VIDEO: Top Ten Successful Athletes at UCSB No. 10 through 1


Produced and Written by:

Steven Wilson
Features Editor

With help from: Tina Corbett- Videographer and Oscar Cortez- Videographer

The Bottom Line breaks down the top ten successful athletes at UCSB for 2010-2011.

Numbers 10 through 6.


10. Kathryn Nelson (Women’s Water Polo): Unfortunately for Nelson, a concussion in the first game of the Big West Tournament ended her season on a sour note. Yet, this senior posted one of the most surprising and productive seasons for her team. She recorded 53 goals for her team, which was good for sixth in the Big West. She was also the team’s best offensive threat. The past two seasons, the coaches had Nelson guarding the team’s best offensive player and rarely took any shot opportunities. With this being noted, she earns a spot on this list because she made a complete switch to the offensive scoring machine she was this season. “Just by being the leading scorer for a team which was always ranked in the top 20, Nelson deserves a spot on this list,” says Bill Mahoney, Associate Athletic Director of Athletics Communications. She surprised the coaches, her team and the media, including myself.

9. James Nunnally (Men’s Basketball): Nunnally is one of the few players in UCSB history that has scored over 1,000 points in his career. He accounted for 520 points this season, and averaged 16.3 points per game. His best game came early in the season with a win over Santa Clara. Nunnally scored a game-high 34 points and also had five rebounds and three steals. Nunnally was second on the team in rebounds (183), third on the team in shooting percentage (.466), and was third on the team in assists (57). If they counted the number of dunks on the season, Nunnally would likely lead that group too. He was second on the team in free throw percentage with the majority of them coming in the finals seconds of the game, or as some like to call it, ‘crunch time’. Nunnally stepped up for the Gauchos in the playoffs and really became more of a team player. He passed the ball more and found the open player to earn the easy basket. He was a big part in the Gauchos playoff run and it is doubtful they would have gotten that far without them. The reason he is sitting at number nine, is that his points per game in conference play dropped to 13.9.

8. Andrea Ward (Women’s Swimming): What a surprise Ward was for the Women’s Swim Team. Ward was named a Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention for her productive 2010 season. In her final contest of the season, Ward set three UCSB school records at the MPSF Swimming and Diving Championships (1650 freestyle, the 100 fly and the 500 freestyle). These records had stood for 20, 3 and 20 years respectively. Ward is only a freshman and will most likely move to a higher spot on this list next year.

7. Emily Johnson (Women’s Basketball): One of the hardest workers at UCSB, Johnson deserves to be mentioned on almost every list ever made. Johnson has run the Women’s Basketball team for two years now but has started for three. Her role has been forced upon her but she has never complained and she has surpassed almost every expectation. She has changed from the freshman shooter, to the sophomore assist specialist to the junior who did both and excelled at doing both. Johnson turned it on this season when she needed to. In her best game this season, Johnson scored 31 points and it could not have come at a better time. The team defeated Pacific in a conference road game and then she led the team to seven more wins in the last eight games of the season. She also led her team in scoring 17 times this season, which is more than any other player. Johnson helped her team earn a share of the regular season Big West Conference title, and the expectations will be even higher for next season. Johnson is also in the 1,000 career-points club at UCSB.

6. Dana Vargas (Women’s Volleyball): An All-American pick, Vargas earns the number six spot on the list of successful seasons. “She was great to watch. You’d see quarterbacks or point guards just take over a game, you could a volleyball match and watch Dana Vargas pretty much take over,” says Matt Hurst, Associate Athletic Director of Athletics Communications. Vargas led the team in assists (1177) and also boasted the highest GPA on the team. Vargas finished the season ranked among the best setters in the nation with her 10.60 assists per set average while also setting a career-high in digs (267). She surpassed the 1,000-assist mark for the third time in her career. She finished third all-time in UCSB history in assists. If the team made the playoffs, Vargas would be higher up.

Numbers 5-1.

5. Chris Peterson (Men’s Swimming): If you ever ride by Campus Pool around six in the morning, Peterson and the rest of the swim team will be doing lap after lap. All of these athletes train extremely hard, and for Peterson, it paid off last month. Peterson was the only athlete in Swimming to represent his team at the NCAA championships this year. Although he swam a bit slower in the NCAA championships than he did in the conference championships, he broke seven-time Olympic medalist Jason Lezak’s 50- and 100-meter school records. Peterson was recently named an All-American to the Men’s First Team, a feat worthy of a top ten and top five spot. Peterson was also awarded with a PAC-10 All-Academic First Team selection, meaning he gets his work done in the pool and out of it. Peterson is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and has a 3.60 GPA, making him even more worthy of this spot. He is a great example of a student-athlete, and the hard work he puts into his sport has paid off. Great things are expected from him next season.

4. Milos Golic (Men’s Water Polo): Golic could be the best water polo player that UCSB has ever seen. Yet, it was his scholastic efforts that put him this high up on the list. Golic, along with Peterson (just mentioned) both earned the Golden Eagle award for their respective sports. These awards emphasize the “student” in “student-athlete.” Golic is a Business Economics major and recently applied to Harvard and Princeton Graduate programs. With his 3.80 GPA, he may just get in. Golic set a record that has stood at UCSB for over 20 years in his sport and he is now the current leader in career goals scored at UCSB. Golic is also a four-time All-American selection which, even if there are only 20 or so schools competing in water polo, is still a major accomplishment. Golic is one of three other four-time All-American selections at UCSB. His 272 career goals topped the previous school record of 244 set by Larry Mouchawar in 1983. Golic falls at number four on this list because his 60 goals this season were his third lowest total of his four years at UCSB and his team failed to go deep into the playoffs. Yet, as his coach Wolf Wigo and Paul Stumpf, the Women’s Soccer coach, both said, “If water polo was an individual sport, Golic would be a national champion.”

3. Jeff Menzel (Men’s Volleyball): Menzel carried his team to the NCAA final four for the first time in over 20 years. Even though he has not done it alone, this feat makes Menzel a shoe-in for this spot on the list. Menzel is one of two All-Americans on the team and leads the team in almost every meaningful statistic. “He carried the team on his back almost single-handedly to a very much unexpected MPSF championship,” says Bill Mahoney, Assistant Athletic Director for Athletics Communications. Menzel led the team in kills nearly every game of the playoffs and could go down in history as the best male volleyball player that UCSB has ever seen. Menzel helped his team gain momentum over the past four weeks and has done a solid job as a team leader.  There isn’t much more you can say about Menzel, besides he is one of the best athletes at UCSB. Having said all this, there are only 23 schools competing for a national championship in Men’s Volleyball at the division one level. Menzel is the best of the best at his sport, but with the other competitors on this list competing against a wider range of competitors, Menzel falls to a respectable number three.

2. Orlando Johnson (Men’s Basketball): After red-shirting his first year after transferring, Johnson has scored over 1,000 points in just a two year span. “The thing that you love about his game is how it has evolved as a player, the shooting ability, the ability to create his own shot and the ability to get his teammates involved. He can play above the rim… He is definitely one of the best mid-major players in the country,” says fourth year Communication major, and athletic department intern Victor Bryant. Bill Mahoney also commented on Johnson’s success as he sums up Johnson’s tournament play, “Entering the Big West tournament, Santa Barbara was 0-2 against each of its three opponents, but Johnson scored 85 points in the three games, making 66.7% of his three-point attempts in the process, to give his team its second straight [Big West] title.” Johnson was awarded with the Big West Tournament MVP and is awarded here as having the second most successful season at UCSB. Johnson tied the school record for most points in a game (39) on February 6 against UC Davis. Johnson also broke the school record for points in a season as he scored 674 points this past season, 25 more than the previous record set back in the 1996-’97 season. The only reason Johnson sits at number two on this list is because of the fact that the number one selection is a two-sport champion and has broken more records.

1. Amanda Moreno (Women’s Cross Country): There is no question Moreno has had one of the most successful seasons in UCSB history for cross-country, but now she is having a stellar track season as well. In cross-country she could have finished with All-American honors if she didn’t trip with one mile left in the NCAA Championship race. She has broken a countless amount of records that were previously held for years. She didn’t just break these records, though. She shattered them. She shaved seconds and sometimes minutes off the previous record time. If you don’t agree with me then try to imagine this, Johnson or Menzel play at USC or UCLA and not only do they break their own school record for points scored or kills, but they set the arena record for kills or points in a game. Moreno has done this at multiple locations this season setting the bar high for all future athletes. Almost every time she competes, she breaks another record. But she isn’t just breaking school records; she is setting the bar for the Big West. Earlier this season, Moreno broke the 5,000m school record set by Danielle Domenichelli last year. Her time of 15:58.02 is a new conference record and qualifies her to run in the Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 25th in Eugene, Oregon. In one of her last races in cross-country, Moreno beat the Big West record in a 6K race by 12 seconds. This even broke the course record. Moreno is looking for a good finish in the NCAA championships in Track this month, which would solidify this number-one position for her. At the moment, she is No. 11 in the nation in Track and Field. In a sport that is often overlooked, and accomplishments are undermined, Moreno is having one of the best seasons ever.

Don’t agree with me?

Then leave a comment and let the debating begin!

Here are the ones who didn’t make the list, but were close: The Honorable Mentions:

Jesse Meaux (Baseball): Anyone who is drafted by the major leagues should at least be mentioned on this list. Because of his size and arm velocity, Meaux will most likely be drafted again. Yet, one could make the argument that he had a down senior year. This could be from a lack of run support because his strikeouts are consistent from year to year. Meaux deserves at the very least a mention in this list of the best athletes at UCSB.

Cullen Irons (Men’s Volleyball): Cullens had a rebound season after missing previous years with injuries. He was second on the team with kills, only behind All-American Jeff Menzel (higher on this list). Cullens helped the team to a number three ranking and to the NCAA championship game. Cullens is sitting on the honorable mention list because of his counterpart, Jeff Menzel, and because if he were the star of the team, he would be getting the defensive attention that Menzel gets. Would his numbers be as high? Being a senior, Irons will not have a chance to make this list next year, but he could very well compete professionally if he decides to.

Michael Boxall (Men’s Soccer): The Vancouver Whitecaps are fortunate to pick up a player like Boxall in the supplemental soccer draft. His combination of size, speed and quickness make him a perfect addition for any defensive backfield. Yet, the season for the Men’s Soccer team was not about any one individual. They had a multitude of contributors and did well as a team. Unfortunately he does not make the top ten because of this. He has the skills to succeed at the professional level but his career here does not push him into the top ten successful athletes at UCSB.

Zsombor Vincze (Men’s Water Polo): Vincze should not be overlooked on this list, but could not outdue his counterpart Golic to lead the team in scoring. The team had a productive season and started off strong, but when Vincze went down with multiple mid-season injuries, the team struggled. Vincze was second on the team in scoring and … Once again an athlete misses out on this list because of their teammate. Golic and a season plagued with injuries push Vincze just outside of the top ten athletes.

Mark Haddow (Baseball): Haddow leads the team in slugging percentage, RBI’s and home runs. He has had a very productive season and could be awarded with a Big West First Team selection after the season. He is left off this list because even with such a productive season, his team barely sits above .500. It may not be his fault that they are down in the rankings, but to be higher on the list, his team needs more wins, especially on the road.

Ryan Martin (Men’s Track and Field): Martin has burst onto the scene as of late and his win over UCI in the 800m race was incredible. Martin has improved the most when it really counts, at the end of the season and going into championships. Martin is left off this list simply because his accomplishments are very recent and he needs consistency to make a top ten spot. His upcoming performance at the NCAA Championships in Track and Field will give us a marker to better gauge his success.

Barbara Nwaba (Women’s Track and Field): When your coach wants you to redshirt your outdoor track season after an amazing indoor track season, you know they have a reason for it. This being that she is so good they want her for one more year at UCSB to earn more points and get more wins. The redshirt year will help her prepare for one of the toughest competitions in track and should maximize her potential. The pentathalon consists of the 100 m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 m sprints, long jump, javelin throw and the 800 m run. Nwaba misses out on this list because of her redshirt outdoor season. She had a very successful indoor season but without competing in both, her year was just too short to move her any higher up.