MORAGA, Calif. — The Saint Mary's athletic department honored its student-athletes Tuesday at the 16th annual Gael Awards Show at the Soda Center on campus. The event honors SMC student-athletes, top performers and noteworthy performances athletically and academically from the past year.
The Saint Mary's women's tennis team earned the department's award for the highest team grade point average with a cumulative GPA of 3.61. The men's basketball team earned the Gael Cup for the second straight year, awarded to the team with the highest winning percentage, after posting its second straight 29-win season and making it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Baseball received the Lasallian Service Award, presented to the team that demonstrates commitment to the Saint Mary's College mission and dedication to helping the local community. The team conducts numerous youth programs and clinics, including putting on an annual clinic at the Byron Boys Ranch in Contra Costa County.
Men's Basketball's Jock Landale and women's soccer's Hannah Diaz were named the Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Landale was an Associated Press All-America honorable mention, a first-team All-West Coast Conference honoree and a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabaar award, given to the nation's top center. Diaz earned her second straight first team all-WCC award while leading the Gaels in scoring with seven goals and 17 points. She also trained with the United States Under-23 national team.
Baseball freshman Kevin Milam and softball freshman Nikki Alexander were named the Male and Female Newcomers of the Year. Milam has become one of the nation's best two-way players in his first year, leading the Gaels with nine home runs and nine saves as the closer. Alexander started every game and led the Gaels in batting average during her rookie season. She also led the team in hits, runs and triples.
The Male Individual Performance of the Year went to cross country's Gabe Arias-Sheridan. He became the first-ever Saint Mary's male to qualify for the NCAA Division I National Championship in November, where he would garner a top-50 finish among the nation's best. The beach volleyball duo of Lindsey Knudsen and Payton Rund was honored with the Female Individual Performance of the Year. They beat No. 1 Southern California's top pair of Kelly Claes and Sarah Hughes on April 8, ending the Trojan duo's 103-match winning streak. The streak had lasted for nearly two years until Knudsen and Rund beat them in Manhattan Beach.
The men's soccer team's upset victory at No. 17 West Virginia earned the Male Team Performance of the Year honors. It was the Gaels' first win over a nationally ranked program since 2014 and first road win over a ranked team since the same year. The women's soccer team was also honered, earning the Female Team Performance of the Year after beating East Bay rival and No. 12-ranked California. It was in the Gaels' home opener and was only the Golden Bears' second loss of the year. The win also marked head coach Travis Clarke's 100th career victory.
The Brother Agnon Coach of the Year Award was delivered to men's basketball head coach Randy Bennett. Bennett led the Gaels to their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance while matching the program record for wins (29) and setting a new program record for conference wins (16).
The department also honors several individuals who make a significant impact on the overall athletics program and the experience of its student-athletes. The Bryan Vargas Spirit Award, which recognizes the efforts of a College staff or faculty member who makes a significant contribution to SMC athletics, honored Gabriel Kinney of Sodexho for all of his tireless work at Saint Mary's athletics events.
The Todd Ogorzelec Student Employee of the Year award was presented to Max Bayer, a student assistant in the strength and conditioning area. Dominic Drury was honored with the Mike Gibbons Volunteer of the Year Award after working countless hours as a student manager with the men's basketball team and with other programs throughout the department.
Interim Athletic Director Kami Gray honored 10 student-athletes with the department's highest cumulative GPAs: Kelsey Dunne (rowing), Kimberly Delen-Briones (rowing), Noah McDermott (cross country/track), Kiana Quarles (soccer), Lindsey Calvin (volleyball/beach volleyball), Jana McCord (tennis), Josh Spooner (cross country/track), Vanessa Nommensen (tennis), Abby Bolt (cross country/track) and Lindsey Knudsen (volleyball/beach volleyball).
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