CPP earned 41 Athletes of the Week honors this year, the most in confrence history. | Photo courtesy of Will G. MacNeil

CPP Athletics recognizes athlete and staff accomplishments at 2024 Night of Excellence

By Elizabeth Teo, May 14, 2024

As the 2023-2024 academic year ends, Cal Poly Pomona’s Night of Excellence gathers student-athletes and the athletic department staff to celebrate the season’s achievements and honor exceptional athletes, spirit squads and staff across 11 sports before transitioning into summer break.

This season, CPP earned 41 CCAA athletes of the week across all sports, setting the CCAA record for the most in an academic year to total 110 awards since 2022, the next closest school being Chico with 58.

For the third consecutive season, track and field won the CCAA championships, while the men’s team ranked No.1 in the nation for the first time in program history. Throughout the season, track and field accumulated 105 wins, 41 CCAA athletes of the week and seven All-Americans.

Women’s basketball made the NCAA tournament for the 29th time in program history, finishing the season with a 20-10 record. The men’s team finished 10-6 overall, with head coach Greg Kamansky reaching his 450th career win against Cal Poly Humboldt Jan. 27.

The cross-country men’s team qualified for the NCAA championships for the 23rd time in program history, while the women’s team finished third at CCAA championships, the highest finish since 2019.

Six volleyball team players earned All-CCAA honors and three were named All-Americans, the most ever in CPP volleyball program history, while also getting the most sweeps in a season.

The women’s soccer team won its first CCAA regular season in program history, and the men’s team was nationally ranked the entire season, reaching their highest ranking at No. 5 in the nation.

Lastly, the baseball team made a commendable semifinal run in the conference tournament and is set to advance to the NCAA Division II West Regionals starting Thursday, May 16.

Assistant athletics director for marketing and creative services Sarah Macias reflected on the season’s successes and acknowledged the challenges of balancing celebration with the eagerness to dive into the next season.

“This season has been good all-around for sports, and it is a good problem to have,” said Macias. “We have had such a successful season that sometimes it stinks to rush into the next, so this night allows us to shine of light instead of rushing through.”

Student-athletes and faculty echoed this sentiment, as this once-a-year event allows student-athletes and staff to get out of their normal uniforms to celebrate their hard work over the past season and highlight individual athletes’ accomplishments.

Julian Angulo from baseball and Sydney Nelson from women’s basketball were recognized as Freshman of the Year for their dominant performances in their respective sports.

Twins Ayana and Ryan Fields repeated as Athletes of the Year for the third
consecutive season. | Photo courtesy of Will G. MacNeil

Representing the highest athletic accomplishments an athlete can earn and the most anticipated award of the season is Athlete of the Year. The winners are nominated by coaches and then voted on by the department.

For the third consecutive year, Ryan Fields and his twin sister Ayana Fields took home the award for Female and Male Athlete of the Year for their exceptional performances in Track and Field.

“It feels a little surreal,” Ayana Fields said. “… Last year we were joking about getting it again this year.

I was a little nervous because there were some heavy hitters this year, but just getting it and being there with my brother is awesome.”’

An academic excellence award was given to the team who earned the highest GPA in the academic year, women’s volleyball received this award for the fourth consecutive year. Newcomer of the Year was awarded to Marcus Jorgensen from men’s soccer and Isabelle Carreon from women’s track & field.

The event brings together a group of student-athletes and celebrates their accomplishments, while also sharing lighthearted memories. Sprinkling a bit of fun, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee put together a video reminiscing on fun moments aside from the competition to remember.

“It is a big responsibility but a high payoff to see everyone’s faces and appreciation,” said President of SAAC Madison Novak. “…Once the video is done, it is so fulfilling and just to see other athletes’ appreciation for things that you’re doing is great.”

Finishing out athletics before summer is track and field with hopes of competing in the NCAA Division II Championships which will take place in Emporia, Kansas from Thursday, May 23 to Saturday, May 25.

Feature image courtesy of Will G. MacNeil

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