Part of the beauty of college sports is the anonymity; on any given day, we can pass Gannon’s best athletes on campus or in class without even knowing it.
What sets them apart as big men or women on campus is what they do wearing the Gannon uniform.
So without any further ado, I present JC’s BM(and W)OC’s:
Mani Brueckner, women’s soccer — Just when the Knights lost one of their best all-time players in Amanda Sharbaugh, Brueckner, a freshman forward, turned in a season for the ages, by being named the PSAC Player of the Year and the program’s first NCSAA All-American.
In her first season, Brueckner’s 13 assists shattered the previous Gannon record by four and her 33 points were the fourth-highest single-season total. Gannon fans can only hope the sequel is as good.
Robbie Bennett, men’s soccer — No sophomore slump for this South African, who was named an All-American as well as an All-Atlantic Region selection for the second straight year. Bennett helped lead Gannon to the Sweet 16 and a 13-6 season, the most wins in a season since 2007.
Bennett also had a flair for the dramatic in 2012, scoring four game-winning goals and three game-tying goals.
Lauren Sazama, volleyball — In a scene from the movie “Rudy,” Notre Dame coach Dan Devine orders a player he’s perceiving as defiant by saying “You’re an All-American and our captain, act like it.” Words volleyball coach Matt Darling likely never had to say to Sazama, a senior outside hitter.
To talk about Sazama is to drain the vocabulary of superlatives: Atlantic Region Player of the Year, PSAC Player of the Year, PSAC Tournament Player of the Year, a four-time All-PSAC selection as well as a three-time All-Atlantic Region player.
Opposing teams did all they could not to hit it to the area Sazama patrolled, a place rallies went to die.
Jen Papich, women’s basketball — Her team-high 12.3 points-per-game average was good enough to win PSAC Basketball Athlete of the Year, but the forward probably could’ve averaged twice that if she had to. As the cornerstone of an extremely balanced team, Papich did it all for the Knights, averaging 5.7 rebounds and shooting 46 percent from the field.
With a height-shooting touch ability reminiscent of Kevin Durant, Papich is quickly climbing Gannon’s scoring list as she enters her senior season— one that’s filled with sky-high expectations for the Knights.
Darrell Blanton, men’s basketball — A model of consistency, the senior forward scored at least 15 points in 19 out of Gannon’s 29 games. For the second year in a row, Blanton led Gannon in scoring (15.6 points per game) and rebounding (6.7 per game) on his way to earning all-PSAC West first-team honors.
Though listed generously at 6-feet, 4-inches, Blanton used his strength to muscle his way under the basket to become one of the PSAC’s premier post players. His powerful jump stops and thunderous dunks alone earn him a spot on my list.
Shayne Herold, baseball — Though he played just one season for Gannon, the right-handed pitcher has made it count. Herold, a transfer from Ashland, is 8-0 and leads the PSAC with a miniscule 1.07 ERA and six saves.
Herold has the Knights in prime position for the postseason, as they are currently tied with California (Pa.) atop the PSAC standings.