May 3, 2008

A Retrospective: The Sun Names the Top-25 Senior Athletes

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Each year, the Sun chooses the top athletes from each class. Below are the 25 best seniors as selected by the members of the Sun’s Sports Department. In addition, the Sun has named several honorable mentions. Among the staff’s picks were Senior Topher Scott of the men’s hockey team, John Glynn of the men’s lacrosse team, Jenna Campagnolo of the women’s softball team and Ryan Blessing of the football team. Jeomi Maduka of the women’s basketball and track teams was named athlete of the year.

Courtney Farrell – W. Lacrosse
The question should be what has Courtney Farrell not done in her four-year career? Farrell’s most obvious accomplishment is breaking the Cornell women’s lacrosse record for most points in a career. With one game remaining in her career, Farrell has tallied 210 points, surpassing the previous record of 204. Along the way to that distinguished mark, she eclipsed the record for career assists and assists in a single season. Last year, she came within two points of tying the record for points in a single season. Without question, she is one of the most productive lacrosse players in Cornell history, and would have been a very good choice for Athlete of the Year.

Topher Scott – M. Hockey
Scott has been a fan favorite, and a face of the men’s hockey team since netting an overtime game-winner against Clarkson in the second round of the ECAC Playoffs his freshman year. He played in all 137 possible games he could have in his four years at Cornell while accumulating 107 total points. This year, serving as a co-captain, Scott set a career high in points, with 30, and goals, with 10. Listed at 5-6 in the Media Guide, Scott has spent the second semester of his senior year playing with the Elmira Jackals, and will look to break in with an NHL team sometime in the future. [img_assist|nid=30566|title=Band of brothers|desc=Senior co-captain Topher Scott (26) scored 107 career points, just one of the senior class’s accomplishments.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]

Jenn Meunier – Softball
Meunier has been Cornell’s version of Jenny Finch the past four years. She compiled 17, 17 and 19 wins in each of her four seasons with a cumulative ERA of 2.22 — hard numbers to top. But Meunier did just that, as she was nearly unhittable most of the season. Going into the final weekend of play, Meunier sported a sparkling 1.63 ERA and a nearly unblemished 19-1 record. Although she got touched up a bit, she finished the season with 20 wins and a 2.17 ERA. The 20 wins were good enough to tie her for best in the Ivy League, although she had 10 fewer appearances than her co-leader. Meunier’s four-year dominance made her one of a few players who were in consideration for Athlete of the Year.

Jenna Campagnolo – Softball
Campagnolo hit 20 points better than the next best batter in the Ivy League. Campagnolo didn’t hit for average, despite finishing at .423. She also swatted 10 home runs, drove in 51 base runners and collected 112 total bases, all second best on the team. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Campagnolo also had the fewest strikeouts among the Red’s regulars. Her stellar season capped off a career that saw her amass nine home runs, 75 RBIs, and bat a cumulative .316. Her senior year made those numbers look pedestrian, however.

Ray Sawada – M. Hockey
Like his fellow co-captain, Topher Scott, Sawada has never missed a game in his Cornell career. He has been a stalwart on the offensive end the past two seasons, but really emerged this year with career highs in points (26), goals (10) and assists (16). Sawada opted to come to Cornell instead of entering the NHL after the Dallas Stars selected him in the second round. In his four years, Sawada was both a valuable member of the attack and of the power play unit. The senior scored 14 of his 31 career goals in man-up play. After graduation, Sawada will head back to Dallas where he signed a two-year entry-level contract.

Brian Kaufman – Baseball
Although Kaufman’s batting average has dropped the past two seasons, he found himself in some elite company by the end of this season. Kaufman came within one home run of tying the record for career home runs. Kaufman also finished one RBI short of the 100 plateau and came to the record for career doubles.

Caliegh Beerworth – W. Hockey
Beerworth, serving as captain, was a large part of the women hockey’s team’s resurgence this year. She nearly doubled her points from last year (14 to 30), finishing with 12 goals and 18 assists, good for ninth in the Ivy League in overall scoring. He point total was second on the team, but Beerworth was the most efficient of the Red’s main attackers, connecting on 13.6 percent of her shots. Her 30 points represented somewhat of a comeback year for Beerworth as she had dropped from 21 points as a sophomore to 14 as a junior.

Ryan Blessing – Football
For the second year in a row, Blessing anchored the linebacking crew and continued to show his ability to swarm to the ball and break through the offensive line. Lempa finished second on the team with 74 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. During his junior year, Blessing led the Red with 70 tackles, six of them for a loss, and five sacks. For his effort, Lempa was named as an honorable mention on the All-Ivy squad. Blessing is known as a relentless and high-energy player.

Katherine Simmons – W. Lacrosse
Simmons is one of the best two-way midfielders in the collegiate women’s lacrosse scene, and has served as a co-captain for the Red the past two seasons. Her 41 points rank third on the squad this year, but puts her on this list is her ability to play top-notch defense and battle for loose balls off the ground as well. She has been a starter since her freshman year when she established herself as an elite scorer by leading the team in goals and finishing second in points. Her efforts earned her a spot on the All-Ivy second team, and she only got better since then, landing on the first team in each of the last two years.

Brian Kuritzky – M. Soccer
When Kuritzky earned a spot on the NSCAA All-Northeast Region Second Team, he was the first Red player in four seasons to accomplish that feat. Kuritzky was awarded the honor after a season where he finished with eight goals, second on the team. Two of his goals were game winners and three came in one game, recording the first hat trick for Cornell since 2000. Kuritzky, a transfer from Skidmore, had only one goal coming into this season, made his senior year one to remember, capping it off with All-Ivy first team honors.

Doug Lempa – Football
Lempa could be found anywhere on the defensive end of the ball for the football team this past season. He was third in overall tackles with 69, second in tackles for a loss with 8, first in sacks with 4.5 and even knocked down a couple of passes and recovered a fumble just to be well rounded. While his numbers were up a little from last year, Lempa’s performance was nothing surprising after finishing second on the team in tackles and tackles for a loss last year. Although the Red’s defense struggled at times this past season, Lempa was a critical part of a dynamic linebacking corps.

John Glynn – M. Lacrosse
Glynn, a co-captain this year, is the Charlie Hustle of the men’s lacrosse team. He does it all and gives it his all. He’s been called the team’s best feeder by Brown head coach Lars Tiffany, but is still fourth on the team in goals scored. As a middie, he is effective on the defensive end and at the face-off “X.” He currently ranks fourth in the nation, winning 62.1 percent of his face-offs. Although his numbers are down a bit this year — he finished with 45 points last year and has 34 this year — he is still a large part of what makes the offense clicks. He was a nominee for the Tewaaraton Trophy this year, given to the best player in collegiate lacrosse.

Danny Nathan – M. Lacrosse
Nathan has been the epitome of team player in his time with the Red. Already an established long-stick defender his junior, Nathan switched to short stick to fill a vacancy for the squad. He made the switch seamlessly and was named a co-captain this year. With main long-stick defender Mitch Belisle ’07 graduating the Red not only lost an All-American, it lost the defense’s vocal leader. Nathan naturally took over the vocal leadership role, and particularly helped long-stick defender grow into his new leadership role.

Sam Hare – Softball
Until this season, Hare was a very dependable player. She had the record for sacrifice bunts in a career and consistently batted around .250. In addition, she was a good defender at shortstop and in the outfield. However, this year, Hare became a force to be reckoned with at the plate. She eclipsed her career total of six home runs by belting out eight on the year. Her past two seasons, Hare had a combined total of 25 RBIs. She easily topped that, driving in 32 this year. This is all without mentioning that her .343 average was nearly 100 points above her career average. All that, and she still found a way to lead the Ivy League in sacrifice bunts.

Noelle Dowd – W. Lacrosse
Dowd was the trigger-happy attacker for the Red this year, leading the team with 82 total shots and 58 shots on goal. She parlayed her shoot-happy style of play into a team-high 33 goals, good for sixth in the Ivy League. She also tacked on 10 assists to place second on the squad with 43 points. Serving as a co-captain, Dowd was active all over the field, dropping back to play midfield or defense. She is effective in causing turnover, winning draw controls, and scooping up ground balls. Dowd’s numbers have gone up or stayed the same each year at Cornell.

Robbie Fritz – Golf
Fritz’s career came full circle this year. Fritz started off as a freshman phenom, leading the charge his freshman year to a second-place finish in the Ivy League championships. The momentum from the victory did not carry over, however, as Fritz saw both his team, and his game suffer through some up and downs over the next few years. Last year, the team finished last in the Ivy League championships. This year though, Fritz led the charge one again as the Red had huge bounce-back year, winning back-to-back tournaments at one point. Fritz was right there leading the way with two team-best fourth-place finishes at each tournament. Then at the Ivy League championships to close out his college career, Fritz finished sixth overall to earn All-Ivy honors and help his team to a fifth-place overall finish.

Saidu Ezike – M. Track
Ezike established himself as one of, if not the best hurdler in Cornell history. He set the school record in the 60-meter hurdles on his way to wining a Heps championship in the same event. His performance qualified him for the NCAA championships where he finished 16th in a field of 60 runners. He was one of only three members of the men’s and women’s track teams to qualify for the NCAAs.

Muhammad Halim – M. Track
Halim broke the school record in the triple jump this year. He also broke the school record in the triple jump last year. In other words, he bested his previous record of 53-3 1/2 this year with a jump of 53-3 3/4. Halim stepped up his game at the best possible time, the NCAA championships. Unfortunately for Halim, his jump was still about a foot short of what he needed to take home the championship, as he finished fourth. It was Halim’s third straight NCAA championship appearance, and second straight indoor championship. Although he finished as a runner-up his junior year in the triple jump, there is no way his senior campaign could be considered a failure.

Brad Gorter – M. Swimming
Gorter shared team MVP honors with junior Wes Newman. Gorter was one of the Red’s best swimmers at the EISL meet at the end of the year, racing as a spring specialist. In the 50 free, Gorter finished seventh with a time of 20.47. He then later won the 100 B flight final in the 100 free. As parts of relay teams, Gorter was on the 400 medley and 400 free squads that swam well enough to earn B cut times.

Sage Canaday – M. Cross Country
The men’s cross country team’s second-place finish at Heps this year was its best since 1993. A large part of that was Canaday. Canaday led the way with a second-place finish. But it wasn’t just Heps where Canaday led the way for his squad. Nearly every week, Canaday was a top finisher for the Red. His efforts earned him All-Ivy first team honors and qualified him for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. He was the youngest competitor in the Olympic Trials and the only college student.

Ashley Wolf – Softball
The argument could be made that the whole starting lineup could have made this list, and nearly all of them did. Wolf, who mostly batted leadoff, finished the season batting .358 — no surprise considering she batted .361 and .411 her junior and sophomore years, respectively. Wolf played the role of the prototypical leadoff hitter, leading the team in walks, but also found her power, belting four home runs, more than her career total of three. She also set a career high with 22 RBIs.

Doug Krantz – M. Hockey
Defensemen and co-alternate captain Doug Krantz has been an unflappable rock and invaluable leader of the Red defensive unit. The 6-3, 205 pound defensive block from Marysville, B.C., has played a total of 131 games for the Red, the third most games played on the squad. Krantz has also been known to be a threat at the point, scoring four goals and tallying three assists this past season. In total in his career, Krantz has posted double-digit numbers in goals scored. As a key component of the penalty kill this season, Krantz helped the Red to a .861 percentage.

Megan Gilbert – Gymnastics
Coming into this season, Gilbert had already established herself as a solid all-around competitor, having already earned USAG All-American honors on vault, floor and beam. She even took the ECAC beam championship last season. Gilbert did not dissapoint her senior year either. She was again the top finisher for the Red at the USAG championship, finishing second on the beam and earning All-American honors.

Aaron Merrill – M. Track
Merrill joined fellow senior Muhammad Halim to help the Red dominate the hurdles this year. Merrill broke the school record in the 400 hurdles at the Northridge Invitational. On that same day, Merrill also raced in the 110-meter hurdles and ran the fourth-best time in school history, qualifying him for NCAA Regionals. At Heps, he ran behind Halim in the 60-meter relays, finishing sixth to score valuable points for his team.

Matt Kochem – Lightweight Rowing
The Burnt Hills, N.Y., native has left his mark on the rowing team while stroking in the 1-seat for the lightweight crew team. Named a captain this year, Kochem has been with the Red through its two national championships as well as its races this season. The four-year veteran is one of the hardest-working members of the team and consistently records some of the best erg scores of the bunch.

Omissions/Honorable Mention

Graham Rhine – Football
Steve Valenta – Football
Ted Sonnenberg – Football
Alex Heiss – Fencing
Zoe Samuels – Equestrian
Jeremy Feldman – Tennis
Ariana Constant – W. Polo
Jimmy Wyner – Cross Country
Jason Hartford – M. Bball
Gretchen Gregg – W. Bball
Ashley Garvey – Softball
Abbi Horn – Field Hockey
Nick Campbell – M. Swimming
Bobby Harvey – M. Polo