SPORTS: One Wild Weekend

Kyle Tucker

Tears and giants tell the story. They mark the path of a wild and winding weekend that saw four Western teams reach new heights, sink to demoralizing lows and regain the swagger of programs past. The madness spanned nearly the width of our nation. The emotions stretched even farther.

In Arizona Saturday, the Toppers took the court hoping to repeat the season-opening magic of a year ago at Kentucky. But these southwestern Wildcats were unslayable giants. Arizona ran away 107-68. Todor Pandov’s screams — after a skin-crawling, knee-popping injury — were symbolic, as what might have been a coronation became a question mark for the season to come.

Back here in Diddle Arena that night, the women did what the men couldn’t, something no one thought they would. Not only did the Lady Toppers upset perennial giant Louisiana Tech, they dismantled the No. 10 Lady Techsters, 71-57. Coach Mary Taylor Cowles ushered in her inaugural season with a message: Lady Topper basketball is back.

Earlier that day in Miami, Travis Hudson was delivered from the brink of another bitter disappointment. His volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat New Mexico State and cart off the elusive Sun Belt Conference tournament trophy and first-ever NCAA Tournament nod. After the Lady Toppers avoided a third-straight collapse in the tournament, Hudson reflected on the hardwood floor. He lay there as players patted his back, his joyous tears washing away the past.

And at BW3’s Sunday, when the voice from the big screen television told the Western football team it was in the playoffs for the third straight year, it was the punctuation on a season of statements. Their alternate sighs and yelps told the relief and joy of a team that had been written off as a rebuilding ball club. A starless team stole the spotlight and made an improbable run — one that seems far from over.

It took 48 hours and a few thousand miles to unfold. It’ll take a while longer to comprehend.