A week into the new year, it is a great time for Hilltopper Nation to reflect back on the previous year-and what a year 2012 was for Western Kentucky University! From new coaches to historic wins, WKUSports.com looks back and marks some of the highlights that 2012 brought to The Hill.
- February 19-Ray Harper is named head coach for the WKU men's basketball team. Serving as an interim head coach since January 6, Harper was an assistant coach with the Hilltoppers for four seasons.
- March 6-After a rocky start to the season, the men's basketball team won four games in four days to claim the Sun Belt Conference Tournament title after overcoming a 13-point deficit to take a 74-70 win against North Texas and punch its ticket to the Big Dance.
- March 13-Playing in its first NCAA Tournament game since 2009, the Hilltoppers earned a first-round victory after coming back from 16 points down to defeat Mississippi Valley State University 59-58 in front of President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron in Dayton, Ohio.
- March 22-Michelle Clark-Heard is named head coach for the WKU women's basketball team. A former Lady Topper, Clark-Heard returned to The Hill after being a part of four NCAA Tournaments as a player (1987-90).
- May 1-WKU baseball defeated No. 18 Louisville 8-1 at Bowling Green Ballpark. With the win, it moved the Hilltoppers to 4-0 all time at the Hot Rods' stadium, as they tabbed two wins over Kentucky and two wins against the Cardinals. During those four games, WKU outscored the in-state foes 58-22 while averaging 14 runs per game.
- May 9-Todd Stewart is named athletic director for WKU. Stewart served as interim athletic director since March 22 but had been at WKU since 2008, including as senior associate athletic director since August 2010.
- May 11-With a 5-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe, the WKU softball team finished the season with its third 30-plus win season under head coach Tyra Perry and ninth in program history, as the team collected 33 victories in 2012. Perry now enters 2013 just one win shy of 300 in her coaching career.
- May 13-The WKU men's track and field completed the first men's triple crown in Sun Belt Conference history, as the team won the SBC Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Indoor Track Championship and Cross Country Championship.
- May 17-19-WKU hosted the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Regional at The Club at Olde Stone. The field featured seven conference champions and four teams in the top 20. The last time Bowling Green was a regional site was in 2009.
- May 23-27-WKU hosted the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament at Bowling Green Ballpark.
- June 26-Former WKU swimmer Claire Donahue punched her ticket to London after finishing second in the 100 butterfly finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials to make the U.S. Swimming team. She became the first swimmer from The Hill to make a U.S. team and the third Olympian overall.
- July 10-WKU track and field secured two former athletes to compete at the 2012 Olympics in London. Gavin Smellie represented Canada in the 4x100 relay while Raigu Toompuu competed with Estonia in the shot put.
- August 4-Claire Donahue claimed a gold medal with the 4x100 medley relay at the 2012 Olympics after swimming in the butterfly leg of the preliminary heat. The Lenoir City, Tenn., native was the first Topper to earn a gold medal in an Olympic event.
- August 23-Former WKU soccer star Libby Stout signed a professional contract with F.F. Yzeure Allier Auvergne in France, becoming the first player in program history to sign a professional contract.
- September 4-Big Red was honored as the first-ever inductee into the Capital One Mascot Challenge Hall of Fame.
- September 7-WKU women's tennis doubles team of Monta Reinfelde and Madeline Phillips ranked No. 60 in the ITA Preseason rankings. It is the first time a WKU tennis player has been ranked in at least 25 years.
- September 15-After senior quarterback Kawaun Jakes sprinted to the endzone for a two-point conversion, WKU football earned a 32-31 victory over in-state rival Kentucky to claim the program's first win over a SEC opponent.
- November 17-Cross country standout and SBC men's individual champion Joseph Chebet
earned All-American honors. It marked the 10th time in program history and second time since 1992 a Hilltopper received the recognition.
- November 17-The No. 17 WKU volleyball team won its second-straight Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Tournament title with a 3-0 win against North Texas in front of a home crowd. Throughout the regular season and tournament run, WKU only dropped one set to league opponents.
- November 30-The Lady Topper volleyball team added to its historic season by taking a three-set sweep over Loyola Marymount to win the program's first NCAA Tournament match.
- December 2-WKU football earned its first bid to a bowl game in school history. With a 7-5 record, WKU claimed its first bowl bid after joining the Football Bowl Subdivision just four seasons ago, as the team accepted an invitation to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
- December 10-Bobby Petrino named head coach for WKU football. Coming in as the 18th head coach in program history, Petrino brings a 75-26 career record with seven bowl appearances, including the 2011 BCS Sugar Bowl and 2007 BCS Orange Bowl.
- December 26-The Hilltoppers took on Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, Mich., the first bowl game in school history. Despite falling to the Chippewas 24-21, junior running back Antonio Andrews finished a historic season by breaking former WKU standout Bobby Rainey's season records, as he tabbed 1,728 rushing yards and 3,161 all-purpose yards in 2012. Andrews' all-purpose total also came in second on the NCAA all-time record for a single season.
- December 29-The pair of WKU basketball teams earned wins against North Texas, as the men won 70-64 and the women won 82-80. The victories marked the first time that both teams reached 10 wins before the new year while it was just the second time in school history that both teams started the conference season 4-0.
Along with those great moments, WKU is one of only eight teams to win a men's NCAA Basketball Tournament game in 2011-12, a Women's NCAA Volleyball Tournament game in 2012 and play in a FBS-level bowl game following the 2012 football season. WKU is also one of only 20 teams to win a Women's NCAA Volleyball Tournament game in 2012 and play in a FBS-level bowl game following the 2012 football season and one of only 25 teams to make the Women's NCAA Volleyball Tournament and played in a FBS-level bowl game following the 2012 football season.
With some great moments in 2012, WKU plans to carry the momentum last year brought into an even better 2013!