The 10 most significant developments this year in Tech athletics

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 08: Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets rolls out to pass during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers on October 8, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 08: Justin Thomas #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets rolls out to pass during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers on October 8, 2016 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

A look back at the most significant moments, developments and results in Georgia Tech’s year in athletics, listed roughly chronologically.

The hire of Todd Stansbury

He bemoaned his fate when Mike Bobinski left Georgia Tech after a three-year term. Given that Todd Stansbury was just a year into his job as athletic director at Oregon State, he did not feel that it was his place to pursue his dream job. But Tech and president G.P. “Bud” Peterson sought him out and, less than two months after Bobinski’s departure for Purdue, Stansbury, a proud member of the Tech class of 1984, was introduced to Tech fans at the Clemson game Sept. 22, 2016. (The game itself did not turn out so well.)

Stansbury has sought to invigorate giving, connect with coaches and staff and differentiate Tech in the recruiting marketplace. He has struck a lot of the right notes with his constituents.

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Volleyball team surges forward

In coach Michelle Collier’s third season at Tech, with a roster loaded with seniors, the Jackets finished 24-8, their most wins in a season since 2004. Finishing third in the ACC, they ended up just short of their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2009. Tech was led by outside hitter Teegan Van Gunst, a two-time first-team All-ACC selection, a recipient of post-graduate scholarships from the ACC and NCAA and a graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Explore 5 things to know about Georgia Tech’s surging volleyball team

Football upsets of Virginia Tech and Georgia

By measurement of point spread (14 points), the Jackets’ 30-20 win over No. 18 Virginia Tech was the biggest upset of coach Paul Johnson’s nine-season tenure at Tech, and it was accomplished on the road with backups at quarterback (Matthew Jordan), B-back (Marcus Marshall), center (Kenny Cooper) and offensive tackle (Jahaziel Lee).

The win followed an embarrassing defeat to North Carolina the week prior and began the Jackets’ season-ending four-game winning streak, the third of which was a second consecutive win at Sanford Stadium, a come-from-behind 28-27 win over the Bulldogs that will long be remembered for the heroics of Lance Austin and Qua Searcy, overlooked as prospects out of Lamar County High but playmakers for the Jackets.

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Justin Thomas’ senior season

Leading the Jackets to fourth-quarter wins over Boston College, Duke and Georgia, quarterback Justin Thomas carved out an indelible place in Tech football history as a clutch playmaker and dependable leader. He will certainly be inducted in the school’s hall of fame in due time. After a forgettable 2015 season, Thomas led a young Jackets team to a nine-win season with memorable play that statistics don’t encapsulate. Among his achievements – two wins at Georgia, two bowl wins and the first three-time captain in school history.

Explore Justin Thomas recalls five of his greatest plays

Jackets upset North Carolina, Florida State, Notre Dame

So unlikely was Tech’s New Year’s Eve upset of eventual national champion North Carolina that coach Josh Pastner didn’t believe it would happen even at the under-eight timeout. But the Jackets did pull it out, grabbing the attention of college basketball broadly and the ACC specifically. Tech followed it with upsets of Florida State and Notre Dame, the former a 22-point thrashing and the latter a buzzer-beater in front of Bobby Cremins and a host of former Jackets players.

It raised the possibility that Tech, in Pastner’s first season, could earn a most unlikely NCAA Tournament bid and helped put to rest doubts about his fitness for the job.

Okogie goes for 26 as Tech upsets No. 9 North Carolina

Explore 5 things to know about Georgia Tech’s win over Florida State
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Josh Pastner wins over Tech fans

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His start was a little rocky. On its face, the hire of Josh Pastner was curious given that Memphis fans were cheering his exit. But, Pastner’s first season surpassed all expectations, thanks to phenomenal defense and the development of Ben Lammers and Quinton Stephens and the astonishing play of Josh Okogie, earning him ACC coach of the year honors. Further, he won more points by seeking to connect with students and fans. The run to the NIT final was icing on a season that will be long remembered.

Explore Josh Pastner reflects on Georgia Tech’s ‘surreal’ ACC regular season

Women’s basketball makes run to WNIT final

After a disappointing regular season in which coach MaChelle Joseph’s team finished 10th in the ACC at 5-11 in league play, the Jackets achieved some redemption by making it to the finals of the WNIT, where they lost to Michigan in triple overtime. Tech beat Jacksonville, UCF, Middle Tennessee State, Alabama and Washington State to reach the finals. The Jackets return a vast majority of their production, including ACC freshman of the year Francesca Pan and the frontcourt tandem of Elo Edeferioka and Zaire O’Neil.

Explore Georgia Tech loses to WNIT title to Michigan in triple overtime

MaChelle Joseph explains why Georgia Tech is in position to climb

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Disappointing baseball season

Beset by critical injuries, a failure to deliver critical base hits and a preponderance of walks, coach Danny Hall’s team limped to the school’s first sub-.500 season since 1981. A perennial NCAA Tournament team through the vast majority of Hall’s tenure, Tech has now missed the tournament twice in the past three seasons. Hoping to bring back three likely weekend starting pitchers in Jonathan Hughes, Tristin English and Jonathan King, Tech got 28 2/3 innings out of them. Tech tied for 15th national in home runs per game but 83rd in runs. The Jackets were also 233rd in walks per nine innings.

Explore 5 observations from Georgia Tech’s loss to Georgia

Christopher Eubanks’ sterling season

Probably the most accomplished athlete on campus, Christopher Eubanks became the first Tech tennis player to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA singles tournament since 1988 and just the second in the past 50 years. Eubanks led the Jackets into the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament and was named the ACC player for the second year in a row (just the fifth player in conference history to accomplish that, and the first from Tech), an All-American for the second year in a row and the winner of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.

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Superior performance by women’s tennis team

There’s not much argument that coach Rodney Harmon’s team was the best on campus this season. The Jackets finished the season ranked ninth nationally. Along the way, they tied for the ACC regular-season championship and lost in the finals of the conference tournament championship to North Carolina.

Led at doubles by Paige Hourigan and Kenya Jones (24-2) and first-team All-ACC choices Rasheeda McAdoo (22-15) and Johnnise Renaud (24-8), Tech reached the NCAA round of 16.