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Cal Poly awards Athletes of the Year for 2019-20

Cal Poly awards Athletes of the Year for 2019-20

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Cal Poly women’s volleyball standout Maia Dvoracek and football wide receiver J.J. Koski have been selected as Cal Poly’s female and male athletes of the year for the 2019-20 academic year. In addition, cross country star Jake Ritter was named Cal Poly's Male Scholar-Athlete while the women’s award went to soccer goalkeeper Sophia Brown.

The awards were announced Wednesday by Cal Poly director of athletics Don Oberhelman.

Named to the U.S. Women's Collegiate National Team in March, Dvoracek had a breakout season in 2019 for Cal Poly. After playing just a combined 30 sets in her first two years, Dvoracek stepped into the starting lineup with big shoes to fill and took full advantage of her opportunity, parlaying it into becoming an AVCA Third Team All-American, AVCA All-Region, and First Team All-Big West selection.

The junior from Truckee, Calif., led the Mustangs and was second in the Big West with 4.25 kills per set and was among the top five in the nation in service aces while starting all 30 matches and playing every set.

Dvoracek recorded double-figure kills in 20 straight matches and had seven double-doubles during the season. She was named Big West Player of the Week five times and produced double-digit kills in all 16 conference matches.

Dvoracek led Cal Poly to a second-place Big West Conference finish and its 17th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including the third in a row. The Mustangs finished the 2019 season 21-9 overall, their third straight 20-win season, and 13-3 in the Big West, good for a second-place finish. Cal Poly has won 32 consecutive home matches, longest active winning streak in the NCAA.

Koski, who signed a high priority free agent contract with the Los Angeles Rams hours after the 2020 NFL Draft in late April, earned Cal Poly's most valuable player and most valuable offensive player awards following the 2019 season. He was a first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection in November and also was named to Phil Steele's Big Sky Conference Team.

The 6-1, 195-pound fifth-year senior caught 42 passes for 868 yards and eight touchdowns in his final season as a Mustang last fall. With 121 receptions, 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns in his Mustang career, the San Ramon Valley High School graduate is tied for fifth in touchdowns, No. 5 alone in receiving yards and No. 6 by himself in receptions.

His career highs were established in the UC Davis game in October when Koski caught eight passes for 163 yards. Another career high was set in the Eastern Washington contest in November as Koski scored three touchdowns.

Koski, Cal Poly's leading receiver for three consecutive seasons, was an all-Big Sky third-team selection a year ago and finished his career with a 19.1-yard average per reception, ninth in Cal Poly's Division I record book. He graduated last fall with a degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting.

In January, Koski became the first Cal Poly football player in six years to compete in an all-star game, making one catch and one tackle in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Dvoracek will return for her senior season this fall while Koski will be reporting to camp as a rookie wide receiver for the Rams later this month.

Other female athletes nominated for the Athlete of the Year award were cross country standout Miranda Daschian, indoor track and field pole vaulter Brooke Tjerrild, basketball star Sierra Campisano, soccer goalkeeper Sophia Brown, beach volleyball standout Emily Sonny, swimming and diving breaststroker Amelia Feick, softball first baseman Hailey Martin, golfer Caroline Cantlay and tennis freshman Melissa LaMette.

Male athletes nominated for the award included baseball pitcher Taylor Dollard, golfer Tanner Podres, basketball shooting guard Junior Ballard, wrestler Tom Lane, cross country standout Jake Ritter, swimming and diving’s Paul Rogers and tennis star Antoine Noel. Lane was a three-time national qualifier while Rogers qualified for the nationals in three events. Both were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Ritter and Brown were announced as the Mustangs' Big West Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year in March.

Ritter won his second consecutive Big West Athlete of the Year award in November, becoming the ninth individual since 1979 to be selected for the yearly accolade two times in a row.

At the 2019 conference cross country championships, Ritter beat the rest of the field by more than 42 seconds to go back-to-back as Big West medalist, clocking a performance of 23:43.7, good for No. 9 in UCR course history for an 8k format and leading the Mustangs to their fourth straight Big West team title.

In February, Ritter, a civil engineering major from Citrus Heights, Calif., was selected as one of four recipients for the Annual Achievement Award in the collegiate category at the Sacramento Running Association's 2020 Hall of Fame banquet.

Ritter has earned six consecutive Dean's List honors.

This past fall, Brown earned a pair of Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week accolade as a senior. She earned the second award Nov. 4 after not only posting a shutout but also scoring a seldom-seen goal tallied by a goalkeeper, converting a penalty to record the first score by a keeper in program history.

Brown had 13 career shutouts, along with a career saves total of 364, which ranked not only No. 2 in school history but also No. 4 all-time in the Big West. She also wrapped up her career third in Cal Poly history for appearances in goal (71).

An aerospace engineering major from Pleasanton, Brown graduated in June as an eight-time Dean's List honoree. She is a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, has served as a Block P representative for women’s soccer, coaches youth at a local school and participates in the Cal Poly AERO Mentoring Program for freshmen and sophomores.

Ritter currently is serving an engineering internship for AECOM in Sacramento and will return to Cal Poly this fall for his final season. Brown currently works as a systems engineer for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

- This report was contributed Eric Burdick, Associate Director of Athletics for Communications

Jason Anderson is the Digital Producer for the Santa Maria Times. He can be reached at 805-739-2213

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In the media poll, Montana received eight first-place votes, Montana State six and Eastern Washington and UC Davis one each. In the head coaches poll, Montana earned three first-place votes and Montana State, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State one each. Cal Poly, under new head coach Beau Baldwin, is scheduled to open its 2020 season Sept. 5 at ULM (formerly Louisiana-Monroe).

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