Michael O'Brien

Class of ’89 Alumni Credit Wes Football for Friendships

Mike Charlton '89, Matt Coan '89 & Jim Lukowski '89

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.”

2016-17 One of the Most Successful Years in Wesleyan Athletics History

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, center, celebrates the football team's Little Three title at Williams. Wesleyan won 59-14.

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:

10 Student-Athletes Named 2017 Division III Scholar Athletes

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.

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).

Wesleyan Athletes Earn Gold Medals at Maccabiah Games

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.

 

Chong ’18 Repeats as DIII Honda Athlete of the Year Nominee for Tennis

Eudice Chong '18

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!”

Wesleyan Lacrosse Programs Win Little Three Championships

On April 8, Wesleyan’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams defeated arch rival Williams College to win the Little Three Championships outright. It marked the first time in the history of Wesleyan athletics that both lacrosse programs won the title in the same season, and it was the fifth Little Three crown by a Cardinals team this season, joining football, men’s basketball and men’s ice hockey.

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The women’s lacrosse team won the Little Three title for the first time since 1982. (Photo by David Andonian P’20)

The “Little Three” schools — Wesleyan, Amherst and Williams — first formally banded together in 1899 as the Triangular League. The League broke up briefly but reestablished competition in 1910, and has competed annually since then as the Little Three.

Last week, the women’s team defeated Amherst College on Wednesday at Smith Field, 9-4, and followed up with an 11-6 win on the road against the Ephs Saturday to win the Little Three Championship outright for the first time since the 1982 season. It also marked Wesleyan’s fourth title since the three-team rivalry began in women’s lacrosse in 1978.

On the men’s side, the Cardinals defeated then-No. 11 Amherst on the road Wednesday, 17-13, and followed up with a 13-7 home win against the Ephs Saturday. The men’s lacrosse program has now won 11 Little Three titles in the history of the rivalry, which dates back to 1961. It’s also Wesleyan’s first since 2013 and third in the last six seasons.

Wesleyan currently has five Little Three titles this year, matching the most since  1992-93. The most-ever won by the Cardinals was six back in 1986-87.

MensLacrosse_Little3

The men’s lacrosse team poses with President Michael Roth after its 11-8 win over Williams College to claim the Little Three title. (Photo by Matt Montanez)

Frosh Swimmers Compete at NCAA Division III National Championships

swimHannah O’Halloran ’20 and Caroline Murphy ’20 of the women’s swimming and diving team competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships, which were held March 15-18 at the Conroe ISD Natatorium in Shenandoah, Texas.

“Having two freshman swimmers qualify for the NCAA national championships is an incredible achievement,” explained Mike O’Brien, director of athletic communication. “This means that they’re among the top Division III swimmers in the country in their respective events.”

O’Halloran competed in the 200-yard backstroke event, where she was seeded eighth with a time of 2:01.62. In the preliminaries, she touched the wall in a time of 2:02.06, and went onto swim a 2:03.52 in the finals, which placed her 16th overall.

Murphy, who was seeded fourth in the 100-yard backstroke with a mark of 55.64, finished 11th in the preliminaries with a mark of 55.92. In the consolation finals, she touched the wall in 55.90 to place 13th overall. Murphy also won the NESCAC Championship in the 50-yard backstroke, prior to the national championship meet, to become the first Wesleyan women’s swimmer or diver to ever win a conference title.

In addition, both student-athletes were named Honorable Mention All-Americans.

Student-Athletes Honored for All-Academic, All-Sportsmanship

Rachel Aronow '17 is one of 10 student-athletes on the women's ice hockey team who received NESCAC All-Academic honors.

Rachel Aronow ’17 is one of 10 student-athletes on the women’s ice hockey team who received NESCAC All-Academic honors.

Ninety-four Wesleyan student-athletes were honored for their excellence in the classroom when the NESCAC announced its 2016-17 Winter All-Academic Team on March 9, while eight others were named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.

To be honored on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.40. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

The women’s indoor track & field team led the way for the Cardinals with 19 selections, followed by men’s ice hockey with 16, women’s swimming & diving with 11, women’s ice hockey with 10, men’s indoor track & field with nine, and men’s swimming & diving with eight.

Carrillo ’17 Named Connecticut’s Male Athlete of the Year

Dual-sport athlete and Middletown native, Devon Carrillo ’17, has been named Connecticut’s 2017 Male Athlete of the Year, as voted on by the Connecticut Sports Writers’ Alliance (CSWA). Carrillo will be honored at the CSWA 76th Annual Gold Key Dinner on April 30 in Southington, Conn.

Devon Carrillo, has been named Connecticut's 2017 Male Athlete of the Year

Devon Carrillo, has been named Connecticut’s 2017 Male Athlete of the Year. He has excelled on both the football field and the wrestling mat for the Cardinals.

The senior has excelled on both the football field and the wrestling mat for the Cardinals.

Carrillo is the first Wesleyan athlete to receive the prestigious award, which began in 1973 and includes past winners Dick Jauron (Yale football, 1973); Rick Diana (Yale football, 1982); Steve Young (NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, 1985); Craig Janney and Brian Leetch (US Olympic hockey, 1987); Marlon Starling (1988 World Welterweight Boxing Champion); Rob Dibble (Cincinnati Reds pitcher, 1990); and many others.

“This is a tremendous honor for Devon, Wesleyan and the city of Middletown,” said Wesleyan Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83. “He is an amazing athlete both on the football field and on the mat. After not wrestling for three years, Devon is now competing at a national level. This is truly a remarkable accomplishment!”

This season, Carrillo was named First Team All-NESCAC Offense at wide receiver/running back,

Men’s Basketball Wins Little Three Title

During the men's basketball game against Amherst on Feb. 7, with 1:01 remaining in the first half, Joseph Kuo '17 made the final basket as Wesleyan held a 30-29 advantage at the break. Wesleyan ultimately beat the Purple & White for a 73-72 victory and claimed the Little Three Championship. (Photo by Alex Serbetzian)

During the men’s basketball game against Amherst on Feb. 7, with 1:01 remaining in the first half, Joseph Kuo ’17 made the final basket as Wesleyan held a 30-29 advantage at the break. Wesleyan ultimately beat the Purple & White for a 73-72 victory and claimed the Little Three Championship. (File photo by Alex Serbetzian)

Wesleyan’s men’s basketball won the Little Three Title with a thrilling 73-72 overtime victory on the road against No. 8 Amherst College on Feb. 7.

Jordan Bonner ’19 knocked down a three-point buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime, and then hit the game-winning free throws to help guide the team to victory in non-conference action. With the win, the Cardinals snapped Amherst’s 32-game home winning streak and claimed the Little Three title outright.

The Cardinals, who shared the Little Three title with Amherst a year ago, won it outright for the first time since the 1990-91 season and the 15th time overall. Wesleyan snapped Amherst’s 32-game home winning streak, and handed the Purple & White just its sixth home loss in the past seven seasons (100-6 record since 2010-11). Additionally, the Cardinals have now won four of the past five meetings against their arch rival, and defeated Amherst earlier in the season at home, 73-59 to sweep Amherst for the first time since the ’90-91 season.

Tuesday’s win was Wesleyan’s third against a top-10 team this year.

“I’m very proud of our effort on the road, it was a big response after a very tough two point loss to Williams last weekend,” said head coach Joe Reilly. “This was our 10th road game in the past 14 games and our guys have learned to find ways to win when faced with adversity. It was a great win for our program – an outright Little Three Championship was one of our main goals at the start of the season.”

The “Little Three” schools – Wesleyan, Amherst and Williams, first formally banded together in 1899 as the Triangular League and since 1910, the teams (once referred to as “The Triumvirate”) have continued to play. The Little Three is believed to be America’s oldest, continuous intercollegiate athletic conference without a membership change.

The first 20 minutes of game action

Men’s Hockey Drafts 9-Year-Old Connor from Team IMPACT

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On Jan. 20, the Wesleyan men’s ice hockey team welcomed its newest member to the team, 9-year-old Connor Albert from Team IMPACT.

In April 2016, Connor was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones. The issues, however, started in January 2016 when a small limp continued to get worse. One day, while playing basketball, Connor fell on his hip and the pain increased drastically. Doctors found a tumor in his hip, which they thought was benign, until four different biopsies concluded it was bone cancer. He underwent hip replacement surgery in the fall and is still recovering from it, and is doing very well. He uses a walker or crutches to get around, and has chemo treatments that are week long stays in the hospital. He is also doing regular physical therapy.

Partnering with Team IMPACT, whose focus is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team, the Cardinals made Connor apart of theirs this month.

Hockey players visit Connor in the hospital.

Hockey players visited Connor in the hospital.

Prior to his arrival on campus, several members of the team visited Connor in the hospital. Among those were the leadership group consisting of Rob Harbison ’17, Marty Rubin ’18, Luke Babcock ’19, George Blinick ’19 Vince Lima ’19 and Matt Horton ’20.

“It means so much to our team to be able to brighten the life of a real warrior like Connor,” Rubin said. “He is constantly teaching us how to remain positive in the face of adversity, which as a NESCAC team recently finding our own success, that lesson has been an overwhelmingly helpful reminder.

Connor also reminds us to remain united because we play for something larger than ourselves. I would argue he is teaching us more than we are even teaching him, that’s how great of a kid he is.”

Stone ’17 Ends Wesleyan Football Career; Takes Advantage of Athletics Advantage Program

Jordan Stone '17

Jordan Stone ’17

Student-athlete Jordan Stone ’17 not only ended the Cardinal football season as tri-captain of the team, he also scored a professional career thanks to Wesleyan’s Athletic Advantage Program (A+).

Head Coach Dan DiCenzo says he was not surprised with the decision his team made to elect Stone as a captain. “Jordan is a special kid and has a presence about him. He works hard and leads by example. He is everything we are looking for in a student athlete.”

A 255-pound, 6’4″ athlete, Stone was named 1st Team All NESCAC in 2015 and 2016 and contributed to the team’s defense being in the top 10 nationally. He ended his Wesleyan football career with 81 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, five breakups and three blocks. The Cardinals ended their season with a 6-2 overall record and claimed the Little Three title,

Stone, who began playing football at the age of 8 in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., says he chose to play football at Wesleyan for many reasons, including the education it would provide him along with “the extensive alumni base that is willing to help you prepare for your future.”

Jordan Stone '17 and Jaylen Berry '18 participated in the Athletic Department's alumni mentoring program.

Jordan Stone ’17 and Jaylen Berry ’18 participated in the Athletic Advantage Program. After graduating, Stone will work for Endurance Specialty Holdings, Ltd. full-time.

Through the A+ Program, which combines individual training, mentoring, internships, career coaching, job shadowing and community service opportunities for student-athletes, Stone was able to spend the past two summers interning at Endurance Specialty Holdings, Ltd., a position which he found through alumnus Jack Kuhn ’86, whose son Matt also was on the team. Stone noted his time at Endurance has not only prepared him for post-Wesleyan life, but it has also benefited him on the field.

“In terms of preparation and attention to detail, those are two big things that I have brought over from the internship to the football field,” he said. “If there was a meeting and you weren’t prepared, you’d be lost. You need to know every detail, and that’s the same for football.” He continued: “When you are on the field, you need to pay attention to every detail; you need to be able to pick up on your opponent’s tendencies and capitalize on them. No detail is too small.”

Director of Athletics Michael Whalen says that Stone has shown tremendous growth over his time as a Cardinal and ended his football career gaining more confidence in his abilities.

“He had a commitment and passion to play. He loved to play. He’s always been focused on getting better, and was never complacent, and that’s not just on the football field, that’s in every phase of his life,” Whalen said.

Jordan Stone '17.

Jordan Stone ’17.

Like many student-athletes who complete their final sports season, Stone says he has accepted that he will no longer play on another team, but he is planning to volunteer some of his free time to his pop warner team, The Queens Falcons.

“It will be a great opportunity to give back to the program that introduced me to the game, and a chance to share my experiences among the young kids who have aspirations of playing college football,” he says.

After graduating, Stone will return to Endurance Specialty Holdings as a full-time underwriting trainee. “I am looking forward to engaging into this next chapter in my life,” he says.

For more information on athletics alumni mentoring, see this website.

(Lauren Dellipoali, athletic communication intern, and Olivia Drake, editor of The Wesleyan Connection, contributed to this article.)