With the fall season underway, here are five student-athletes to pay attention to in 2016-17
Aaron Beverly | Men's Golf
Aaron Beverly returns for his senior year after arguably the greatest season in Sacramento State history. Last year, Beverly was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year after leading the league and setting the school record with an average of 71.83 in 35 rounds. He had six top 10 finishes, including a victory at the Sacramento State Invitational, a tie for second at the Border Olympics and a fifth-place finish at the Pacific Invitational. He shot 72 or better in 19 rounds with a low of 64 during the final round of the Sacramento State Invitational. He went on to qualify for the NCAA Tucson Regional where he tied for 33rd place.
Celina Matthias | Softball
Pitcher Celina Matthias will be back for her junior year after putting together an incredible sophomore season, where she was named all-Pacific Region, Big Sky Conference Pitcher of the Year and first team all-Big Sky. The four-time conference Pitcher of the Week selection became just the fifth pitcher in the softball program’s Division I era to receive all-region accolades. Matthias, a right-hander from Elk Grove, finished the season 20-13 with six saves, a 2.94 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 214 innings pitched. The 20 wins were the most by a Hornet since 1997 and made her one of only four Sacramento State pitchers to record 20 wins in a season while competing in Division I. She pitched in 46 of the Hornets’ 50 games, amassing 22 complete games and six shutouts while factoring into 26 of the teams’ 28 wins.
Lauren Rice | Gymnastics
Following two standout seasons, Lauren Rice will begin a leadership role as an upperclassman on the Hornet gymnastics team. Rice was the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Freshman (MPSF) of the Year in 2015 before helping Sacramento State to a conference title in 2016. That year, she was a first team all-MPSF selection in the all-around, bars and floor. She was also a second team honoree on beam. Rice went on to qualify for the NCAA Salt Lake Regional where she tied for seventh in the all-around. An electrifying performer on floor, Rice’s average score was 9.838 during the season, including a career high 9.925 against San Jose State. She also set career bests on vault, beam and in the all-around.
Alina Soltanici | Women's Tennis
Alina Soltanici will enter her senior season after serving as the top singles player for the Sacramento State women’s tennis team over the last two years. She is a two-time all-Big Sky first team selection, was all-Big Sky second team as a freshman and was named Big Sky Player of the Week six times in the last two seasons. The native of Chisinau, Moldova has a 25-5 career singles record in Big Sky play and has led the Hornets to a Big Sky Tournament championship and two regular season league titles. In 2016 she was 7-2 in Big Sky doubles play and won her last seven singles matches to propel the Hornets to a co-Big Sky regular season championship, marking the 15th consecutive season the team won the regular season and/or postseason Big Sky titles.
Michael Turner | Track and Field
Michael Turner hopes his final meet at Hornet Stadium will end with the team atop the podium. Turner redshirted during the 2016 outdoor season but will return to action in 2017 with a goal of helping Sacramento State to another Big Sky team title at the conference championships, which will take place on campus in May. The senior was the Big Sky champion in the long jump and advanced to the NCAA West Preliminary in 2015. Turner also shined indoors as he earned all-Big Sky honors a year ago after placing second in the long jump and third in the 60-meter dash. He set his personal best in the long jump with a mark of 24 feet, 6 ½ inches which moved him into fifth place in school history.