2009 Spring Sports Awards

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Anna Vignet, Nick Fradkin, Justin Gonzaga and Nathan Yan/File


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BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Dana Vollmer

After helping the Cal women's swimming team capture its first Pac-10 and NCAA titles in 2009, Dana Vollmer became the third Bears athlete to win the Honda Sports Award, given to the nation's top female collegiate swimmer.

Vollmer was a force that couldn't be reckoned with, sweeping all four events against Stanford in the final dual race of the season. No matter who lined up against her, Vollmer was bound to touch the wall first.

"I think it's one thing to see an athlete have success," assistant coach Kristen Lewis-Cunnane said. "But it was so rewarding to watch Dana because she had so many bumps in her own road that she had to overcome. In the end, it made her a better swimmer and a more competitive athlete."

Vollmer continued that unstoppable trend as she helped Cal take home its first-ever conference championship with wins in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events, as well as the 400- and 800-yard free relays.

While that performance was one for the ages, Vollmer wasn't satisfied. She followed it with an identical showing at the NCAA championships. She claimed two individual and two relay titles and anchored the Bears to their first NCAA title in school history.

"I definitely think Dana will go on to do great things," Lewis-Cunnane said. "She's figured out how to handle adversity and that's an incredible tool to have as an athlete. She has a bright future ahead of her, and I'm excited to see what she can accomplish."

-Danny Freisinger

HONORABLE MENTION: Ashley Walker, W. Hoops

EDITORS' PICK: Valerie Arioto, Softball

BEST MALE ATHLETE: Nathan Adrian

During a tremendous sophomore season, Nathan Adrian emerged as the backbone of the Cal men's swimming team.

After taking an entire school year off to train for his gold-medal-winning effort at the Beijing Olympics, Adrian didn't know how his year with the Bears would turn out.

"I really wasn't looking that far forward, because I was still on a high from the Olympics," Adrian said. "I just wanted to get my life back."

If the adjustment process was difficult, it definitely didn't show.

Following a solid dual-meet season, Adrian claimed the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle titles at the Pac-10 Championships, setting a U.S. record in the 50 with a time of 18.82 seconds.

Adrian shattered that record at the NCAA Championships, clocking a new American record time of 18.71, while giving Cal its first national title in that event since 2000. He scored another American record and a national title with a 41.80 in the 100 free.

What sets Adrian apart is that he took his already Olympic-caliber swimming to a whole new level this year, especially in the postseason, and earned the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year title to prove it.

And because Adrian is just a sophomore, Cal swimming fans have two more years to look forward to.

"I guess I surprised myself a little bit this semester," Adrian said. "But it wasn't like all this was completely a surprise. You have to set some high goals, or else you're just selling yourself short."

-Lucian Go

HONORABLE MENTION: Jerome Randle, M. Hoops

EDITORS' PICK: Evan Roth, M. Gymnastics

BEST NEWCOMER: Jana Juricova

When the Cal women's tennis team lost sophomore Marina Cossou to an injury right before the start of conference play, somebody new had to take over the No. 1 singles court.

Literally.

Freshman Jana Juricova, just months into her collegiate career with the Bears, moved up to the top court on Feb. 27 and stayed there for the rest of the spring. With the dual season now over and the NCAA tournament looming, Juricova is Cal's highest-ranked singles player at No. 11 in the nation. The freshman is second on the team with 33 wins and posted a 13-4 record in dual matches.

Maybe most noticeable was Juricova's ownage of Kelcy McKenna, Arizona State's top singles player and the No. 3 player in the world for much of the spring season. Juricova defeated McKenna twice in singles play, dropping a total of four games in the two matches.

Juricova also paired with sophomore Mari Andersson to form one of the nation's best doubles teams, compiling an 11-1 record in duals and rising to a No. 7 ranking.

And only a freshman by eligibility, Juricova seemingly has nowhere to go but up.

"It is exciting to think Jana is only a freshman," coach Amanda Augustus said earlier in the season. "She is only starting with what she can do. There is a lot of stuff she can work on, and she knows that. It is great that we are going to have her here for three more years."

-Matt Kawahara

HONORABLE MENTION: Emily Csikos, W. Water Polo

EDITORS' PICK: Jorge Gutierrez, M. Hoops

BEST COACH: Mike Montgomery

The accomplishments of the Cal men's basketball team in 2008-09 under the direction of coach Mike Montgomery are well documented:

An NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2005. Third place in the Pac-10. The best start (15-2) since 1959.

All in all, it was a monumental turn-around for a program that finished second-to-last in the final two seasons under Ben Braun.

Montgomery put premiums on toughness and defense that hadn't been seen in Berkeley in years before his arrival.

The team that allowed the second-most points in the Pac-10 last season bought into its new coach's philosophy of classic man-to-man defense.

The result? A 4-0 start in the Pac-10 and a competitive spark that resulted in gritty wins at home against Stanford, on the road at Arizona and in a triple-overtime triumph at Washington.

Montgomery also engineered the development of Jerome Randle, who transformed from a razzle-dazzle showman into the Pac-10's second-leading scorer and top assist man, not to mention Cal's go-to guy in countless games down the stretch.

Perhaps most importantly, Montgomery brought with him something that hadn't been present in Haas Pavilion in several years: direction.

With the sage coach at the helm, the Bears know exactly what they want to become and what they need to do to be successful, both in the Pac-10 and in the NCAA tournament.

-Jack Ross

HONORABLE MENTION: Teri McKeever, W. Swimming

EDITORS' PICK: Jack Clark, Rugby

Tags: NATHAN ADRIAN, CAL MEN'S SWIMMING, JANA JURICOVA, DANA VOLLMER, MIKE MONTGOMERY






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