When Cal State Bakersfield's women's soccer team takes the field Friday, it'll mark the official start of another athletic year for the Roadrunners — and it'll be the 10-year anniversary of CSUB's first year of competition against a full Division I schedule.
It's been a time of survival and growth, failure and success. Here's a subjective list (the first four were especially difficult to rank) of the best Roadrunners teams from across all sports during CSUB's first Division I decade.
1. Men's basketball, 2016-17
No argument here if you'd rather choose the 2015-16 team that had the school's most famous athletic moment and reached the NCAA Tournament, but this past year's version was better throughout the entire season. CSUB (25-10) won the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title and then put on a show in the postseason, too, beating Cal, Colorado State and Texas-Arlington in the National Invitation Tournament before losing to Georgia Tech at Madison Square Garden in the NIT semifinals.
2. Men's soccer, 2011
The only CSUB team to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament in any sport, the Roadrunners also featured Gyasi Zardes, future member of the L.A. Galaxy and U.S. men's national team. They went 11-3-4 in the regular season, finishing second in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, then lost to No. 1-ranked New Mexico in a penalty-kick shootout in the MPSF Tournament final. Ranked 25th in the country, CSUB fell 1-0 at home to St. Mary's in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
3. Baseball, 2015
A year after winning the WAC regular season title but failing to finish the job in the WAC Tournament, the Roadrunners finished second in the league and then rattled off three heart-stopping wins in elimination games in the WAC Tournament. Then, to make the season truly special, the Runners earned the school's first Division I NCAA Tournament victory in any sport, a 2-1 regional win against Ole Miss. UCLA eliminated CSUB the next day, but it's a season local baseball fans won't soon forget.
4. Men's basketball, 2015-16
After eight years of mediocre-at-best seasons, the men's basketball team exploded onto the national scene under coach Rod Barnes and senior stars Aly Ahmed and Kevin Mays. The team went 11-3 in WAC play, stunned top-seeded New Mexico State with Dedrick Basile's buzzer-beater in the WAC Tournament final and then put a scare into No. 2 seed Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before ultimately falling 82-68.
5. Women's basketball, 2014-15
The best season by a women's sport in CSUB's Division I history belongs to this basketball team, led by all-time leading scorer Tyonna Outland and all-time leading rebounder Batabe Zempare. The team went 16-0 at home and 11-3 in WAC play before losing a heartbreaker in the WAC Tournament semifinals to Texas-Pan American. CSUB finished its season with an appearance at UCLA in the Women's NIT.
6. Volleyball, 2013-14
Like with men's basketball, here's an example of a program that had a team better than the one that actually made the NCAA Tournament. This version of the volleyball squad finished 21-12 and was 12-4 in WAC play, good for second place. The Roadrunners ultimately fell to top-seeded New Mexico State in the WAC Tournament finals, but the program – which had endured an 0-30 season just three years earlier – enjoyed a superb season.
7. Baseball, 2012-13
The season started with back-to-back wins against Nebraska and USC and ended with a WAC regular-season championship before a 1-0 loss to Texas-San Antonio – played over two days because of rain – ended hopes in the WAC Tournament. The Roadrunners finished 37-22 overall and 18-9 in conference play.
8. Women's water polo, 2008-09
They didn't make a national tournament and didn't appear on too many radars (and there aren't as many water polo programs as other sports), but this is one of the few CSUB teams to finish the season in a national top 25. The Roadrunners went 22-14, including 12-4 in the Western Water Polo Association, and finished the year ranked No. 19.
9. Wrestling, 2008-09
The most storied program at CSUB has a much longer Division I history than the rest of its sports, and that includes a couple of All-Americans in the past 10 years. But no individual team was better than this version, which finished 10-5 in dual meets, including 6-2 in the Pac-12 Conference. The Roadrunners then finished third in the Pac-12 Championships and 36th at the national tournament, with 197-pounder Nathan Halsey finishing seventh to earn All-American status.
10. Volleyball, 2014-15
A year after having its finest Division I season (No. 6), the Roadrunners broke through after a ho-hum regular season, beating top-seeded New Mexico State in the WAC Tournament semifinals and then sweeping Seattle to win the conference tournament, which was conveniently located at the Icardo Center. That No. 1 Stanford swept CSUB a couple of weeks later couldn't take the shine off of the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Women's basketball, 2008-09; Women's basketball, 2010-11; Beach volleyball, 2014-15; Softball, 2015-16; Wrestling, 2015-16; Women's water polo, 2016-17