Palano and Waligorski helped direct UC San Diego to the most successful season in the program's 17-year NCAA Division II history this past fall, as the Tritons went 19-3-2 overall en route to the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season crown, CCAA Tournament championship, and West Region title. All were program firsts, with UCSD ultimately falling to eventual national champion Wingate (N.C.), 2-0, in the national semifinals in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 1.
Palano, out of Lafayette (Campolindo HS), is a general biology major with a 3.82 grade-point average at UCSD's John Muir College. A native of Szczecin, Poland, Waligorski majors in mechanical engineering and boasts a 3.63 GPA within Thurgood Marshall College. Both will graduate from UC San Diego next month.
Before utilizing their postgraduate scholarships, Palano and Waligorski are each currently pursuing professional soccer opportunities. Waligorski is starting for local side Albion SC PROS for the second straight season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Palano has trained with that side, also for a second year in a row, and been on trial with Reno 1868 FC in the United Soccer League (USL) as well. He is with the Southern California Surf of the USL Premier Development League (PDL).
Palano, a forward, was one of just three Tritons to start all 24 games in 2016, leading them with 19 points from a team-best six goals and seven assists, all career highs. He earned College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America Second Team distinction following Academic All-District honors for the second time, alongside National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-West Region selection. Athletically, Palano made the NSCAA and Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association All-West Region and All-CCAA second teams. He was the CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Offensive Player after scoring the overtime winner, his third decider of the year, in the final to beat Sonoma State, 2-1. Palano was later the lone UCSD representative on the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. For his four-year Triton career, Palano started in 40 of 59 games played, with 29 points from nine goals and 11 assists.
Waligorski started all 23 games he appeared in during the 2016 season, anchoring the fourth-best defense in Division II in terms of team goals-against average (0.52) from his position at center back while adding a career-best four goals offensively. He was a consensus All-West Region First Team and All-America Second Team selection for his senior campaign, his third as a Triton after transferring in from the University of Dayton. Waligorski was a CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team honoree as a junior in 2015, and an NSCAA Scholar All-American in 2016. He only missed one match that UCSD played during his three years, and started all 61 of those, with six goals. Two of them were game-winners this past fall, the latter in the national quarterfinals to send UCSD on to Kansas City. Waligorski was three-for-three in All-CCAA selections, and also garnered an All-West Region nod in 2014. He was named the 2016 CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Defensive Player.
The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically, and who are in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition.
The one-time, non-renewable scholarships of $7,500 are awarded three times a year corresponding to each sport season (fall, winter and spring). Each sports season there are 29 scholarships available for men and 29 scholarships available for women for use in an accredited graduate program.
For the list of 29 men who were awarded a scholarship this past fall, UC San Diego was one of just three schools, joined by Carnegie Mellon and Stanford, with two recipients. Notre Dame was the only institution with three, and the only other one, also within its men's soccer program, with two from the same team.
A total of 34 student-athletes have now earned the distinction of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship at UC San Diego, which has a rich tradition of both academic and athletic excellence.
NCAA POSTGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP MISSION STATEMENT
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage graduate education by rewarding the Association's most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports. Athletics and academic achievements, campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership are evaluated. An equitable approach is employed in reviewing an applicant's nomination form to provide all student-athlete nominees an opportunity to receive the graduate award, regardless of sport, division, gender or race. In maintaining the highest broad-based standards in the selection process, the program aims to reward those individuals whose dedication and effort are reflective of those characteristics necessary to succeed and thrive through graduate study.