In our final issue of the spring 2020 semester, the Pipe Dream sports staff looked back on the 10 most impactful sports stories from the 2019-20 academic year.
Joining a prestigious group of BU track and field athletes, redshirt junior Dan Schaffer became the fourth runner in program history to compete at the New York Road Runners Millrose Games in New York City. Seeded alongside world-class athletes, Schaffer was invited to continue his record-breaking indoor season at one of The Armory’s most elite-level meets in February. Clocking in at 4:11.51 in the mile, a top finish wasn’t in his favor, but that didn’t stop him from commanding attention from the America East (AE) Conference, by winning the conference title in the mile, and among national NCAA Division I competition, ranking comfortably within the top 50 in both the mile and the 5,000-meter.
For the first time in program history, the University’s volleyball team failed to win a single match. After getting swept by UMBC on Nov. 17 in their final match of the season, the Bearcats dropped to 0-23 and 0-10 in AE play. In those 23 losses, the team won only five sets. Nineteen of the 23 defeats were sweeps, and in only one match did the Bearcats manage to make it to a fifth set. The 2019 volleyball team became just the second team in BU’s Division I history to go winless, the first being the 2003 women’s lacrosse team. The winless volleyball season came just two years after making the AE Championship.
BU had its second-best start to a season in program history in the 2019-20 season, capped off by a come-from-behind victory over Cornell on Dec. 5. Only the 1998-99 campaign had a better start, going 12-0. Additionally, the Bearcats were chosen by NCAA.com as one of the five under-the-radar Division I teams in the nation. The first loss of the season came when the team traveled to Florida and took on the University of Miami. BU finished the season 22-9 overall, and the 22 wins tied the sixth most in the history of the program.
The Binghamton women’s basketball team reached the AE Semifinals for the first time since 2016 after knocking off UNH 51-42 in the quarterfinal round. This marked the seventh time that the Bearcats made it to the AE Semifinals. Junior forward Olivia Ramil stepped up for BU, as she secured 17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks after her sister, sophomore forward Annie Ramil, went down less than three minutes into the game. Senior guard Carly Boland and freshman guard Denai Bowman both scored nine points for the team, while senior guard Karlee Krchnavi had eight points and 11 rebounds. Binghamton ultimately fell to Stony Brook in the semifinals to end its season.
After spending most of the regular season ranked in the top five or top 10 in the nation, redshirt sophomore Lou DePrez entered the 2020 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships as the favorite in the 184-pound weight class. He lived up to the expectation, roaring through the bracket and capturing a conference championship in one of the toughest wrestling leagues in the country. DePrez later earned the No. 4 seed in a wide-open 184-pound NCAA Championship bracket and had beaten or been competitive with all of his top opponents. Unfortunately for him, the coronavirus pandemic caused the national tournament to be canceled, and DePrez missed out on a chance to compete for the ultimate prize after his successful regular season.
Leading the conference with 19.6 points per game and 2.2 steals, senior guard Kai Moon was named the AE Player of the Year in 2020. Moon is the third player in program history to earn the conference’s highest honor. She was also named to the AE All-Defensive Team and ended her BU career with 1,476 career points. After spending part of her junior season injured, Moon came back to the court hot, scoring 29 points in the team’s opener and a career-high 36 points in the second game. There were 17 games this season where Moon scored 20 points or higher and 29 games where she scored in double digits.
On March 11, rising junior guard Sam Sessoms, who led the AE in scoring this past season, announced he had played his final game in a Bearcat jersey. Sessoms wrote on his social media platforms that he would be transferring to another program, giving thanks to his teammates and coaches. He said the decision “came down to me wanting to push myself to become the best basketball player I can be.” Sessoms’ decision to transfer came on the heels of the men’s basketball team finishing last in the AE and missing out on the AE tournament. At the end of the month, Sessoms announced that he would be spending the remainder of his college basketball career at Penn State.
In front of University officials, BU Athletics coaches and SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson, BU President Harvey Stenger announced the largest donation in University history. An anonymous donor gave $60 million to fund the construction of a brand-new baseball complex. The complex is set to expand the baseball stadium’s seating capacity to 1,500 and will include an indoor training facility next to the Events Center parking lots. Baseball head coach Tim Sinicki and Director of Athletics Patrick Elliott praised the donation as one that would raise the prestige of the baseball program and the whole athletics department, but many in the student body disapproved, wanting to see some money go toward mental health services and other underfunded areas. The project was initially set to be completed in time for the 2021 season, but that timeline has since been pushed back to 2022.
On March 12, the North American sports world came to a screeching halt. All professional sports leagues suspended play indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring championships and shortly thereafter, the AE canceled all athletics competition for the remainder of the year. Binghamton’s wrestlers missed out on the NCAA Championships, and all spring athletes saw their seasons cut short before even reaching conference play. While some seniors will be able to come back for a fifth year after the NCAA granted them an extra year of eligibility, it is doubtful that all of them will be able to return. The impact the pandemic will have on the fall season is still unknown.
Just a week into its summer training program last July, the Binghamton men’s basketball team was devastated by the tragic death of rising sophomore forward Calistus Anyichie. In the months that followed, Binghamton student-athletes came together to honor the life of their fallen teammate. A GoFundMe to cover Anyichie’s funeral costs raised nearly $30,000, and paying tribute to him became the theme for many athletes’ 2019-20 seasons. Both basketball teams wore patches embroidered with his No. 14, and one student-athlete led an effort to purchase No. 14 armbands for every student-athlete. It all culminated in a ceremony during the basketball teams’ home-opening doubleheader, which was followed by an emotional and thrilling comeback win for the men’s basketball team.