Category Archives: Sports

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Track and Field: Madera, Burkard Rewrite USF Record Books at Stanford Invitational

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This past weekend, the Dons competed in two separate track events, smashing school records at both the Stanford Invitational and the San Francisco State Distance Carnival. The weekend was headlined by redshirt junior Jose Madera’s incredible performance that blew the Dons’ old 10,000-meter (6.21 mile) record out of the water, beating it by more than 19 seconds. Madera was not the only San Francisco athlete to have a solid performance, however, with several other Dons placing amongst the top finishers as well.

Madera ran to eighth place overall at the Stanford Invitational, earning a time of 29:19.23 in the 10,000-meter race. Joining Madera at Stanford was junior middle distance runner Sean Gomes, who also earned a top-ten finish in his section of the 800-meter (0.5 mile) course. Gomes was a mere two seconds off of USF’s 800-meter record, coming in with a time of 1:54.39.

Meanwhile, other USF athletes competed at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival at San Francisco State University. Junior long jumper Nile Norwood, who competed in both meets, took first at San Francisco State with a jump of 6.99 meters on his final jump. Norwood came extremely close to breaking a school record that has stood since 1966, but was just two-hundredths of a meter short.

Several other Dons turned in top-ten finishes on the weekend. Senior runner Gustavo Mena finished 10th in the 1,500-meter (0.93 mile) event, and senior Adam Smith was seventh in the 3,000-meter (1.86 mile) race. Among the field competitors, freshman javelin thrower Katoa Ahau ended with a fourth-place result.

“We are pleased with how so many of our athletes stepped up this weekend,” head coach Helen Lehman-Winters told usfdons.com. “We had multiple personal bests with many others showing a ton of improvement.  We walked away from this weekend with five NCAA qualifiers and look forward to picking up more later this month.”

 

WOMEN

USF’s female athletes competed at both the Stanford Invitational and the San Francisco State Distance Carnival this past weekend, and just like the men, they set multiple records in several different events. The highlight of the weekend was sophomore distance runner Elena Burkard’s record-toppling 5,000-meter run. Burkard, who hails from Germany, beat the previous record, which was held by teammate senior Jana Soethout, by a healthy six seconds.

Burkard placed in seventh after her record-setting time of 16:05.84. She was not the only Don to break a record, with sophomore hurdler Eleni Fkiaras besting her previous school record by a second, crossing the finish line in 66.0 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles event. Her time was enough to earn her second place in her section at Stanford. Junior Kamilah Davis also had a strong run at the Stanford Invitational, completing the 100-meter (.06 mile) dash in 12.51 seconds.

Fkiaras also took part in 4×100-meter relay, joining Davis and freshmen Asaundra Dalton and Lupe Medina. Together, the team of four runners were able to place in second with another record-breaking time of 48.42. Junior distance runner Kailey Ulland couldn’t add to the long list of new school records, but she ran to a personal best time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, finishing fifth at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival.

Both the men’s and women’s teams are scheduled to compete at the Sun Angel Invitational in Phoenix, Ariz. from April 11-12. Based on the three new USF records that were set at last weekend’s meets, the Dons seem poised to be among the top competitors in the Valley of the Sun.

 

 

USF Boxing's Akira Chin takes a forceful swing at Syracuse boxer Tony Chao. Chin charged past Chao to win the championship for the men's 152-pound weight class. (Photo courtesy of Robert Azcarate-Bascherini)

USF Boxing Makes Solid Impression at USIBA Nationals

For the USF Boxing Team, last weekend was the culmination of blood, sweat, tears and a long year that started well before the Hilltop Cup X in October. Six boxers representing USF traveled to Miami, Florida for the Second Annual United States Intercollegiate Boxing Association (USIBA) Championships, which took place from April 3-5, and two returned as national champions. Akira Chin and Ian Peterson were both crowned individual champions, and altogether the fighters’ efforts demonstrated the strength of USF’s boxing program, as well as its head coach, Angelo Merino.

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Baseball Dons Take Two From LMU

On Sunday, the Dons closed out a three-game series in Los Angeles against LMU on a low note, losing 5-4 on redshirt senior pitcher Houston Hibberd’s eighth-inning balk that sent home the game-winning run.

USF struck first in the third game of the series, building an early 4-0 lead thanks to clutch hitting by senior first baseman Zack Turner and junior center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who has now recorded a hit in 18 consecutive games. LMU, however, scored four runs in the fifth inning, turning a 4-0 deficit into a tie ballgame.

The game remained tied at four until the bottom of the eighth inning, when LMU’s David Edwards proceeded to hit a double, steal third, and then force Hibberd into a balk. Edwards was then awarded a run, putting the Lions up by one. USF had one more chance to respond in the ninth inning, but  was unable to convert. The loss puts the Dons (15-15) back at .500 on the season and 5-7 in West Coast Conference play.

On Saturday,  San Francisco took care of business against the Lions, winning handily 9-3. The Dons had a big day offensively, scoring eight runs in the first two innings while junior pitcher Christian Cecilio held LMU to just three total runs in a great outing that spanned 6.2 innings. The Dons’ offense took advantage of LMU pitcher Patrick McGrath early and often, as evidenced by Zimmer’s leadoff triple. Junior right fielder Derek Atkinson knocked in Zimmer two batters later with a single back up the middle, and from then on the runs began to pour in.

After the first inning, the Dons had tallied five runs. McGrath would end up surrendering eight runs in 1.2 innings, including six earned, along with nine hits and two walks. Combining Saturday’s win with their victory on Friday, the Dons notched a two-game winning streak for the first time since March 25.

In the series opener on Friday,   USF and LMU were locked in a tie ballgame until a three-run eighth inning from the Dons vaulted them ahead for good and helped them secure a 6-4 victory. Junior first baseman Brendan Hendriks broke the stalemate with an RBI single up the middle. An ensuing error by LMU second baseman David Edwards allowed two more to score and put the Dons up 6-3, a lead that would be held by Dons closer Hibberd, who fanned Edwards and forced a game-ending double play to seal LMU’s fate.

Atkinson had a productive day at the plate, accumulating three hits and an RBI. The Dons’ senior  right hander Abe Bobb shut down the LMU offense, allowing only three runs to come from 13 hits while not walking a single batter. Senior left hander Ben Graff   relieved Bobb, pitching 1.1 innings of perfect baseball to ensure that Hibberd had a chance at the save opportunity.

The result of the Dons’ game against San Jose State on Tuesday, April 8 was not available at press time. The Dons now turn their focus to the Pacific Tigers, whom they will host on Friday, April 11 at 3:00 p.m. in the first game of a three-game series. Pacific is tied with USF for 6th place in the WCC, and is 14-19 overall on the season.

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Men’s Tennis Victory Over Cal Poly Salvages Rough Week for Dons

The Dons’ two-game losing streak came to an end on Monday, with redshirt junior James Tallman winning the deciding point in USF’s resilient 4-3 victory over Cal Poly.

San Francisco started slowly against the Mustangs, falling behind 2-0 before winning three straight points, the third coming on a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win from freshman Timothy Tan. Later, with the two squads deadlocked at three points apiece, Tallman took control to defeat Cal Poly’s Jurgen De Jager 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) and help USF improve to 10-12 on the year.

On Saturday, the Dons lost their second game in two days against a West Coast Conference opponent, getting crushed 6-1 by the No. 55 San Diego Toreros. The Dons’ only point came from a win by junior Bernardo Saraiva against ‘s Clarke Spinosa, who was ranked 49th nationally at the time.

The match with San Diego was a tough one that saw the Dons struggle to fall into a groove. After sweeping all three of the doubles matches, the Toreros had the lead and never looked back. San Diego was only interrupted when USF’s Saraiva was to able to defeat Spinosa 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.  The loss dropped USF to 0-6 in conference play.

The day before, the Dons played in a rain-soaked home match against BYU and were not able to hold on for the win. USF took an early 2-0 lead in the beginning, but BYU was able to surge past the Dons with five straight victories, ultimately taking the 5-2 win back to Provo, Utah.

Starting out the day, senior Germain Bahri went up against BYU’s Jacob Sullivan, and was able to defeat him 6-2, 6-2. Combined with the doubles sweep that saw freshman Christian Brockstedt and Tan defeat BYU’s Matthew Pearce and Francis Sargeant 8-3 and the duo of Bahri and sophomore Thomas Takemato defeat Jeremy Bourgeois and Jacob Sullivan 8-2, the Dons were quickly up 2-0.

The Dons’ momentum was stalled by a momentary rain delay, and from then on it was all BYU. After the Cougars’ Andrey Goryachkov defeated sophomore Nils Skajaa, the rally was on, and Bourgeois followed suit, defeating Takemoto 6-4, 7-6(8), eventually setting the stage for a showdown between BYU’s nationally ranked Francis Sargeant and Saraiva. Despite going up in the first set, Saraiva was unable to hang on as Sargeant rallied past him 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to secure the win for the Cougars.

The Dons will hit the road in search of their first conference win of the season when they head to Spokane, Wash. to play Gonzaga on April 11.

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NLRB Decision Sparks Student Athlete Union Debate

 

The NCAA has long denied college athletes the right to be viewed as employees, but as of late, a change in the system is looking more and more likely.

On March 27 in Chicago, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that football players at Northwestern University can legally form a union. The ruling, which came in response to a petition created by ex-Northwestern football player Kain Colter along with the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), also described the athletes on Northwestern’s football team as “employees.” This was a surprising decision that placed the power to make history in the hands of the Northwestern players, who can now form the first ever student athlete union in college sports.

The NCAA voiced its disapproval of the decision, as did Northwestern. At press time, Northwestern had yet to request a review of the ruling, but the private Illinois university has made clear that it intends to issue an appeal. Many fear that this will take the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, and will greatly postpone any resolution. In the meantime, Northwestern football players may form a union as soon as April 25, when the athletes will vote for or against unionizing under CAPA.

In the wake of the NLRB’s verdict, opinions have been divided as to whether or not student athletes should be seen as workers who can be part of a labor union. A common argument is that athletes dedicate the same amount of hours to their sport as employees do to their occupation, and also that they deserve better medical coverage and more in-depth injury testing, which a union could help secure. Moreover, USF legal studies professor Robert Elias points out that student athletes should to be rewarded for serving as a means of revenue for their wealthy bosses, their schools, and the NCAA.

“These employees are not paid for any of the income they generate, and they also have no other benefits that employees would normally be able to secure for themselves, especially if they were to unionize,” Elias said. “If the initial NLRB decision holds up, then it means that college athletes will have a basis for getting some piece of that enormous income, in exchange for their labors.”

In contrast, there are many reasons to believe that labor unions are unnecessary for college athletes. Some argue that since players already receive many benefits from their schools, such as guaranteed housing and scholarships, they should not be paid for their efforts. Others acknowledge that there may be problems with the treatment of college athletes, but that they should be solved by the team itself, instead of enabling unions and potentially reforming the NCAA’s system. Northwestern’s head football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, sees this method as the best possible solution.

“All this can be handled with communication. It’s about trust,” Fitzgerald told the press on Saturday. “I just do not believe we need a third party between our players and our coaches, staff, and administrators…whatever they need, we will get them.”

Despite the clashing opinions that have arisen from the aftermath of the NLRB ruling, some have attempted to find a middle ground. Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-12 conference, is open to an alteration in how the NCAA currently functions, but does not feel that student athletes should receive salaries.

“We absolutely should do more and I’m going to continue to push for us to do more,” Scott said in an interview with ESPN.com. “It just can’t cross that line of starting to get paid a salary or negotiating through collective bargaining. That’s a pro model, completely different.”

While it is clear that disagreement is abound and that many are hesitant to accept student athletes as employees, the reality is that by allowing Northwestern football players to unionize, the NLRB pushed us a step closer to a world where college athletes are paid to do what they do. Since the March 27 decision, multiple players from other schools have shown interest in unionizing, according to United Steelworkers member Tim Waters. If the Northwestern players do indeed vote to become a union on April 25, intrigue from players at other universities will surely increase.

The historic decision also has implications for USF and other private universities. Since the NLRB’s rulings can only cover private schools, it would be much more difficult for unionizing to be made possible at public universities, but it is conceivable that another private school could follow in Northwestern’s footsteps in the near future.

Sophomore business finance major Kenneth Lapuz is unenthusiastic about the prospect of student athletes being paid at USF.

“Going to a school where athletes are paid or are part of a union would be somewhat disastrous,” Lapuz said. “The student athletes will express no admiration for their institution whatsoever. They will merely be paid to receive an education and to play on an athletic team, not to mention the amount of power they possess since they are unionized.”