LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - Siena Baseball junior first baseman Joe Drpich and women's soccer senior back Tara Sobierajski have been selected as the 2016-17 Siena College Male and Female Student Athletes of the Year. Freshmen Evans Kibet from men's cross country/track and Diana Fernandez of water polo were also named the Rookies of the Year at the Siena Athletic Department's 2016-17 All-Sports Celebration.
The annual year-end banquet held in the recently renovated Alumni Recreation Center celebrated the 2016-17 Siena Athletics' school year. The event recognized distinguished achievements throughout the year by Siena College student athletes on the field, in the classroom, and in the community, while honoring the Senior Class of 2017, and highlighting noteworthy successes by student athletes, coaches, administrators and staff.
Siena College Vice President and Director of Athletics John D'Argenio opened the evening with remarks addressing the nearly 400 student athletes, coaches, administrators and staff in attendance, and College Chaplain Fr. Larry Anderson, O.F.M. offered the blessing. Following dinner a pair of videos premiered, with one highlighting the 2016-17 Siena Athletics' Year, and the other serving as a video tribute to the more than 70-member Siena Athletics' Senior Class of 2017.
The evening concluded with an awards ceremony, culminating with the presentation of the 2016-17 Siena College Male and Female Student Athletes and Rookies of the Year Awards.
A native of South Salem, New York, Drpich currently ranks second in the MAAC in both home runs (nine) and RBI (36), is tied for second in total bases (82), and is third in slugging percentage (.577), while also hitting at a stellar .331 clip. He has been tremendous in conference play, where the slugging first baseman is hitting a whopping .429 with five homers and 19 RBI in 15 MAAC contests to date. Drpich has recorded 10 multiple-RBI and 13-multi-hit performances, and earlier this season reached base safely in 20 consecutive games. He enters this weekend's series at Saint Peter's having hit safely in seven straight games, while also homering in his last four contests. The junior eclipsed the 100 career RBI milestone last weekend vs. Iona.
Named Siena College's Female Student Athlete of the Year for the second straight year, Sobierajski became the first-ever three-time First Team All-MAAC selection in women's soccer program history last fall. The Rockaway, New Jersey standout was also heralded as her program's second ever MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to being tabbed a MAAC All-Tournament Team and ECAC First Team All-Star selection. Arguably one of the greatest two-way center backs in conference history, Sobierajski led all league defenders and tied for fourth overall in the MAAC with eight assists. She broke Siena's all-time career record for assists last fall, and finished with 23 for her career. Last season, she quarterbacked a Siena defense which ranked second in the MAAC in goals against average (0.96), while captaining the Saints to a tie for the program's best-ever conference finish (second) and most conference wins (seven). In addition to holding Siena's all-time assists record, Sobierajski also graduates as the program's all-time leader in matches played (82), matches started (82) and minutes played, having logged 7,686 out of a possible 7,689 minutes.
Kibet matriculated from Nandi Hills, Kenya and almost instantly re-wrote his program's record book. He earned Siena's first-ever male cross country All-MAAC selection by virtue of his 15th place finish at the conference championships. Kibet became Siena's first male MAAC Runner of the Week in seven years, and set a school record with a time of 10:05.73 as part of Siena's distance medley relay squad team which qualified for the IC4A Championships. He finished second in the 800-meter finals at the MAAC Championships to become the program's first-ever male individual qualifier for the IC4A's.
A five-time MAAC Rookie of the Week, Fernandez was heralded as a Second Team All-MAAC selection following a record-breaking campaign in which she set a new Siena Water Polo benchmark with 94 ejections drawn. The Chicago, Illinois star ranked fourth in the MAAC in steals (59), fifth in goals scored (75), and sixth in scoring (104). She also excelled in the classroom where she accrued a 3.42 cumulative GPA through her first collegiate semester.
Athletic academic advisor Molly Kaffka presented the Student Athlete Academic Excellence Awards to men's cross country/track's Bryant Hatala (Endwell, New York) and volleyball's Shantraie Rodriguez (Harker Heights, Texas). The honor is awarded annually to both a graduating male and female student athlete who have given outstanding effort and dedication towards improving their academic success.
Director of student athlete engagement Lori Jancik handed out Senior Academic Honor and Academic Excellence Awards to student athletes who have maintained cumulative grade point averages between a 3.2-3.69 and a 3.70-4.0. A total of 27 graduating seniors earned Academic Honor Awards (3.2-3.69), and 14 were bestowed with Academic Excellence (3.7-4.0) honors.
Jancik also presented awards to those who achieved the highest cumulative GPAs amongst Siena student athletes in their respective schools. The awardees were men's soccer's Chip Sherman (Topsfield, Massachusetts) representing the School of Business, men's soccer's Ryan Vyskocil (Parsippany, New Jersey) for the School of Liberal Arts, and men's cross country/track's Shane Fiust-Klink (West Seneca, New York) for the School of Science.
Athletic communications assistant Catherine Prince presented the S.A.IN.T.S. Cup to the women's cross country/track team. The award is presented annually to the Siena Athletics team which was deemed to best represent Siena College off the field in the combined areas of community service, academics, and support of fellow student athletes.
Student Athlete Advisory Committee President and water polo senior Madison Obata presented the SAAC Appreciation Award to strength and conditioning coach Ian Farrell. The award recognizes a member of the athletic administration or support staff for their commitment and dedication to Siena's student athletes.
Three new awards were added to the program this year. The First Annual "Bernie Awards," presented by SAAC to recognize members of the administration and support staff for their contributions towards Siena student athletes, were awarded to strength and conditioning assistant Mike Grieco, Jancik, associate athletic director Lori Anctil, and men's basketball head coach Jimmy Patsos.
Grieco then turned around and presented the softball team with the First Annual "Iron Saint" Award for having shown the biggest improvement in the weight room over the course of the year.
Meanwhile D'Argenio presented a special acknowledgment award to the women's tennis team for their historic season. The Saints posted a remarkable 18-2 overall record, and advanced to the MAAC Championship match. The squad started the season a perfect 15-0, marking the best start to a season ever by any Siena Athletics' program in the nearly eight-decade history of the department.
Following the awards ceremony, the program concluded with D'Argenio offering a champagne toast to the Siena Senior Class of 2017. Each of the seniors then received special graduation sashes to wear at Siena College's upcoming Commencement to be held on May 14.