Oklahoma Sooners: Looking back at the 2017 Sooner sports year

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02: Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on against the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02: Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on against the Auburn Tigers during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 2, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Year 2017 was another outstanding calendar year of Oklahoma Sooners sports.

As in most sports years at the University of Oklahoma, when all goes well in football, you can chalk it up as a thumbs-up year. The Sooner football team fell just short of capturing a national championship in 2017, losing in the College Football Playoff semifinals to Georgia in double overtime, but winning national championships isn’t something just reserved for football at Oklahoma.

The Sooners were the proud winners of four national championships in 2017. To put that accomplishment into perspective, most college programs are lucky to see a national title in any sport for years at a time, if ever.

The 2017 calendar year began with an Oklahoma football victory, a 35-19 drubbing of Auburn in the New Year’s Eve Six Sugar Bowl, completing an 11-2 season in what turned out to be Bob Stoops’ 18th and final season at the helm of the Sooner football ship.

Stoops’ retirement announcement in early June was arguably the biggest Oklahoma sports story last year. In 18 seasons on the OU sidelines, Stoops accumulated 190 wins, the most of any Oklahoma football coach in the school’s storied and celebrated football history.

Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley moved into the head-coaches spot and, to the surprise of many outside of the program, led the Sooners to a 12-1 regular-season record and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Quarterback Baker Mayfield became the sixth Oklahoma Sooner to be awarded the Heisman Trophy. Mayfield also was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was named Defensive Player of the Year in the conference.

The championship year began with a double-double in NCAA men’s and women’s gymnastics, with both the Sooner men and women sweeping to back-to-back NCAA Championship titles. For the men, its was back-to-back-to-back championships and their 11th all-time. The women have now claimed three national championships in gymnastics and the past two have been outright.

Seven Sooner men won 22 All-America honors in the 2017 NCAA Championship and All-American Yul Moldauer won the individual title in both rings and floor exercise.

The OU women’s gymnastics squad repeated as national champions in 2017 and posted an NCAA-record winning score of 198.3875. It was Oklahoma’s third national title in the previous four seasons.

Men’s basketball suffered a down season in 2016-17 after appearing in the NCAA Final Four the year before. The Sooners posted an 11-20 overall record and a 5-13 record in Big 12 play, finishing ninth in the league. It was OU’s worst season in six years under head coach Lon Kruger

 Sherri Coale’s OU women’s basketball team fared a little better, ending the year at 23-10 and a 13-5 third-place finish in the regular-season standings.

When we talk about the Sooner sports year, we would be remiss not to include wrestling, a sport in which Oklahoma has won seven national championships and 67 individual national titles. In 2017, the Sooners placed second to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship and sent eight wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.

Spring sports brought baseball, softball, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis and two more national championships.

The Sooner softball team reigned supreme for a second consecutive year repeating as softball national champions. OU capped off a 61-9 season with a two-game sweep of Florida in the Women’s College World Series. Sooner first baseman Shay Knighten was voted the Most Outstanding Player in the 2017 WCWS. For Patty Gasso and the Sooners it was their third NCAA softball championship in four seasons.

The OU men’s tennis team made it into the round of 16 in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships before falling to Ohio State. But the Sooners did manage to bring home a championship trophy with senior Andrew Harris and junior Spencer Papa won the doubles championship.

The men’s golf team took fifth place in the Big 12 Golf Championship and entered the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship as the No. 13 seed. No problem. The Sooner men, led by then sophomore Blaine Hale’s 11th place finish on the individual leaderboard, advanced to the championship round, were they defeated defending national champion Oregon.

Also in the spring, the men’s and women’s track and field team captured fourth place in both divisions in the 2017 Big 12 Track and Field Championships, the rowing team finished second to Texas in the Big 12 Championship.

The Sooner baseball team finished with a 35-24 overall record and 12-11 in the Big 12, finishing in third place in the conference.

OU had a strong showing in the majority of its 20 men’s and women’s athletic programs during the 2017 calendar year.

An NCAA national championship in any sport is a big deal, and when you win four in the same 12-month period, that goes down in category of “huge accomplishment.”

Another highly successful year for Oklahoma Sooner sports.