From the Athletic Director, the women’s basketball team won its last two games and, aided by Navy’s loss in the regular-season finale, claimed the No. 1 seed in this year’s Patriot League Tournament. Both teams posted 11-3 records, but a season sweep of the Mids gave Dave Magarity’s squad the right to host throughout the conference playoffs. On Tuesday, the team made history by winning four of the Patriot League major awards. Magarity earned his first Patriot League Coach of the Year honor, Anna Simmers was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and in a league first, Kelsey Minato took both the Patriot League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors. Army is the first team to win all four of those honors in the same season. Kelsey and Anna were named to the All-Patriot League First Team, while Aimee Oertner joined Minato on the league’s All-Rookie squad. The Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie Team and Anna’s all-league selections were all unanimous.
The men’s basketball team was also well represented on the Patriot League awards list. Zach Spiker was honored as the Patriot League Coach of the Year and Kyle Wilson was the unanimous choice as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year. Zach is just the third Army coach in program history, and first since 2002, to be named a conference’s top coach. Kyle is the program’s third Rookie of the Year, but the first in 20 years. Ella Ellis was a unanimous first-team All-Patriot League pick, becoming the first Black Knight to earn multiple first-team accolades in 17 years. Wilson was a unanimous All-Rookie team selection and was joined on the squad by Kyle Toth. The team finished the regular season with a program record eight Patriot League wins (the first winning season since 1984-85) and earned the No. 4 seed in the postseason.
Two of the longest-standing records in their respective programs fell over the weekend when lacrosse’s Garrett Thul broke the Army all-time scoring mark and track’s Lisa Junta topped the Academy record in the 5,000-meter run. Thul scored seven goals in the win over Michigan at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium to run his career total to 141 and pass Scott Finlay’s mark of 140 that had stood since 1978. Thul was named both the Orange Bowl Lacrosse Classic Most Valuable Player and the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week.
After breaking Army Athletics Hall of Fame member Teresa Sobiesk’s Academy record in the 3,000 meters at the Patriot League Championships, Junta topped her mark in the 5,000 meters en route to the ECAC title. The previous mark had stood since 1987.
There were two other record-setting performances on the track last weekend. Katrina Donarski topped her own Academy record in the 500 meters and the men’s 4x400-meter relay team of Matt Green, Chris Smith, Stevyn Spees and Patrick Taylor posting a new Army standard.
Lisa, Garrett, Ella and Anna were all honored as Army Athletic Association Co-Athletes of the Week. Ella capped his regular season with back-to-back 30-point efforts, while Anna scored 21 points in both games last week and showed the defensive prowess that led to her conference award. Rounding out the list of accolades this week was softball outfielder Amanda Nguyen. Amanda was the Patriot League Player of the Week after hitting .643 and scoring six runs in four games last weekend.
As the winter season winds down, three teams get their chance for postseason glory this week. The rifle team will compete in the NCAA Championships for the 10th straight year, while the hockey team heads to Mercyhurst for an AHA best-of-three series beginning Friday. The wrestling team is at the EIWA championships Friday and Saturday.