Hamilton Honors Top Athletes From the Class of 2016
Olivia Gozdz ’16 (Darien, Conn./Darien HS) and Adam Pfander ’16 (Beacon, N.Y./Concord Academy) received the 2016 Jack B. Riffle Awards at Hamilton College's senior varsity athlete awards dinner on May 19.
Gozdz was a record-setting outfielder for Hamilton's softball team. Pfander starred on the Continentals' cross country and track & field teams.
The Riffle Awards have been presented annually since 1987 to the top male and female athlete in Hamilton's senior class. Riffle graduated from Hamilton in 1950 and passed away on Dec. 13, 1986. A group of Riffle's friends and associates established a memorial fund in his name because of his deep interest in Hamilton athletics.
Gozdz is the only Hamilton softball player to earn first-team all-NESCAC recognition three times (2013, 2015, 2016). The outfielder leads the NESCAC with 13 stolen bases, and is fourth in the conference with a .488 on-base percentage. She is fifth with four triples, fifth with a .420 batting average and 47 hits and 11th with 67 total bases in 35 games. Gozdz led the Continentals with 25 runs scored, a .598 slugging percentage and 12 walks. She added three doubles, three home runs and 17 runs batted in.
Gozdz is all over the program's career records list. She is the team's all-time leader with 164 hits, 83 runs and 37 doubles. Gozdz is third all-time with 70 RBIs and tied for third with 39 walks. She finished with a .411 batting average, .471 on-base percentage and .581 slugging percentage for her 126-game career.
Pfander is just the second Continental to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships as an individual and as part of a team. As a sophomore, he earned an individual trip to nationals with a 19th-place finish at regionals and this past fall he helped the Continentals qualify as a team for just the second time in program history. Pfander won New York State Collegiate Track Conference (NYSCTC) cross country titles in 2013 and 2015 (both on his home course) and was a two-time national Runner of the Week selection by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
In track & field, Pfander broke the school record in the 10,000-meter run as a sophomore and lowered the mark to 31:07.20 this spring. He won the NYSCTC title in that race two weeks ago.
Football player Alex Mitko ’16 (Cranbury, N.J./Princeton HS) and Hannah Withiam ’16 (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich Academy) of the soccer and lacrosse teams received the Milton H. Jannone Awards. The Jannone Awards are presented annually to a male and female senior athlete who exhibit outstanding athleticism, leadership and academic accomplishment.
Mitko became the football program's first academic All-American when he was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Division III Football Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). A second-team selection at defensive back, he started every game at strong safety during his four-year career. He was the Continentals' leading tackler this fall with 59 total stops, including a team-leading 43 solo tackles. He earned first-team honors on the District 3 All-Academic Team three times and was a three-time selection to the NESCAC All-Academic Team.
Withiam was a four-year starter in both soccer and lacrosse. In soccer she scored 23 points (eight goals, seven assists) while starting all but one game during her career. On the lacrosse field she earned all-region honors twice, with a second-team selection to the 2015 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Berkshire Region all-star team and a spot on the first team this spring. Over her 64-game career, Withiam picked up 85 ground balls, won 46 draw controls and caused 40 turnovers as one of the team's defensive stalwarts. She was named to the NESCAC's fall and winter All-Academic Teams three times apiece.
Two-sport standout Dylan Berardelli '16 (Dalton, Pa./Abington Heights HS) and Heather Piekarz '16 (Southborough, Mass. /Saint Mark's School) of the rowing team received the Jean-Marius Gelas Memorial Awards. The Gelas Awards are presented annually to a male and female senior student-athlete who has displayed outstanding development in sportsmanship, leadership, character and athletic ability during their college years.
Berardelli was an all-conference offensive lineman for the football team, earning second-team all-NESCAC honors. In track & field, he posted record-setting performances during the indoor and outdoor seasons. He lowered his own mark in the 35-pound weight throw seven times this winter; his last record-breaking performance, 16.76 meters, was good for fourth place at the NYSCTC meet. Earlier this week he took fifth in the hammer throw at the ECAC Championships; his effort of 54.90 meters broke a 32-year-old school record.
An all-NESCAC selection this year, Piekarz earned first-team All-America honors as a coxswain last spring. She coxed Hamilton's varsity 8 boat to top-10 national rankings the last two years; the Continentals finished third after winning the bronze medal in the grand final at last May's NCAA Division III Championships (their first trip ever to the NCAA meet) and were 10th in the final regular-season poll this season. Piekarz is the first member of the women's rowing program, which became a varsity sport in 1998, to win the Gelas Award.