Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Best moments in UW-W athletics

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As the 2023-24 academic year comes to a close, so does the athletic year of one of the most competitive and successful Division III athletic universities in the country.

UW-Whitewater athletics contain many programs that set a standard of excellence, consistently finding their ways towards the top of national rankings. 13 of the 20 athletic programs across both men’s and women’s sports entered the top 25 in their respective rankings this year, with six of them finding their way to the top five. As some coaches and athletes describe it, the expectation of UWW athletics is to win.

With the conclusion of spring athletics inching closer, it’s time to appreciate the most fascinating, meaningful, and greatest moments in the 2023-24 season. The Royal Purple conducted a poll to determine the best moments across all athletics, and after gathering the opinions of 86 respondents, the people have spoken.

Through several program records being broken, deep NCAA tournament runs, and more, here are the 10 best moments across UWW athletics. The top five moments for each men’s and women’s sports have been compiled into one top 10 list.


  1. Men’s soccer breaks two program records in the 2023 season (30 votes, 34.9%)

The 2023 men’s soccer season was one of the most successful in program history. En route to a 13-1-5 season, the first one-loss season in their 45-year history, the team shattered two records. Goalkeeper Duncan Morgan kicked off the record-breaking by going 649 minutes without allowing the goal, surpassing the previous record set by Aaron Sesselmann in 2010 (469 minutes). He shutout teams in eight straight appearances before surrendering a goal to Loras College. The second shattered record comes from the entire team: most games without a loss to start a season. After head coach Tony Guinn and company broke the record in 2019 with 11 straight win-or-tie games, the team set it again by going 15 straight games without a loss. The team’s season ended with a penalty-kick loss to UC-Santa Cruz in the Coast-To-Coast Conference Championship, but the season was no short of memorable.


  1. Women’s tennis wins 17th-straight WIAC championship (40 votes, 46.5%)

The UWW women’s tennis team continued their dominating nature, as the 2023 season brought their 17th-consecutive WIAC championship. The Warhawks lost only two championship matches across the two-day tournament to score 60 points. While 17 straight championships can get repetitive, head coach Frank Barnes believed this season was one of the most memorable, stating that the championships were “one of the most dominating performances ever.”


  1. John Vodenlich wins 700th game as baseball’s head coach (45 votes, 52.3%)

While the season is not over, the baseball team has solidified themselves as one of the most successful athletic programs from the 2023-24 season. As of April 27 they are ranked No. 6 in the national poll, the Warhawks hold a 30-6 record going into their final series against UW-Stevens Point. Yet, their 17th win of the season set a historic milestone: head coach Vodenlich won his 700th career game as head coach of the Warhawks. A 2024 ABCA Hall of Fame inductee, his team defeated UW-Oshkosh 12-2 April 8 to reach the milestone. With the postseason rapidly approaching, Vodenlich looks to capitalize on a successful season and a program-record 713 career wins.


  1. Women’s basketball goes all the way to the Elite 8, defeating multiple nationally-ranked teams (46 votes, 53.5%)

The No. 6 women’s basketball team received three of the spots on this list, and the end of the season is the first appearance for this program. The team won their first three tournament games by double digits, eliminating University of Minnesota Morris, No. 20 Millikin University (Illinois), and No. 10 Hope College (Michigan). The offense was on full display in these three matchups, averaging 82.3 points per game, significantly higher than their season-average 70.2. They eventually fell to the reigning champion No. 3 Transylvania University (Kentucky), but the three wins are ones to remember.


  1. Women’s basketball starts season 17-0 with multiple dominating wins (51 votes, 59.3%)

From the end to the beginning. Head coach Keri Carollo and her basketball team dominated the beginning of the season, tipping off with 17 wins. The team began with 11 non-conference victories, including seven double-digit wins and two wins over ranked teams (No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan University and No. 23 Carroll University). They started off conference play with a 79-71 win over No. 11 UW-Oshkosh, then won five more before dropping their first game of the year to UW-La Crosse.


  1. Volleyball coach Stacy Boudreau wins 500th career game at the UW-Whitewater Invite (52 votes, 60.5%)

In 2023, Boudreau finished her 19th season at the helm of the volleyball program. As one of the most successful coaches in UWW history, she has reached many milestones throughout her career, including leading the program to a national championship and eight WIAC championships. But on September 29, 2023, she received one of the highest personal accolades a coach can receive: after sweeping Elmhurst University (Illinois), she collected her 500th career win. The team made it to the quarterfinals this season, putting together a 28-5 record and adding onto Boudreau’s resume as the second-winningest coach in program history.


  1. Aleah Grundahl closes collegiate career with many awards and broken records (54 votes, 62.8%)

Grundahl is not your typical athlete. In her five years with UWW women’s basketball, she put together many accolades and contributions that ultimately solidified her as one of the greatest athletes in school history. Her fifth and final season brought along some of the greatest recognitions of her career: Jostens Trophy recipient, WBCA D3 Public Player of the Year, WBCA All-American First Team, UWW career points scored record, and many others. Alongside all of the accolades, as head coach Keri Carollo puts it, “the greatest thing about her is her ability to create a family.” Her presence as a Warhawk will be missed.


  1. Men’s wheelchair basketball wins their 14th national championship (60 votes, 69.8%)

Despite not being recognized as an official NCAA sport, the UWW wheelchair basketball team is one of, if not the most successful programs on campus. They capitalized on a 24-5 regular season record by defeating the No. 1 seed University of Arizona in the NWBA National Championship, their first since 2016. Coached by two-time paralympic gold medalist Jake Williams, the program has won 14 national championships in its history. Three members of the team, along with three other athletes associated with UWW, are a part of Team USA’s men’s wheelchair basketball team, competing in the Paralympics Games of Paris 2024.


  1. Football wins two playoff games in Jace Rindahl’s first season as head coach (61 votes, 70.9%)

On February 13, 2023, UW-Whitewater named Jace Rindahl head coach of the football program. Despite the positive history of first-time head coaches throughout the program’s history, questions still arose on how the team would look in his first year. And Rindahl did not disappoint. Following a one-loss regular season and several consecutive top five appearances in the rankings, the team won two playoff games against Bethel University (Minnesota) and No. 12 Wheaton College (Illinois). Led by Alec Ogden’s nine touchdowns, the offense shined in these two matchups, scoring a combined 91 points. While the season came to an end in the quarterfinals, Rindahl and the Warhawks proved that despite new leadership, the success was there to stay.


  1. Football opens season with thrilling last-second victory over John Carroll (66 votes, 76.7%)

There was no sign of recency bias in this poll: the best moment from the 2023-24 season happens to be one of the first. In their season opener against No. 19 John Carroll University, football was in a must-score situation, down 20-23 with 4:45 remaining in the game. After several first-down passes from quarterback Alec Ogden, the team found themselves in the red zone with under a minute left. On 2nd and 9 at the 11-yard-line, wide receiver Nick Wind ran a fade route to the back-left pylon of the end zone, receiving the target from Ogden. Using great body control and ball tracking, the junior wideout hauled in the pass with one hand, giving the Warhawks the 27-23 lead. An interception by senior defensive back Thomas Wojnowski sealed the deal, giving the Warhawks their first of 11 wins under first year head coach Jace Rindahl in 2023.

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About the Contributor
Chase Keller
Chase Keller, Assistant Women's Sports Editor

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