MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - The 2009-10 academic year was one of the most successful in recent history for the Central Michigan University athletics department.
CMU teams combined to win five Mid-American Conference titles, the most for the department since 2004. The Chippewas added three conference tournament championships, a MAC West Division title and three top-25 national rankings.
The tone for the year was set during the fall, when CMU was named the inaugural recipient of the MAC's Cartwright Award. The MAC's top institutional award is presented annually to the conference member that most completely demonstrates citizenship, and academic and athletic success.
On the playing field, both the CMU football team and soccer team claimed MAC championships during the fall season.
The football team completed the first unbeaten MAC season in program history, including a 20-10 win over Ohio in the MAC Championship Game. That victory vaulted the Chippewas into the top 25 for the first time and secured CMU's third MAC football title in four seasons. The Chippewas' seven MAC football titles since joining the league in 1975 are the most of any conference member during that span.
CMU capped its season with a 44-41 double-overtime win over Troy in the GMAC Bowl and finished the season No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the USA Today coaches' poll.
The soccer program won both the MAC regular season and tournament championships during the 2009 campaign. The Chippewas led the nation with 19 shutouts, and the squad's string of 13 consecutive shutouts tied for the second longest streak in NCAA Division I history. CMU clinched the regular season title with a 1-0 win over Bowling Green in heavy rain at the CMU Soccer Complex on Oct. 23.
The Chippewas won three straight matches in the MAC Tournament, including a semifinal victory over Toledo on penalty kicks, at home to earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. CMU upset No. 24 Purdue, 2-0, in the opening round to earn the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.
CMU finished the season 17-4-3 overall, setting a school record for victories, including 9-0-2 in the MAC.
The winter season was highlighted by conference championships for both the wrestling and gymnastics programs.
Head coach Tom Borrelli led the Chippewa wrestlers to their 11th MAC title in the past 12 seasons and ninth straight conference tournament crown. CMU finished the dual meet season 17-2 overall, tying a school record for victories, including 5-0 in the MAC. The Chippewas finished the dual season ranked No. 6 nationally by InterMat.
All six MAC wrestling programs descended on Mount Pleasant for the 2010 conference tournament, which the Chippewas won in dominating fashion: CMU tallied 94 team points, five Chippewas won individual MAC titles and all 10 Chippewas placed in the top three of their weight class.
CMU became the first school in MAC history to qualify all 10 individuals for the NCAA Championships. Steve Brown, Ben Bennett and Jarod Trice each earned All-America honors as CMU finished in a tie for 12th in the team standings, its sixth top-15 finish in the past seven years at the national tournament.
The gymnastics program secured its first MAC title since 2004 and 11th overall by posting a score of 195.600 at the MAC Championships on March 27. Katie Simon, the MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year, won the all-around for the second consecutive season. She shared the floor exercise title with teammates Cheryl Conlin and Andrea de la Garza and shared the vault title with Britney Taylor.
The Chippewas placed fourth at the NCAA Central Region Championships. Simon was fifth in the all-around with a score of 39.125, just 0.50 shy of earning a bid to the NCAA Championships.
CMU finished the season ranked No. 22 nationally in the GymInfo rankings.
CMU added more hardware to the trophy case during the winter when the men's basketball program claimed its second straight MAC West Division title. The Chippewas won at Eastern Michigan on the final day of the regular season to secure the division championship.
Theunissen Stadium hosted a championship celebration in late May, as the Chippewa baseball program claimed its first conference title since 2004. CMU won its final eight MAC regular season games, including a three-game sweep of Eastern Michigan on the final weekend of the regular season, to lock up its 12th MAC baseball title.
The Chippewas advanced to the championship game of the MAC Tournament in Chillicothe, Ohio before finishing runner-up.
The athletics department closed out the year by finishing in the top three in the MAC's male and female all-sports award standings. CMU was the runner-up for the Reese Trophy, the men's all-sports award, for the second straight season, and the Chippewas placed third in the race for the Jacoby Trophy, presented to the women's all-sports award winner. CMU's third-place finish in the Jacoby Trophy standings was its best finish since 2004.