Shianna Falk was one of eight women's soccer players to earn CCAA All-Academic honors, helping the Pioneers collect 43 awards, nearly doubling last year's total. (Photo: Lara Brucker)
Following the completion of its first season as an active member in NCAA Division II, the Cal State East Bay Athletics Department had an unprecedented 43 student-athletes collect California Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) All-Academic honors on Wednesday. Now in their third year competing in the CCAA, the Pioneers nearly doubled last year’s total and had representatives from 11 of East Bay’s 12 CCAA-sponsored sports.
"We are extremely proud of the academic achievements of our student-athletes and this significant increase in the number of students honored by the CCAA," Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis said. "Our coaches are recruiting good students for our teams and then setting academic goals along with goals for excellence in competition."
To be eligible for CCAA All-Academic honors, student-athletes must have earned a varsity letter, have competed in one of the CCAA’s 13 sponsored sports and have a grade point average of 3.4 or higher while completing a minimum of 24 semester or 36 quarter units during the current academic year.
For the second straight year Pioneer women’s soccer led all sports, this time garnering a new high of eight awards, led by Capital One Academic All-District selection Tenaya Davis’ 3.77 grade point average. Joining Davis on the team were fellow seniors Carly Genzoli and Breanna Baker, juniors Kristen Elms and Shianna Falk, sophomores Katie Brawley and Donna Williams and freshman Alyssa Rodriguez. On the men’s side of the pitch, the Pioneers gained five honorees over last year with six selections. Leading the way for men’s soccer was sophomore Paul Dewhurst who posted a 3.87 GPA, while junior Tyler Andersen earned his third selection and was joined by sophomore Daniel Borst, freshmen Miguel Padilla and Christian Lara and junior Florian Reppin.
The women’s basketball team doubled its representation on the All-Academic Team from last year, boasting six players among the honorees after the squad also earned a spot on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division II Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. Freshman Hege Blikra posted a 3.97 GPA in engineering to lead the team, which also saw junior Taylor Smith, sophomore Brianna Terrance, junior Lauren Lucchesi, freshman Micah Walker and senior Frieda Li earn an all-academic nod, with Lucchesi collecting her third and Terrance picking up her second award.
Men’s basketball also showed a drastic improvement from last year’s list, garnering five selections after earning just one in 2010-11. Led by junior Jason Smith, who boasts a 3.76 GPA, men’s basketball also saw freshmen Tre Mauldin and Quinton Lilley, sophomore Rodrigue Maza and junior Vincent Capellino collect all-academic honors.
Matching men’s basketball, Pioneer volleyball also had five honorees, including junior Nicole Boyle who posted a 3.8 GPA to lead the team. Juniors Nikki Long, Faith Alliston and Kristin Neary and freshman Morgan Hirzel all joined Boyle on the team.
The softball team also doubled its all-academic total from last season, collecting four awards. Senior Jamie Yaller posted the second highest GPA among East Bay’s honorees with 3.98 and was joined by fellow senior Taylor Neumann and freshmen Jessica Machado and Taylor Newhouse on the All-Academic Team. On the other diamond, Pioneer baseball garnered three awards, led by Nolan Cassidy, whose 3.89 GPA was the best among the Pioneers’ male student-athletes. Fellow senior Andrew Woolfe and junior Felipe Carvajal also earned spots on the team, with Woolfe and Cassidy both earning their second straight nod.
After missing out on a spot last season, the men’s golf team turned things around in 2011-12, earning three awards for juniors Chris Herzog and Greg Atkinson and freshman Elliot Busichio. Herzog, East Bay’s Male Athlete of the Year, led the trio with a 3.86 GPA.
Rounding out the Pioneer contingent were cross country’s John Vergara and track’s Francisco Pulido and Ikay Mwanangele. In her first season as a Pioneer, Mwanangele led all honorees with a 4.0 GPA.
This season, Cal State East Bay made history in just its first season of eligibility for the Division II and CCAA postseason. Pioneer women’s cross country and men’s golf both competed at NCAA Regionals, with the golf team earning its first NCAA Regional berth in program history. Women’s basketball made the first CCAA Tournament in program history, nearly upsetting eventual champion Cal State Monterey Bay along the way.
Cal State East Bay became the first school in CCAA history to win both the men’s and women’s basketball Freshman of the Year award in the same season thanks to Micah Walker and Jacari Whitfield. East Bay also saw water polo's Claire Pierce claim the program’s first Capital One Division II Academic All-America honors. All told, the Pioneers had two postseason award winners, earned seven all-region honors, collected 16 all-conference awards and boasted eight conference Player of the Week honorees during a successful 2011-12 campaign.
I am very proud of our student-athletes for both their academic and athletic success," Cal State East Bay President Dr. Leroy Morishita said. "The achievement of an average of 3.43 [grade point average] in the classroom coupled with a successful season capped by making the CCAA Tournament demonstrates a combination of both intellectual and physical excellence and balance. The staff, coaches, and professors who ensure that our students-athletes are focused both on their team and sports as well as their path to graduation by offering wrap-around support are all to be commended."
UC San Diego led all CCAA schools with 86 All-Academic selections, while Cal State Monterey Bay was second with 48 honorees. The Pioneers’ 43 ranked third among the CCAA schools, followed closely by Chico State’s 42 and Cal Poly Pomona’s 41 award winners.
Cal State East Bay will open the 2012-13 campaign on Thursday, Aug. 30 when men’s soccer plays host to Colorado Springs at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Stadium. The opening weekend action continues when women’s soccer kicks off the season on Friday, Aug. 31 against Pacific College, also at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Stadium. Women’s volleyball gets the season underway at the Nanook Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska on Aug. 31 as well, taking on Notre Dame de Namur. The Pioneer cross country teams will also open the campaign that weekend, traveling to Golden Gate Park for the San Francisco Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 1.