Air Force Water Polo Announces 2009 Team Awards
Feb. 5, 2010
USAFA, Colo. - The award recipients for the 2009 Air Force water polo season were announced at the team's annual banquet last week, as the Falcons celebrated a successful season. Air Force finished 2009 with an 18-14 overall record and a final ranking of 17th in the nation.
Earning MVP honors for the 2009 season was senior utility player Alex Churnside. Churnside, named an honorable mention All-American during his final campaign, finished the year ranked second on the team with 86 points, including a team-best 49 assists. He ended his career as the fifth-leading scorer in school history with 276 career points. In addition, he ranks second all-time at the Academy with 131 career assists and is third in career steals with 198. A first-team All-WWPA honoree, Churnside was also the winner of the team's Most Inspirational Award.
Most valuable offensive player honors went to junior Bobby Geiger, who notched a team-best 77 goals and 100 points on the year. His 77 goals ranked tied for fifth-most in the nation during the 2009 season. Geiger now ranks 14th all-time at Air Force in scoring with 202 career points.
Earning most valuable defensive player honors for the third-straight season was senior captain Jack Hines. A second-team All-WWPA honoree for a third-consecutive year, Hines was also one of the Falcons' top scorers, registering 44 goals and 17 assists on the year. Primarily a 2-meter defender, Hines ends his career ranked 22nd on the Falcons' all-time scoring list with 174 career points (118 g, 56a).
The most improved player award was given to sophomore Taque Patino, who tallied 22 points (15g, 7a) in 2009, after a scoreless rookie campaign. Meanwhile, rookie of the year honors went to utility player Cruz Smithson, who scored 44 goals and 18 assists en route to earning the WWPA Newcomer of the Year award.
Other awards handed out included nods for Hardest Worker and the Coaches Award. Sophomore Danny Harold, the Falcons' back-up goaltender, was named the Hardest Worker, registering 69 saves in eight games. Earning the Coaches Award was junior Kurt Wallin. Wallin scored 41 points on the season, ranking second on the team in assists with 25, while coming off the bench.
The team's captains' awards went to seniors Jason Fung and Hines. Meanwhile, Fung was also presented with the Derek Argel Memorial Award, named for the former Air Force water polo player who was involved in a fatal aircraft crash in Iraq in May 2005. The Derek Argel Memorial Award, now in its fourth season, is awarded annually to the player who demonstrates perseverance and an incredible work ethic, those attributes which most exemplify the character of Argel.
The Falcons also took a few moments to recognize the team's WWPA honorees. In addition to Smithson, Churnside and Hines, senior goalkeeper David Ostrom received honorable mention all-conference recognition for his performance. Ostrom tallied 219 saves for the season while sharing time in the cage, and also recorded 12 points on the year, including three goals. The three-year starter finished his career ranked third all-time in Air Force history with 674 career saves.
Meanwhile, head coach Jeff Ehrlich received the first WWPA Coach of the Year honors of his career after leading the Falcons to an 18-14 overall record and 10-4 ledger in the WWPA. Under his guidance, Air Force knocked off a top-10 team (then-10th-ranked UC San Diego) for the first time in the past six seasons, while also posting three other top-15 victories, including the Falcons' first win over Pacific since 1995.