Local colleges: Weber State's Jay Hill named Big Sky Coach of the Year; Manning resigns from Utah

Weber State coach Jay Hill during a spring 2020 game at Idaho State.

(Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics)

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OGDEN β€” The breakthrough of Weber State football under head coach Jay Hill continues.

For the first time in his seven seasons leading the Wildcats, Hill was named Big Sky Coach of the Year. It was announced Thursday after a vote of the league's coaches.

Hill guided the undefeated Wildcats through a five-game spring campaign to their fourth consecutive conference title β€” and first outright championship in program history β€” with a 5-0 record. The 46-year-old coach is the first Weber State recipient of the Big Sky Coach of the Year since Ron McBride in 2008.

In his first full-time collegiate coaching gig, Hill has turned around a Weber State program in every way. The Wildcats are 52-30 under his guidance, including a 37-10 record in the last four seasons that includes four FCS playoff appearances and a 26-3 mark in Big Sky play.

Under Hill, the Wildcats are on a school-record home win streak of 11 consecutive games and have won 20 of their last 21 appearances at Stewart Stadium.

Hill was named Region 5 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association on Wednesday, and he's currently one of 16 finalists for the Eddie Robinson national coach of the year award.

Hill signed a two-year contract extension before the start of the spring season, with guaranteed compensation to stay in Ogden through the 2025 season.

Weber State will open the 2020 FCS Playoffs on Saturday against Southern Illinois.

Weber State running back Dontae McMillan runs for a touchdown against Southern Utah during the spring 2021 season. McMillan was named all-Big Sky co-freshman of the year Wednesday.
Weber State running back Dontae McMillan runs for a touchdown against Southern Utah during the spring 2021 season. McMillan was named all-Big Sky co-freshman of the year Wednesday. (Photo: Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics)

Wildcats claim 13 Big Sky honors

Weber State linebacker Conner Mortensen was named Big Sky defensive player of the year, and running back Dontae McMillan added co-freshman of the year honors as the Wildcats racked up 13 all-conference awards Wednesday.

Mortensen is the sixth player in program history to earn the award in a season where he posted a league-high 9.5 tackles for loss and averaged 8.8 tackles per game.

McMillan's breakout season joins teammate Josh Davis to earn top freshman honors, which he shared with UC Davis' Chubba Ma'ae. McMillan led the league in rushing touchdowns with five, and averaged 61.6 yards per game for 308 yards in the five-game spring season.

Davis led the Wildcats' all-league honors with a first-team selection for the third time in his career. The two-time All-American is joined by senior kick returner Rashid Shaheed, senior lineman Ty Whitworth and sophomore lineman Noah Atagi on the all-Big Sky first team. Three players also took first-team defensive honors, all from the Wildcats' secondary, in Eddie Heckard, Preston Smith and Desmond Williams.

Additionally, senior defensive tackle Sione Lapuaho, senior linebacker Sherwin Lavaka, junior defensive end George Tarlas and McMillan were all part of the all-Big Sky second team.

19-year head coach Manning resigns from Utah soccer

Late Thursday afternoon, Utah announced a change at the top of its women's soccer program.

Longtime coach Rich Manning will step down to pursue other career opportunities, Utes athletic director Mark Harlan announced.

Manning, who has been with the Utes for 19 seasons, finishes with a career record of 192-144-53 and eight NCAA Tournament berths. The Utes were 4-9-3 in the spring 2021 season, with a 3-6-2 record in Pac-12 play, a 5-1 loss to in-state rival BYU, a 2-1 overtime win at Dixie State, and a 1-1 tie with Weber State.

"After 19 years, it's time for a new adventure," Manning said in a university statement. "It's been a privilege to be the women's soccer coach at the University of Utah. I'm proud of the way we played the game and how our teams represented the University. I want to give a huge thanks to the great people in the department.

"I will be forever grateful to our soccer staff: Scott Halasz, Allie Wisner, Devin Zimmerman, Tom Iriye and Cody Lockling have been the best colleagues, and I'm a better person for having worked with them. Big thanks to my family, especially my wife Sue. Most of all I want to thank all of the wonderful women who have put on the Utah jersey and given their all for the Utes. They are the best of college athletics. I look forward to watching the team shine in the future."

Of the Utes' eight NCAA tournament bids, only three have come since 2006 β€” the last time Utah won an NCAA Tournament game. Just two of those bids have come since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, including a 4-0 loss to then-No. 12 Duke in the first round of the 2019 tournament.

BYU women's volleyball adds transfers from Utah, Santa Clara

BYU coach Heather Olmstead announced the additions of two transfers Thursday to the top-20 women's volleyball program in Provo.

Former Utah standout Kenzie Koerber, who graduated in December with a degree in communications, and Santa Clara libero Gretchen Reinert, who will graduate in April, will both be eligible to play for the Cougars in the fall.

"Both Gretchen and Kenzie wanting to be a part of our culture, and help our team grow and get better is good for our team," Olmstead said of the duo.

A three-time AVCA All-American and four-year starter at Utah, the 6-foot-3 opposite Koerber totaled 979 kills, 745 digs, 358 blocks and 78 aces in leading the Utes to four NCAA Tournament berths β€” including a sweep of BYU in the second round of the NCAA Regional in Provo in 2019.

The 5-foot-6 libero Reinert was the only Santa Clara players to play in all 124 sets of the 2019 season, and finished her Broncos career with 7-0 digs, 173 assists and 42 aces. A native of Orem who grew up in Dove Canyon, California, Reinert is the daughter of former Utah Valley State College basketball coach (and BYU assistant) Jeff Reinert, who recently coached at Santa Margarita Catholic High School.

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A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Walker has covered BYU for KSL.com since 2015, while also mixing in prep sports, education, and anything else his editors assign him to do.


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