BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — The Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) announces the selection of 36 student-athletes to the 2021 ACWPC Division III Men’s Varsity All-America Team.
13 institutions received at least one All-America nod. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges and 2021 USA Water Polo Division III Championship victor Pomona-Pitzer Colleges lead the way with six selections, while Johns Hopkins University garnered four honorees. Austin College, California Lutheran University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Whittier College each netted trios with Connecticut College and Washington & Jefferson College posting pairs. Augustana College, Chapman University, Occidental College and the University of Redlands complete the listing with single selections.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak last year causing the postponement of the 2020 season until the Winter of 2021 and the subsequent election to select only one All-America team that encompassed Division I, II and III following the decision of most Division III institutions to not compete during the abbreviated and relocated season, the 2021 team marks the first All-America selections for Division III athletes since the 2019 squad.
11 of the athletes honored with 2021 All-America honors previously garnered recognition as Ben Brown (2018 First Team) of California Lutheran, Will Clark (2019 Honorable Mention, 2018 Second Team); Noah Smith (2019 Honorable Mention) of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps; Jayden Kunwar (2019 Second Team) of Johns Hopkins; Miller Geschke (2019 First Team, 2018 First Team) of MIT; Dylan Elliott (2019 First Team, 2018 Second Team), Noah Sasaki (2019 Honorable Mention) and Sam Sasaki (2018 First Team) of Pomona-Pitzer; Cam Spicer (2019 Honorable Mention) and Will Kitsch (2018 Honorable Mention) of Washington & Jefferson; and Eric Borunda (2019 Second Team, 2018 Second Team) of Whittier were recognized by the ACWPC.
Pomona-Pitzer dominates the First Team as the Sagehens place Elliott, Noah Sasaki, Sam Sasaki and goalkeeper/2021 Division III National Player of the Year Kellan Grant on the list of the eight best Division III athletes from the 2021 season. CMS’ Clark, JHU’s Kunwar, Cal Lutheran’s Brown and Christian Thornton of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps complete the other half of the First Team.
MIT, Whittier and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps each place two athletes on the Second Team. Borunda and Ricardo Reyes of Whittier, Geschke and Kyle Sandell of MIT along with Smith and Sam Harrison of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps comprise two-thirds of the group with Austin College’s Max Wade and JHU’s Emerson Sullivan completing the list.
A total of 20 athletes from 13 institutions were recognized with Honorable Mention status to complete the 36 member Division III All-America team.
Grant’s selection as the Division III Player of the Year creates a tie between the Sagehens and Blue Jays of Johns Hopkins for the most National Players of the Year awards since the honor was first presented following the 1996 season.
Pomona-Pitzer (Grant – 2021; Adam Ward – 2018; Daniel Diemer – 2017; James Baker – 2016; Jason Cox – 2012) ties JHU (Josh Kratz – 2008; Sean McCreery – 2007, 2006, 2005; Brian Mead – 2004) as the Saghens and Blue Jays both now hold five accolades. Former Division III institution the University of California-San Diego (Romas Kudirka – 1997, 1996; Ross Meecham – 1999 ,1998) claimed four selections, while Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (John “Tanner” Cullen – 2015; Brian Chong – 2011, 2010) and Redlands (Ryan Floersch – 2009; Adam Foley – 2003; Kevin Rosa – 2001) possess three honorees. The University of La Verne (Rob Casillas – 2002; Kenny Clements – 2000) and Whittier (Dominick Nevarez – 2019; Goran Mataic – 2014) have both earned a pair of awards.
Pomona-Pitzer head coach Alex Rodriguez earns his fourth Division III National Coach of the Year award following previous honors in 2018, 2016 and 2011. The award breaks a tie with Ted Bresnahan (2015, 2008, 2005) of Johns Hopkins and Denny Harper (1999, 1998, 1996) of UC-San Diego for the most honors and ties Pomona-Pitzer with Whittier for the most overall nods at four. David Kasa (2019), Justin Pudwill (2014, 2013) and Mitch Carty (2004) of Whittier combined for four selections, while Greg Lonzo of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2012, 2010), Tom Whittemore of Redlands (2009, 2001), Craig Rond of Cal Lutheran (2006), Jeff Ma of MIT (2003), Tim Hugar of La Verne (2000) and Mike Sutton of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (1997) rate as the other previous recipients of the highest water polo coaching honor in Division III. A Division III National Coach of the Year was not selected following the 2007 and 2002 seasons.
The ACWPC All-America teams are selected based on nominations and voting by the head coach of each program by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division (Division I, II, III).
Founded in 2005, the mission of the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) is to promote the development and advancement of collegiate water polo. This shall be accomplished by providing its membership with professional education, services, training and a united voice.