Diaper dandies. Freshmen phenoms. Call them what you want, but one thing is clear – these 10 athletes wasted no time in making their marks on the Cornell athletic fields, writing their names in school and league record books and earning numerous honors and awards. Without further ado, here are The Sun’s best freshmen athletes.
Alyssa DePaola, Field Hockey
DePaola was a major factor in the field hockey team’s improvement from 3-13 mark in 2004 to a 10-7 record in the 2005 campaign. The attacker was Cornell’s lone first-team All-Ivy selection, ranking second in the conference in points (23), goals (9) and game-winning goals (4), all of which paced the Red. Her five assists were also third on the team and 10th-best in the Ivies. DePaola’s play led Cornell to a breakout season in which it set team records in goals scored (44) – the highest total in the Ivy League – and points (123), helping the Red to a fourth-place finish in the conference. DePaola was also a member of the 2005 NFHCA Collegiate National Academic Squad for her combined academic and athletic performance.
Adam Gore, Men’s Basketball
The only freshman in the top-10 in the Ancient Eight in scoring, Gore averaged 12.9 points per game – the sixth-best average in the conference – and set a Cornell record with 83 3-pointers on the season. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year made 42.8 percent of his field goals, had the third-best 3-point shooting percentage in the Ivy League (41.9 percent) and led the league in 3-point field goals. Gore started all 28 games this season, leading the team in scoring (12.9 points per game) and free throw percentage (42.8 percent), missing only 10 free throws all season. Gore was also second on the team in minutes (32.3 per game), and his strong overall play helped the Red to earn the league’s second-best scoring margin and fourth-best field goal percentage.
Dana Kendrick, Equestrian
Kendrick produced a record-setting first season, dominating the open fences and open flats. Despite inexperience at the college level, the freshman developed into one of the Red’s top-3 riders on the team. Riding in the Zone II championships as the Reserve Cacchione Cup rider, her tremendous performance earned her the title of Zone II Cacchione Cup champion, a feat never accomplished before by a Red rider.
Jeomi Maduka, Women’s Basketball & Women’s Track and Field
A two-sport athlete, Maduka was not only able to dominate in both sports, but she participated in them at the same time. Splitting the winter season between basketball and indoor track before focusing solely on track in the spring, Maduka set Cornell records on the track while becoming the women’s basketball Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Maduka led the women’s cagers in points (14.8 per game), rebounds (7.8), steals (1.75) and was second in blocks (15). She was the only freshman in the top-10 for scoring, rebounding and steals in the league, carrying the team to a fifth-place finish. On the track, Maduka already holds the Cornell record in the long jump (20-3 3/4) and the freshman records in the triple-jump (41-8 3/4) and 60-meter dash (7.60 seconds and No. 2 all-time at Cornell). Maduka also runs the 100-meter dash and is a member of the 4×100-meter relay team.
Belen Martinez, Field Hockey
Martinez was a rock for the field hockey team, leading Ivy League’s second-best defense, which allowed only 27 goals in 17 games, including only 13 in seven league games. The sweeper helped the Red give up 22 fewer goals and 154 fewer shots than it had the season before, garnering her second-team All-Ivy honors in the process. Martinez also showed an ability to make great contributions on the offensive end, getting involved with the attack and scoring vital goals. She ranked third on the team with six goals – including one game-winner – and was second on the team with 23 shots on goal. Martinez also had the Red’s fourth-leading point total with 13 on the season. Martinez, a member of the Canadian junior national team, was named to the 2005 Dartfish/NFHCA Division I All-Mideast Region second team, the second freshman in Cornell’s history to receive such an honor.
Maria Matos, Women’s Track and Field
Matos established herself as one of the top throwers in the Ivy League this past year in her first season with the Red. On April 2, she set a Cornell and Ivy League outdoor record with a throw of 168-10 to win the discus, qualifying her for the NCAA Regional championships. Indoors, Matos’ third-place finish in the discus and 11th-place finish in the shot put helped the women’s track team earn its fifth-consecutive indoor Heps crown and ninth-straight title overall, a feat never accomplished before in Heps history. She finished second at the Robert J. Kane Invitational in the weight throw, and has bettered the ECAC standard for the discus multiple times throughout the outdoor season. Most recently, she won the discus throw with a toss of 154-7 at the Big Red Invitational, a mark that qualified her for ECACs.
Troy Nickerson, Wrestling
The 125-pound wrestler was a force to be reckoned with for the nationally-contending Red. Nickerson had one of the best rookie campaigns in the history of collegiate wrestling, going 32-1 in the regular season and spanning more than two months without a loss. An All-American in his weight class, the rookie finished second in the nation after advancing to the title match of the 125-pound bracket at the NCAA national championships in Oklahoma City, Okla. During his run to the championship bout, Nickerson defeated two ranked opponents, including the tournament’s No. 1 seed, previously undefeated Nick Simmons of Michigan State, in the semi-finals. Nickerson’s phenomenal work ethic and natural ability have been praised by coaches and teammates alike, with his wrestling helping to inspire the team to its second consecutive top-5 finish in the nation.
Marie Parks, Women’s Cross Country
Parks made an immediate impact on the cross country team in her first season for Cornell, running her best late in the season when the results counted most. She was a consistent top-5 performer, steadily improving her results until she became one of Cornell’s top impact runners. By the time Heps rolled around, Parks was not only the Red’s top freshman, but she proved herself to be one its top scorers. She placed 24th at Heps with a time of 18:13.8, posting Cornell’s second-fastest time. Two weeks later, Parks paced Cornell to a seventh-place finish at the Northeastern Regionals, taking 28th overall in 21:47.4 – the fourth-fastest time of all freshmen at the meet. One week later, the rookie finished 10th at the ECAC championships (18:22.3) – the Red’s second-best finisher – to help the Red take home the title.
Meghan Risica, Softball
Risica was a mainstay in the outfield for the Red, starting in all 46 games she’s played this season. The first-year player’s six home runs, 25 RBI and 71 total bases paced the Red this season. She was Cornell’s second-leading hitter with 43 hits, and her .297 batting average, six doubles and four stolen bases were each the third-best figures on the squad. The rookie’s career started off with a bang, as she hit .385 with two home runs, five RBIs and one stolen base in her first four games. One of her best performances came against Syracuse on April 19. In a two-game stretch, the rookie went a combined 4-for-6 with one home run, one RBI and three runs scored – accounting for all three of Cornell’s runs in the series.
Max Seibald, Men’s Lacrosse
Seibald has been one of the driving forces in the offensive midfield for the No. 3 men’s lacrosse team. Despite his age, Seibald has been a key contributor on one of the top offenses in the country, playing significant minutes throughout the season and helping the Red clinch a share of a fourth consecutive Ivy League title. A two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week selection, he has a knack for coming through in the clutch, demonstrated by his five-point performance in the Red’s loss to Syracuse on April 11. Seibald’s 17 goals and 10 assists, both of which rank fourth on the team, are a testament to his versatility and prowess. The rookie’s career got off to a promising start when he had three assists in his first-ever collegiate game. He hasn’t looked back since, registering a point in nine of the Red’s 11 games this season – including the first five of his career – scoring two hat tricks and registering an equal number of career-high five-point games.
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Assistant Sports Editor