The best: Three successful Mountain Lion teams

May 11, 2015
50 Year Issue

Brandon Applehans
bappleha@uccs.edu

Every so often, universities are blessed with teams containing larger-than-life players, coaches and an organization that backs them. For UCCS, three teams rank on the greatest-of-all-time list.

In spring 2013, the men’s golf team stood above the pack in the RMAC.

The Mountain Lions won the RMAC title, tallying a final team score of just five over par. The two leaders for UCCS were Kevin Witte, shooting six under par, and Eddie DeLashmutt with two under par.

Going into the championship, head coach Phil Trujillo said the group had something to prove.

“It was incredible, those guys were competitors and they didn’t like being picked fifth in the beginning of the year,” said Trujillo. “They took that to heart and made it their mission to win it.”

The team had great players, but to Trujillo, Witte and DeLashmutt stood out from the rest.

“Both are very special but the team had a lot of special guys,” he said. “Witte was one the best players we’ve had play for us. He knew how to win and it made everyone else better.”

“Eddie was capable of scoring even when he didn’t have his good stuff. Players like that are rare.”

That season, the team advanced to the regional and then national championship, finishing 10th in the country.

The 2014-15 men’s basketball team took flight in a similar manner.

In his third season as head coach, Jeff Culver led UCCS to their second consecutive RMAC Championship appearance. But they made history in the 2014-15 season when they won.

“It was a lot of fun coaching,” said Culver. “Especially with what has happened in the previous years leading up to it. Just the building process.”

The Mountain Lions defeated Metro State, the team that beat them in the championship in 2013-14, in 2014-15. UCCS won 82-65.

“The moment once you win, and it wasn’t until late in that ballgame, even though we won by a sizeable margin, that we really understood that we had won,” Culver said.

“The game was very intense, and that moment afterwards, getting people up the ladder to cut the net and looking at the sea of black and gold, it was pretty special.”

The team finished 27-6 on the year and won the program’s first NCAA Division II Tournament game before falling in the second round.

In the same season, 2014-15, the women’s basketball team had an unprecedented run.

In his first season as a Mountain Lion, head coach Shawn Nelson led the team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time and a sweet sixteen appearance.

“It’s very special because it’s never been done before, but all the credit goes to our basketball team because they had a decision to make at the beginning of the year of buying into what we wanted to do,” said Nelson. “They bought in and they really wanted to win.”

The team finished 26-7 overall. At the end of the 2014-15 school year, both basketball teams were honored at a celebration where the team banners were unveiled.

The 2013 men’s golf team, as well as the men’s and women’s basketball performances in the 2014-15 season, will forever go down as some of the best teams in Mountain Lion history.