The D Sports Awards: Best Freshman Athlete

by The Dartmouth | 5/28/15 6:01pm

by Eliza McDonough and Eliza McDonough / The Dartmouth

When most students arrive at the College, they take a while to adjust to their surroundings and to learn how to succeed in Hanover. It is only later in their Dartmouth careers that they begin to produce true greatness, to excel in their chosen fields. For the below nominees for The Dartmouth Sports Awards for best freshman athlete, the above description could not be more false. Whether in tennis, baseball, basketball or swimming, these talented ’18s showed the Dartmouth community just how great the Class of 2018 could be.

Vote in the below poll to choose this year’s best freshman athlete. The results will be revealed in the Sports Weekly this Monday!

Kristina Mathis '18

In her first year, Kristina Mathis has already made a tremendous mark on the women’s tennis team that ended its season ranked at No. 31 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings and received its first NCAA bid in program history.

The team, Mathis said, has worked unbelievably hard this season, and that work has definitely paid off.

After a solid start to the year in the fall, Mathis returned for play in the winter and found even more success, appearing at No. 34 on the ITA’s doubles ranking with Taylor Ng ’17 in January. In doubles, Mathis and Ng finished the season at 17-8 overall, and in singles, Mathis finished 24-9, mainly playing at the No. 3 spot.

On May 21, Mathis was named the Northeast Credit Union Athlete of the Week after a victory over the College of William and Mary’s Olivia Thaler, 7-5, 7-6 (4), in the first round of the NCAA Championship.

“Winning the clinching match in the first round of NCAAs was one of my most exhilarating moments,” Mathis said. “Having Dartmouth advance to the next round made me so proud of all that my team has accomplished thus far.”

— By Kourtney Kawano

Patrick Peterson '18

After claiming a staggering 75 percent of the baseball team’s total saves, Patrick Peterson was named to the first-team all-Ivy this season. His six saves tie him for the most in the Ivy League.

Peterson went 4-0 after making 13 total appearances on the rubber, second on the team in appearances only to the 15 of Chris Burkholder ’17. With a 3.76 ERA, Peterson’s .258 batting average against was second only to Dartmouth’s ace Duncan Robinson ’16, who was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Year. Captain and right-hander Louis Concato ’14 said Peterson was invaluable in the bullpen.

“He really filled a hole for the back end of our bullpen which solidified our pitching staff throughout the year,” Concato said. “Whenever [head coach Bob Whalen] put him in the game everyone had the confidence to know that [Peterson] was going to throw strikes and attack hitters, keeping the score close and giving us a chance to win games.”

Peterson threw in two of the three Ivy League Championship Series games.

By Gayne Kalustian

Ciro Riccardi '18

A blue chip prospect ranked in the top 10 of his recruiting class throughout his high school years, Ciro Riccardi found immediate success in his first season for the Dartmouth tennis program. After a stellar 2014-15 campaign, the freshman became only the second player in Big Green history to win the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award.

Riccardi excelled in singles play with a 4-3 mark in Ivy League competition. After playing at the fifth spot in the singles lineup to start the season, head coach Chris Drake moved up the freshman in mid-February to the No. 3 spot where he would finish the year.

Riccardi completed all of his conference victories in straight sets fashion. Two of his three losses were closely contested and went the full three sets. Riccardi also concluded the season on a three-match winning streak and played a significant role in Dartmouth’s strong play down the stretch of the season, as his four Ivy singles wins all came during the team’s five-match win streak to finish the year.

— By Alexander Agadjanian

Miles Wright '18

After a stellar campaign in his first year at Dartmouth, Miles Wright became was the first Big Green basketball player to take home the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award since the 2003-2004 season. Wright’s performance in the winter contributed greatly to the basketball team qualifying for its first posteason game in 56 years.

Wright finished his rookie year on the men’s basketball team averaging 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game and shooting 43 percent from the floor. Wright’s numbers slotted him as the fourth leading scorer on the Big Green and second in three pointers made. Wright also became the second player in the program’s history to win consecutive Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards.

Wright saw playing time in every single game this season, starting 24 of a total 29. During the regular season finale against Yale University, Wright hit a pair of clutch free throws and a three-pointer to set up Gabas Maldunas ’15 for a game-winning layup. During one five-game stretch in February, Wright averaged 18.4 points per game, breaking the 20-point threshold twice in the same weekend against Yale and Brown University.

By Ray Lu

Taylor Yamahata '18

Despite a disappointing eighth-place finish for the women’s swimming and diving team at the Ivy League Championship, Taylor Yamahata ’18 served as a bright spot for the Big Green throughout the season.

Yamahata enjoyed a strong freshman year, performing exceptionally well in the women’s 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley throughout the season.

In the second to last meet of the regular season at the University of Connecticut, Yamahata had a team-best four wins, three coming in individual events.

She placed first in the women’s 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.81 seconds, first in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:04.58 and first in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:09.66. In the final meet of the regular season, she finished first again in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:03.10, finishing more than three seconds ahead of the second place finisher, and second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.41.

— By Daniel Lee