Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis.
It was an exciting May for us in the Athletics Department, as we wrapped up the 2011-12 season and got a chance to honor some Pioneer legends at our 2012 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. In addition, our men’s golf team made its first NCAA Regional appearance and we saw several student-athletes collect end-of-season accolades at both the conference and regional levels.
Following a successful season on the links, the men’s golf team earned its first NCAA Central/West Regional berth in program history and went on to finish 10th in a field of 20 teams at the event. Blake Ahlin was the team’s top golfer over 54 holes at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, Ariz., finishing 24th overall.
Among the many award winners this season for the Pioneers were baseball players A.J. Gallardo and Jordan Wilder, who were both honored as All-CCAA selections last month. In its first season under Head Coach Bob Ralston, the team capped the season with a series split with SF State, including a Senior Day sweep in Hayward. After going 6-1 overall with a 2.54 earned run average this year, Gallardo also earned ABCA All-West Region Second Team honors, becoming the second Pioneer baseball player to earn the honor since returning to Division II.
Joining Gallardo as all-region honorees were softball players Sara Holdridge and Taylor Neumann, who both doubled up on their All-West Region awards. Holdridge was named to the All-West Region First Team by both Daktronics and the NFCA, while Neumann collected Second Team honors from both organizations as well.
In addition, water polo player Claire Pierce was recognized for her efforts both in the pool and in the classroom, collecting her second straight Capital One Academic All-District Women’s At-Large First Team honors. Already the all-time leading scorer and two-time All-WWPA First Team selection, Pierce added her second Academic All-District honors last month after earning a 3.78 grade point average as a kinesiology major. Pierce is also now eligible to collect Academic All-America honors, which will be announced later this week.
We were so happy to get to honor our latest Hall of Fame Inductees: women's volleyball player Marion Champion, women's basketball and volleyball player Antoinette Goode, football player Don Sawyer, men's tennis player Jeff Southwick, track and field assistant coach Dr. Charles Harmon “Doc” Brown and men's tennis head coach John Nelson last month. Thanks to a great turnout from Hall of Famers, inductees, family and friends and alumni, the event was a great night celebrating six great Pioneer legends.
Though the season has come to a close, our student-athletes are still working hard in the classroom and we enjoyed honoring the best and the brightest among the Pioneers last weekend at our annual Student-Athlete Banquet. Golfer Chris Herzog and swimmer Jenel Lopez collected Male and Female Athlete of the Year honors. Herzog led the Pioneers during the regular season with a 74.48 scoring average, winning one individual title and guiding the team to its first NCAA Regional appearance, while Lopez ranked among the top 30 in Division II in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle, breaking school records in all three events while anchoring four record-breaking relay teams and guiding the team to its best-ever finish at PCSC Championships.
Volleyball player Morgan Hirzel was honored as the Pioneer Spirit Award winner for her dedication to and support of the athletics program this season, while Herzog and women’s soccer player Tenaya Davis were announced as the Cal State East Bay winners of the CCAA’s Hal Charnofsky Memorial Award for their academic and athletic achievements.
Each team and the Pioneer sports medicine staff also honored their top students with the Scholar-Athlete Award. Winners of the award included baseball’s Ed Rettagliata, basketball’s Jason Smith and Hege Blikra, cross country’s Chris Gallagher and Gabby Cruz, golf’s Chris Herzog and Linda Brown, soccer’s Tenaya Davis and Tyler Andersen, softball’s Jamie Yaller, track’s John Vergara and Nastassia Hamor, volleyball’s Katie Allen, water polo’s Marrina Nation and sports medicine’s Bret Gibson.
We also got a chance to thank and honor our 50 seniors, who have all helped to guide us into Division II and have helped make this first year as an active member a huge success. In particular, we honored our nine student-athletes who were four-year letterwinners for their teams, our last class to have made the difficult transition from Division III to Division II: Breanna Baker, Gabby Cruz, Tenaya Davis, Christine Gee, Breezy Johnson, Frieda Li, Francisco Pulido and Michelle Quintero.
Our first year as an active member was filled with excitement and great success, both on the fields and in the classroom. As we move forward to the 2012-13 season, I only see bigger and better things ahead for the Pioneers. We thank our fans and the campus community for all of its support this season and we wish all of Cal State East Bay’s graduating seniors good luck in the future!