Women's Track Will Decide Commissioner's Cup

And down the stretch they come! With three sports remaining to be decided, Fresno State, Nevada and Boise State all have a valid chance to win the WAC Commissioner's Cup, awarded every year to the school with the best overall athletic performance. As pointed out on BroncoCountry six weeks ago, the race will be decided by women's track.

Boise State has shattered school records for Top 25 rankings in one school year (eight with the previous record four) and Top 25 finishes (five), which beats the previous mark of three.  The Broncos are among the nation's leaders in conference championships with four (football, wrestling, gymnastics and men's indoor track).

Despite all that, Boise State is in the fight of its life for the Western Athletic Conference Commissioner's Cup.  A twelve-point lead just two weeks ago has shrunk to just 4.5 points over Nevada and 7 over Fresno State.  Nevada owns titles in men's basketball and women's swimming while Fresno State captured WAC championships in soccer, women's basketball and women's tennis.

The Commissioner's Cup measures overall athletic success at each of the league's nine institutions.  While the Broncos are increasingly a force nationally in sports like football, wrestling, gymnastics, track and tennis, the plain fact is that several of their sports underperform.  The volleyball team finished seventh.  While new sports like swimming (sixth) and softball (tied for fifth) certainly take time to generate success, others like men's golf (next to last), women's golf (next to last) and men's basketball (fifth) have been around for decades but have not been consistently successful for years.

It is those sports that are holding Boise State back and keeping the Broncos from routing the WAC in this competition despite their amazing national success mentioned above.  They are the problem areas for Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier in a program that under every other measure is growing by leaps and bounds.  Those sports allow Nevada and Fresno State to effectively compete each year for this trophy. 

Boise State won the Cup for the first time in the 2005-06 school year, amassing 96.50 points to 93.75 for Nevada and 89.50 for Fresno State in the closest Cup race in recent memory.  This year's contest will be closer than that!

With just two weeks and three sports left to be decided, this year's Commissioner's Cup contest will go down to the wire and maybe even the final pitch of the WAC baseball tournament between the last three winners of the Cup.  Nevada captured a seven-point win over Boise State in 2006-07 while Fresno State edged out Boise State by 3.5 points with Hawai'i a distant third last year.

Boise State currently leads Nevada in this year's competition with 78 points to 74.50 for the Wolf Pack.  With a strong spring for the second consecutive year, however, Fresno State has moved into third with 71 points and in fact is now one of the favorites. 

The Bulldogs won the WAC in women's tennis, finished second in women's golf and third in men's tennis to begin their flurry.  They're not done--Fresno has been catching fire in men's track to become one of the favorites, their women's team is set to do well, and their defending National Champion baseball team prepares to compete in the WAC Tournament. 

Nevada, meanwhile, has slipped in the last two weeks.  Their baseball team, which led the WAC most of the year, lost five straight games to move into third.  They do not have a men's track team, so the Pack is putting great faith in their women's track team.

Boise State would have been in excellent position to win the Cup had they not chose to redshirt superstar Eleni Kafourou for the outdoor track season.  Kafourou scored 28 points in the Indoor WAC Championships helping the Bronco women finish third and her absence could mean the Bronco women finish last outdoors.  That move, while good for Kafourou because it allows her to stay in school one more year, makes it tough for the Broncos to win the Cup in a year in which they had eight of their teams in the Top 25.  Boise State does not yet field a baseball team so they get zero points there, and with the diminished outlook for the women's track team, the pressure is on the men's team to win the WAC and hope for a whole lot of help.

Utah State has 67.25 points in the Cup race, with Idaho fifth at 60.60, New Mexico State sitting at #6 with 59 points, followed by Hawai'i (56.75), San Jose State (49.00) and Louisiana Tech (45.00).

Host Utah State is the favorite to win the men's WAC Track Championship while Louisiana Tech is once again tabbed as the women's favorite.  Here are the projected points to be won this week in Logan.


Men's Outdoor Track:

Utah State 5

Idaho 4

Fresno State 3

Boise State 2

Louisiana Tech 1


Women's Outdoor Track:

1.  Utah State 8 points
2.  Louisiana Tech 7
3.  Fresno State 6
4.  Nevada 5
5.  Hawai'i 4
6.  New Mexico State 3
7.  Idaho 2
8.  Boise State 1

Baseball is in its final week with San Jose State rising to the top.  The sport splits half of its awarded points to the regular season and half to the WAC Tournament.  There are six league baseball teams so the maximum points earned is six.  The points earned by Nevada and Fresno State in baseball plus the difference in men's track will leave the race between Nevada and Boise State essentially tied and Fresno State about 3 points behind.

What this means is that, as BroncoCountry broke the story six weeks ago, women's track will decide the winner of this year's Commissioner's Cup contest.  Fresno State, currently projected to finish second, is in the best position.  Nevada is right there as well with a projected fourth place finish.  As mentioned above, the Broncos will have a tough time minus 28 or more of its team points and will do well to finish next to last. 

With projections in the three remaining sports, Nevada is projected to win the Cup by one point(84 to 83) over Fresno State with Boise State finishing at 81 points.  Utah State is expected to total 80.25 points but in all likelihood has been eliminated from the race.

So Boise State, despite a 12-point lead recently, has a lead of about 75/100th's of a point over Nevada and 3.5 points over Fresno State when you add in men's track and baseball. With Fresno State and Nevada both slated to do well in women's track and Boise State projected to finish near the bottom, it will be tought for the Broncos to top both schools and win the Cup.

There is one ounce of hope for the Broncos.  It pretty much involves Boise State's men's track team winning the WAC or at least getting second.  If they can do this, here is what has to happen for Boise State:

There is one ounce of hope for the Broncos.  It pretty much involves Boise State's men's track team winning the WAC or at least getting second.  If they can do this, here is what has to happen for Boise State:

Men's Track team finishes first:

1.  Both of Fresno State's track teams can finish no better than 3rd (provided the baseball team finishes at least next to last in both the regular season and the tournament OR Boise State's women's track team finishes at least next to last).

OR
One of the Fresno track teams can finish 2nd and the other one 3rd if the baseball team is next to last AND Boise State's women's track team finishes at least next to last.

AND

2.  Nevada's women's track team must finish no higher than 6th or Boise State's women's track team must finish at least next to last. 
OR
Nevada's baseball team must slide to 4th in the regular season and the tournament OR no better than 3rd provided the Boise State women's track team finishes at least next to last.

Men's Track team finishes second:


1.  Both of Fresno State's track teams can finish no better than 3rd AND either the baseball team finishes next to last OR Boise State's women's track team finishes at least next to last.

OR
Fresno State's women's track team finishes 2nd, their men's track team finishes 3rd, the baseball team finishes next to last AND Boise State's women's track team finishes at least next to last.

AND

2.  Nevada's women's track team must finish no higher than 7th or Boise State's women's track team must finish at least next to last. 
OR
Nevada must finish no higher than 6th AND Boise State must finish at least next to last.

OR
Nevada's baseball team must slide to 5th in the regular season and the tournament OR no better than 4th provided the Boise State women's track team finishes at least next to last.


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