Year five of the Chris Petersen era on Montlake is set to be an exciting one, and it’s going to start with a bang, as the Washington football team opens play against Auburn at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 1.
The Huskies have lost star wideout Dante Pettis, center Coleman Shelton, defensive tackle Vita Vea, and inside linebackers Keishawn Bierria and Azeem Victor, but otherwise return nearly every piece from the 2017 team that went 10-3 and earned a place in the Fiesta Bowl.
On offense, 2018 is set to be the fourth and final year of the dynamic backfield pairing of quarterback Jake Browning and tailback Myles Gaskin. Browning, who already owns the Washington record for career passing touchdowns, is just over 1,100 yards from the program career passing mark. Gaskin is already first in program history in rushing touchdowns and needs just 52 rushing yards to break the career yardage record.
Defensively, the Huskies return Greg Gaines, who turned down an early-round pick in last year’s draft to come back to Seattle, as well as leading tackler Ben Burr-Kirven and nearly the entire secondary.
A year after a season in which it returned its entire starting rotation, the Washington volleyball team finds itself in a much different position going into 2018. The UW’s returners combined for just 33 percent of the Dawgs’ kills in 2017 and just 17 percent of their aces.
Outside hitter Kara Bajema, who was third in kills last season despite missing 12 games with an injury, is back to lead the offense, along with Lauren Sanders, who earned Pac-12 all-freshman honors in her first season on Montlake.
Washington’s lone senior this season is Destiny Julye, who has been a rotational player throughout her career at the UW and logged 35 aces over the past two seasons.
The Washington men’s soccer team definitely has some pieces to replace from the 2017 team that went 12-7-1, but most of its pieces are back for another year.
The Huskies lose their scoring duo of Handwalla Bwana (now with the Seattle Sounders) and Elijah Rice, but the redshirt senior pair of Kyle Coffee and Scott Menzies returns to lead the UW attack.
Washington returns most of its midfield from last season, including 2017 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Blake Bodily, who led the UW with eight assists. The Washington defense is set to be one of the youngest in the Pac-12, with just one senior and no juniors, but goalkeeper Saif Kerawala is back for his second season starting in net, after earning second-team all-conference honors last season.
Graduation hit Lesle Gallimore’s squad hard after the 2017 season, with nine Huskies leaving the program. Goalkeeper Sarah Shimer, whose 0.68 goals against average was second in UW history to Hope Solo in 2011, leaves after setting the program single-season record with 11 shutouts. Up top, the Huskies lose Kimberly Keever and Shannon Simon who combined for 10 of the UW’s 19 goals in 2017.
There are pieces coming back, though. Taylor Sekyra, Jessica Udovich, and Lisa Jensen combined to start all but one game in 2017 on the back line and will lead the UW defense. Senior Pascale Dumesnil shared the team lead last season with three assists, and joins sophomore Sianna Siemonsma — the only non-senior in 2017 to score more than one goal — in the midfield.
The Huskies don’t have much experience returning up top, but are bringing in five freshman attackers to join the three returning forwards on the roster.
While the Huskies didn’t get a ton of team success last season, a few senior talents got their chance to shine in their final years as Dawgs last season. Amy-Eloise Neale and Colby Gilbert were Washington’s only repeat national qualifiers from indoors to outdoors, where Neale capped off a great season finishing fifth in the country in the 5,000 meters.
Neale had been the Huskies’ brightest star since the beginning, finishing national runner-up during the cross country season and breaking the school record in the 5,000 meters outdoors at the Payton Jordan Invitational by over 10 seconds. The 2018 season also saw the rise of Andrew Gardner, who finished fifth in the country in the steeplechase by the end of the year.
The bad news for UW track? All of those athletes have graduated, and Washington is breaking in a brand new coaching staff for the first time in 16 years. The good news is that new coaches Maurica and Andy Powell, once assistants at powerhouse Oregon, have assembled an accomplished and strong cast of coaches to start a new era of Husky track.
Washington also brings back some strong talent this season, including pole vaulters Chase Smith and Annika Dayton, sprinters Iman Brown and Ryan Croson, distance runners Emily Hamlin and Fred Huxham, and throwers Jose Padilla and Onyie Chibuogwu.
The best part of the Washington men’s basketball team’s 12-win turnaround last season, going from 9-22 in 2016-17 to 21-13 in 2017-18? It’s all coming back. Year two of the Mike Hopkins era will feature all of the pieces that made his first year so special, and has the UW’s sights realistically set on its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2011.
Washington surpassed all expectations last season, taking down three ranked opponents, including No. 2 Kansas on the road and No. 9 Arizona on Dominic Green’s last-second buzzer-beater in front of a packed house at Hec Ed. The season earned Hopkins Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors, the fourth UW coach to ever win the award.
Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle returns to lead the Huskies after setting the UW single-season steals record with 101 last year. So does Jaylen Nowell, who led all Pac-12 freshman in scoring, first-team all-conference forward Noah Dickerson, and the rest of the Washington starting lineup and core rotation.
All told, Washington’s returning players logged 96 percent of the team’s points, rebounds, and assists last season.
The Dawgs also add the fifth-ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12.
After losing the best scorer in women’s college basketball history, along with the rest of the pieces — including the head coach — to one of the best teams to play on Montlake, the Washington women’s basketball was due for a rough year in 2017-18. And it wasn’t easy sailing at all for the Huskies, who went 7-23 and finished last in the Pac-12 with a team that had to grow up real fast.
But now the women’s basketball team is in much the same situation as the men’s team is, with nearly everyone returning, and a year more experienced.
Junior Amber Melgoza is set to be the star of the show again for Washington. She emerged as one of the best pure scorers in the Pac-12 last season, averaging 19.7 points per game and only getting better as the year went on en route to first-team all-conference honors.
The Huskies also bring back starting point guard Jenna Moser, forward Hannah Johnson, and all but one player from last season’s active roster. Washington is also set to add three freshman, highlighted by 6-foot-4-inch Australian center Darcy Rees.
The 2018 Washington baseball season started out rough, but ended magically. After opening the season 7-8 and going a game under .500 in out-of-conference play on the year, the Huskies won their final five Pac-12 series, sneaking into the NCAA Tournament. From there, the Diamond Dawgs swept through their regional to advance to a super regional for the first time in program history and shocked Cal State Fullerton with an extra-inning, walk-off win in Game 3 of their super regional to punch their first-ever ticket to the College World Series.
This past offseason did hit the UW relatively hard. Washington loses its ace, Joe DeMers, who threw the first perfect game in program history early in the season. The Huskies also will be without Alex Hardy, the backbone of their bullpen, three starting infielders, and Joe Wainhouse, who ended the season as one of the hottest power hitters in the country.
But there are pieces returning for head coach Lindsay Meggs. Nick Kahle, who caught all but 17 innings for the Dawgs last season, and also hit .293 with a team-leading 20 doubles.
Washington also returns its entire starting outfield, including Mason Cerrillo, who led the team in batting average, and Braiden Ward, who led the Pac-12 in steals in his freshman season.
The pitching staff returns two starters in Lucas Knowles and Jordan Jones as well as all of its middle-relief arms.
The Washington softball team started the 2018 season on top, and it nearly ended there as well. Going undefeated in non-conference play for the first time in program history, the Dawgs spent nine weeks at No. 1 in the NCFA rankings, earned their second straight trip to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS), and made it all the way to their first Championship Series since 2009.
In 2019, the Huskies will be looking to take that one last step to ending up on top of the softball world.
They’ll have to reload and replace to do so, though. Washington loses all three starting outfielders, including Julia DePonte, who led the Huskies in home runs, and Kelly Burdick and Trysten Melhart, two of the fastest players in UW history who provided a spark at the bottom of the lineup.
The Huskies will also go on without starting third baseman Taylor Van Zee, the heart and soul of the team in 2018.
But there’s a lot coming back too. Shortstop Sis Bates is back for her junior season after putting on a performance in the WCWS that cemented her status as one of the best defensive players in America. Noelle Hee and Emma Helm are back after productive freshman campaigns. Morganne Flores will return from the torn ACL that kept her out all of last season.
Most importantly, the Huskies will welcome back Taran Alvelo and Gabbie Plain who combined to form one of the most formidable pitching tandems college softball has recently seen.
Arguably the team with the most success among UW Athletics, the Washington crews have had a strong last two years after the arrival of Yasmin Farooq to coach the women’s team. Under Farooq, the women’s team swept the NCAA meet for the first time ever in 2017, and in 2018 followed that up with a second place finish at NCAAs last season.
For the men, after an unprecedented run of five straight national championships, and then a disappointing fourth place finish in 2016, the Huskies rebounded to finish as the national runner-ups in each of the last two seasons at the IRA Championships.
This season, expectations will be high once again for both crews, but not without first dealing with significant losses from last season’s top boats. The men lose three seniors who rowed in their first varsity eight in the IRA Grand Final, and the women lose three from their NCAA Grand Final first varsity eight from last season.
Both teams also lose two seniors from their varsity four boats, and multiple seniors from their second and third varsity eights. Still, as a powerhouse rowing program, Washington is expected to compete for a national championship on both the men’s and women’s sides this upcoming season.
Reach Sports Editors Josh Kirshenbaum and Alec Dietz at firstname.lastname@example.org