Every week, I sit in the TSL office on Wednesday night and try to determine who should represent Pomona-Pitzer athletics as the Sagehen and Sagecock of the Week. Sometimes it’s the athlete who contributed most to a win, sometimes it’s the athlete who completed an amazing game-saving play, sometimes it’s just an athlete who has had an amazing season so far. However we slice it, there are always individuals who have incredible games or incredible seasons and, it is impossible to recognize each of them every week. So today, I want to distinguish a few players who haven’t previously been named Sagehen/Sagecock for their success this fall.
Luke Ferguson PO ’13
It is not easy to be the leader of a team with a winless season through eight games. All season long, Ferguson has been at the helm of a P-P football team plagued with injuries and a shortage of players. Still, he’s managed three games over 200 yards passing, 13 touchdowns, and even a passer rating of 147.69 for his best game of the year: a four-touchdown performance against Chapman. Along with Luke Sweeney PO ’13, the Sagecocks will have a strong senior duo next season.
The hype this football season has been all about Luke Sweeney PO ’13 and his NCAA-leading 182.4 yards per game. What the Los Angeles Times failed to mention in the article they wrote about him was how difficult it is for an offensive line to block for over 35 attempts per game.
Erik Munzer PZ ’13
Defenders are highly underrated in all sports, most notably in soccer. There are no statistics for defenders, and even if there were, they would grossly underestimate the value of communication and leadership a center-back provides. Munzer led a very young defense that helped goalkeeper Rollie Thayer PO ’13 post seven shutouts this season en route to a 9-5 SCIAC record. Munzer rarely lost a header this season and has become known for his crushing tackles on opponents, a defensive strength that earned him the team’s MVP award.
Heidi Leonard PO ’12
The Sagehen volleyball squad will lose three huge contributors next year in Leonard, Jordan Hammond PO ’12, and Kenzie Aries PZ ’12. As the libero, Leonard had 524 digs this past season, setting the career record for P-P at 1,896, a mark that will prove difficult to surpass for some time.
Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15
This past season, Yamasaki led the volleyball team with 230 kills. She might have had even more if the team didn’t lose both setters—Aries and Dani Kritter PO ’15—to concussions, forcing Yamasaki to take over their position. Yet she filled the role well and helped lead the Sagehens through a solid rebuilding season.
Men’s Cross Country
Paul Balmer PO ’12 and Anders Crabo PO ’12
Balmer and Crabo are two runners who remind PPXC of the glory days. The top senior running duo has brought a certain dynamism to men’s cross country and the distance track squad that is the stuff of legends. Balmer and Crabo seem to live PPXC, more often considered a lifestyle than a mere sport. The attitude they take toward the team reflects their passion for running and the PPXC way of life. Both runners have stood out as leaders, organizing men’s team functions and setting team goals. Balmer and Crabo have had their sights set on success from the beginning, and over the course of the season, they have executed accordingly. Despite a rocky finish at the SCIAC Championships at Prado, the men have rallied a squad of the team’s top seven to run at the NCAA West Regionals at home this Saturday.
Alex Johnson PZ ’13
Johnson kicked off the 2011 season running first for the Sagehens at Carbon Canyon. He raced again two weeks later at UC Riverside, scoring fourth for the Hens with an 8K time of 25:37. Following Riverside, the Hens ran at the Stanford Invitational, where Johnson scored second for the team. After Stanford, the men were ranked first in the Division-III West Region by the US Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). At the SCIAC Championships two weeks ago, Johnson finished first for the Hens and seventh overall, earning First-Team All-Conference honors. He is looking ahead to this weekend’s NCAA West Regional Meet, where he hopes to lead PPXC to Nationals.
Jordan Bryant PO ’13
The women’s soccer team just completed its best season in the past five years and can thank Bryant for leading the defense to a 1.12 goals-per-game average. Even when injured, Bryant fully wrapped her leg and kept opponents out of the P-P penalty area. With Bryant coming back for one more year, along with fellow juniors Claire Mueller PO ’13 and Anika Burrell PO ’13, the defense next year will be a force to be reckoned with.
Allie Tao PO ’14
After a breakout first year, Tao has remained a potent threat on the P-P women’s soccer offense. Tao scored five goals and added six assists, several of which went to leading goal scorer Traci Lopez PZ ’12. SCIAC recognized Tao’s achievement this year, placing her on the All-SCIAC Second Team along with teammate Rachel Eckerlin PZ ’12.
Men’s Water Polo
Cody Moore PO ’13
This season, Moore proved how a good defense can be invaluable to a team. Along with teammate Kyle Pokorny PO ’12, Moore has helped the men’s water polo team hold onto first place in SCIAC with a 6-1 record. Moore has had 35 steals at guard and has still thrown in 21 goals.
Women’s Cross Country
Naomi Wagner PO ’13
Wagner joined the team for their first race of the season at the UC Irvine Invitational. The Sagehens finished fourth, with Wagner scoring as the team’s fourth runner with a 5K time of 19:38. In the second meet of the season, standout Annie Lydens PO ’13 and scoring runner Roxanne Cook PZ ’13 were both absent from the starting line. Wagner understood the handicap and took it upon herself to kick into gear. She finished the 6K in 22:59, the second scoring runner for the P-P team. At the P-P Invitational, Cook was again out of the race, and Wagner pushed ahead of the pack to score third for P-P. Wagner’s shining moment, however, was at SCIAC Multi-Duals, where, once again, two top runners were unable to race. Wagner set aside her personal worries and pains, and truly raced for the team.