Lopez and Zozaya were voted CSUEB's Female and Male Athletes of the Year. (Photo: Michael Chen/KLC Fotos)
The Cal State East Bay Athletic Department held its annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet in mid-May to recognize accomplishments for the 2012-13 athletic seasons.
Big winners at the banquet were senior swimmer Jenel Lopez, who captured her second straight Female Athlete of the Year award, and senior baseball player Kyle Zozaya, who was voted Male Athlete of the Year.
The greatest sprinter in Pioneer swimming history, Lopez holds school records in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle. She led CSUEB to a program-best second-place finish at the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference (PCSC) Championships and the school's first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Championships. Lopez was an honorable mention All-American for her finish in the 200 free. She also anchored the 200 free relay team, which placed eighth in the nation. She and teammates Caitlin DeNise, Erica Crain and Brittany Rojo earned All-America honors for their top-8 finish.
Zozaya was the leading hitter for a CSUEB baseball team that matched a school record with 32 victories and finished in a program-best fifth place in the CCAA. He led the team in batting (.348), doubles (20) and RBI (44), all of which rank in the top-5 in the conference. Zozaya was also tops on the team in hits and total bases, and he solidified third base defensively for the Pioneers. The senior was named California Collegiate Athletic Athletic Association (CCAA) and NCBWA West Region Player of the Week for Feb. 18-24. He was a second-team All-CCAA selection and was named second-team All-West Region by the NCBWA.
The other nominees for top female athlete were: Zuly Diaz, senior soccer player, who was named honorable mention All-CCAA and third-team NCSCA All-West Region; Sara Holdridge, senior softball player, an honorable mention All-CCAA selection who led the Pioneers in batting (.344), doubles (14), home runs (3), RBI (28), and on-base percentage (.431); Sara Hudyn, junior water polo player, a first-team All-WWPA selection who led the conference and set a new school record with 109 goals; Robin McClinton, sophomore cross country runner, who was the top finisher for the Pioneers at the CCAA Championships, qualifying for the NCAA West Regionals; Marlene MacMillan, senior basketball player, a second-team All-CCAA selection who ranked second in the conference in rebounding and led the Pioneers to a 15-7 CCAA record; Celina Vera, freshman track runner, the top-ranked freshman 5,000 meter runner in the CCAA and a nominee for Freshman of the Year; and Suzy Ni Xu, junior volleyball player, who was the team's leading scorer and earned first-team All-CCAA and CCAA Newcomer of the Year honors.
The male athletes nominated alongside Zozaya were: Paul Dewhurst, junior soccer player, who started every game anchoring the Pioneer defense and posted a 3.48 gpa in the classroom; Matt Fontaine, senior baseball player, who posted a 6-1 record with three saves, led the team with a 2.03 ERA, and was named honorable mention All-CCAA; Jose Gonzalez-Mejia, junior track runner, who ran the 5k and the 10k for the Pioneers and was also an excellent cross country runner, taking 15th at the CCAA Championships; Chris Herzog, senior golfer, who led the Pioneers with a 73.66 scoring average, won the NDNU Invitational, was twice named CCAA Golfer of the Week, and was an All-CCAA selection; Gabe Kindred, junior basketball player, who was the Pioneers' leading scorer at 11.3 ppg and ranked top-10 in the conference in steals (1.4); Charlie Sharrer, senior baseball player, a second-team All-CCAA and first-team Daktronics All-West Region selection, who led the Pioneers in both home runs and saves and was named National Player of the Week for Mar. 18-24; and Will Weekes, junior cross country runner, who was the top runner for the Pioneers in the fall and also ran both the fifth-fastest 800-meter time and the seventh-fastest 1500-meter time in Pioneer history.
David Larson, CSUEB's faculty athletics representative, presented the Hal Charnofsky Award, which is conferred annually by the CCAA upon one male and one female student-athlete from each school for exhibiting excellence in their sport and in the classroom. The 2012-13 winners were senior women's basketball player Lauren Lucchesi and senior men's golfer Chris Herzog.
The Pioneer Spirit Award, as voted on by the Student Athlete Advisory Council, went to junior women's volleyball player Morgan Hirzel.
The top academic performers on each Pioneers team were selected for scholar-athlete awards by the respective head coaches. Here are the 2012-13 winners, who contributed significiantly in competition and excelled in the classroom with at least a 3.0 gpa: Matt Fontaine (baseball), Kenneth Farr II (men's basketball), Lauren Lucchesi (women's basketball), Jose Gonzalez-Mejia (men's cross country), Megan Osten (women's cross country), Chris Herzog (men's golf), Arielle Swan-Smith (women's golf), Paul Dewhurst (men's soccer), Katie Brawley (women's soccer), Emly Montanez (softball), Alyssa Tenney (swimming), Gavin Ramos (men's track), Imani Heath (women's track), Nikki Long (volleyball), Julia Charlesworth (water polo), and Max Simpson (athletic training).
The annual awards banquet featured opening remarks from Cal State East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita. Attendees also heard from Kenneth Farr II, the new preseident of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, and were treated to a heartfelt goodbye speech from Will Biggs, the winningest men's basketball coach in Pioneer history, who recently announced his retirement.