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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On May 2, the sixth annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner was held in Beckham Hall to honor top scholar-athletes in all 29 varsity sports.
Photos from the event are below: (Photos by Tom Dzimian)
Francine Rivkin ’78, a former five-sport athlete at Wesleyan and an ardent supporter of Wesleyan Athletics, was honored with the Athletic Advisory Council’s Cardinal Award. Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair of Physical Education, presented the award to Rivkin in recognition of her extraordinary contributions and dedication to the success of the Wesleyan Athletics program.
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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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The Wesleyan men’s basketball team hosted first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on March 2-3 for the first time in program history. Pictured is Nathan Krill ’18. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)
For the first time in Wesleyan’s history, the Cardinals not only hosted an NCAA Division III Tournament at Silloway Gymnasium but they also won their first-ever NCAA game, with a 101–71 triumph over Southern Vermont on March 2.
The Cardinals finished the season with a 22–7 overall record—the most wins in a single season for the program.
The unit was anchored by three outstanding seniors—Jordan Sears, Nathan Krill and JR Bascom—who helped lead the winningest class in Wesleyan men’s basketball history.
The No. 15–ranked Wesleyan University men’s basketball team cut a 21-point, second-half deficit to three midway through the final half on March 3, but No. 14 Swarthmore was able to regroup and claimed a 97–75 victory in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and success of college athletes.
Read more about the final tournament game and view a photo gallery in this Wesleyan Athletics article.
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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Maddie Bledsoe ’18 leads the NESCAC in rebounds per game with 10.8 this season. Both of her parents also attended Wesleyan. (Photo by Jonas Powell)
On the basketball court, there really is nothing that Maddie Bledsoe cannot do. The senior captain on the Wesleyan University women’s basketball team averaged 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds during her junior campaign, but during the 2017-18 season, she has taken the next step and become a truly elite, game-changing type of player for the Cardinals.
The evolution began with the versatile athlete becoming a dominant rebounder on both ends of the floor, increasing her boards per game to 10.8, which is the most in the NESCAC. Bledsoe corralled a career-high 21 rebounds, to go along with 18 points, during an 88-76 victory over Westfield State on Dec. 2 en route to earning MVP honors, as the Cardinals won the Courtyard by Marriott Tournament in Middletown, Conn.
Grabbing 21 boards once was not enough for the Newton, Mass. native, as Bledsoe accomplished the feat again during a 69-64 triumph at Connecticut College on Jan. 20. She also recorded her first career 20-point, 10-rebound game, finishing with a career-high 22 points and 10 boards during a thrilling 74-65 overtime win over Little Three-rival Williams on Dec. 9 at Silloway Gym.
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Several local grade-school children learned about the game of tennis during a sports clinic for girls held Jan. 27 in the Freeman Athletic Center. Wesleyan student-athletes and coaches taught the clinic.
On Jan. 27, the Athletic Department hosted its third annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration at the Freeman Athletic Center.
As part of the celebration, more than 50 female Wesleyan student-athletes and coaches led a sports clinic for local grade-school children. Seventy-three girls participated in seven sports sessions on softball, field hockey, tennis, lacrosse, crew, volleyball and soccer.
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The Men’s Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men’s health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.
This month, Wesleyan students, many affiliated with athletic teams, are raising awareness and raising funds for men’s health through the Movember Foundation. According to its website, the Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global level, with a focus on addressing prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It has funded over 1,200 men’s health projects in 21 countries.
Wesleyan has had an official Campus Representative with the Foundation for the past four years. This year Luke Forsthoefel ’20, a member of Men’s Crew team, is the Campus Representative for all of Wesleyan.
“The issue of men’s health is especially important to me because I think in a lot of ways there are societal norms and expectations put on men that can make it difficult for those who need help to get it,” he said. “There is a certain stigma around men asking for help and support when they need it, which is why I think it is so important to get people of all genders involved in helping men break this stigma.”
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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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