Men’s tennis player Steven Chen ’18 was one of 125 Wesleyan student-athletes named to the NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team. (Photo by Christopher Winslow.)
The Wesleyan University spring athletic teams put a total of 125 student-athletes on the 2018 NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team on May 18, while 11 Cardinals earned All-Sportsmanship Team honors as announced by the conference office May 17.
To be named to the All-Academic Team a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.40. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of coursework at the institution.
Tufts ranked first in the conference with 157 athletes on the All-Academic list, while Middlebury checked in at the No. 2 slot with 131. Little Three rivals Wesleyan and Williams were tied for the third-most selections with 125 each, as a total of 1,165 individuals from the 11 NESCAC schools earned this honor.
The women’s crew team led the charge for the Cardinals with 19 honorees, while the women’s track and field program saw 16 players earn the achievement. Men’s lacrosse, men’s crew, and baseball each placed 15 people on the All-Academic unit, while men’s track and field (13), women’s lacrosse (11), golf (8), softball (7), women’s tennis (4), and men’s tennis (2) were all represented.
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The 2017–18 winter season was a historic one for the Wesleyan athletic programs, highlighted by the men’s basketball team winning its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, while Laila Samy ’18 of women’s squash, Caroline Murphy ’20 of women’s swimming and diving, and Isaiah Bellamy ’18 and Devon Carrillo ’17 of wrestling all earned All-American honors.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown:
Men’s basketball team guard Jordan Bonner ’19 earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors and was named NESCAC Player of the Week twice.
Men’s Basketball (22–7, 7–3 NESCAC) * NCAA Second Round / NESCAC Finals
- Set a program record in overall wins (22) and tied a program record with seven NESCAC victories.
Hosted first- and second-round games in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in program history.
Won the Little Three title outright for the second consecutive season and the third straight year overall, with a 3–1 regular-season record against Amherst (2–0) and Williams (1–1).
- Earned a second consecutive NCAA at-large bid and third tournament appearance in the past four years.
Defeated Southern Vermont in the first round, 101–71, for the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Head Coach Joe Reilly won his 300th career game on Feb. 9, 2018.
- Jordan Bonner ’19 earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors and was named NESCAC Player of the Week twice. He was also a CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team selection.
- Jordan Sears ’18 was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and Austin Hutcherson ’21 was named the Rookie of the Year. Hutcherson was also named the D3hoops.com Northeast Co-Rookie of the Year.
- Wesleyan led the country in total blocks (169) and ranked second in Division III in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a 37.2 shooting percentage.
Women’s Basketball (17–8, 5–5 NESCAC) * NESCAC Semifinals
- After going 7–15 overall a year ago, the Cardinals turned things around in 2017–18 and finished with a 17–8 overall mark and 5–5 NESCAC record to earn the No. 5 seed in the NESCAC Tournament.
- Defeated fourth-seeded Middlebury on the road in the quarterfinals, 63–62, before falling to top-seeded and eventual national champion Amherst in the semifinals.
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Laila Samy ’18 concludes her collegiate career in dual-match play with an incredible 83-1 overall record. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)
Laila Samy ’18 highlighted the day for the Wesleyan women’s squash team as she was named the 2018 Betty Richey Award winner Feb. 18 at Harvard. The award is the most prestigious annual honor bestowed by the College Squash Association (CSA). With another win on Feb. 18, Samy concluded her dual-match season with a perfect 24-0 record; however, the 21st-ranked Cardinals lost to 18th-ranked Tufts, 7-2, to finish fourth in the Walker Cup “C” Division of the CSA National Team Championships.
The Betty Richey Award is given to the women’s college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership. The winner is determined by a vote of both coaches and players—each varsity team casts one coach and one team vote.
Laila Samy ’18
The senior concludes her collegiate career in dual-match play with an incredible 83-1 overall record. She is a three-time First Team All-American and was named the 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year. She will have her eyes set on an individual national title when she competes at the CSA Individual Championships March 2-4 at George Washington University.
“Laila is at heart a team player and as a coach I could not have asked for more in Laila’s passion towards her teammates succeeding on and off the court. I consider her as an extension of the coaching staff and she has always gone above and beyond to help her teammates improve,” said head coach Shona Kerr. “Laila is well-liked and respected by other coaches, officials and players on other teams. She has grown as a player and as a person over her college career and will go on to be a great ambassador for college squash as she looks to pursue a career in the sport.”
Wesleyan Athletics Giving Days (WAGD) is a competitive fundraising initiative bringing together donors and volunteers in support of Wesleyan Athletics. For a week, athletic teams compete for the greatest percentage of donor participation for their sport. At the end of the week, the highest scoring teams—one men’s and one women’s—each win $5,000 for their most critical needs.
The program runs Feb. 21–28, 2018. Donors making a gift online or over the phone at 860-685-2110 increase their team’s overall participation percentage, moving them up the leaderboard. The WAGD website will be updated each day.
In addition to the winning men’s and women’s teams scoring $5,000 for their individual sport, if the number of participating donors exceeds 1,500, an extra $5,000 will be unlocked for Sports Medicine enhancements.
“Sports medicine is an essential part of the overall athletic experience for all Cardinal student-athletes, said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen. “Strengthening the Athletic Injury Care program to meet the needs of our athletes is one of many non-sport-specific reinvestment opportunities planned for Wesleyan Athletics.”
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(By Karl Ortegon ’18)
Gretchen Millspaugh Cooney ’83, who played field hockey and swam at Wesleyan in the late ’70s and early ’80s, recently returned home to Philadelphia after competing at the Ironman World Championships in Hawai’i. The race is synonymous with a super triathlon: swim 2.4 miles, hop on your bike and cycle through 112 miles of terrain, and finish it off with a 26.2-mile marathon. No breaks.
For the World Championships, one can only compete by first racing in a qualifying Ironman prior, and going fast enough at the qualifier to secure one of a few slots designated for one’s age group and gender. Cooney claimed her spot at the Ironman Maryland in 2016 to punch her ticket to Kona for this fall’s World Championship.
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The Wesleyan University volleyball team won its first Little Three title since 1992 on Sept. 30, as it swept arch rival Amherst College by scores of 25-15, 25-16, 25-14. Later in the day, the Cardinals defeated Stevens Institute of Technology in four sets (25-18, 30-32, 25-10, 25-23) to conclude the doubleheader sweep.
The Little Three title is just Wesleyan’s second in program history. Additionally, the win over the Mammoths is the program’s first since 2008, and it’s the Cardinals first sweep against Amherst in exactly 12 years to this day.
“It was great to win the Little Three Championship and meet another goal for the season,” said head coach Ben Somera. “Our execution in the Amherst match was the best it’s been all year, and we were solid in every phase of the game. It’s not easy to play well for a sustained period of time against two quality opponents. At times our focus and intention left us, but we were able to rebound and regain our form.”
Outside hitter Harper Graves ’21 was named the NESCAC Player of the Week for her stellar play during a 3-0 stretch for the Cardinals. In the two NESCAC victories, Graves averaged a .423 hitting percentage. Graves has played a huge factor in the team’s early success, as she ranks third on the squad with 2.50 kills per set.
Wesleyan continues to shine early in the 2017 season and is now 12-1 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the NESCAC. The Cardinals face off against Western Connecticut State on Oct. 5 in Danbury, Conn.
Read more details about the two matched in this Wesleyan Athletics article.
Head Coach Dan DiCenzo celebrates the Cardinal football team’s victory over Tufts on Sept. 23. The Saturday game was the second night game in school history.
Trailing by 14 with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, quarterback Mark Piccirillo ’19 helped orchestrate an incredible comeback as the Wesleyan University football team defeated Tufts University Sept. 23 in overtime, 24-17. The Saturday game was the second night game in school history, as the Cardinals picked up its first win of 2017.This is DiCenzo’s eighth season coaching, and third season as head coach in 2017.
Piccirillo found captain Eric Meyreles ’18 in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard score with :06 on the clock, and minutes later connected with senior Mike Breuler for a 14-yard game winning touchdown in overtime. On the Jumbos’ ensuing possession, captain Shayne Kaminiski ’18 sealed the victory with an interception.
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Matt Coan ’89, Mike Charlton ’89 and Jim Lukowski ’89 met in the late 1980s while students at Wesleyan.
The gridiron is the foundation where lifelong friendships are built. At Wesleyan, this bond between teammates started way back in 1881 and has only flourished since then.
It would be difficult to find a better example of the friendships Wesleyan Football produces than in the three captains from the 1988 team: Mike Charlton ’89, Matt Coan ’89 and Jim Lukowski ’89.
Charlton, a Connecticut native who grew up in Detroit, played four years on the defensive line as a nose guard. As if football and academics weren’t enough, he also competed on the wrestling team throughout his college tenure.
“You miss football a lot when the playing days are over because it’s not only a very fun sport to play, but it’s very much a team sport and a team sport leads to friendships that—in my case with Matty and Jimmy as good examples—last a lifetime,” Charlton said. “Those bonds are things that are created on and off the playing field.”
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The Wesleyan football team, joined by President Michael Roth, center, celebrates its Little Three title at Williams. Wesleyan won 59-14.
The 2016-17 Wesleyan University Athletics campaign will go down in the record books as one of the most successful years in Wesleyan Athletics history. Several programs notched their best seasons ever, while breaking numerous records in the process. In all, the Cardinals claimed two national championships, five Little Three titles, one NESCAC Championship, one semifinal appearance and one quarterfinal appearance en route to the No. 50 ranking out of 324 Division III schools in the Learfield Directors’ Cup – Wesleyan’s highest ranking since the standings were introduced in 1993-94.
Watch a sports highlight video below:
The Cardinals’ five Little Three Championships are the most since the 1992-93 season, and second most of all-time (Wesleyan won six overall in 1986-87).
The top accomplishments from the past year are broken down by season below:
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Aashli Budhiraja ’18, pictured here playing an opponent from Williams, was one of six women tennis players to be named a Division III Scholar Athlete by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Six members of the Wesleyan women’s tennis team, and four members of the men’s squad were named 2017 Division III Scholar Athletes, as announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) in July. In addition, both the men’s and women’s tennis programs earned All-Academic Team honors.
Michael Liu ’17
Representing the women’s team were Aashli Budhiraja ’18, Dasha Dubinsky ’18, Helen Klass-Warch ’18, Ella Lindholm-Uzzi ’17, Nicole McCann ’18 and Victoria Yu ’19. On the men’s side, Steven Chen ’18, Jonathan Holtzman ’20, Michael Liu ’17 and Jake Roberts ’17 all earned praise.
In order to earn ITA Scholar-Athlete status, a player must be a varsity letter winner; have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year; have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters (including freshman year through senior year).
Both programs also were named an ITA All-Academic Team for posting a cumulative team grade point average of 3.20 or above (on a 4.00 scale). All varsity letter winners were factored into the cumulative team GPA for the current academic year (including fall 2016 and spring 2017).
Former Wesleyan University men’s soccer player Danny Rubenstein ’17 and rising junior Tara Berger ’19 of the women’s basketball team, both won gold medals recently in their respective sports at the 20th Maccabiah Games in Israel.
The games were hosted at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium and featured roughly 10,000 Jewish and Israeli athletes from over 80 countries. Forty-three sports competed at the “Jewish Olympics.”
Danny Rubenstein ’17 won the gold medal as a member of the USA men’s soccer team.
Rubenstein—a member of the United States of America men’s soccer team— played in all six contests during the tournament and earned the starting nod after the second game. After going 2-1 during the round robin format, USA defeated Uruguay in the quarterfinals (4-2) and Israel in the semifinals (2-1) to advance to the championship game against Great Britain, who handed USA its only loss. However, USA responded with a 3-0 shutout in the finals to earn the gold.
Rubenstein is the second Wesleyan men’s soccer player to win a gold medal at the Maccabiah Games, joining Jared Ashe ’07 who won in Argentina in 2007. The team was coached by Wesleyan alum, Amos Magee ’93.
Berger ’19 won a gold medal as part of the women’s basketball team.
Berger—a member of the USA women’s basketball team—competed in all five games of the tournament and averaged 5.0 points per game as USA went 4-1. The team opened with a 101-71 victory over Russia, as the 6-1 forward dropped 11 points, but fell to Israel in its next game, 68-62. However, they responded nicely with a 72-36 rout against Australia as Berger scored 10 points. USA also went on to defeat Russia in the semifinal, 77-63, and avenged its loss to Israel with a 71-61 victory in the championship game.
Berger was also joined on the team by NESCAC counterparts Hannah Fox of Amherst and Ally Silfen of Bowdoin.
Eudice Chong ’18. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)
For the third consecutive year, Eudice Chong ’18 of the women’s tennis team was named the Division III Honda Athlete of the Year nominee for tennis, as announced by Executive Director Chris Voelz of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) presented by Honda.
“This past season has been a crazy ride, with our team trying to make small steps each day to improve our chances of coming up on top every match,” said Chong, the three-time NCAA Individual Singles Champion as well as the 2017 Individual Doubles Champion. “The camaraderie we have in our team is what keeps our team focused on reaching a common goal, and the support I get from them is phenomenal.”
Chong is the first player in NCAA Division III Women’s Individual Tournament history to win three-consecutive singles titles. She also captured her first DIII NCAA Double’s Championship to become the first player since 2004 to win both NCAA titles in the same year.
“It is nice to be playing at the Individual NCAA Championships knowing that my teammates will be cheering me on, but hopefully next year, we will be able to make the Elite 8 and compete as a team at the tournament venue as well,” she said. “It is such an honor to be nominated for such a prestigious award, showing that hard work really does pay off!”