Head over Heels
Ogden goes wild after Weber State's win over UNC
Posted: Friday March 12, 1999 08:10 PM
OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Cinderella wears purple, according to the sign welcoming visitors to the Weber State campus.
The Wildcats handed North Carolina a 76-74 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Seattle Thursday night. It was the Tar Heels' first opening-game NCAA loss in 19 years.
On Friday, the city of Ogden was celebrating.
"I'm just getting the color back in my white knuckles now," said Mayor Glenn Mecham, who watched the game at home with his family.
After all, Mecham said, Weber State is Ogden's team. About 70,000 people live in the city 30 miles north of Salt Lake City -- and the games at the Wildcats' 11,000-seat stadium are usually standing-room-only.
Some 500 students rode buses to Seattle for the game, said Weber State spokeswoman Melisa Holmes, who was fielding calls of congratulation all morning at her campus office.
"Since I came in at 7:30 my phone has been ringing off the hook," she said. "We've got banners on campus, our marquees are up, our web page is getting hit like crazy."
On campus, a hopeful checklist scribbled in chalk near the Stewart Belltower had Weber State playing Duke in a final standoff. At the Shepherd Union Building, students ditched their books and gathered to watch ESPN.
"They actually said 'Ogden' on national TV," said pre-law student Raygan Page.
Admissions and recruiting director Chris Rivera was thrilled about all the attention. He had already gotten a phone call from the family of one high-school athlete wanting information about the school.
"You can't buy publicity like this," Rivera said.
The last time Weber State was in the tournament, in 1995, the Wildcats stunned third-seeded Michigan State in the first round. This time, it was the third-seeded Tar Heels who fell.
Holmes said she was even taking calls from folks in North Carolina offering congratulations, she said.
Plus, there were well wishes from fans of other tournament teams, including an e-mail from a woman at the College of Charleston, a past Cinderella team.
"I wanted to send big congrats on your win over the Tar Heels. What a really great game to watch," she wrote. "I hope you go far in the series ... Good Luck, Go Wildcats!"
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