Fueled by a resurgent track team, a strong women's lacrosse squad, and standouts in tennis and baseball, Oxy goes out on a high
One year into a new focus and concentration on making the Occidental track and field programs more competitive ("To Be the Best," Winter), the men's team responded, finishing with its best record in head coach Rob Bartlett's eight-year tenure. Oxy finished second in the SCIAC and ranked 27th among all Division III programs nationally, with five Tigers earning All-American honors.
Freshmen sprinters Hugh Pegan and Gabriel Barrett-Jackson led the way. Barrett-Jackson, also a standout soccer player at Oxy, placed fourth nationally in 400m and ran a leg on Oxy's SCIAC champion 4x400m relay team and its All-American 4x100m relay team.
Pegan also ran a leg on both relays and found his way onto the podium in the 100m and 200m at the SCIAC Championships, scoring the most points of any Tiger at the conference meet. His personal record 10.67 seconds in the 100m moved him up to seventh all-time in Oxy program history.
Fellow freshman Taylor Walton led the field athletes, winning the SCIAC championship in the high jump in his rookie season. One week later he cleared 6'10¼" at the Redlands Last Chance Meet, moving up to fourth all-time in Oxy history. Jesse Wong '16 took home the SCIAC crown in the 400m hurdles.
A total of seven Tigers earned a trip to the NCAA Division III National Championships in Canton, N.Y. Along with Barrett-Jackson, Pegan, Walton, and Wong, team captain Alex Nieves '15 made his first nationals appearance in the 4x400m relay, and Kyle Dalton '17 and Jeh Johnson Jr. '17 earned their second consecutive All-American honors as the other half of the 4x100m relay.
Oxy's coaching staff earned praise for leading the Tigers to such an improved season. Bartlett was named SCIAC men's coach of the year and assistant coach, while sprints specialist Tyler Yamaguchi earned West Region assistant coach of the year honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
In other highlights from a productive spring sports calendar:
Baseball standout Devon DeRaad '17 had a record-breaking season, setting Oxy's single-season home run mark at 13, while hitting .348 with a .494 on-base percentage and .725 slugging percentage. DeRaad was named first-team All-SCIAC and second- team ABCA All-West Region. Coach Luke Wetmore's squad finished fifth in the SCIAC at 17-11 and 22-17 overall, missing the conference postseason tournament by one spot.
The women's lacrosse team continued its winning ways. The Tigers finished second in the SCIAC and made their second NCAA Division III Tournament appearance in just the program's sixth season. Kristin Feinberg '15, Beebe Finch Sanders '15, Monica Rosenkranz '15, and Sierra Slack '18 all earned Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association All-West Region honors.
In men's tennis, Josh Dancu '15 capped his standout career with a second consecutive first-team All-SCIAC selection. An art history and the visual arts major from Naples, Fla., who transferred from NCAA Division I DePaul as a sophomore, Dancu went 15-3 overall and 7-1 in conference as Oxy's No. 1 singles player in the toughest Division III tennis conference in the country. He spent most of the year ranked in the top 10 in the ITA West Region Poll.