Awards were won, records were broken and new heights were reached for Pilot athletics last year. And it wasn’t over for Pilot sports when most students went home in early May.
From a successful spring to an equally impressive offseason, here’s what you may have missed from Pilot athletics this past summer.
Cross country continues to impress
The men’s cross country team brought home some more hardware at the end of their season. This past June the team was honored at the Oregon Sports Awards, with head coach Rob Conner being one of two recipients for the Slats Gill Sportsperson of the year award, and the team winning George Pasero Team of the Year.
“It is a tremendous honor and I am very proud of it, but I certainly want to give all the credit to the team," Conner said in a press release. “This group of men has been the most motivated, dedicated and inclusive that I have ever coached. It is a special time for our program. It's a time when we feel that anything is possible."
The team is the first from UP to win the George Pasero award since its inception in 2007. The award recognizes Oregon teams that either won a national championship or achieved some form of national recognition throughout the year.
This just adds to the long list of honors the team garnered this past year, which included their second ever West Regional Title, a West Region Coach of the Year honor for Rob Conner, West Region Athlete of the Year honors for Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse, a second place finish at the NCAA Championships, the title of 2017 D1 Scholar Team of the Year and the number one ranking for the 2017-18 DI-AAA ADA All-Sports Standings.
They’ll look to carry over their success into this upcoming season.
How did spring sports end up doing?
Baseball finished the year with a record of 23-30, their best since 2012’s 27-win season. They also tied for sixth in their conference, just missing the four-team WCC (West Coast Conference) championships while finishing with their best conference record since 2012 with 12 wins.
Four players earned All-WCC honors, with junior and sophomore outfielders Cody Hawken and Beau Brundage headlining, making first and second team respectively. Connor Knutson was All-WCC honorable mention and Eli Morse made the All-WCC Freshman team.
Baseball also brought in its second consecutive ranked recruiting class, wrapping up one of the better baseball years in recent memory.
Track and Field
Track and field also performed well down the stretch. Junior Taryn Rawlings broke the school record for the 1500M with a time of 4:11.37 and was also one of five Pilots who competed at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
All five Pilots won All-American honors. Senior Matt Welch and sophomore Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse earned honorable mention, and redshirt freshman Riley Osen garnered first-team honors for the men’s team.
Meanwhile, the women’s team saw Rawlings earn first-team honors for her performance, and junior Lauren LaRocco earn second-team honors and her fifth All-American honor. Rawlings also was named one of Fr. Chester Prusynski Student-Athletes of the Year, which recognizes the top University of Portland students based athletic and academic achievement.
Men’s tennis found itself playing well while women’s tennis struggled. The men’s team made it to the WCC Semifinals where they lost to No. 41 University of San Diego, finishing the season 12-9.
Michail Pervolarakis, who was a senior psychology major this past spring, had himself an impressive season, winning his second WCC Player of the Year Award, earning a bid to the NCAA Tennis Championships, being the male recipient of the WCC Sportsmanship Award and taking home the other Fr. Chester Prusynski Student-Athlete of the Year Award along with Rawlings.
The young women’s team, which featured no seniors and only one junior, did not fare nearly as well, ending the year 5-15 overall and 1-8 in conference play.
The rowing team also had a strong finish to their season. The team finished fourth overall at the WCC Championships, with the varsity four boat leading the way for a third place finish. The second eight finished fifth in their heat while the varsity eight finished fourth. Senior Lauren Reid and junior Veronica Nicacio earned All-WCC honors.
Pilots in the Pros
Some Pilots are going on to continue their playing careers professionally. Ashley Gray and Sara Zaragoza, two key members of the women’s basketball team this past year, signed professional contracts to continue their basketball careers overseas. Gray will play for Depiro Sen Rabat Basketball Club in Malta, while Zaragoza returns to her native country of Spain to join UCAM Probelte Jaris.
Gray and Zaragoza aren’t the only basketball players from The Bluff to go pro. Men’s basketball staple and shot blocking king Philipp Hartwich also signed with CB Peñas Huesca, another Spanish professional basketball team.
It’s been quite a summer for Pilot athletics.