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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

Column: Youth movement

Spring has sprung and the UC Davis sports calendar has nearly come to a close.

There are undoubtedly at least a few surprises to come, but by this point it is safe to say we know what each of the Aggie teams is/was in the 2011-12 athletic year.

So, with Picnic Day now passed, now is the perfect time for UC Davis sports fans to start looking ahead at what they can look forward to next season.

And what better way to do that than to count down the top five freshmen of the 2011-12 year who will continue to contribute in the future.

5. Sydnee Fipps — Fipps may have been UC Davis’ sixth woman of the year for the 2011-12 basketball season.

The Mariposa, Calif. native averaged 14.3 minutes per game and played in each of the Aggies’ 30 contests. She shot over 40 percent from the floor and over 37 percent from three-point range.

Fipps also tied for fourth on the team with 82 rebounds and hit some big threes late in contests.

Also worth mentioning is Fipps’ fellow freshman Lauren Beyer, who missed all but two games of the season due to injury.

Both Fipps and Beyer will be expected to step up next season as UC Davis is losing four members of its starting lineup.

4. Valerie Brain — Every team needs a finisher, and it looks like head volleyball coach Jamie Holmes has found one in Brain.

The freshman played in all 31 matches this season, and was third on the team with 272 kills.

One of her best performances came in UC Davis’ sweep over UC Riverside in October.

With seniors Betsy Sedlack and Katie Denny moving on next season, Brain will take on an even greater role next season.

3. Tiana Montell — UC Davis gymnastics won its third straight Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title this season, and the emergence of Montell was one of the main reasons for their success.

The freshman from Hilo, Hawaii was second on the team with an average all-round score of 38.144 — trailing only standout junior Katie Yamamura.

Montell also qualified for the NCAA Seattle Regional, where she placed 17th overall.

2. Matt Wiesenfarth — Big players make big plays in big games, and Wiesenfarth did just that for the Aggie men’s soccer this season.

Wiesenfarth (or Weezy as he’s known to his teammates and coaching staff) led UC Davis with five goals this season, and several of his strikes came at the most opportune times.

The Sacramento native’s season was highlighted by a score in the 83rd minute that sparked the Aggies to a late-game win over Cal Poly in October.

Earlier this month Wiesenfarth was named as one of only 24 players selected to the U.S. Under-20 National Team training camp this year. The selection will give him the opportunity to work with some of Major League Soccer’s best young talent, along with several of the nation’s top collegiate players.

With this new experience under his belt and fellow freshman strike-partner Matt Sheldon hoping to remain healthy next season, Wiesenfarth will be looking to improve even further in the 2012 campaign.

1. Justine Vela — Could it really be anyone else?

It is pretty rare that a freshman steps in and becomes a dominant force right away, but Vela has done just that this season. After the UC Davis softball squad lost star pitcher Alex Holmes to graduation last spring, there was a major void that needed to be filled. The Bakersfield, Calif. native has come in and produced immediately.

Vela is among the Big West leaders in basically every meaningful pitching statistic. She has a 2.54 ERA along with an impressive 182 strikeouts compared to just 58 walks.

TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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