UCSD athletics: A year in review

UCSD athletics: A year in review
Image by Sophie Nourbakhsh for The UCSD Guardian

In the final year of their Division I reclassification period, the Tritons have excelled on the court, on the field, on the diamond, and in the pool. To celebrate the end of the 2023-24 UC San Diego athletics season, members of The UCSD Guardian’s sports section have chosen some of their favorite moments from this year. 

 

Men’s Basketball

 

The 2023-24 campaign was a historic one for the Tritons, who finished with a 21–12 record and 11 more wins than the previous season. With new additions like junior forward Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones, junior guard Hayden Gray, and junior guard Tyler McGhie, UCSD was able to compete for the Big West title for the first time in school history, coming up two games short of eventual regular season champions Irvine. Despite not winning the title, three Tritons (Bryce Pope, McGhie, and Tait-Jones) won Big West awards, and head coach Eric Olen received Coach of the Year.

 

The campaign did not always seem to be destined for success. Despite a 4-game winning streak to start the season, a trio of losses in Seattle meant the team entered December with a 4–3 record. Their opponents would be San Diego State University, who had reached the national championship final in the previous season. Expectations were low, but with a sold-out crowd, the Tritons managed to take a double-digit lead late in the game. However, the Aztecs rallied and scored a tip-in at the buzzer to win the game and prevent the upset. While it was a painful result for the Triton faithful to swallow, we proved to the world that we posed a threat to the best of the best. The game was ultimately a turning point in the season, and the Tritons would go 17–9 following the defeat, including only one home-loss across the final four months of the season. 

 

– Alan Zhang, Senior Staff Writer

 

Women’s Water Polo

 

San Diego and water sports go together like retiring-age footballers and MLS, and this year’s UCSD women’s water polo squad delivered. In the second Big West game of the season, the team made history with a 6–5 victory over UC Irvine in which they never trailed at each intermission, beating the Anteaters for the first time in 18 years. Led by sophomore Sofia Munatones, five different Tritons scored against UC Irvine, a display of the team’s depth that would be present throughout the season. Save for the two backup goalkeepers, every single player netted at least one goal this season — even starting goalkeeper, junior Lexi Stahl, who had 11 saves in the UC Irvine game that saw the Anteaters outshoot the Tritons 31–20. 

 

Even when UCSD could not secure the win, the games remained thrilling. On Senior Night, the Tritons went into overtime against UC Davis, thanks to a silly Aggie slip-up in the dwindling seconds of regulation. The 17–16 result was the highest combined score of all Triton water polo matches, adding to the memorable night and serving as a fitting send off for the six departing seniors.

 

– Senji Torrey, Senior Staff Writer

 

Fencing

 

Despite not getting as much recognition as many sports on campus, the UCSD fencing team has consistently been one of the best in the nation. Main Gym hosted the MPSF fencing championships back in March, where two Tritons were able to win their individual events in front of their home crowd. Sophomore Renee Zuhars won the women’s epee as the fourth and final seed in the championship bracket, while sophomore Zara Fearns was able to do the same in the women’s saber. Two men were also able to clinch the one seed going into MPSF championships, with freshman Hananiah So and sophomore Scott Lao leading the way in the saber and foil, respectively.

 

Following their successes at MPSF’s, four Tritons focused their attention towards the NCAA Championships at Ohio State. Zuhars kept her momentum going in the women’s epee, finishing 15th in the nation. So was joined by teammate sophomore Arnav Raja in the men’s saber, with both finishing in the top 25. Lao had a top-25 finish of his own in the men’s foil. Altogether, UCSD finished 19th at NCAAs, marking another impressive finish for the Tritons at the highest level. 

 

– Ryan Kirton, Senior Staff Writer

 

Baseball

 

UCSD baseball finished No. 5 in the Big West this year with a 30–23 record (17–13 Big West). On March 10, the Tritons produced the moment of the year when they hosted the University of Pacific Tigers at the Triton Ballpark. The Tigers led 3–0 early in the game, and the Tritons trailed 3–1 in the bottom of the ninth inning. 

 

After a base hit by junior third-baseman Matt Halbach and back-to-back hit by pitches to senior catcher Bradlee Preap and redshirt junior first-baseman Doyle Kane, senior catcher Emiliano Gonzalez stepped up to the plate. Bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded. Two outs. Two strikes. The Tritons were down 3–1.

 

Base hit! Halbach and Preap scored to tie the game on Gonzalez’s single to left field. With the game knotted at 3–3, senior outfielder Brock Kleszcz — ice cold off the bench, with evidently all of that ice in his veins — barrelled a double into the left-center gap to score Kane for the walk-off, game-winning run. The stadium speakers blasted Waka Flocka’s “Grove St. Party,” and the Triton dugout emptied and rushed Kleszcz, who rounded first base and headed straight for the outfield, anticipating a mosh-pit celebration from his teammates. The Tritons won 4–3.

 

– Wyatt Bose, Senior Staff Writer

 

Track and Field 

For the fastest of Tritons, 2024 was a season marked by record-breaking performances. Senior Zeno Castliglioni broke J.J. Castner’s 1996 record in the 3000-meter race, James Nielsen’s 2001 record in the 5000-meter race, and Jesse Morrill’s 2011 record in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Junior Sylvana Northrop took down Paige Hughes’ 2016 record in the 5000-meters, while freshman Norah Delaney and sophomore Emma Dunmire finished seconds behind Camille Perkins’ 3000-meter steeplechase record. 

In the shorter distances, freshman Anthony Flowers captured the 100-meter and 200-meter records, while junior Kai Dettman and Castiglioni produced second place all-time finishes in the 800-meter and 1500-meter races, respectively. Senior Isabelle Shepherd also finished second all-time in the 8000-meters, as did junior Idara Ibekwe in the 100-meter. 

In a time of significant change both on campus and beyond, the UCSD track and field team maintains their time-honored tradition of admiring records of the past, then lacing up their spikes to chase after them.

– Vishnu Vijayakumar, Senior Staff Writer

 

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Senji Torrey, Contributing Writer
Senji is a third-year transfer student majoring in Communication. With three years of grueling high school newspaper experience under his belt, Senji is ready for his big break down in SD!
Ryan Kirton, Contributing Writer
I am a junior majoring in Psychology and Communications and I am on the swim team.
Wyatt Bose
Wyatt Bose, Staff Writer
Wyatt is a first-year political science student, an ardent sports-watcher, an impassioned Philadelphia sports fan, and the founder of his sports blog, "The Cogent Column."
Sophie Nourbakhsh
Sophie Nourbakhsh, Photographer
I am an aspiring physician. Go reds.
Sarah He
Sarah He, Co-Webmaster, Photographer & Data Visualizer
1st year | Data Science & Cognitive Science
Hana Tobias
Hana Tobias, Photographer
Hana is a fourth year Cognitive Science major.
Keita Kobayashi
Keita Kobayashi, Photo Editor
Photo team, best team (W.I.P)
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *