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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Returning players to watch in the upcoming year


The Aggie sports desk highlights last year’s standouts

The start of the new school year for UC Davis falls right in line with the startup of the athletics season; with a number of successes across all 23 of UC Davis’ NCAA teams. Multiple players have made names for themselves and emerged from the pack as vital forces for their teams and will be ones to watch in the upcoming months.

Men’s golf provides a dynamic senior-sophomore duo to keep an eye on as its season progresses. Senior Ryan Han earned his first Big West first-team honors last season. He led his team with a 73.17 stroke average and stood out at the conference championship with eight  rounds at par or better, and scores of 67 and 68. Han also ended the season in a tie for 6th place at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic and a tie for 19th at the El Macero Classic.

Sophomore Thomas Hutchinson was close behind his older teammate in success, as he completed his rookie season as the only UC Davis golfer to appear in all 10 of the year’s tournaments. He was awarded Big West Freshman of the Year and second-team honors, and he matched Han with a total of eight  rounds at par or better and a 73.24 average round. He ranked in the top-10 individual finishes in both the El Macero Classic and The Prestige at PGA West.

The two are already making waves in the new school year. Hutchinson competed in the Windon Memorial Classic men’s collegiate golf tournament on Sept. 23, where he shot his career-best round of 64 – the lowest score shot by an Aggie since Matt Hansen in the 2011 NCAA Regional. Hutchinson ended the day on top of the 92-man individual leaderboard with a 36-hole total of 137. Han shot a score of 76 in his first round, but was able to impress with a 3-under 69 in the second round to end up with 145 total strokes and in a tie for 22nd place.

Hutchinson was not the only Aggie rookie to make headlines last season; Brooke Yanez of women’s softball proved to be a critical asset for her team, earning multiple distinctions throughout her season. She became the second Aggie ever to earn Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year honors and the first freshman to win three Big West Pitcher of the Week titles since 2015. The left-hander ended her season with 15 victories under her belt and finished her regular season with an earned-run average of 1.75 – the second best ERA in the entire league. Her other recorded statistics, including a .184 in batting average against, a 187.2 in innings pitched, 190 strikeouts and 55 strikeouts looking earned her a spot on first team and on top of the must-watch list for the upcoming season.

Heading into his senior year, track and field’s Kyle Clancy wrapped up his third season as an Aggie with a first place victory in the Big West Decathlon with a score of 7,181 points – the third highest in the university’s history. During the decathlon, Clancy earned the best pole vault score of 4.25m/14-10.00 and a second place 110 meter hurdles time of 14.64. Clancy also stood out from the pack during the NCAA West Prelims in May; he completed the competition with his highest mark in the men’s high jump, where he scored 2.06m/6-9.00 and placed 15th and 29th out of the total 48 contenders.

TJ Shorts II topped off men’s basketball’s season with a spot on the Big West conference first team and was named the conference’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year – the first time in Big West history that a single player has won both awards. He led the league with an average of 2.0 steals per game and was ranked No. 39 in steals among all players nationwide. He was also ranked No. 40 in Free Throw Attempts, No. 51 in Free Throws Made and No. 65 in Field Goal Percentage going into the Big West Tournament. During the last month of the basketball season, Shorts II led the team with an average of 21.0 points and 5.8 steals per game. 46 of his 130 assists earned throughout the season took place in the season’s final eight games; he also shot .788 at the line, .400 from three and .566 from the floor.

Recently, the men’s soccer goalie, Wallis Lapsley, earned his second Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week award and a spot on top of our athletes-to-watch list. His first distinction was earned on Aug. 27, where he became the eighth Aggie in the program’s history to win multiple player of the week honors. His newest distinction was awarded after he allowed only one goal in 2 matches during his team’s match against Saint Mary’s College on Sept. 22.

Though these players each battled to earn their individual distinctions and records, they are united in that their successes have earned them spots in UC Davis history and will continue to put them at the height of the athletics conversation and the must-see list for the upcoming season.


Written by: Kennedy Walker — sports@theaggie.org



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