Marty: The top 5 Shocker sports moments from the 2020-21 school year


Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower

Head Coach Isaac Brown cuts the net celebrating Wichita State first AAC regular season tittle on March 6 at Charles Koch Arena.

The 2020-21 school year brought challenges to Wichita State Athletics, which included constant COVID-19 tests and game cancellations. But through it all, the Shocker Athletics had one of its most successful seasons to date.

With Wichita State’s 2020-21 school year now completed, Sunflower sports writer Sean Marty compiled a list of the top five sports moments from the past school year.

1. Men’s Basketball’s first AAC Title

After a season filled with adversity for Wichita State, the Shockers made their return to the NCAA Tournament along with capturing their first regular season conference title. 

The Shockers finished the season with a 16-6 record and a 11-2 record in AAC play. In the preseason, WSU had no players picked for an all-conference team and were picked to finish seventh in the conference. In the end, the Shockers were able to capture its first AAC title since joining the conference, while being led by Co-Player of the Year Tyson Etienne.

Before the season started, six players transferred out of the program, former head coach Gregg Marshall resigned amid allegations of abuse and COVID-19 complications kept them from competing in their season-opening tournament. But despite everything surrounding the program, WSU overcame that and turned in a historic season.

Michael Bryan poses for a picture prior to the Olympic Trials, in front of Charles Koch Arena. Bryan finished in 16th place in the event hosted in Eugene, Oregon. (Kaylee Stout / The Sunflower)

2. Michael Bryan’s journey from off the roster to All-American

Bryan was originally left off the roster with WSU two years ago but ultimately had a record-breaking season this year. Bryan broke the school record four different times in the hammer throw and also received all-conference honors. 

His season wrapped up at the NCAA Championships where he finished 30 centimeters away from advancing to the finals of the event. Bryan was awarded with Second Team All-American honors for his performance.

Senior Winny Koskei got her third consecutive conference cross country title. The American Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships was held at 4 Mile Creek Resort, on Feb 6. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower)

3. Winny Koskei wins third straight AAC Cross Country Title

Winny Koskei became the most decorated Cross Country athlete this year, winning her third individual title. 

Koskei finished the six-kilometer course in 20:29.24, holding off Tulsa’s Caitlin Kopfler (20:53.89) by just over 24 seconds. Koskei is also the first Shocker to win three individual titles and wrapped up her season with a 125th place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Wichita State players celebrate the AAC title during ceremony on May 15, 2021. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower)

4. Softball’s historic season ends with conference title and a return to the NCAA Tournament

Softball’s 2021 season was possibly the best in school history. The Shockers made their second appearance in an NCAA Regional Final but their same came to a close, losing to the eventual national champion Oklahoma.

The Shockers finished the year with a 41-13-1 record along with a 75.5 winning percentage, the best in program history. WSU also hit the most home runs in program history and conference history, with 103 homers. That mark was 44 more than the previous program record which was set in 2018.

WSU also set program records in the runs scored (374 runs), RBIs (353), total bases (862), and slugging percentage (.592). 

Wichita State Redshirt Sophomore Orel Ovil celebrates during the game against Pepperdine at the Coleman Tennis Complex on April 4, 2021. (Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower)

5. Tennis earns first at-large bid to NCAA Tournament

The WSU men’s tennis team had a season to remember this past season, earning their first ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to that, all other trips to the NCAA’s were automatic bids. 

The Shockers finished the season with a 15-9, which included five ranked victories. Those five ranked victories are the most in a single season in program history. 

WSU reached No. 29 in the rankings, which is the highest in the Danny Bryan Era and in the modern era of the ITA poll. Merkel Dellien also became the first Shocker to earn a trip to the NCAA Singles Tournament.