Cal State Bakersfield dominated the headlines.
From the team’s trip to the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden to kick off the 2017 campaign, to the school’s admission into the Big West Conference (starting competitively in the 2020-21 academic year), the Roadrunners made big moves.
With that, they lead off our top non-high school sports stories from the past year.
Cal State NIT
Who knew a loss in the the Western Athletic Conference Tournament final game could be so beneficial to the Cal State Bakersfield men’s basketball program?
The loss to New Mexico State stung, and kept the Roadrunners from the Big Dance, but it opened the door for an improbable run in the National Invitational Tournament. The underdog Runners won three road games — at Cal, at Colorado State and at UT Arlington — to earn a trip to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The run came to an end against Georgia Tech on the big stage, but the 25-10 season was the most successful for the Runners in their Division I history.
Cal State Big West
After being passed over for Hawaii in 2010, the bulk of the Cal State Bakersfield athletic program will be headed to the Big West in 2020.
The Big West announced on Nov. 27 that CSUB and UC San Diego will become members of the conference in 2018 with actual play not beginning until after July 1, 2020.
Although the Roadrunners were admitted to the Western Athletic Conference in 2010, the university never gave up on it’s quest to be a Big West member, which is much more travel friendly with in-state schools CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and old foes from the CCAA Division II days Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Riverside.
Condors Outdoor Classic
The Bakersfield Condors hosted an American Hockey League game against the Ontario Reign in the elements at Memorial Stadium and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience.
The weather did not cooperate. It drizzled before the game, there was light rain in the first period and the second was played in a pouring rain (yes, the puck left a wake anytime it was shot). The Condors trailed 2-0 after two, tied the game under clear sky in the third and won 3-2 when Griffin Reinhart scored 46 seconds into overtime.
Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn opened the racing season in Kern County by driving to victory in the third annual Winter Showdown on Feb. 10 at Kern County Raceway.
Thorn led all 250 laps to beat a stellar field of Super Late Model drivers, including NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch, who finished third, and fourth-place finisher Erik Jones, who went on to win Rookie of the Year honors in his first season on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup circuit.
Adrian Godinez captures state gold
The former standout wrestler from Foothill attended Bakersfield College in 2017 and picked up right where he left off.
Godinez, who has aspirations to become a Division I wrestler at Fresno State, took home the 184-pound state title at the CCCA Wrestling State Championships in Stockton earlier this month.
He beat Mount San Antonio College's Luis Melecio, 10-4, to take home the crown.