The California Aggie’s fall quarter spotlight team was selected by Aggie Sports Editor Adam Loberstein and Aggie Sports Writers Michael Gehlken, Max Rosenblum, Sammy Brasch and Matt Miller.
Name: Quincy Amarikwa
Sport: Men’s soccer
As Quincy Amarikwa goes, so goes the UC Davis offense.
A Liberty High School graduate, Amarikwa has scored seven goals in the Aggies’ seven games this season, helping the team to a 6-1 record. He’s scored in each of his past four contests.
The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder leads UC Davis in both scores and total points (14). He’s tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals.
Amarikwa finished second on the team and eighth in the Big West Conference with five goals a season ago, earning a spot on the All-Big West’s second team.
He also netted the team’s lone goal in UC Davis’ first-ever showing in a NCAA Division I Tournament contest against California. He’s scored 23 goals over the course of his UC Davis career.
Name: Sule Anibaba
Sport: Men’s soccer
Sule Anibaba has a theory.
Hailing from Lagos, Nigeria, Anibaba has lived in the United States for the past nine years. He says that makes him 91 percent Nigerian, and nine percent American.
Add those numbers together, and you get a 22-year-old, 100-percent soccer icon.
Anibaba is second on the team with three goals, and ranks third in points with six. He leads the team with in shooting percentage, converting on 60 percent of his attempts.
A 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, Anibaba led the Aggies with a career-high eight goals and 17 points a season ago. He was a team-best 5-for-6 on penalty kicks. Like Amarikwa, he earned All-Big West second team honors.
Name: Dylan Curtis
Sport: Men’s soccer
On a team featuring stars like Sule Anibaba and Quincy Amarikwa, Dylan Curtis doesn’t always get the attention he deserves.
The Aggies, however, know how important Curtis is to their success, which is why the team named him its most valuable player last season. He scored three goals and had three assists, helping UC Davis to an impressive 12-5-3 showing.
Curtis has picked up where he left off last season. A 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, Curtis leads the country with eight assists. He’s also scored twice – both game-winners – to place him second on the team with 12 points.
He converted UC Davis’ lone penalty kick, firing in a double-overtime chance against San Diego on Friday. For his efforts, Curtis was named Big West Conference Co-Player of the Week.
Name: Greg Denham
While J.T. O’Sullivan is making an impact in his first season as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting signal caller, Greg Denham is doing the same for UC Davis.
A native of Auburn, Calif., Denham’s numbers speak for themselves. The 6-foot-2, 199-pounder has thrown for 908 yards in three games this season – an average of 302.7 yards per contest – and has thrown five touchdown passes. He’s also rushed for a touchdown.
More impressive than that is the fact that Denham has completed 70.2 percent of his passes this season, garnering respect from head coach Bob Biggs for his composure under fire.
And having to choose between receivers like Brandon Rice, Chris Carter, and Bakari Grant surely hasn’t hurt his decision-making process.
Name: Jon Compas
Position: Offensive guard
A nose tackle digs his hand into the ground. He lowers into his three-point stance. He then looks up, knowing that all will not end well.
For defensive linemen, this has been a reality for those facing Jon Compas. A back-to-back All-Great West Conference first-teamer, Compas figures to garner that honor once again this season. Among others.
A preseason All-American, Compas expects to be an NFL Draft selection this April. If the 6-foot-3, 298-pounder has his way, then nose tackles will be shaking on Sundays, too.
Name: Jon Faletoese
Position: Defensive tackle
Opposing kickers don’t even have a chance.
With two blocked kicks against No. 4 Montana on Saturday, Jon Faletoese pushed his career total to eight. He added two tackles and a sack against the Grizzlies.
Named to the Buck Buchanan Award watch list – an honor given annually to the Football Championship Subdivision’s top defender, Faletoese started just seven games last year in an injury-plagued season.
Before last year, however, the 6-foot-3, 292-pounder was named first-team All-Great West Conference in each of his previous two seasons.
Name: Austin Graham
Sport: Men’s golf
Saying that Austin Graham made an impact on the UC Davis men’s golf team as a freshman would be an understatement.
The pride of San Clemente High School, Graham led the Aggies in scoring with an average of 72.7 strokes per round last year. He was named the Big West Conference’s Golfer of the Month in April, and tied for sixth place in the Big West Championship
His success didn’t stop there.
In fact, he’s already reached new heights early in the 2008-2009 season.
Graham finished in first place among individuals at the Kansas Invitational – UC Davis’ first tournament of the season – to lead the Aggies to victory.
He followed that performance up with a solid 11th-place showing at the Wolverine Intercollegiate over the weekend.
Name: Chelsea Stelzmiller
Sport: Women’s golf
What Austin Graham was to the men’s golf team, Chelsea Stelzmiller was to the women’s squad.
A native of Placerville, Calif., Stelzmiller led Aggie regulars with a scoring average of 74.6 strokes per round. Stelzmiller also paced UC Davis in top five’s (three) and top 10’s (seven), helping the Aggies to finish as the No. 21 team in the country.
She picked up her first career individual title at the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Intercollegiate in October.
Stelzmiller got her 2008-2009 season off to a strong start at the Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico. She finished in a tie for eighth place, and was the lone Aggie to break 70, firing a 69 in the second round of play.
Name: Adam Bennett
Sport: Men’s water polo
A season removed from winning a school-record 22 games and going 14-0 in Western Water Polo Association play, the UC Davis men’s water polo team has gotten off to a slow start in 2008, winning just three of its first 10 games.
Adam Bennett, however, hasn’t had a problem replicating last season’s success.
A native of Merced, Calif., Bennett has already scored 24 goals this season. He scored 12 goals in four games at the NorCal Open in Stockton last weekend.
Bennett ranked second on the team with 36 regular season goals and tied for the team lead with 21 assists last year. He scored two goals in three WWPA Championship games.
Name: Renee Ibekwe
Sport: Women’s volleyball
Position: Outside hitter
UC Davis’ women’s volleyball went just 4-24 in 2007.
The 2008 season has been another story, as the Aggies are off to an 8-5 start.
As UC Davis’ fortunes have changed, so has Renee Ibekwe’s. She had a solid season last year, averaging 3.27 kills per game, but not like this.
A Banning High School graduate, Ibekwe leads UC Davis with an impressive 4.09 kills per contest – tops in the conference. No other Aggie averages more than 2.80 kills.
Ibekwe had a career-high 25 kills and a .467 hitting average against Fordham on Saturday.
Name: Kim Conley
Sport: Women’s cross country
Kim Conley is always running.
After posting multiple record-setting times during track and field’s season in the spring, Conley now finds herself in pursuit of something she has yet to accomplish in the fall.
Conley has been UC Davis’ top finisher in each of her two races this season as she tries to qualify for the NCAA Division I West Region.
She had a career-best showing at the Sundodger Invite in Seattle, Wash. on Saturday, finishing in fifth place with a 6K time of 20:45.
A Montgomery High School graduate, Conley also paced the Aggies in each of her five races a season ago.
ADAM LOBERSTEIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.