Jan. 17, 2013
WOODLAND, CALIF. - Proving they perform at a high level whether it is in the pool or in the classroom, the Cal men's water polo program had 12 players earn 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Academic honors, it was announced by MPSF executive director Al Beaird. Seniors Marin Balarin and Mason Cox; juniors Miguel Martin de Bustamante, Giacomo Cupido, Michael Boggan and Hunter Gettelfinger; sophomores Aleksa Saponjic, Jon Sibley, Luka Ivanovic, Matt Russell and Blake Kelly; and redshirt freshman Thomas Agramonte; were all noted by the league office for their academic achievements.
The Golden Bears' 12 academic honorees were the most academic award winners of any of the schools in the MPSF. To be eligible for the MPSF All-Academic Team, an athlete must have a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA, must be at least a sophomore academically, and must have competed in fifty percent or more of a team's matches.
"This is a great way to start the year for us," said Cal coach Kirk Everist. "Having 12 members of our conference tournament team from 2012 earn spots on the MPSF All-Academic Team is fantastic. I am very proud of the way this group battled this past season, and their work in the classroom is another testament to their toughness."
Everist's squad finished the 2012 campaign 17-8, winning seven of its last eight matches, including upending No. 2-ranked UCLA, 12-9, in the MPSF tournament semifinal. Cal only loses graduating seniors Marin Balarin and Mason Cox from the 2012 squad, and return all-conference picks Aleksa Saponjic and Collin Smith for the 2013 season.
Saponjic, a sophomore attacker who won a bronze medal competing for Serbia at the 2012 London Olympics, was second on the team in scoring with 45 goals in 20 matches, including pacing Cal with four goals in the 11-9 victory over Pepperdine in the first round of the MPSF tournament. He concluded the year with 28 assists, 17 steals, 12 ejections earned and five field blocks. As a freshman in 2011, Saponjic earned honorable mention All-America honors and was an ACWPC All-Academic selection.
Junior attacker Smith led the Bears in scoring this season with 61 goals in 23 matches (2.65 gpg, fifth in the MPSF) and had a team-high 31 assists, with 31 steals, 10 field blocks and 11 ejections earned. He scored three goals in Cal's MPSF first round victory over Pepperdine and was twice named MPSF Player of the Week during the regular season - Oct. 20 when he scored six goals in a Big Splash victory over Stanford, and Sept. 10 when he had 19 goals in five matches at the Princeton Invitational. Smith was an honorable mention All-American in 2011 and currently has 103 career goals.