April 30, 2008

The Sun Sports Staff Selects the Year's Top 15 Sophomore Athletes

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Each year, the Sun chooses the top athletes from each class. Below are the 15 best sophomores as selected by the members of the Sun’s sports department. On Friday, the Sun will reveal its choice for Athlete of the Year.
Louis Dale – Men’s Basketball
AP Honorable Mention All-American Dale did many things for the Ivy League champion men’s basketball team this year. The Birmingham, Ala., native was dangerous at the charity stripe, breaking the school record by making 52 consecutive shots from the line and finishing the season ranked seventh in the nation in free-throw shooting (89.7 percent).[img_assist|nid=30358|title=Louis Dale|desc=As a playmaking point guard leading the league with 4.9 assists per game, Dale showcases his athleticism as the Red’s leading thief (34 total) and a top rebounder and scorer, second on the team in both categories with 13.7 points and 4.4 boards per game.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Ryan Wittman – Men’s Basketball
Continuing his reign as the Red’s scoring leader, Wittman reached double digits in 24 of the team’s 28 games this season. The son of Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Randy Wittman especially excelled from beyond the arc, as he posted a team-high 78 treys with a 45.9 percent success rate. With 171 3-pointers after just two seasons at Cornell, Wittman already ranks fourth on the Red’s all-time list.
Elise Menaker – Softball
If anything, the third baseman and cleanup batter has picked up steam in her sophomore season after a standout performance as a freshman. After being second on the team last year in home runs with eight and breaking the Red’s single-season record for sac flies (five), Menaker seized the spotlight in the 2008 season. Though she started in leads the team through yesterday with 50 RBIs and 12 home runs (over a quarter of the team’s entire home run production). Batting .400 for second on team, Menaker started off the season with a bang, netting the first Ivy League Player of the Week award to be handed out.
Alyson Intihar – Softball
After playing several infield positions last season, Intihar has emerged as the starting shortstop this year. In the three-hole, her consistency at the plate has anchored the Red’s offense — she has struck out only five times in a team-leading 167 at bats. Though her .395 batting average is only fourth on the team, Intihar’s offensive production has been indispensable to the Red. She is third on the team in stolen bases with nine in 10 attempts, and has notched a team-leading 66 hits and 44 runs scored.
Colin Greening – Men’s Hockey
Throughout the 2007-08 season, Greening brought scoring magic to the men’s hockey team. In a victory over Dartmouth Feb. 29, he notched the Red’s first hat trick since Matt Moulson’s in 2005. The Newfoundland native and Ottawa Senators draft pick finished the year with his goal tally in fifth place in the ECAC, and he led the team with 33 points and 14 goals, as well as 19 assists. An All-Ivy second-teamer, Greening also took on the added responsibility of being a co-alternate captain with senior Doug Krantz. Greening’s leadership was especially evident in his teaming with freshmen Riley Nash and Patrick Kennedy for one of the Red’s top lines.
Ben Scrivens – Men’s Hockey
Scrivens won the starting spot in goal this year and posted a .930 save percentage, good for second in the ECAC behind Harvard’s Kyle Richter. With an aggressive style, Scrivens tallied four shutout victories, one of which was in conference play, on the way to All-Ivy honorable mention honors. In the Red’s ECAC playoff quarterfinals matchup with Union March 15, Scrivens’s career playoff-high 41 saves helped Cornell to a 3-2 win, which secured the team a spot in the semifinals.
Lauren Benson – Women’s Basketball
Cornell’s own Sue Bird ran the Red’s Ivy League-leading offense through the entire 2007-08 season, leading her team to a first-round faceoff with No. 1 UConn in the Red’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Benson stepped up her point guard play after attending an offseason point guard camp and led the Ancient Eight this year with 156 assists, 5.38 per game.
Ryan Hurley – Men’s Lacrosse
With just four points in ten games last year, Hurley’s 2008 incarnation has emerged as the clear leader of the Red offense — living up to his promise as a high school All-American incoming recruit. The attacker netted 54 points and 42 goals this season, 20 and 28 more, respectively, than his closest teammate in the standings, senior John Glynn. Hurley’s four goals and one assist led Cornell to an Ivy League title-clinching 11-7 win over Brown last weekend.
Brian Walters – Football
Walters likes to go the distance. Originally from Washington state, one of the corners of America furthest from Ithaca, the Red’s leading punt returner set new school records this year for punt return yardage with 345 yards in a season and 619 total in just a two-season career. Walters branched out this season — joining the receiver corps, he finished with a team-best 12.3 yards per catch and four touchdowns.
Stephen Liuzza – Sprint Football
When junior starter Nathan Ford went down with an injury late in the season, Liuzza took over the quarterback responsibilities, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 538 yards and finishing with five rushing touchdowns. The natural receiver, however, also tallied 196 yards for fifth place on the team.
Robert Cronheim – Men’s Golf
Cronheim has been one of the golf team’s most consistent top finishers. He was tied for fourth place with teammate Robbie Fritz when the Red won its first tournament of the year at the Delaware Invitational Oct. 7. He was then one of the three top-10 Red golfers in Cornell’s win the next week at the Big Five Invitational. In the last competition before Ivy championships, Cronheim led Cornell with a fourth-place finish at the Princeton Invitational. He tied for 20th place at the Ivy League championships in his home state of New Jersey April 20.
Drew Baustian – Heavyweight Rowing
Baustian is an integral part of the No. 10 men’s heavyweight team. The Iowa native is the youngest member of Cornell’s first varsity-8. The boat has experienced success ranging from an outing at the Pac-10 Challenge in California over Spring Break, when the Red finished with a .500 mark against nationally-ranked competition but trailed No. 1 Cal-Berkley by less than half a length at the halfway point of the race, to a home-waters win over well-respected Georgetown.
Natalie Gengel – Track
After setting four school records in the pole vault in her rookie season, Gengel finished second at the Penn Relays last weekend. That strong showing, however, was just the latest in a successful year. Gengel finished 11th at the ECAC championships in March. At the Cal State Northridge Invitational, which opened the Red’s outdoor season March 15, Gengel vaulted to third place with a 12-7 1/2 jump — qualifying for the second year in a row for NCAA Regionals, which will be held in a month’s time.
Matt Bouraee – Men’s Soccer
Playing in all 27 games, Bouraee is well on his way to making his mark on the men’s soccer program. The forward’s team-best 22 points on nine goals and four assists combined with the roughly-equivalent production of senior midfielder Brian Kuritzky to form almost all of the Red offense. In the Red’s 2-1 home opener upset of Colgate at Berman Field on Sept. 19, Bouraee sparked the offense with a second-half shot from 30 yards out for the first goal of the game.
Megan Mushovic – Women’s Volleyball
Though the volleyball team had a disappointing season, finishing 9-16 overall and 6-8 against conference foes, the Red could always look to libero Mushovic to dig the team out of trouble. Hailing from Coronado, Calif., the All-Ivy first team honoree was also crowned team MVP at the annual banquet April 5 after being a defensive mainstay for the Red since her rookie season. Having broken Cornell’s records for both digs per game (6.16, good for eighth in the nation) and in a single season (598), her 1,063 total digs put her on pace to pass the all-time record. In a five-game match against Harvard Oct. 12, Mushovic’s 50 digs in the match established a new school record and stood out as one of the premier performances in the country.