DePaul Athletics Celebrates a Remarkable Season
June 4, 2018
CHICAGO - DePaul's student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff gathered at the Student Center last Friday night to reflect upon and celebrate a remarkable 2017-18 season at its annual athletics dinner.
Front and center were the women's basketball and softball teams that won BIG EAST Conference regular-season and tournament titles on their way to the NCAA tournament.
Women's track and field was singled out for its best performance in program history with a second-place finish at the BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championships behind a record six championships from Alexia Brooks (100-meter hurdles), Jade Gates (hammer throw), Caroline Muller (high jump), Emily Eller (shot put) plus the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams.
In addition, men's track standout Brian Mada qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the triple jump while Mada, Gates (javelin) and Brooks (100m hurdles) competed in the NCAA West Preliminaries.
Men's tennis earned the No. 1 seed at the BIG EAST Championship for the second year in a row and advanced to the title match.
Women's tennis advanced to its fourth BIG EAST Championship title match in the last five years as coach Mark Ardizzone's program overcame a series of injuries that had the team down to four healthy players at one point.
"I'm really proud and excited of what our student-athletes and coaches have accomplished," said DePaul Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. "We had four conference titles---two each from women's basketball and softball---plus significant improvement in so many teams finishing well in the BIG EAST.
"Women's track made a big leap, the golf team performed well, men's tennis earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament for the second year in a row and women's tennis battled through some injuries in advancing to its fourth BIG EAST title match in the last five years.
"Everyone is super excited about all the talented student-athletes coming back next season."
Coach Doug Bruno's Blue Demons made their 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and reached the second round for the fifth-straight year. They led the nation in three-point field goals per game and were No. 2 in the country in three-point field goals and attempts. They set a program record converting 422 from behind the arc.
A resounding 98-63 triumph over Marquette provided their third BIG EAST tournament title in the last five years, and they have won the league's regular-season title five times in a row.
Head coach Eugene Lenti, Lindsay Platt, Lynsey Ciezki and Morgan Maize were honored as the BIG EAST Softball Coaching Staff of the Year after guiding their team to 15-3 conference record. Freshman Pat Moore was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year and Kate Polucha BIG EAST Freshman of the Year. Lenti's program made its 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Bruno won his 700th on Feb. 9, 2018 after an 86-68 victory at Butler. Lenti claimed the 1300th win of his career after his Blue Demons topped Presbyterian 1-0 on Feb. 17, 2018.
"We are extremely proud of the milestones achieved by Erin Chastain, Doug Bruno and Eugene Lenti," Ponsetto said. "Those are really special and a tribute to all three of them, their student-athletes and their coaching staffs."
The 2017-18 season also marked the unveiling of DePaul's state-of-the-art basketball facility in the South Loop. Wintrust Arena opened to rave reviews when men's basketball welcomed long-time rival Notre Dame last November.
"So much of our athletic department's focus has been on the opening season at Wintrust Arena, and it has been a spectacular addition to our athletics facilities," Ponsetto said. "You could see from all the amenities it affords our student-athletes and coaches and the electric atmosphere and the energy and excitement of our fans, it was really special. Our `Playing Possessed' marketing campaign highlighted the new arena and so many of our prominent alumni.
"As part of our leadership team since 2002, we've really advanced the facilities for our student-athletes with Wintrust Arena, Cacciatore Stadium, Lane Tech Stadium for track and field, Ruffled Feathers Golf Club for men's golf and Lakeshore Sport & Fitness for our tennis teams. They have all enhanced our recruiting and the ability to compete at a high level in the BIG EAST.
"Wintrust Arena gives basketball another tool in recruiting and has already helped us attract high-level prospects."
DePaul's graduating senior class had a terrific four-year run filled with championships.
"You can't say enough about the legacy of success left behind by the senior class," Ponsetto said. "Over their four years, they won 20 BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles and earned 47 BIG EAST major awards."
The evening featured special tributes to former DePaul President Father John Richardson, C.M., community outreach coordinator Dave Corzine and Associate Vice-President of Student Development Peggy Burke who oversees the development of learning opportunities outside the classroom.
Here is a rundown on the 2017-18 award winners.
Rev. John R. Cortelyou, C.M. Award
BIG EAST Institutional Scholar-Athlete Award
Sports Performance Award
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