The Utah State University Eastern teams have wrapped up what will go down as the greatest fall athletic season in decades. It surely has been the best autumn for sports on this campus since 2010 when Utah State University and the College of Eastern Utah merged.
For the first time in those eleven years, the three major fall sports teams — men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball — all had winning records in 2021.
The volleyball team put together a historic year, winning six consecutive matches at the end of the regular season to claim its first Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship since the College of Eastern Utah joined the conference in 1984. The Lady Eagles fell in the Region XVIII Tournament championship match, but that hardly diminished a season to remember. USU Eastern won eight matches over teams ranked in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). It competed against the best of the best in preseason, non-conference, tournaments.
Kamryn Wiese, a sophomore outside hitter, had 30 kills and only two hitting errors in victories over then-third-ranked Salt Lake Community College and College of Southern Idaho. That earned her player of the week in the SWAC, NJCAA and by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Sophomore libero Emma Ricks also racked up accolades this season as she earned five SWAC Defensive Player of the Week awards, giving her 11 over two years. To end an incredible career at USU Eastern, Ricks was named the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year and 1st Team All-Region.
Sammy Perry (freshman outside hitter) was also named to the All-Region 1st Team with Lindsey Otero (sophomore middle blocker) and Ashlee McUne (sophomore setter) receiving 2nd Team All-Region honors. Alyssa Simmons (sophomore middle blocker) added to the accolades, receiving the nod as an All-Region honorable mention.
Eagle success didn’t end with digs and spikes. The men’s soccer team cracked the NJCAA Top 20 with a week left in the regular season. The Eagles finished 10-6, their first winning season since 2016. Key wins came against Snow College and College of Southern Nevada as part of a four-game winning streak to close the regular season. Then came a heart-breaking 1-0 overtime loss to Snow College in the Region XVIII Tournament.
Parker Huff (sophomore wing) and Joseph Valle (freshman forward) made the All-Region 1st Team. Jackson Barney (sophomore defender) and CJ Wiggins (sophomore midfielder) were named to the 2nd Team, while Janson Hodges (sophomore centerback) was an honorable mention.
The women’s soccer team also proved to be giant slayers with wins over nationally ranked Salt Lake Community College and Casper College in Wyoming. The Lady Eagles staked claim to a Top 20 ranking for most of the season, and stringed three wins together to finish the regular season third in the tough conference.
Their season ended with a 2-0 loss to Salt Lake Community College in the Region XVIII Tournament.
Gracie Sorensen (sophomore forward) and Maryn Stoddard (sophomore midfielder) made the All-Region 1st Team. Shaelee Heywood (sophomore defender), Hanna Carlisle (sophomore defender), and Macy Clements (sophomore goalkeeper) made the 2nd Team, while Kallie James (sophomore wing) was an All-Region honorable mention.
This season truly was the greatest autumn season in recent history for USU Eastern athletics and will be used as a steppingstone for the seasons to come. The Eagles have a multitude of returning players that will make big impacts.