bunch more tied games, you'd be correct. In fact, the Mids finished the season with more ties than they had wins. Overall, they had nine ties and seven wins on the year. So you know, while the ties may not look all that sexy, the one thing it was showing was that the Mids were really tough to beat. So they finished the season with an overall record of seven, five and nine and a conference record of three, one and five. That earned them a number four seed going into the Patriot League tournament. And this is where their already solid defense really took things to another level. The Mids were led by goalkeeper Pierce Holbrook and over the course of those three games the quarterfinals, the semifinals and the finals of the Patriot League tournament the Navy Dee pitched a complete shutout. They didn't allow a single goal in either regulation or the overtime periods. In the quarterfinals they beat the number five seed. Lafayette won nothing. That set them up with Boston University who was seeded second, and when these two teams played earlier in the year they had fought to a one-one tie. During the semifinal game neither team scored a goal in regulation or in overtime. So it came down to penalty kicks And you know that turned into kind of a marathon also. Finally, in the 10th round, freshman Jalen Grant put one in on the right side, getting it past the Boston goalkeeper, and when it was a terriers turn, their guy sailed his kick right over the crossbar. So the mids had survived a nerve-wracking 9-8 penalty shootout and advanced on to the final. The championship game against American University looked like it was going to end in a scoreless tie also, but in the 83rd minute sophomore Charlie Kriel found A. J. Scheutz on the left side of the penalty box And he hit him with a nice pass. And Schutze was in a full sprint as he moved inside the penalty box And what he was looking to do was execute a cross kick to give one of his other teammates an opportunity in front of the goal, but it actually wound up deflecting slightly off one of the Eagles defensive players and got redirected past the goalie into the right corner of the goal. It was a really crazy turn of events that gave the mids a 1-0 lead And less than 10 minutes later, wouldn't you know it, they were a Patriot League champions. It was the first league title for coach Tim O'Donohue. He put a premium on playing strong defense the entire season and it definitely paid off. During the tournament, the mids played 290 minutes of soccer over three games and no one scored on him not a single player. That's pretty incredible and it's more than worthy of the team earning the number 8 spot on my list. Okay, next up at number 7, we've got Navy wrestler Grady Griess, winning the EIWA Heavyweight Championship, to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Griess is a junior and he was one of the team's most dependable wrestlers the entire season. He led the mids in both total wins with 32 and dual wins with 8. And this included a 3-0 win over his opponent in the Star Match against Army. But he really hit his stride in the EIWA Championships. This is the country's oldest collegiate wrestling tournament and it is an NCAA qualifier. Griess got off to a great start by winning his opening match by a major decision 17-4. And he followed that up with another pretty dominating win, 10-1 in the quarters, over Travis Stefanik from Princeton. In the semifinals Griess faced the 26th ranked heavyweight in the country, Cory Day from Binghamton, and he actually did wrestle him earlier in the season and posted a win against him. This match was pretty tight, but Griess did come out on top 4-1. So that set the stage for a pretty terrific final match. Griess' opponent was Nathan Taylor from Lehigh, whom he had beaten back in January 9-1. But this time things were a lot different. The match was really really tight. In fact it was 1-1 late in the third round and it looked like they were headed to overtime. I'd say it was probably less than 20 seconds ago. Both of the wrestlers were locked up and Taylor did have a hold of Grease's leg, but he didn't look like he had a clear advantage because Griess had a pretty decent riding position. Then, with about 12 seconds left and you had to look really close to see what happened here Taylor released Griess' leg and tried to quickly scramble out from underneath him, but it didn't work. Griess maintained leverage with his upper body and he scored a 2-point takedown, and then he got another 2 points for the near fall by putting Taylor on his back just as time ran out. It was a pretty dramatic win and you can see it on Grease's face. He was pretty fired up and that made him Navy's newest EIWA champion and their first in the heavyweight division since 2013. So that tripped earned Grady Griess All-America status and a trip to the NCAA tournament, which more than qualified him for the number 7 spot in our countdown. Now let's go ahead and move on. Coming in at number 6 on our list of top 10 moments in Navy sports, we have Isaiah Drake and Syam Buradagunta earning first team All-America honors at the 2023 NCAA Championships in gymnastics. To achieve that status, the athletes had to finish in the top 8 in their respective event. Buradagunta did that in the floor exercises, while Drake punched his ticket in the all-around competition. You know one of the more stressful aspects of these competitions is waiting for the final results to get posted after you finished a particular rotation. Buradag unta was sitting in fourth place after he finished his floor exercise, but there were three other schools that still needed to complete that rotation. So if five other guys scored better he would drop to ninth place, and it turns out he had just a cushion he needed. There were four gymnasts that did edge him out, but Buradag unta managed to hold on to that number eight spot to qualify as a first team, while American Drake was really consistent through each rotation of his all-around competition. He finished strong by posting his best score in the floor exercise and the pommel horse to grab that eighth and final spot on the podium. So it was a great day for the program. Navy had not one, but two first-team All-Americans in gymnastics, and you'd have to go all the way back to 1973 to find the last time that that happened. So congratulations to both of these outstanding athletes And, by the way, they'll be back next year to try and do it again. Okay, we are done with the first half of our countdown. Numbers five through one are coming up next, so don't go anywhere. All right, thanks for staying with us on Navy Sports , K arl Darden here with you And we are up to number five in our countdown of the top 10 moments of the Navy Sports season And as of the time of this recording, this next one took place less than 24 hours ago. So, coming in at number five, we have Navy Javelin thrower Braden Presser, who set a personal and program record on his way to a sixth place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. I actually had a chance to watch this event on ESPN+. There were a total of 24 athletes competing and Presser was in the second flight of 12. Each athlete had six throws and they completed them in sets of three. So by the time Presser came up, the 12 guys in the first flight had already gone and the top mark was about 241 feet. Now it turns out that Presser did foul on his very first throw, but it was way out there. So I knew that if he made a couple of adjustments on his approach, that he would be right in the thick of things. And sure enough, his next throw went just about as far He didn't. He didn't foul this time and it measured at 75.48 meters, which comes out to be about 247 feet 8 inches And that jumped him all the way up to third for the time being, and it was his best throw of that rotation. His third one was about two and a half meters shorter. So by the time he started his second rotation, presser was down in sixth place And the new leader had posted a throw of 79.8 meters, which is about 261 feet. Presser's fourth attempt was about 71 meters and then he really put everything together on his fifth throw, because he just nailed it It traveled exactly 76 meters, which works out to be 249 feet 4 inches, and that was a new program record for the Academy and also a personal best for him, which broke the record that he set just two weeks ago at the East Regionals. And, most importantly, it was enough for Presser to hold on to sixth place and earn him first team All-America status. It was a great finish to the season and, just like some of the other athletes you've heard in his countdown, presser performed at an elite level on the national stage and he set a personal record in the process. That's what locked him in at number five, alright. Next up at number four, we have the women's first varsity eight boat coming from behind in the last 400 meters to beat Boston University and win the Patriot League title. Now, i did mention this race briefly in the last podcast episode and I'll go ahead and put a link in the show notes so you can watch the video. I can tell you right now it was. it was really impressive. So the video picks up about halfway through the race and Boston University led the Mids by about four seats, which is close to half a boat length. The Terriers were the number one seed and the defending champions and when they won last year they broke Navy streak of six straight Patriot League championships. So Boston did a nice job building out that lead over the first thousand meters Like I said, it was about half a boat length and then into the third 500 meters they bumped it up another seat. So there are about five seats ahead, with roughly I'm going to say about 700 meters to go. And at that point Navy Cox and Maeve Swick, who's actually from Annapolis, called her and her crew to increase the stroke rate. At the time they were probably in the high 30s. The announcement mentioned something around 37 strokes per minute And then the Mids cranked it up to pretty close to 40, based on their estimates anyway. So within a minute and a half Boston's five seat lead was gone And with about 150 meters to go the Navy women had actually opened up a four seat lead of their own. It was a tremendous effort by the first Varsity eight. I think the announcers were even caught off guard by how quickly they overtook Boston, because they still had the Mids tracking a few seats behind, with about 250 meters to go, when the overhead shot clearly showed them surging into the lead and opening pretty fast. That move pretty much broke the Terriers will, i got to believe. I mean just to see a team just blow by you like that. The Mids crossed the line almost a boat length in front and they regained their Patriot League title, which was their seventh in eight years. That awesome finishing sprint earned the Navy eight crew both of the year honors as well as the number four spot on our list. Okay, so now we're down to the top three, and I don't think that any list like this would be complete without some mention of the Navy track and field team. The men and women were dominant during the indoor season, picking up two more stars in the Army Navy series, and they also repeated as Patriot League champions, so that was one reason I put them at number three in our countdown, but the main reason is for what they did on April 1st, and that's when the team beat Army again to earn two more stars in outdoor track. It was the 11th straight win for the men and the eighth for the women, and, more importantly, those two performances resulted in Navy clenching the star series for the ninth straight year. The men outscored the Black Knights 126 to 77. That was their highest point total since 2000. And that 49 point differential was the second largest margin of victory in the history of the Army Navy series. The women took down the Black Knights by a score of 111 to 92. And that was their 22nd win overall against Army. I did want to spend a little bit of time looking at the track team's impact on the Army Navy Star Series though And, by the way, i'm going to include men's and women's cross country in there as well, because even though it's a separate sport, it's all the same coaching staff and everything. They all come under the Navy track and field umbrella, so that's going to be our frame of reference. Of course, the Mids won the Army Navy Star Series this year 14 to 10. And if you go back and take account of the different sports that they won, they picked up two stars in men's and women's cross country, two in indoor track and two in outdoor track. So that's a total of six stars out of the 14, which obviously is pretty close to half. That gives you a pretty good measure of the impact that this program has. So, from a performance standpoint, i don't think there's much doubt that Navy track and field was a standard bear for Navy athletics this year, and that's why they are number three on our list. Okay, we've got just a couple more to go, so let's press on. At number two on our top 10 list, the Navy men's swimming 4x100-yard relay team defeats Army to win their 19th straight Patriot League title. This was probably the most exciting race I've seen in a really long time. First, let me set things up for you. Army had beaten the Mids for the first time in 31 years back in December to take the star. In fact, they also won the 4x100-yard relay in that meet, so they were feeling pretty good about their chances. Going into the last event of the championships, the Mids held the slim 4-point lead, which basically meant the team that won the relay would take home the league title. Jonah Harm swam the lead off the leg and he got the team off to a pretty good start with a time of 43.75. He finished just behind Caleb Kelly from Loyola, but he was ahead of Army's Tanner Fall. Harms turned things over to Austin Lockhart, who gave Navy the lead after he overtook Loyola's Henry Mueller on the second leg. His split of 43.9 seconds had the Mids barely a tenth of a second ahead of the Black Knights. Andrew Everett swam the third leg for the Mids. This time a 43.45 built the lead out to about half a second by the time he was finished. So it all came down to Garrett McGovern swimming the final leg. But Army wasn't through yet. The guy swimming their anchor leg was Owen Harlow, and he was one of their best sprinters. In fact he made up the difference right away and then he took over the lead going into the final turn. Now I was watching this race on ESPN Plus and the closer it got, the closer my face got to the computer monitor. I was trying to see whether McGovern or Harlow was ahead, and at one point it did look like McGovern had edged slightly in front. but there was way too much water splashing around in the last ten yards to tell for sure. Now, boatswimmers seemed to touch the wall at the same time, but McGovern's hand got there first. His split was 42.99, which meant that Navy had won by just over three tenths of a second in what was an absolutely thrilling finish. So they got some revenge over Army for their loss in the Star Series and they clinched their 19th straight Patriot League title, putting them at number two in our countdown. Alright, finally, that brings us to the top Navy sports moment of this season. Now, i don't doubt that my list might be slightly different through the first nine entries compared to others that may turn up, but I don't see how there can be any debate over the moment. That's number one. So here we go At number one in our countdown of the top ten Navy sports moments for the 2022-23 season. The men's rugby team comes from behind to defeat the University of California to win the Division I national championship. The Mids not only won it, they did it without losing a single game, and for those of you who haven't heard it yet, you need to check out our last episode. My guest was Coach James Willocks, the assistant director for Navy Rugby, and he provided some terrific insights on the program and where it goes from here. Now, just focusing in on that championship game, it was a battle from the very beginning. The Mids had beaten Cal a couple of months earlier and that was another tough game. In this one they took a couple of hits early and found themselves down 15-0 less than 25 minutes into the contest. Cal was having a lot of success with their vertical running attack as opposed to going wide. I think the closest analogy I can make to American football is when a team focuses on running between the tackles. That's what they were doing really well. Some people may refer to that as running north and south, and Coach Willocks pointed out that Cal had used the same strategy in their earlier game with some success. But the Mids made a few adjustments and pulled themselves back into the game. William Webb got the team on the board in the 29th minute, and then Sean McLeaney scooped up a ball following a tackle and scored. About 10 minutes later The Mids made both conversion kicks. So now California just led by one 15-14 at halftime. In the second half the Golden Bears added another try to increase their leads to 22-14, but Navy didn't panic. About 10 minutes later the offense got their power game going again and Ryan Bullock finished off a long maul by diving in for the try. The Mids got the conversion kick and that made the score 22-21. Now what was interesting was, up to this point Navy had basically hung in the game with Cal using a very well executed set-piece strategy, and that really started to become a factor with about 20 minutes to go in the first half. So it was a little ironic that the score that put them ahead came on a nice pass out to the wing to land an op. He broke two tackles and ran through the entire right side of the California defense, sprinting 30 meters for the try, giving Navy their first lead of the game, 28-22 But there was still over 10 minutes to go and that was plenty of time for the Golden Bears to answer. They got pretty close too. On a couple of occasions they drove down inside the Navy 5 meter line, but the Mids defense held, led by Lewis Gray, and they kept them out of the tri-zone both times. That was pretty much it. The Mids ran out the clock from there and closed out the game, finishing off a perfect season with an NCAA title. So in their first year as a varsity program. The Navy men's rugby team squared off against the best teams in the country and beat every single one of them, since they were 18-0 and won a national championship, making their selection as number one on our top 10 list of Navy sports moments for the 2022-23 season pretty much a no-brainer. Congratulations to the players, the coaching staff and all the fans who've supported the Rugby program over the years. Okay, that does it for our countdown. I hope you guys got something out of that. It was a lot of fun putting that one together. Let me tell you Now. Here's what I'd like you to do Think about some of your favorite Navy sports moments and then go to the Navy Sports Nation group Facebook page and add them into the comments section. I'm really kind of curious to see where you guys came out on this. Alright, hang with me just a little bit longer. I'll be back shortly to wrap things up with our question of the day. Alright, we've got to check one more box, and that is our question of the day. Before we do that, let's go ahead and take a look at the one from our last episode. So here it was. We're talking about the President's Cup, which is the award that the Patriot League gives for the top performing athletic program. So here's the question With 11 Patriot League titles in 2023, which is a school record, by the way Navy's in the Running for another President's Cup, which is awarded to the top performing schools in the regular and post-season What other schools have won it since the Patriot League was formed in 1986? I also added that there are only two other schools and that Navy joined the league in 1991. So your choices were A Loyola, B Army, C Lehigh and D Bucknell. So here's how things 6% of you picked Loyola, 45% chose Army, 32% selected Lehigh and 17% of you went with Bucknell. So it turns out that the other two schools are Bucknell and Army And, in case you're wondering, Bucknell leads all programs with 18 Patriot League President's Cup titles. Navy is second with 10 and then Army has four And, by the way, this makes the ninth straight year that the Mids have won the President's Cup. So they're on a pretty good roll here. All right. Now here's the question of the day for this episode. As I mentioned earlier, braden Presser finished sixth in the Javelin at this year's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In what year did a Midshipman last win a national championship in outdoor track? Is it A 1945, B 1982, C 1996, or D 2004? So you guys can put some thought into that and let me know what you think. I'll have it posted on the Navy Sports Nation Group Facebook page by the end of the day. That's going to do it for this edition of Navy Sports Central. Thank you all so much for joining us Now. If you like what you've heard, be sure to follow us wherever you get your podcasts and remember to spread the word to all the other Navy fans out there. We have been getting a great response to our question of the day, so if you want to jump in on that, just go to the Navy Sports Nation Group Facebook page. I will go ahead and pin it to the top so you won't miss it. And just a quick reminder the views expressed on Navy Sports Central are my own and do not reflect those of the US Naval Academy or Navy Athletics. By the way, the music used in Navy Sports Central comes to your courtesy of Audio Jungle. This is a great site for purchasing the rights to use music from thousands of artists around the world, and those we feature in the podcast will be credited in our show notes. Talk to you soon, everybody. Until next time. This is Karl Darden. Go Navy! Beat Army!!

Episode Description
The Countdown Begins ( Honorable Mentions)
Deep Dive Segment - Part 1 (#10 Through #6)
Deep Dive Segment - Part 2 (#5 Through #1)
Question of the Day & Wrap Up