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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Column: Useless gifts

As fall sports wrap up and winter sports usher in a new season, it is the season of giving useless things that people don’t want. With that spirit in mind, I’ll give my opinion on a couple of things from this past quarter.

Here is another installment of awards that are hopefully more flattering than they sound.

Mr. October
Reggie Jackson cemented his place among the immortal legends with the Yankees in 1977. After home runs in game four and five of the World Series, he proceeded to blast three consecutive home runs on as many swings in game six.

Junior Alex Henry scored two goals this season for the men’s soccer team in back-to-back games in October. The timing of the goals is what makes them special.

The first came late in the game against Cal State Fullerton to give the Aggies their third straight win and to bump their record over .500. The next, against UC Santa Barbara, could be one of the defining moments of the season.

Henry curled a kick into the upper opposite side of the goal from the right side of the field. This broke the 0-0 tie that seemed so inevitable with just five minutes to play, over a team that UC Davis had beaten only once out of their past 10 meetings.

This was a win that sent the message that the Aggies weren’t simply a team on a hot streak beating good teams, but rather, a team that was legitimately vying for that Big West title. If these two clutch goals didn’t elicit “HEN-REE” chants like the “REG-GIE” ones that reverberated resoundingly through Yankee Stadium, I’m not sure what else will.

Mike Wazowski award
This award goes to the athlete that is small and green and has only one eye.

Thus it’s only fitting that sophomore Trevor Halsted gets this award. Since I get out of breath after walking up the stairs to leave a lecture hall, I know this cross country runner could outlast me, so I’d better justify this strangeness before he comes after me angrily.

Given that Halsted has little physical similarities with Mike Wazowski, this award is for the fact that he’s a surprise performer.

Mike was always just Sulley’s accomplice and didn’t really do much work on his own in supplying energy for Monstropolis. Yet, once it was discovered that laughter was a new form of energy, Mike took over and thrived.

Halsted did the same. He did very little for the Aggies last year, placing 49th in the Big West Championship race.

Yet Halsted seems to be figuring out a formula that works for him, like Mike’s swallow-the-mic-then-burp-it-out routine. The Davis, Calif. native led the Aggies in every single race he competed in this year, including an impressive sixth place at the Big West meet.

This huge jump shows that the future for UC Davis’ runners is — and has been — bright if Halsted continues to improve at the rate he is now.

Paradise Falls award
The UC Davis football team had a team much like Carl Fredricksen’s trip to Paradise Falls. It was a pretty rough ride all the way through, on a trip he’d dreamed about his whole life. And it can’t have been anything like what was expected, unless Mr. Fredrickson expected to have a Boy Scout and a talking dog come along with him on a trip that would consist of a swordfight with canes on top of the blimp of his childhood hero to protect a bird that didn’t exist. The whole trip could have totally sucked, but the one friendship that emerged on the trip made it worth it.

UC Davis ended the year with a disappointing 4-7 record. But it was so close to being the dream season in head coach Bob Biggs’ last year.

The Aggies almost upset a number of highly ranked teams, including conference champion and FCS Championship contender Eastern Washington, but were thwarted every time by one play or another. Yet the 34-27 victory over Sacramento State at the end was so satisfying, it can be the only one that matters.

Under the lights in the rain in Bob Biggs’ last game at the helm of the program, the ending made the hardships endured over the duration of the season completely worth it.

It’s sad that I have to explain these so much because that really limits the number of awards I can give out. Hopefully these awards are, at the very worst, like Harry Potter receiving a toothpick or a tissue from the Dursleys. I’m sure they put a lot of thought into that too.

Email MATTHEW YUEN at sports@theaggie.org and he’ll respond with a “Buddy the Elf what’s your favorite color?”


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