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The Year of Non-Revenue Sports

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Dr. Yow's plan for world dominance is mostly on schedule.

Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

After four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in men's basketball and 2014's turnaround season on the gridiron, NC State's revenue programs looked poised to possibly break into top 25 status this academic year. Alas, basketball has hit a road block and football at least a speed bump on the road to something more than kind of sort of respectability. Nonetheless, Dr. Yow's direction has perhaps led the Pack's overall athletics program to its healthiest overall condition since...ever? I seem to recall Dr. Yow stating the goal for the school as a whole was to have every program ranked in the top 25 of their respective sport; 10 teams are there with several others on the cusp.

With more impending hoops doom awaiting at Cameron in mere minutes, now's a good time to take a look at the rest of the story. It's a feel-good story in what intrepid women's hoops poster Sherman Basinger has dubbed "the year of the non-revenue sports."

Baseball

Elliott Avent's Pack Nine are ranked in all three college baseball polls, coming in highest in D1baseball.com's preseason rankings at 10th after finishing 24th in that poll a year ago. USA Today and the NCBWA's preseason polls peg the Pack at 19th and 20th, respectively.

With a deep pitching staff that is annually one of the toughest to square up in all of college baseball and veterans Andrew Knizner and Preston Palmeiro to anchor the offense, the Pack Nine should be an upper division team in the difficult ACC and make another postseason appearance. The season will likely hinge on Joe Dunand's transition from third base to shortstop and whether anyone steps up as reliable weekend starters behind Brian Brown.

Fun fact: Knizner is an engineering major with a Todd Fuller-like GPA.

Basketball (Women's)

With the tremendous backcourt combo of Dominque Wilson (16.3 ppg) and Miah Spencer (13.2 ppg), Les Moore looks to have his program safely back into the NCAA tournament this season, as the ladies rank 35th in the NCAA's latest RPI. Welcome to Easy Street, ladies, now don't screw this up down the stretch. Moore has recruited well, and the Pack are a very good bet for preseason top 25 next year, if not a top 25 finish this season.

Fun facts: Walk-on Ashley Williams, who has started 21 of 23 games, averages over 30 minutes per contest, and leads the team in three-point percentage (36.1%), is an engineering major with a Todd Fuller-like GPA.

Cross Country (Men's)

The men made the NCAA finals eight straight years from 2006-13 before missing out in 2014. They came back in a big way this year, ranking 10th in the nation heading in to the championship run. Unfortunately, they had a disappointing final race, placing 28th in the nationals and dropping to 17th in the final rankings. Nonetheless, men's cross country has historically been one of the Pack's most successful squads and certainly qualifies as a perennial top 25 program.

Fun fact: Since NC State last appeared in a basketball championship, men's cross country has appeared in the finals 26 times.

Bonus fun facts because I'm not sure the last one was entirely fun: The men's program has boasted 28 All-America runners since 1980, including some dude named "acc_10K" in 1991.

Cross Country (Women's)

The women went the opposite route at the nationals, outperforming their season ranking with a fifth-place finish that helped earn the team 9th-place in the final season rankings. As good as the men have been, the women have been even better. Four-time All-America Julie Shea led the team to back-to-back national championships in 79-80, and the ladies have 11 top five team finishes at the NCAAs in program history.

Fun facts: Rollie Geiger, who turned the reins of the women's program over to Laurie Henes in 2006 but still coaches the men in cross country and heads the track and field program as a whole, is in his 33rd year with the program. According to the always accurate SID, Geiger has won 35 team ACC championships in cross country and six in track and field, for a total of 40. Is Ronald Curry interning for gopack.com?

Golf (Men's)

The men missed the NCAA championship by a mere two strokes last spring and finished the season unranked; the program is better known for individuals who have gone on to some professional success rather than team accolades. Matt Hill won the NCAA championship in 2009 before turning pro, Tim Clark has won 24 million on the PGA tour, and Carl Pettersson had won over 22 million.

Fun fact: Golf coach Richard Sykes is the anti-Geiger. He's been at the helm for 45 years and has one ACC team championship.

Golf (Women's)

The women did not finish in the top 25 last spring despite making the NCAA championship field, where they finished 22nd. This is definitely a team on the cusp of a top 25 ranking and could make that step this spring behind Cecily Overbey, who was an NGCA All-American Scholar last year as a freshman. The team has made three of the last four NCAA championships, with their best result a 10th-place finish in 2014.

Fun fact: Five of the nine members of the team are foreign born.

Gymnastics

Gymnastics is not ranked this year but defeated then #17 Penn State this season. Brittni Watkins and Michaela Woodford made the NCAA championships as individuals last year, with Watkins earning second-team All-America on the beam. The squad has had at least one representative in the NCAAs in six of the last eight seasons.

Fun Facts: Mark Stevenson is the only head coach in program history; he's won six team conference championships in his 36-year run since starting the program.

Rifle (co-ed)

The Pack shooters are ranked 10th by the NCAA. State has a 9-4 record with all four losses coming to teams ranked in the top 10.

Fun fact: Rifle coach Keith Miller has been involved with the program since age nine, when he became a member of the Wolflets Junior Rifle Club and apparently did not shoot his eye out.

Soccer (Men's)

The men struggled in the ridiculously difficult ACC (eight teams in the top 26 of the RPI rankings), but their 8-6-3 mark was good enough for 33rd in the RPI thanks to their strength of schedule. With a win over Boston College (13th in RPI) and ties with Louisville (24th), Notre Dame (11th), and Wake Forest (1st), Pack Footy is definitely another team knocking on the door of the top 25 and NCAA tournament play. Yow hire Kelly Findley has things heading in the right direction.

Fun facts: U.S. soccer hall of famer and Wolfpack alum Tab Ramos currently coaches the U.S. U20 team. He was All ACC four times and All American thrice while at NC State. He scored seven times in his career with the U.S. national team, with three of the goals proving to be game winners.

Soccer (Women's)

Tim Santoro was the top recruiter for a bunch of really good Wake Forest teams, but he hasn't been able to parlay that success into winning results on the sidelines at NC State. 2016 will be his fourth season and may be make or break for him after last season's 4-15 record and 220th ranking in RPI.

Fun and not-so-fun facts: Larry Goss piloted the Pack to eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in the 80s and 90s, and Alvin Corneal added three more trips in the mid-90s, but State hasn't been back since 1996. In fact, the Pack has enjoyed just three winning seasons since '96.

Brutally sad facts: Six of State's NCAA tournament runs ended against rival UNC, including a 4-0 loss in 1988's NCAA championship match.

Softball

Shawn Rychcik has been one of Dr. Yow's best hires, as he immediately made the Pack a mainstay in the NCAA tournament. Rychcik won the ACC in his first year and last year guided the Pack to their first super regional appearance.  The Lady Nine finished ranked 19th in USA Softball's poll and 23rd in the coaches' poll last year.

Fun fact: Renada Davis is the ACC's all-time leader in taters, with 65 to her credit.

Swimming and Diving (Men's)

The men are seventh in the latest poll after winning the ACC and finishing eighth in the NCAAs a year ago. Braden Holloway was a five-time All-America selection for the Pack and has wasted no time returning the team to national prominence, having been named ACC COY twice in his three years at the helm. The men have won more ACC championships than any other school, including 12 straight from 1971-1982, but had only won once since '85 before Holloway took over. They are prohibitive favorites to make it back-to-back in '16.

Fun facts: Alum Cullen Jones is a two-time Olympian with three medals to his credit, including one gold.

Swimming and Diving (Women's)

The women don't have the history that the men do in the pool, but Holloway seems poised to change that. The ladies are 15th in latest NCAA poll after finishing 17th at last year's finals and have a shot at swimming to the top spot in the league this spring.

Fun fact: Honorable mention All-America diver Rachel Mumma is not related to BTP overlord Steven Muma.

Tennis (Men's)

Off to a 5-2 start and ranked 32nd, so a top 25 finish is not out of question. The Pack netters have downed two top 40 opponents so far (the ITA ranks 75 teams) in 2016. The Pack have made the NCAAs every year starting in 2012 and are a good bet to return this year, though they haven't made it beyond the round of 32 in any of those postseason trips.

Fun fact: Like women's golf, men's tennis has a serious international flavor, with eight of 10 team members coming from overseas.

Tennis (Women's)

The lady netters are not ranked by the ITA but are off to a 3-0 start that includes a win over then #42 William & Mary. Expect a meteoric rise to the top 25 soon after back-to-back top 25 recruiting classes in '15 and ‘16. Coach Simon Earnshaw won NINE! national titles, albeit on the DII level, at Armstrong State. Judging by the early recruiting success, he's another tremendous get for Dr. Yow.

Not-so-fun facts: Women's tennis has one NCAA tournament win this decade and hasn't had a winning record in ACC play since 1998, which was the only time they ever had one. Expect Earnshaw to change all that.

Track (Men's Indoor)

The men's indoor track team is a top 25 program, currently ranked exactly 25th in fact, because they have a guy who can do this.

Fun fact: Jonathan Addison's 8.17-meter jump is the longest IN THE WORLD so far in 2016.

Track (Women's Indoor)

The women's indoor track team is a top 25 program, currently top 10 in fact at 8th, because Nicole Chavis picked up a big old heavy weight and tossed it over 10 inches further than anyone else in the nation.

Fun facts: Wesley Frazier set the women's indoor 3K school record and nation's best collegiate time of 8:56.66 in her first race in a Wolfpack uniform. She's a transfer from Duke.

Track (Men's Outdoor)

Finished last season 44th in the natty...but hey UNC was 68th (tied with South Dakota). State was a disappointing 12th in the ACC championships, but hopefully this year's early indoor success is going to show up outside later this spring.

Fun fact: Some guy named "acc_10k" was the conference champion in, not surprisingly, the 10K way back in 1992.

Track (Women's Outdoor)

The ladies failed to score in the national meet and finished seventh in most recent ACCs. Again, the success of the indoor team in the early going would seem to portend a change in the right direction when the athletes head outdoors.

Fun fact: The 10 longest 20-pound weight throws in school history all belong to Chavis.

Volleyball

The once-moribund volleyball program finished last season 16-16 and 154th in RPI, which is unacceptable and refreshing at the same time. The program has come a long, long way since losing like 6,000 conference tilts in a row. (Fact checked that...the team won 35 conference games in 20 years prior to Bryan Bunn's tenure, including just one win in Muma's glory years). Bunn deserves credit for at least elevating the program to mediocrity, and he actually got the squad to the NCAA tourney in 2012 but couldn't build on that success. Linda Hampton-Keith, who like seemingly all Yow hires is lauded as a recruiter, is now tasked with further building the program.

Fun fact: Ashley Fliehr, daughter of The Nature Boy Ric Flair, graduated from NC State after transferring from Appalachian State, where she played volleyball. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wrestling

As you've noticed if you've been paying attention to BTP of late, wrasslin' is having a record-setting season. The Pack have a program-record 20 wins on the season against 0 losses and rank 3rd nationally. Six individual wrestlers rank in the top 18 in their respective weight classes.

Wrestler

Weight Class

InterMat/FloSports

Kevin Jack

141

3rd/3rd

Thomas Gantt

157

5th/4th

Max Rohskopf

165

4th/8th

Pete Renda

184

18th/18th

Michael Boykin

197

15th/15th

Nick Gwiazdowski

Hwt

1st/1st

"The Gwiz" has won 100 matches in his Wolfpack career, including the last 78 in a row.

Fun fact: Former NC State heavyweight champion Tab Thacker appeared in such Oscar-worthy films as Policy Academy 4 and 5 (I had not realized it continued beyond P.A.3) and Wildcats, where I believe he saw Goldie Hawn's boobies.

So...

Dr. Yow's hires and holdovers, with very few exceptions, have kept State strong where it has traditionally been strong, rebuilt programs that were once strong, or are building programs to national relevance where little or no tradition existed. Hoops and football will always get the headlines, but there's a helluva lot of good going on in the often thankless realm of non-revenue sports, and we should be sure not only to notice, but to support and enjoy it. Can I get an amen, Mr. Basinger?