Highlights were abound for teams and individuals of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association during the 2016-17 season. We've compiled a list of what we think are the top 10 notable moments by our student-athletes and teams in competition:
10. MIAA women's basketball and softball push three teams into postseason play
With the 45th anniversary of Title IX just around the corner, two MIAA women's sports turned in what could be argued the best seasons in conference history. First, MIAA women's basketball advanced three teams to the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championships for the first time since 1999 when Trine, Hope, and Calvin all received berths in the national tournament. Trine tallied a first-round win in its first-ever postseason appearance, while Hope knocked off defending champion Thomas More to advance to the Sweet 16.
Softball also earned three postseason berths thanks to at-large berths by Trine and Hope to complement Alma's automatic bid after winning the 2017 MIAA Softball Tournament. Trine was one of eight teams to advance to the 2017 NCAA Division III Softball Championships in Oklahoma City, their second trip to the final eight in program history.
9. Albion men's swimming and diving program wins MIAA title, scores at NCAAs
The Albion men's swimming and diving team earned their first MIAA team title since the 1971 season with a 200-point cushion at the MIAA Championship Feb. 18. Albion captured 12 individual titles and five relay event wins.
The Britons then placed sixth nationally in the 400 Free Relay, touching in 3:00.48, while Nate Kozycki took eighth in the 100 Fly (48.68); Albion tallied 100 points, placing 13th at the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships.
8. Kalamazoo's Branden Metzler caps stellar career with NCAA Men's Tennis Semifinal run
Branden Metzler of Kalamazoo men's tennis earned All-America honors for the second consecutive season by advancing to the semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Men's Tennis Singles Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn. Metzler lost to eventual national champion Lubomir Cuba of Middlebury, but not before a three-set thriller in the quarterfinal round to finish in the top four nationally. On the season, Metzler posted a 27-2 singles record and was a four-time MIAA Most Valuable Player.
7. Trine's Jeffery Barnett, Calvin's Ethan Valentine finish as National Runners-Up in Indoor, Outdoor Track & Field
Trine's Jeffery Barnett placed second in the men's long jump at the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Indoor Track & Field Championships in Naperville, Ill., marking the highest finish by a Trine student-athlete since 2008. In the spring outoor season, Calvin's Ethan Valentine was the national runner up in the 400m dash at the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Geneva, Ohio. Their efforts were the best among MIAA competitors in men's track and field in 2016-17.
6. Calvin men's soccer falls in overtime in NCAA Championship title game
After winning four of five NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship games by one goal to advance to the 2017 National Championship game, the Knights dropped a heart-breaking 1-0 double-overtime loss to Tufts to finish as national runners-up for the third time in program history.
5. Academic success by MIAA student-athletes reaps NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, Elite 90 Awards, and CoSIDA Academic All-America honors
Excellence both in competition and in the classroom allowed multiple MIAA competitors to garner recognition for their efforts as NCAA Division III student-athletes. In the fall, three MIAA student-athletes (Alma's Kaitlyn Arnold, Hope's O'Meara, and Kalamazoo's Grace Smith) earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship while two student-athletes (Alma's Arnold and Calvin's Alyssa Scholten) received the NCAA Elite 90 Award as the top GPA participating in the NCAA Championships of their respective sports.
The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) honored 31 MIAA student-athletes as Academic All-District performers, with 15 selected as Academic All-Americans in 2016-17.
4. Olivet's Ryan Anderson named CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for football
Earning one of the highest athletic and academic honors in the country, Olivet punter Ryan Anderson was named the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year. Anderson, who had an unblemished 4.0 grade-point average through the 2016 football season, was one of three first-team Academic All-Americans for the MIAA.
3. Hope's Josh Gibson wins 2017 Men's Golf individual championship in playoff finish
Hope sophomore Josh Gibson became the first-ever NCAA Individual Champion in MIAA men's golf history with his playoff victory over Wittenberg's Garrett Brickley to capture the 2017 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Individual Championship. Gibson carded a five-under 67 to take the individual lead into the clubhouse on the tournament's final day to finish with a one-under 287.
2. Erin Herrmann's senior season includes NCAA title in steeplechase, fourth-place finish at Cross Country NCAAs
Hope senior distance runner Erin Herrmann had a season to remember in 2016-17, culminating with her NCAA Division III national title in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2017 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Herrmann's time was among the top 10 fastest in NCAA history. Earlier in the academic year, Herrmann placed fourth at the 2016 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships, a highlight finish after winning both the MIAA and NCAA Great Lakes Regional titles.
1. Calvin volleyball wins 2016 National Championship
The Calvin volleyball team won the 2016 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship, dominating Washington University-St. Louis 3-0 in the title match. The championship was their third in seven seasons. The Knights finished the year with a 33-1 record and were the MIAA regular season champions. In their march to the championship, Calvin had four 3-0 victories, dropping just three sets in six matches.
Other notable performances:
Calvin's Abby VanHarn becomes a two-time All-American in swimming at 2017 NCAA Championships
Adrian baseball's Ryan Dorow selected by Texas Rangers in 2017 Major League Baseball Draft
Hope women's golf match second-best finish at NCAAs
Olivet football goes undefeated in MIAA play to advance to NCAA Championship
Hope men's basketball advances to NCAA Sweet 16
MIAA announces Finlandia will be an affiliate member in football starting in 2018-19
Albion men's lacrosse wins third consecutive MIAA championship
Kalamazoo's Grace Smith named HERO of the Year
Calvin shuts out Hope in the title game of the 2017 MIAA Women's Lacrosse tournament