2017 was a big year for NC State sports. It saw multiple coaching changes, some outstanding years from top players and multiple conference and national championships. Over the next three days, we’ll be counting down the top 17 Wolfpack moments in 2017 heading into the new year. Let’s get started with numbers 17-11.
(Note: While NC State had several noteworthy accomplishments outside campus this year, only the current accomplishments of NC State teams were considered. So while events such as four former NC State quarterbacks starting in the NFL and former wrestler Nick Gwiazdowski making it to the World Championships were great moments for the school, they won’t appear on this list.)
17. Elliott Avent wins 1,000: Starting things off is a landmark achievement for one of NC State’s most veteran and beloved coaches. Baseball’s Elliott Avent secured his 1,000th career win with a 13-0 drubbing of NC Central in April, making him the 15th active coach to accomplish the feat.
Avent’s 1,000 wins came at just two schools, New Mexico State and NC State, with 776 of them coming with the Pack. Avent has spent 21 seasons in Raleigh, having led the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament 16 times, including in 2017, and reaching Super Regionals four times and the College World Series once in 2014.
The longtime head coach’s 1,000th win was highlighted by two home runs from junior shortstop Joe Dunand, who would go on to be one of eight members of the Pack drafted in the 2017 MLB Draft.
16. Cravont Charleston shines at ACCs: True freshman Cravont Charleston had quite the showing at the outdoor track ACC Championships, where he was named MVP of the meet after winning both the 100-meter and 200-meter runs, and leading off the winning 4X100 meter relay team.
Charleston’s strong performance helped push NC State to a fourth-place finish at the meet. In the 100m, Charleston’s time of 10.07 was the second-fastest in school history. Charleston was not the only member of the Pack who impressed at ACCs. Freshmen Junpai Dowdy and Dylan Peebles, along with football-standout sophomore Nyheim Hines, were on the winning 4X100m team as well.
Peebles finished behind Charleston in the 200m, while Hines placed third in the 100m, with all three garnering first-team All-ACC honors. Seniors Megan Moye and George Parsons were also named first-team All-ACC at the meet.
15. Women’s basketball upsets ranked Seminoles, Blue Devils and Cardinals: The NC State women’s basketball team concluded an incredible 2016-17 campaign with a 23-9 overall record and a heartbreaking loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament. But there were plenty of milestones along the way.
The squad saw its first national ranking since the 2013-14 season, thanks to upsets at No. 6 Florida State, at No. 9 Louisville and No. 12 Duke in Reynolds Coliseum.
The Pack also received a plethora of end-of-season awards for its accomplishments. Head coach Wes Moore was named ACC Coach of the Year and a semifinalist for Naismith women’s college Coach of the Year. Senior guards Miah Spencer, who sunk the game-winning basket in the victory over Louisville, and Dominique Wilson both received first-team All-ACC honors.
14. Pack women’s soccer hosts NCAA tournament match: For the first time in program history, the NC State women’s soccer team hosted an NCAA tournament match at Dail Soccer Stadium. The Wolfpack showed out by crushing Arkansas, 4-1, backed by two goals from sophomore midfielder Tziarra King.
NC State would fall in the next round to Princeton in penalty kicks but the Pack had plenty to be proud of. Head coach Tim Santoro’s team finished 21st in the final United Soccer Coaches poll, and finished with a 15-5-2 record and a 6-3-1 ACC record.
13. Women’s cross country brings home 23rd ACC title: The first of a couple conference titles to appear on this list, NC State women’s cross country continued its dominant run this fall, winning the ACC Championship for the 23rd time in program history. The Pack finished the meet with 43 points in the women’s 6K, with that score beating every other team by 43 points. The Pack was led by the All-ACC quintet of redshirt freshman Dominique Clairmonte, sophomore Beth Taye, sophomore Elly Henes, redshirt junior Rachel Koon and junior Ryen Frazier. Clairmonte, Henes and Koon had particularly strong days, coming in third, fourth and fifth in the 6K, respectively.
The Pack went on to finish eighth at NCAA Nationals with 280 points in the 6K, led by Henes, who finished 32nd with a time of 20:07.62, claiming its third-straight, top-10 national finish. For all of NC State women’s cross country’s success this year, head coach Laurie Henes was named ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year.
12. Kozeniesky, Philips receive All-American honors: For the first time since 1974, the NC State rifle team had two athletes named All-Americans. Graduate Lauren Phillips and senior Lucas Kozeniesky were honored by the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association and the National Rifle Association.
Kozeniesky earned an NRA first-team selection in the air rifle and a second-team selection in smallbore. Phillips was named to the second-team in air rifle and was an honorable mention from the CRCA.
11. Dennis Smith Jr.’s triple-doubles: Though the NC State men’s basketball team flopped in the 2016-17 season, freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was nothing short of spectacular.
The eventual No. 9 overall draft pick in the 2017 NBA draft registered two triple-doubles, both at PNC Arena. The first came in an upset of then-No. 21 Virginia Tech where the Fayetteville, NC native recorded 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds on Jan. 4. The second came in a losing effort against Syracuse on Feb. 1, notching 13 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds.
Smith joined Wolfpack great Julius Hodge as the only other player in program history to record a triple-double. As for the ACC, only other three players have recorded two triple-doubles in a season, and Smith is the only player in conference history to record two triple-doubles against league opponents in an entire career — and he did it within a one-month span.