Jayme Pekarske was one of six Pioneers to earn WWPA All-Academic honors on Friday. (Photo: Michael Chen)
For the fifth straight year, the Cal State East Bay water polo team had six players named to the Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) All-Academic Team on Friday. The Pioneers saw Claire Pierce, Julia Charlesworth, Marrina Nation, Ariel Noriega, Jayme Pekarske and Meaghan Paschall all earn recognition for their work in the classroom.
Pierce earned her third consecutive academic award from the WWPA after garnering a 3.79 cumulative grade point average in kinesiology. The Perth, Australia native led the team in scoring with 87 goals, a total that ranked among the best in the nation. Pierce also became the most prolific scorer in Pioneer history, pushing her career goals total to 264 this year. The three-time All-American added 44 steals to move into second on East Bay’s career top 10 list and accounted for more than one-third of the team’s total ejections drawn this year with 96. Pierce adds the All-Academic honors to a growing list this season including Capital One Academic All-America and All-District recognition, an ACWPC All-America selection and her second straight All-WWPA First Team nod.
Charlesworth collected her second straight WWPA All-Academic honors after posting a 3.41 GPA. The sophomore also earned ACWPC All-Academic recognition earlier this month after finishing the 2012 campaign with two goals, 22 assists and 16 steals for the Pioneers.
An All-WWPA Honorable Mention selection, Pekarske posted a 3.12 GPA and earned her first All-America nod this season. The Riverside native ranked among the best in the nation in saves with 313 and save percentage at 57.2 percent and held opponents to eight or fewer goals 16 times in 2012, including six games in which the opposition scored five goals or less. She finished her career ranked second all-time at East Bay in saves with 662 in just two seasons in the cage for the Pioneers. In addition to All-WWPA honors, the senior collected WWPA All-Tournament First Team accolades and was named WWPA Player of the Week on Mar. 8.
Following her rookie season, Nation also added the WWPA honors to her previous ACWPC All-Academic nod. In limited action in the cage, Nation made 16 saves and added four steals and an assist. Noriega and Paschall joined Charlesworth as two-time honorees, garnering 3.14 and 3.04 grade point averages, respectively. Paschall finished the campaign with 11 goals and her 20 assists ranked sixth on the team, while Noriega posted two goals and two assists for the Pioneers in 2012.
Pierce, Charlesworth, Nation, Noriega, Pekarske and Paschall were among 62 women’s water polo players honored by the conference. Santa Clara boasted the most All-Academic honorees with 12, while Loyola Marymount garnered 10 selections and Cal State Monterey Bay led the Division II schools in the conference with nine nods. The honors also mark the fifth straight year that the Pioneers have had at least six players collect WWPA All-Academic recognition.
This season, the group helped guide Cal State East Bay to its best-ever finish at the WWPA Championships, toppling both Santa Clara and Cal State Monterey Bay to claim third place in the tournament. The Pioneers also posted seven wins against Division I opposition and 12 victories against conference foes.
Each year, the WWPA honors student-athletes for their academic achievements. The team consists of members who carried a 3.0 cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale), played in at least 50-percent of the team’s contests in the sports respective season and was classified as a full-time student who has completed a minimum of one semester or two quarters at her institution.