Chris Braier drives to the basket in a Lawrence basketball game.
Chris Braier '06 led men's basketball to unprecedented heights, including a No. 1 national ranking. 

In celebration of the 175th anniversary of Lawrence University’s founding in 1847, the Department of Athletics chose the top 25 moments in Lawrence sports history.

We’ve been counting them down over the past two weeks on the Lawrence athletics website—five at a time from No. 25 to No. 6, then individually for the top 5. All leading to No. 1: The 2005-06 men's basketball team, building on momentum from a deep NCAA tournament run the year before, posts a 22-0 regular season and becomes the No. 1 ranked NCAA Division III team in the nation.

Joe Vanden Acker, director of athletic media relations since 1999, led the project, seeking guidance from Rick Peterson, sports information director from 1979 until he moved into Lawrence’s Office of Communications in 1993 (he retired in 2019), and Kim Tatro, longtime coach and former director of athletics.

Mallory Koula kicks the ball during a women's soccer game.
Mallory Koula '12

“There were many events that were obvious choices, but as we started going through the first rough draft, we all added events to the list,” Vanden Acker said. “I kept coming back with more and more choices, and I considered making it a top 50 at one point. Instead, we included a pretty large group of honorable mention choices.”

Vanden Acker dug through records from the archives that stretch back to the 1930s.

“It was easy to come up with a lot of quality events, but the hard part was, how do you rank them?” he said. “We really looked at it in a few ways. One was the historic nature of the event. A first-time national championship, for example, or something that Lawrence hadn’t done before or since—winning three straight league titles in football or sweeping the conference titles in cross country. Two was the unique nature of the event. The first time Lawrence football was played on television, as Rick described what a huge deal that was when it happened, or Mallory Koula setting NCAA records in women’s soccer. Three was the impact the event had on the campus and the community. For me, that would encompass the craziness around men’s basketball in the last 20 years or the great success of football in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”

Sara Schye pitches in a Lawrence softball game.
Sara Schye '00

As it is with any list, the rankings are up for debate. That’s part of the fun.

“I think, in the end, we came up with a list that honored the great history of Lawrence athletics, and it was an amazing walk down memory lane,” Vanden Acker said.

Here’s the countdown …

Spoiler: We couldn’t contain the list to 25, so we gave 13 additional moments honorable mention status.

Dan Galante celebrates a defensive stop during a Lawrence football game.
Lawrence football was dominant in the 1980s.

No. 25: Lawrence football makes ABC-TV debut vs. Cornell in 1980

No. 24: Lawrence football beats Coe 14-10 in 1986 MWC Championship Game

No. 23: Lawrence women's soccer beats Aurora 2-1 for first NCAA Tournament win

No. 22: Aljay Wren and Nick Maxam team up for 99-yard touchdown pass

No. 21: Remarkable turnaround for women's basketball

No. 20: Jim Miller takes 12th at 1978 NCAA Cross Country Championships

No. 19: Basketball stars Kenya Earl, Brad Sendell chase scoring titles

No. 18: Cross country sweeps Midwest Conference titles in 2021

No. 17: Keven Bradley scores final 20 points for men's basketball in win over Ripon

No. 16: Men's basketball breaks 54-year drought by winning 1997 Midwest Conference title

No. 15: Football beats Ripon in final seconds to secure third straight Midwest Conference title

No. 14: Kate Leventhal runs to All-America cross country honors in 1981

No. 13: No. 1 Lawrence men's basketball team hosts 2006 NCAA Division III sectional

No. 12: (tie) Josh Janusiak runs to All-America honors/1950 cross country team eighth in nation

No. 11: Keven Bradley's buzzer-beater preserves perfect season and delivers Midwest Conference title

No. 10: Mike Gattnar wins NCAA title in epee

No. 9: Mallory Koula's 42-second hat trick

No. 8: 1967 football team posts perfect season

No. 7: Men's hockey pulls off epic comeback against St. Norbert

No. 6: Sara Schye pitches Lawrence to pair of NCAA Tournament wins

No. 5: Andy Kazik caps perfect season with NCAA wrestling title

No. 4: Jiayi Ling wins Lawrence's first NCAA title with victory in long jump

No. 3: Men's basketball makes run to Elite Eight in 2004 NCAA Tournament

No. 2: Football wins NCAA playoff game, earns berth in national semifinals

No. 1: Men's basketball ranked No. 1 in the nation and posts undefeated regular season