June 5, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. -After one of the greatest all-around seasons in Cal water polo history last fall, Golden Bear junior Ivan Rackov has been named the winner of the 2010-11 Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top male collegiate water polo player at the annual awards ceremony, Saturday, June 4 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Back on January 30, Rackov was also selected the 2010 National Player of the Year by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches. The junior standout was the leading scorer and paced the Cal squad in assists and steals for the NCAA runner-up Bears.
Rackov, from Belgrade, Serbia, helped Cal finish 24-4 and advance to the national title match. He was a 2010 first-team MPSF selection and a member of both NCAA and the MPSF All-Tournament Teams. The talented driver led the MPSF with 79 goals in 28 matches (2.82 gpg) and was twice named MPSF Player of the Week (Oct. 18 and Nov. 1). Rackov led Cal with 82 assists and 70 steals and was the Bears' top scorer in 18 of 28 matches, tallying at least one goal in every match during the 2010 season.
"It is a privilege to be a part of such a great award in the name of Pete (Cutino)," said Cal coach Kirk Everist, who played under Cutino, was named the 1988 NCAA Player of the Year, and has now coached two Cutino Award winners. "We are very proud of Ivan and the 2010 team to be a part of such a prestigious honor."
For the first time in school history, Cal had both a female and a male finalist for the Peter J. Cutino Award, presented to the nation's top male and female collegiate water polo player. On the women's side, junior Emily Csikos, who led her 2011 Bear squad to a national runner-up finish, was a finalist along with Melissa Seidemann of Stanford, and Kristen Dronberger of USC. Annika Dries of the national champion Stanford squad won the Cutino Award on the woman's side. On the men's side, Joel Dennerley from USC and Goran Tomesevic from Pacific were the other two finalists for the Cutino Award.
In 2007, standout men's player John Mann became the first Cal athlete to be selected for the Cutino Award after the Bears won the 2006 national crown. Attila Banhidy was a Cutino Award finalist in 2003-04, and Michael Sharf was a finalist in 2007-08.
Csikos, from Calgery, Alberta, Canada, helped lead the Bears women's water polo program to their first-ever NCAA runner-up finish May 15 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Csikos was a team captain on the 26-5 Cal squad that fell to No. 1-ranked Stanford, 9-5, in the title match. She scored 33 goals in 24 matches this season, including a goal in each of the Bears' victories during their capturing of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, and six goals during the NCAA tournament.
The namesake of the Cutino Award, Peter Cutino, was the Bears' legendary and beloved water polo coach from 1963-88 and is one of the greatest figures in United States water polo history. The long-time Cal and Olympic Club coach led 21 teams to national titles, including guiding the Bears to eight NCAA championships. Cutino had been the United States' coach in the Olympic Games, Pan-American Games, World Championships, World University Games, Maccabiah Games and many other international tournaments. He was also honored 17-times with the Water Polo Coach of the Year award and was elected to the United States Water Polo Hall of Fame.
Included in Cutino's championship teams were three Olympic Club teams. The Olympic Club squads of 1991 to 1993 were national champions under Cutino's tutelage and helped solidify The Olympic Club's distinguished water polo tradition. Founded in 1860, The Olympic Club of San Francisco is the oldest athletic club in the United States. The Peter J. Cutino Award is presented to the nation's top male and female collegiate water polo players, as voted on by a distinguished panel of collegiate coaches. Each winner will receive a trophy recognizing their individual achievements and a perpetual trophy will remain on display at the Olympic Club.