Johnson, Kroh Come Up Just Short vs. UCLA

Marshall's sensational tennis doubles team, the "Dynamic Duo" of Jessica Johnson and Ashley Kroh, came up just short versus UCLA on Saturday, May 29, falling 6-4, 6-4 after an improbable run to the title game in the NCAA Women's Tennis Doubles. The unseeded pair from Marshall became the first Mid-American Conference Athletes to advance past the first round in NCAA tennis competition, including the Herd's three consecutive first round losses over the last three years in NCAA Women's Team Tennis.

These two, Marshall's first-ever tennis All-Americans, had an Cinderella-type run to the finals of the NCAA, but they are certainly not the first Marshall athletes to make a good showing in post-season play. Marshall football and men's basketball have both hoisted National Championship trophies, while numberous Marshall individual athletes have had NCAA appearances.

Marshall won the NCAA I-AA Football National Championship in both 1992, with a 12-3 mark, and in 1996, when the Herd set a school and Southern Conference record by posting a 15-0 season. MU was the runners-up in the title game in 1987-91-93-95, semifinalist in 1994 and quarterfinalist in 1988. The six consecutive years of advancing to at least the semifinals in NCAA I-AA football post-season play is a NCAA record. More recently, Marshall football's five consecutive bowl victories is the best currently in Division I-A (1998-2002).

The men's basketball team was 32-5 in 1946-47, setting MU records by winning the most games in school history and winning the first 17 straight to start the season. Marshall moved on to the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball, or NAIB (today's NAIA), National Championship in Kansas City and won five games in six days to win the National Championship of what was "small-college" teams. A crowd estimated at 15,000-to-20,000 waited to greet the Herd as they arrived the next evening at the C&O Railroad Station on Seventh Avenue and Tenth Street (today's Huntington office of CSX). The Herd also went to the quarterfinals in the NAIB in 1938 and 1948. The 1966-67 men's hoops team advanced to the "Final Four" of the National Invitational Tournament in New York City's Madison Square Garden by beating Villanova and Nebraska. They fell to Marquette in the semi-finals. Men's basketball has been to five NCAA Tournaments, and three NITs, while women's basketball and volleyball have advanced to one NCAA Tournament each.

Marshall's men's golf team has been to the NCAA Tournament on five occasions, with a MU-best finish of 11th by the 1962 MAC champs. The year before, Pete Byer had advanced to the semi-finals of the NCAA Tournament before falling in the "Final Four" in the match play format of the day. He played his way through 32 players to get in the final four. In 1977, Harold Payne was 18th of 64 in the NCAA Tournament just one year after helping lead Marshall to a 17th-place finish in the 1976 NCAA Tournament. Eight MU men's golfers have advanced to the NCAA's, while MU women's golfers Tammy Green and Nancy Bunton both advanced to the tournament held by the original national organization for women's college sports, the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), which lasted from the late 1960's through 1982.

The women's basketball team of 1971-72 went 21-1, losing in the second round of the inaugural Women's NIT (held at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC) and winning a third game in the pool-play format. Marshall advanced to the Midwest AIAW Tournaments in women's basketball (five times), volleyball (twice) and in women's golf (twice).

Baseball also took a run at the NCAA Tournament in 1973 and 1978, losing in the NCAA Atlantic Regionals. The 1978 team beat Florida State and Clemson to advance within a win of the College World Series before falling to the host Hurricanes of Miami, Florida, in the finals in Coral Gables, Fl.

Just recently, Marshall had an great finish to the women's track season when Erin Compton finished fifth in the NCAA Eastern Regionals and ninth in the NCAA Track and Field Meet in 2003. Track has a history of individuals appearing in NCAA meets. Dave Kline was the first, running in the NCAA 10,000 in 1978. He was followed by Kim Nutter qualifying for the NCAA Men's Cross Country meet in 1979 and then Joe Sassler running the 400 in 46.4 in the 1981 NCAA Track and Field Meet. Marshall's final male NCAA track participant was Terry Stahl, who failed to place in the 2003 NCAA Eastern Regional in the hammer. Marshall dropped men's track after the 2003 season.

Sam Peppers was an outstanding wrestler for Marshall in the late 1970's-early 1980's who advanced to the NCAA Tournament, in the sport dropped at Marshall in the mid-1980's. Marshall's five consecutive SC Swim Championship teams (1977-81) sent many swimmers to the NCAA Eastern Regionals, but that sport was also dropped in 1988 due to a one million dollar deficeit in athletics at that time.


Herd Haven Top Stories