Your Guide to GW sports

Forward Tyler Ranalli, who graduated in May, plays in a game last fall. Hatchet File Photo

Forward Tyler Ranalli, who graduated in May, plays in a game last fall. Hatchet File Photo

Men’s soccer will add five freshmen and one transfer to its roster for the 2014-15 season, head coach Craig Jones announced Friday.

The newcomers are a mix of international students and prospects from the D.C. area.

The team has added three center midfielders: Bowie, Md. native Koby Osei-Wusu, Alex Conning, from London, and Old Dominion University transfer Oliver De Thier, from Great Falls, Va.

San Pedro Garza Garcia native and IMG Academy graduate Santiago Ardila will play as a midfielder, and the team has also recruited Pembury, England’s Christian Lawal as a right back. Ismail Lapp-Kamara, from Silver Spring, Md., will play center back.

“All of our incoming guys have been successful at the youth level both on the field and off, fitting the mold for the type of student-athlete we want to bring to GW,” Jones said in a release. “On the field, as we continue to build the program, I feel our current recruiting class adds depth and healthy competition for our starting spots next fall in all areas on the field.”

Jones said each of the newcomers will vie for playing time, and Conning, Lapp-Kamara and Lawal are the top contenders for a starting spot. The midfielder-heavy roster may force some players to different positions if they want playing time.

Last fall, the Colonials missed out on the postseason for the second-straight year after losing their last four games to finish the season 5-10-2 (2-4-2 Atlantic-10), one game shy of the playoffs.

That disappointment came after draws in games against the league’s top teams, Dayton and Saint Louis, to open conference play, which turned the season into a story about a GW team that failed to reach its potential.

The team is looking to replace five seniors who graduated in May, including defensemen Abdul Shaban and Alex Sandland, midfielder Bailey Hinners and forwards Francisco Solorzano and Tyler Ranalli. Ranalli was the team’s leading scorer with six goals and Hinners’ was an explosive, often emotional, workhorse who led the team with 1,345 minutes played.

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Kye Allums

Kye Allums was the first openly transgender player to play Division I basketball. Hatchet File Photo

Time magazine has recognized alumnus Kye Allums as one of 21 transgender people to have influenced U.S. culture.

Allums made national headlines in 2010 when he became the first openly trans athlete in NCAA Division I sports as a member of the GW women’s basketball team.

The list complemented Time’s cover story about the increased “visibility of trans people in American society and the nation’s evolving understanding of gender.”

Allums, who graduated from GW in 2012, was one of four athletes named to the list of 21 individuals. Others included professional tennis player Renee Richards, golfer Lana Lawless and mixed martial artist Fallon Fox.

In 1977, the New York supreme court ruled in favor of allowing Richards to compete in tournaments as a woman. Lawless sued the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 2010, which resulted in the removal of a requirement that golfers had to be female at birth. Fox became the first openly transgender fighter in history when she came out in 2013.

Non-athletes on the list included actress Laverne Cox and producer and director Lana Wachowski.

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After concluding her final season with women’s rowing, alumna Sarah Pickus was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Academic team, the league announced Thursday.

Pickus received the same honor last season. She was also named to the A-10 All-Conference Second Team following GW’s fourth-place finish at the A-10 Championships earlier this month.

Pickus, who graduated May 18, finished her academic career with a 3.79 GPA. The biomedical engineering major appeared on the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five out of eight semesters and on the athletics department’s dean’s list four times.

Pickus helped the Colonials’ Varsity 8 boat win the 2013 A-10 Varsity 8 Championship, the George’s Cup and the Class of 1998 Cup during her time at the University.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:48 a.m.

Baseball earns four postseason awards

The Colonials celebrate a win earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

The Colonials celebrate a win earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

After missing out on the Atlantic 10 playoffs, the baseball team received consolation from the conference in the form of four postseason awards.

Freshmen Bobby Campbell and Joey Bartosic were two of the 13 rookies selected for the A-10 All-Rookie team, while seniors Colin Milon and Owen Beightol were chosen for the A-10 All-Academic team.

Campbell started all 50 games for GW at third base, and repeatedly demonstrated stellar defense with deep range and a strong arm. He finished fourth on the roster with a .272 batting average and had seven doubles, 20 RBI and six stolen bases.

Used primarily as head coach Gregg Ritchie’s leadoff hitter, Bartosic started the season off hot, stringing together a 14-game hit streak that ranked third-longest in the conference. He finished the season with a .298 batting average, though he did not start or play every game of the season like Campbell. The outfielder also finished the year with 20 steals – tied for third-best in conference.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, the Colonials were grounded by the play of their senior core.

Beightol, the only senior bat in the lineup, steadied the Colonials with a team-high .337 batting average, tied with junior Ryan Xepoleas. Beightol finished the season with 65 hits, which ranked seventh in the A-10, as well as 14 doubles.

Beightol ended his career tied for second all-time with 213 games played. He was also third all-time with 797 at-bats and ninth all-time with 234 career hits.

After senior closer Craig LeJeune went down with a season-ending earlier this year, Milon stepped into the closer role almost seamlessly. He recorded six saves, which was tied for second-best in the conference, and finished with a team-best 2.94 ERA.

After a slow start to conference play with a rookie-heavy team, the Colonials will look to build off of this season’s 12-15 conference record. With freshmen Campbell and Bartosic returning and strong senior leadership from players like Xepoleas, GW will aim to have a turnaround season next winter.

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Senior Colin Milon delivers a pitch in a game against Saint Joseph's earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Senior Colin Milon delivers a pitch in a game against Saint Joseph’s earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon

After stringing together five-straight must-win games to keep its hopes of a second consecutive playoff berth alive, the baseball team’s run fell short Friday in a 4-3 loss to St. Bonaventure.

The loss, combined with two wins by Richmond over Rhode Island and two wins by Fordham over VCU on Thursday, ended the Colonials’ chances at a berth in next week’s Atlantic 10 Championships.

The loss came on the heels of an impressive run in which GW, one of the youngest teams in the country, almost made a major statement in the conference by winning what would have been its seventh-straight game.

“[They’re] a bunch of young guys and they came within an eyelash of making the playoffs,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said.

GW could not get one more solid start from sophomore Jacob Williams, who Ritchie said is usually one of his most consistent players. The young right-hander failed to command his pitches, particularly his curveball. He battled through five innings, finishing with five hits and three runs, two earned.

On the offensive end, the Colonials played catch-up for the majority of the ball game. In the sixth inning, three key freshmen launched a two-run rally that tied the game. Joey Bartoisc led off the inning with a single and advanced by stealing second base. Andrew Selby followed by hitting a triple to right field, scoring Bartosic. Bobby Campbell then drove Selby home with a groundout RBI.

Down by one in the top of the eighth inning, GW pushed across one run to tie the game courtesy of a double by senior Owen Beightol and sloppy defense by the Bonnies.

After the two previous ties in the game, senior closer Colin Milon was on the mound for the Colonials in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied at 3-3.

The first pitch of the eighth got away from Milon and the Bonnies hitter capitalized, clearing the fence with a few inches to spare. Milon, who had a career year after moving into the fireman role when Craig LeJeune went down with a season-ending injury, was able to regain control and retire the next three St. Bonaventure batters. Ritchie said he expected nothing less from his closer, telling him after the game to keep his head high after “a hell of a year.”

Milon managed to retire the side after trouble early in the inning, which gave the Colonials a shot to make a run in the top of the ninth.

After freshman catcher John Steele reached on an error to lead off the inning, GW tried to execute one of its fairly successful hit and runs – a play that the team had started to use regularly down the stretch. A swing and a miss by freshman Eli Kashi dismantled the play, and Steele was thrown out at second.

Kashi ended the inning at bat with a strikeout and was followed by a ground out by Bartosic to end the game as well as playoff hopes for the Colonials.

It wasn’t their best game, Ritchie said, but it certainly was not their worst. Since the series with La Salle in mid April, Ritchie has credited his team with playing solid ball during every game within the last week.

“If you can’t say you were not disappointed by not moving on, you’re lying,” Ritchie said.

Without mustering another run GW, ended their bid for the seventh and final spot in the A-10 Championships. It was a run that few predicted for a team that started as many as seven freshmen in the lineup.

“It was about rebuilding the program and getting competitive and developing a line of leaders of consistency,” Ritchie said. “Every year, you play to make the playoffs and move on, and that’s the part we didn’t achieve. However, the rebuilding and the growth was simply enormous.”

After Saturday’s final regular season game against St. Bonaventure, the Colonials will lose several crucial members, including pitchers Aaron Weisberg, Luke Staub, Milon and LeJeune.

On the offensive side, Saturday’s game will mark the last for outfielder Owen Beightol, the team’s best hitter. With one game to play, Beightol leads the Colonials this season with a .364 batting average, 63 total hits and 29 runs scored. Beightol will be ranked third all-time in career at bats and second all-time in games played. He also ranks 22nd all time in RBI and 11th all time with 212 hits.

GW will conclude its season Saturday against St. Bonaventure at noon.

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The Colonials discuss strategy in a game against UMass earlier this season | Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet staff photographer

The Colonials talk strategy in a game against UMass earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ellee Watson.

The baseball team kept playoff hopes alive Thursday, winning a crucial road match against St. Bonaventure 7-5 in the first of a three-game series.

The win marks the fifth-straight victory for a GW team that is steadily chasing Fordham for the seventh and final spot in the Atlantic 10 Championships, which start next week.

To make the A-10 Championships in St. Louis, the Colonials have in front of them a handful of scenarios that also rely on the play of Fordham and Richmond. After winning twice Thursday against VCU, Fordham currently sits at 13-13 in the A-10 standings with one game left to play. Richmond, which lost to Rhode Island 6-5 Thursday, are 11-12 and have two games remaining against the Rams.

If Fordham sweeps VCU, the Rams are securely in the playoffs. However, if Fordham loses to VCU Friday and the Colonials sweep the Bonnies, GW will earn a spot in the tournament.

The situation is similar with the Spiders. If Richmond wins the final two games against Rhode Island, it will be enough to secure a playoff berth. But if the Spiders drop one or both remaining games to the Rams, coupled with a Colonials sweep of St. Bonaventure, GW will be headed to the playoffs.

Knowing the stakes, the players started strong out of the gate, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. After freshman Joey Bartosic’s single to the pitcher, the Colonials stole two bases and strung together two hits, leading to two runs batted in and a two-run lead at the end of the first.

Starting pitcher Aaron Weisberg struggled to slow down the bats of the Bonnies offense, allowing 11 hits and four runs – two earned – through seven innings. The senior’s go-to pitch of the afternoon was his fastball as Weisberg tossed 94 fastballs out of the 113 total pitches he threw in the outing.

After only scoring one run in seven innings, the Bonnies made a late surge in the bottom of the eighth inning and scored three runs on four hits off of Weisberg. Luke Staub, a senior, relieved Weisberg with one out in the inning and quickly retired the side. Staub also pitched the ninth inning for GW, allowing one run while earning the save and cementing the win for Weisberg.

Although the Bonnies outhit the colonials 14-9, GW capitalized on a number of at-bats with runners in scoring position to secure the win. The Colonials showed a balanced offense Thursday as each of their seven runs were scored by different players.

Head coach Gregg Ritchie dismissed the hit count, saying he thought his team had the better offense.

“We had quality at-bats up and down the lines and had six walks,” Ritchie said. “We executed hit-and-runs, bunts, squeezes, and those were big at-bats.”

Five of the seven starting freshmen – Andrew Selby, Cody Bryant, Kevin Mahala, Eli Kashi and Bartosic – all scored runs for the Colonials. Junior Ryan Xepoleas and senior Owen Beightol boasted the other two runs.

“The top five guys in particular really executed well, and then freshman Jon Steele followed with an RBI ground-out,” Ritchie said.

The Colonials face St. Bonaventure in the second game Friday at 2 p.m.

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Senior Colin Milon, a pitcher for GW's baseball team, spoke to members of the baseball team, men's rowing team and their family and friends during a special commencement ceremony. Kendall Payne | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Colin Milon, a pitcher for GW’s baseball team, spoke to members of the baseball team, men’s rowing team and their family and friends during a special commencement ceremony. Kendall Payne | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The first graduates of the Class of 2014 flipped their tassels from right to left Tuesday as University President Steven Knapp, alongside Provost Steven Lerman, presented diplomas to seniors on the men’s rowing and baseball teams at the athletics commencement ceremony.

The athletes will be unable to attend Commencement on Sunday, with baseball closing out the regular season at St. Bonaventure and men’s rowing competing in the Eastern Sprints in Worcester, Mass. In lieu of a walk on the National Mall, friends, family, coaches and teammates gathered in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre for speeches and the presentation of diplomas. Here are five takeaway moments from the ceremony.

1. Lerman: “It’s not easy to be an athlete.”

Though student speaker and baseball pitcher Colin Milon joked about pulling on sweatpants and skipping the line at the GW Deli to make it to class on time, administrators lauded the graduates for juggling course work, practices, games and, as baseball head coach Gregg Ritchie said, “all that college life offers.” Both Ritchie and men’s rowing head coach Mark Davis urged the group, which wore gold scarves embroidered with the label “student athlete,” to think of their time spent on the river or at the ballpark as another facet of their education.

“Don’t think these aren’t life lessons,” Ritchie said. “There’s a reason being an athlete opens doors.”

2. Milon: “The bond we form as teammates is stronger than blood.”

Though mothers with cameras, fathers holding cigar boxes, siblings, professors and friends filled the audience, younger teammates from men’s rowing and baseball made up the largest portion of the audience. Milon emphasized the relationships formed among players, providing a glimpse into a close-knit pocket of a larger University.

“I look over and see a group of brothers,” Milon said.

3. How far they’ve come

The senior classes from both teams showcased an athletics department that has transformed during their four years. Davis thanked rowers Trofym Anderson, Kasey Colander, Matthew Grieshaber and James Stafford “for taking a chance” on a poorly funded team as the first class in program history to receive athletic scholarships. Four years later, the team has had its best-ever season, climbing in the national rankings and at one point winning 21 races straight.

Milon joked about the pre-renovation Barcroft Park, calling it the “worst D-1 field in America,” and proudly recounted his team’s unlikely run last year to the playoffs, where it won nine of its last 10 games to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. Milon and fellow baseball seniors Owen Beightol, Taylor Lambke, Craig LeJeune, Lucas Staub and Aaron Weisberg will see one more series if yet another strong finish can squeak them in.

4. Ritchie: “You make your own luck.”

Ritchie spoke about “character muscles” that players build through competition and training. Speakers congratulated athletes for creating their own success at GW and compelled them to keep pushing themselves.

“It is imperative for you to know that, although you are leaving campus, you are walking towards opportunity with the strength and savvy and the dedication and determination of a GW Colonial,” Ritchie said.

5. Setting a serious tone

The ceremony that kicked off Commencement week was celebratory but also had more serious moments. Knapp’s first graduation speech tasked seniors with remedying global challenges, asking them to “repair what earlier generations have broken, to build what we have left un-built and to heal what we have so far left unhealed.”

Davis was similarly weighty in his remarks, telling the athletes to expect hardships after graduation.

“As rowers, as oarsmen, you always strive for still water,” Davis said. “You don’t get that very often.”

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Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW's 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Greg Munoz talks with senior Viktor Svensson during GW’s 5-2 victory over Georgetown earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

Riding a five-game win streak in arguably its best season in program history, the men’s tennis team fell 4-1 to No. 28 University of South Carolina on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

GW fell behind early in doubles play, an area that had carried the team all season. South Carolina decisively overpowered the Colonials in the early stages.

Senior Nikita Fomin and sophomore Danil Zelenkov were quickly defeated by a score of 4-8. The other two teams in play – seniors Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thomsen and junior Francisco Dias and freshman Julian Tverijonas – were forced to play from behind.

Dias and Tverijonas lost to South Carolina’s No. 30 ranked doubles duo Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov. Fighting back from a steep deficit, Dias and Tverijonas were able to send their match to a tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, the Colonials jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but succumbed to an 8-4 run by the Gamecocks who would eventually take the match and the point. Thomsen and Svensson had their match suspended because South Carolina took the point.

With the first point awarded to the Gamecocks, the Colonials entered singles play with pressure to get back into the match and on the board.

“All the first sets were very close on every court,” senior Nikita Fomin said. “I don’t think [South Carolina] was expecting us to come out with energy in singles.”

The Colonials would win just one of their six opening sets, which came from Fomin at the No. 2 position (6-3).

Fomin would continue his strong play into the second set with a 6-2 win, earning the Colonials a point. Fomin’s singles win was the first NCAA point for the team in program history.

But the momentum was short lived as South Carolina took its second and third points at the No. 1 and No. 4 slots.

With their backs against the wall, the Colonials made a late surge by way of a tiebreaker win from Svensson in the No. 5 slot in the second set. But South Carolina would clinch the victory with a win against Thomsen at the No. 6 slot (6-4, 6-4).

“We definitely had our chances, but things didn’t quite fall into place,” Fomin said.

Though the team was disappointed with the day’s results, the season proved to be an overall success.

The Colonials ended the year with a record of 17-7, won their third Atlantic 10 Championship in four years and finished the season ranked as the No. 53 team in the nation.

“This has been our best season ever. We can’t be disappointed. It would have been nice to break into the second round of the NCAAs, but we’re getting there,” Munoz said. “There’s still more ahead for us.”

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Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW's win in the A-10 quarterfinals. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate GW’s win in the A-10 quarterfinals. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s basketball team will host last season’s Atlantic 10 conference heavyweights Virginia Commonwealth, Massachusetts, Saint Louis and Dayton next season as a part of its nine-game conference home schedule, the league announced Thursday.

Neither Saint Louis nor Dayton made appearances at the Smith Center last season.

GW will play nine home and nine away games in an expanded 18-conference game schedule for the 2014-15 season.

“To be the best, you have to play the best, and the Atlantic 10 is one of the premier leagues with some of the best teams in college basketball,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a release

Lonergan, who came to GW three years go, coached the Colonials to a 14-1 home record last season. In addition to the predicted conference favorites, the Colonials will host A-10 newcomer Davidson along with George Mason, Richmond and Saint Bonaventure.

“Next year’s A-10 home schedule features high-profile opponents and rivalry games which will be attractive to our students, alumni and fans, and the entire league schedule will challenge and prepare our team for the A-10 Championship and a goal of another trip to the NCAA Tournament,” Lonergan said.

 GW, which finished last season with an away record of 6-5, will play road matchups at Rhode Island, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Davidson, Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond and VCU.

The official schedule, including dates and times, has not yet been released.

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Director of Athletics Patrick Nero

Since arriving at GW, athletic director Patrick Nero has made academics a priority for GW athletes. Hatchet File Photo

Along with notable improvements on the field, GW athletes made strides in the classroom this year.

Fifteen of GW’s 19 Division I NCAA-competing programs achieved perfect Academic Progress Rates for the 2012-13 season, the association announced Wednesday. Of those 15 programs, nine teams were in the top-10 percent multiyear rate, three more teams than last year and tied for second-most in the conference with Dayton University.

The APR weighs a combination of factors including eligibility, retention and graduation rates, providing a measure of each team’s academic performance. The current multiyear period reflects the 2009-10 through 2012-13 academic years.

GW teams that received perfect scores included baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s cross country, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, women’s rowing, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s water polo.

“Athletics has been a campus leader in striving for academic excellence, and this announcement is a testament to those efforts,” Provost Steven Lerman said in a release.

Athletic director Patrick Nero has made academics a priority for the department. Since he came to GW three years ago, team GPAs and six-year graduation rates have risen across the board.

Nero receives regular progress reports from professors about athletes’ grades and participation in classes. He also enforces a mandatory class attendance policy and requires eight hours of study halls each week.

“At GW our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff strive for excellence in everything that we do, and today’s report is proof of the tireless efforts put into academics” Nero said in the release.

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