May 1, 2007

The Top 10 Freshman Athletes

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Ryan Wittman – Men’s Basketball
The son of Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Randy Wittman made his father proud in his first season with the Red, leading the resurgent basketball team to a heated, down-to the-wire race for the Ivy League title with rivals Penn and Yale. During his freshman season, Wittman earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year and joined senior Andrew Naeve as an All-Ivy second team pick. He ranked fourth in the Ivy League in scoring (15.6 ppg.) and showed deadly range from behind the arc, leading the conference with a school record 93 treys — 21 more than any other player in the league. With his silky smooth shot, Wittman ranked sixth in 3-point percentage (.431) and second in free throw percentage (.887) on the season. His 436 points set a freshman scoring record and is the 16th-highest total for any player in Cornell history. Maybe most importantly, however, was that Wittman rarely had a down night, reaching double figures in points in 25 of the team’s 28 games.

Louis Dale – Men’s Basketball
When 2006 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Adam Gore was lost for the season due to a severe knee injury, freshman Louis Dale rose to the challenge, filling the void at point guard left by Gore’s absence as well as could have been expected. The Birmingham, Ala., native joined Wittman as the league’s only six-time conference Rookie of the Week award winner, and was a legitimate candidate for Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Although Dale made his presence felt offensively throughout the season — ranking ninth in the conference in scoring (13.3 ppg.) — he had a knack for influencing every aspect of the game. For instance, Dale was also third in the Ivy League in assists (3.7 apg), seventh in defensive rebounds (3.7 rpg), and fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.11). Add in the fact that Dale had a higher had a higher 3-point percentage than Wittman (.468), and it is clear why this dynamic freshman was one of 2007’s top-10 freshman athletes.

Megan Mushovic – Volleyball
Freshman Megan Mushovic was a vital part of the Red volleyball team this season, helping the squad to its second consecutive Ivy League championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. She led the Red defense with her talent for keeping the ball in play, averaging an impressive 4.6 digs per game, almost 2 more digs per game than any other player. Mushovic also paced the squad with a .950 reception percentage, tops among starters on the team. Furthermore, the freshman displayed her talents throughout the course of the season, playing in the most games (101) and tied for the most matches (27) of any other player. For her efforts, Mushovic received three Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards, including back-to-back awards in the season’s final two weeks, as the team was fighting with conference competition for the Ivy title. She set a career high with 30 digs in the Red’s 3-0 win over Brown on Oct. 28.

Bryan Walters – Football
The speedy freshman helped the football team to an even .500 record in its 2006 campaign, including a 3-4 mark in the Ivy League. Despite catching only three passes for 33 yards, Walters made his impact felt in a number of games on special teams this season as the primary kick and punt returner for the Red. He earned Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week in the final week of the season due to his outstanding contribution in Cornell’s thrilling 28-27 win over Penn on Nov. 17. He had the biggest play of the game by returning a kickoff 88 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown since Justin Bush’s 87-yard score against Harvard in 1998. Walters also broke a 58-year-old record for punt return yardage in a season that game by returning six punts for 56 yards, giving him 274 punt return yards in just eight games. Walters also earned the same honor on Oct. 9 after racking up 173 all-purpose yards and recovering an on-sides kick in the Red’s 33-23 loss at Harvard.

Tony Romano – Men’s Hockey
Although the Cornell hockey team experienced a down year after coming one win away from making a trip to the Frozen Four in the 2005-2006 season, freshman Tony Romano is one reason for optimism concerning the team’s future. The Smithtown, N.Y., native was drafted in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils before ever stepping foot onto the ice and donning a Cornell uniform. In his rookie campaign, the speedy center played in 29 games for the Red, accumulating nine goals and 10 assists on the season, good enough to tie him for fifth on the team in total points (19) and tied for first among freshmen. Among those nine goals, seven of them came against Ivy League competition, which placed him tied for second on the team in conference scoring.

Colin Greening – Men’s Hockey
Much like fellow freshman Tony Romano, Greening was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the seventh round (204 overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-2, 195 pound power forward led the Cornell offense with 11 goals on the season, the first freshman to do so since Denis Ladouceur in 1999. He also added eight assists and was one of four players to appear in all 31 contests for the Red. In addition to posting two game-winning goals against Ivy League teams, Greening had three two-goal games — including two scores in a convincing 5-1 win over Clarkson on Feb. 2 — as well as two three-point games. He recorded two goals and an assist in a 6-1 win over Rensselaer on Feb. 10 and one goal and two assists in an 8-4 win over Princeton on Feb. 17. His 19 points placed him in a tie with Tony Romano for fifth on the team.

Chris Sachvie – Men’s Squash
The former top Canadian junior and the current U.S. Junior Open Champion, Sachvie stepped right into the collegiate squash scene by playing at the No. 1 position throughout the 2006-2007 season. The freshman accumulated an impressive 12-6 record in his first season, including wins in his final seven matches. In the NISRA National Championships, Sachvie won all three of his matches to lead his team to the Hoehn Division (B) title and a No. 9 national ranking at season’s end. He defeated Sadiq Madraswala of Franklin in the first round, Auloke Mathur of Amherst in the semifinals and Tucker George of Navy in the championships match – all in straight sets – to help his team to the title.

Rachel Wagner – Women’s Squash
Playing primarily at the No. 2 position, Wagner led the women’s squash team to the same result as their male counterparts, a B Division Title at the NISRA Championships and No. 9 national ranking. Wagner compiled a 9-8 record over the course of the season, including wins against all three of her opponents in the NISRA championships. She also was one of three players to represent the Red at the CSA Individual Championships, winning her first round match in straight sets before losing to No. 4 Kate Whipple in the second round to eliminate her from the tournament.

Alyson Intihar – Softball
Intihar made her presence felt early and often for the Red softball team this season, helping her squad to a 32-13 overall record and second place in the South division of the Ivy League standings for the second consecutive year — a mere one game behind first-place Penn. The infielder started in 44 games for Cornell and led the squad in many offensive categories including home runs (11), RBI (39), runs (35) and slugging percentage (.693). She also ranked third on the team with a .364 batting average and six stolen bases, good enough for second. She was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice over the course of the season as well as Ivy League Player of the Week on April 24.

Elise Menaker – Softball
Menaker provided head coach Dick Blood with a devastating one-two freshman punch in the middle of the softball team’s order this season. The third baseman accumulated very similar numbers to Intihar in 2007. Starting in 44 games, Menaker was second on the team in home runs (8) and RBI (32) to go along with a .326 average, 73 total bases and five steals in five attempts for Cornell. Her biggest single game came in a 12-10 win over Princeton on April 27, with the team needing a victory to keep its hopes for an Ivy title alive. Menaker responded with a 3-for-4 day, including two home runs and six RBI to lead her team to victory.