On this New Year's Eve, a quick look back at the Top 10 stories in Drury Athletics for 2012 ...
10. Katrina Choate Era comes to an end with a third straight NCAA-II women's golf national championships appearance and GLVC individual title.
The St. Louis native closed out a standout career as a Lady Panther with a 39th-place finish at the national meet held in Louisville, after finishing 42nd as a sophomore in Mesa, Ariz., and 34th as a junior Allendale, Mich. Her three NCAA tourney trips tied Tonya Choate's (no relation) run from 2005-07 for most by a DU women's golf individual.
Katrina won five tournaments in her DU career, including the GLVC Championships in Waterloo, Ill., in late April to help coach Lisa Tinkler's squad to a second-place team finish. Tinkler announced her resignation in September to accept the job as men's and women's golf coach at Loyola-New Orleans.
9. Baseball Panthers make Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament field for fourth time in six years and for third consecutive year.
Coach Mark Stratton's Panthers finished 29-22 on the campaign after falling to Northern Kentucky and Missouri S & T in the tourney in St. Louis, but return nearly the entire squad and have made key additions, including junior pitcher Ethan Mather, in preparation for an anticipated big 2013 run.
Through six seasons, the baseball program still has never had a losing season.
8. Drury Men's Tennis captures GLVC Championship for fifth time in six years as league member.
In his first year of pulling double-duty as the men's and women's coach of the DU tennis programs, coach Jarrod Smith's Panthers defeated Lewis 5-3 at the Cooper Tennis Complex to capture their fifth league crown with a squad featuring no seniors.
The Panthers would later make their 14th consecutive NCAA-II Sweet 16 appearance, falling to Augusta State at nationals in Florida.
Drury showed its strength again this fall, as Andy Blair captured the singles title and Roman Gonda and Lukas Kriem won doubles at the ITA Midwest Regionals to earn trips to the Small College National Championships in October in Mobile, Ala.
7. Young Drury men's soccer team reaches national tournament, shows signs of big 2013 coming.
Coach Ryan Swan's Panthers made it as high to No. 5 nationally in the NSCA's Top 25 poll and into the NCAA-II national tourney for the second time in four seasons.
Drury, which had an 11-match unbeaten streak throughout the middle portion of the season, fell 3-0 to Notre Dame (Ohio) in the opening round in Kansas City to complete a 12-5-2 effort for a squad that lost no starters to graduation and led the nation in several offensive categories for much of the season.
The Panthers are set to return their entire cast that accounted for 49 goals, including freshman Shane Woods, who led DU with eight goals, and Nick Ammann, who had five goals and six assists and freshman keeper Blake Woods, who had six shutouts and started 17 of the 18 matches.
6. Katie Pritchard helps Lady Panthers to 10th straight NCAA-II tourney appearance, becomes school's all-time 3-point leader.
Katie Pritchard's return from a season lost to a knee injury was a success in 2011-12, as she helped the Lady Panthers to a 20-8 finish, another share of a GLVC West title and a 10th straight trip to the NCAA-II tourney, when DU fell to hot-shooting Ferris State last March in the opening round in Ashland, Ohio.
The senior guard from Waynesville has continued to finish with a flourish in her senior campaign. She made five 3-pointers in Drury's 66-63 loss to Missouri S & T at home to push her career total to 217, moving past Hope Hunt (213 from 2000-05) to becme the Lady Panthers' all-time leader in made treys.
Pritchard, who led the NCAA-II in 3-point percentage in both 2009-10 and 2011-12, made a combined nine more 3-pointers over DU's 2-0 trip to Florida after the S & T game and heads into 2013 with 226 treys in her outstanding four-year DU career.
Pritchard also has scored 1,293 points now in her career, ranking seventh all-time on the DU charts and closing in on Hunt's 1,350 points to move into sixth.
5. Alex Hall sets single-game trey record, continues assault on Drury basketball record books.
Speaking of high-scoring and deep-shooting Drury basketball seniors ... Alex Hall also continues to climb the charts for the Panthers and set his on marks.
Hall made 9 3-pointers in Drury's 88-52 win over Missouri S & T on December 6 to set a new single-game mark, pulling himself out of a tie with Matt Miller, Steven Gum and Tim Oetting, who had all made eight treys in a game to share the record before Hall went 9-for-10 from long range against the Miners.
Hall now has made 294 career treys, ranking second all-time at DU and trailing only the 351 made by Miller from 1998-2002. Hall also has scored 1,658 points to rank ninth in career scoring, and is closing in on Ted Young (1,780 points from 1983-87) for eighth place.
4. Drury Softball sets program record with 36 victories, second straight GLVC tourney appearance.
Coach Chantiel Wilson's second season at the DU helm reaped another leap forward for the five-year-old Panthers softball program.
Drury finished with a school-record 36 wins in a 36-19 campaign, shared its first GLVC West Division title (with Illinois-Springfield) and made the GLVC Championships eight-team field for a second straight year, just missing out on its first NCAA-II tourney berth.
Much of that cast returns for the Panthers this spring, including All-GLVC senior pitcher Monica Villarreal, who tossed the program's first no-hitter and set a team record for strikeouts in a season (168) in her first campaign with the Panthers last spring.
3. Erin Dolan finishes standout swimming career, has remarkable debut in cross country.
One of the vital cogs to Drury's national runner-up finish in swimming last March in Mansfield, Texas - where she captured national championships in both the 1,000 and mile events to cap a four-year career as a 16-time swimming All-American - the Lincoln, Neb., native couldn't shake that competitive urge.
As a graduate student this past fall, Dolan gave cross country a shot for the first time in her fifth and final season of NCAA eligibility and showed why she's one of the true greats in DU athletics history. Learning all about cross country racing strategy on the fly, Dolan finished third in the GLVC Championships, eighth in the NCAA-II Midwest Regional and 43rd at the NCAA-II Championships, just three spots out of All-America status in the latter.
Not bad for a rookie.
2. Drury squads shine academically on national level, including national best team gpa for Lady Panthers basketball.
The proud tradition of excellence in both athletics and academics at Drury continued in 2011-12, as the Drury women's basketball team posted the nation's highest grade point average for any hoops team at any level with its 3.709 mark (on a 4.0 scale), the third time since 2005 that the Lady Panthers have had the nation's top GPA in D-II.
And amazingly, it wasn't even the highest among DU's sports teams on campus ... the Drury women's golf team posted a 3.72 gpa that was also the tops among all GLVC squads in all sports.
Hats off to the DU Baseball team and its 45-plus members, which posted a 3.4 team gpa that made them the only baseball team in the league to claim one of the GLVC academic team awards ... as well as the top gpa among male sports teams on the Drury campus.
1. Drury Swimming squads fare well in Texas, as men claim eighth consecutive NCAA-II national title, women finish second ... by a heartbreaking one point.
Coach Brian Reynolds' DU squads continued to be the talk of the NCAA-II national scene at the championships held last March in Mansfield, Texas, where the DU men captured their eighth straight national title (tying Cal State-Bakersfield for most consecutive D-II crowns) ... and the women suffered an excruciating outcome.
Wayne State picked up a needed third-place-or-better finish in the final event of the four days of competition - the 400 Free Relay - to finish with 497 points to the 496 posted by the Panthers, who trailed the Warriors by 55 points entering the final day.
The DU women were attempting to win their fourth straight national title and help DU become the first team in NCAA history, at the D-I or D-II level, to sweep both the men's and women's championships in four consecutive years. The Panthers will attempt to start a new streak March 6-9 at nationals in Birmingham, Ala.
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