LA JOLLA, Calif. - Another successful and historic year in University of California San Diego sports was celebrated Thursday evening as the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics held the 34th Annual Athletics Recognition Banquet at the Price Center's West Ballroom on campus.
With a capacity crowd of over 600 in attendance, the event honored Triton student-athletes for their athletic achievements, excellence in the classroom, and outstanding community service efforts over the 2017-18 academic year. The banquet also recognized exemplary coaches, staff, donors, and alumni.
Eight of UC San Diego's 23 teams won a total of nine conference regular season and/or tournament championships, including baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, women's fencing, women's soccer, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, and women's water polo.
Seventeen teams competed in NCAA postseason play - baseball, men's basketball, women's basketball, men's cross country, women's cross country, men's fencing, women's fencing, women's rowing, women's soccer, softball, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, men's tennis, women's tennis, men's track and field, women's track and field, and women's water polo. In addition, the men's rowing program earned an invitation to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) National Championships.
The baseball and women's soccer teams won NCAA West Region titles with the baseball squad advancing to the College World Series for the second straight season. The women's rowing Varsity 8 crew finished second at the NCAA Championships while junior Nicholas Rack placed fourth in the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. The swimming and diving program produced 23 All-America performances at the NCAA Championships and senior David Hadler earned All-America accolades for finishing 11th at the NCAA Fencing Championships.
Overall, 35 Tritons earned All-America recognition, while 135 were named to all-conference teams. In addition, four student-athletes were selected as a league player of the year or MVP including Zander Clarke (baseball), Kelsi Maday (softball), Natalie Saddic (women's soccer), and Dalayna Sampton (women's basketball).
Four UC San Diego coaches garnered league coach of the year honors: Denny Harper (men's water polo), Brad Kreutzkamp (women's water polo), Brian McManus (women's soccer), and Heidi VanDerveer (women's basketball).
Thursday evening, 12 Tritons were named UC San Diego Athletes of the Year: Brooke Campbell (women's rowing), Clarke, Paul Doan (men's track and field), Kayla Fedler (women's water polo), Hadler, Maday, Katie O'Laughlin (women's soccer), Christian Oshita (men's basketball), Rack, Saddic, Sampton, and Tanner Syftestad (men's volleyball).
Maday and O'Laughlin are three-time Athlete of the Year awardees, while Hadler, Sampton, and Syftestad are two-time winners.
O'Laughlin and men's tennis standout Eric Tseng were selected as Outstanding Senior Student-Athletes.
Eric Newman was the recepient of the Excellence in Coaching Award after leading the Triton baseball team to California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament and NCAA West Region titles.
Andrew Dirks (men's track & field) won the Karen E. Reis Award for leadership and campus and community service and Nolan Mac (men's soccer) and Taylor Tanita (women's basketball) took home CCAA Charnofsky Awards for academic and athletic distinction. Women's rowing earned the Léon T. Roach Team Spirit Award, while women's volleyball received the Team GPA Award for the highest GPA among all 23 of UC San Diego's teams.
Kendall Baker (softball), Malek Bashti (men's soccer), Mandy Che (women's track & field), Joshua MaKieve (men's track & field), Tseng, and Justin Zhang (men's tennis) each received a Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award for having the top GPA among all graduating seniors.
Finally, former men's volleyball player Andy Rupp ('04) was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award. A firefighter in Santa Barbara County, Rupp saved a woman's life during the recent mudslides in Montecito.
All of the team and individual successes added to what will be remembered as a historic year for Triton Athletics. In November of 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the Big West Conference and the entire athletics program will begin a four-year transition from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I in the fall of 2020. UC San Diego's men's volleyball team competed in the inaugural season of Big West action in 2018 and the Triton women's water polo team will play as a Big West member in 2019.
Athletes of the Year
Brooke Campbell, Women's Rowing
Zander Clarke, Baseball
Paul Doan, Men's Track & Field
Kayla Fedler, Women's Water Polo
David Hadler, Men's Fencing
Kelsi Maday, Softball
Katie O'Laughlin, Women's Soccer
Christian Oshita, Men's Basketball
Nicholas Rack, Men's Track & Field
Natalie Saddic, Women's Soccer
Dalayna Sampton, Women's Basketball
Tanner Syftestad, Men's Volleyball
Excellence in Coaching Award
Eric Newman, Baseball
Karen E. Reis Award
(leadership/campus and community service)
Andrew Dirks, Men's Track & Field
Léon T. Roach Team Spirit Award
Team GPA Award
(highest team GPA)
Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award
(top six GPAs among seniors)
Kendall Baker, Softball
Malek Bashti, Men's Soccer
Mandy Che, Women's Track & Field
Joshua MaKieve, Men's Track & Field
Eric Tseng, Men's Tennis
Justin Zhang, Men's Tennis
Distinguished Alumni Award
Andy Rupp '04, Men's Volleyball
Congratulations again to all of last night’s honorees at the UC San Diego Athletics Recognition Banquet! It was another great night to be a #Triton. Here’s to an even better 2018-2019! 🔱 #GoTritons pic.twitter.com/NfYjKI7wve— UCSD Athletics (@UCSDtritons) June 8, 2018