DETROIT – Making her first official appearance before the Wayne State University Board of Governors, Director of Athletics Erika Wallace provided an update on the recent academic and athletic accomplishments of Warriors’ teams and student-athletes.
“We had a very successful spring semester,” said Wallace at the June 22 meeting. “We take a lot of pride in Wayne State Athletics and what our students do in the classroom. They represent many different majors and many different colleges here, and we’re lucky.”
Wallace was named to the leadership role on June 7 after serving as interim athletic director for six months. She had served as chief of staff in the athletics department since 2019.
As good as the record-breaking spring was for baseball, tennis and golf, the work in the classroom was particularly remarkable. Boosting more than 400 student-athletes in 17 different sports programs, Warriors teams compiled a 3.34 cumulative grade point average for the 2023 winter semester.
“We’re super excited about that,” Wallace said. “It really shows the dedication that our student-athletes put into the classroom. Obviously, we have support services for them, but know that they’re here to get their degree, and that’s most important to us. They graduate from Wayne State and go on to represent Wayne State in various careers across the state and across the nation.
“We talk a lot about what it means to be a student-athlete and, obviously, ‘student’ comes first, and ‘athlete’ comes second. We talk about it a lot with our student-athletes and with our coaches, so we’re making sure that those priorities are set in place.”
The Warriors set a new school record, as 254 student-athletes received academic honors from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) during the 2022-23 school year. Of those honorees, 75 registered a 4.0 GPA in the winter semester, and all 17 teams posted a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.
Aside from the academics, baseball, women’s golf and women’s tennis all enjoyed historic seasons on the diamond, course and court.
Coach Ryan Kelley’s baseball club captured both the GLIAC regular-season and tournament championships while breaking the school mark for wins in a single season with a 42-13 overall record. They also had 21 GLIAC All-Academic recipients, which ranked third in the conference and marked the 10th straight season the Warriors had at least 17 student-athletes receive All-Academic accolades.
“Coach Kelley has seen a lot of success with our baseball program,” said Wallace of the coach, who finished his 15th season. “Having this historical season was just phenomenal to watch how the guys grew.”
Named to the GLIAC All-Academic Excellence team for maintaining at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA were graduate students Hunter DeLanoy (M.B.A./Hartland, Michigan), Ryan Foley (M.B.A./Ann Arbor, Michigan), Seth Marano (sports administration/Canton, Michigan) and Chris Tanderys (sports administration/Livonia, Michigan); redshirt seniors Jacoby Dale (sport management/Roseville, Michigan), Ryan Korolden (finance/Yale, Michigan) and Joey Muzljakovich (construction management/Mayfield, Michigan); seniors Kyle Domzalski (construction management/Huntington Woods, Michigan) and Karter Fitzpatrick (civil engineering/Monroe, Michigan); redshirt juniors Kaden Stively (management/Washington, Michigan) and Ryan Szlachcic (special education/Jenison, Michigan); junior CJ Maury (sport management/Brampton, Ontario); and redshirt sophomores Mitchell Mychajluk (finance/Macomb, Michigan) and Colin Seeling (sport management/Shelby Township, Michigan).
Fitzpatrick, the 2023 GLIAC Pitcher of the Year, was named Second Team Academic All-American by College Sports Communicators and Second Team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America. The right-handed hurler went 10-1, tying the school record for pitching victories in a season, while tossing eight complete games.
The women’s golf team had the best season in its nine-year program history, saving the best for last by shooting a final-round score of 312 at the NCAA championships in Missouri. The women finished the 54-hole tournament at 944.
Seniors Natalie Groom (marketing/Orangevale, California) and Avery Howard (communication sciences and disorders/Muskegon, Michigan) and juniors Logan Potts (special education/Norton Shores, Michigan) and Beca Vestman (economics/Madrid, Spain) received GLIAC academic honors. It was also announced this week that the four golfers were named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar team.
“The women’s team actually qualified for the super regionals and based on their super regional score, they qualify for the NCAA golf championships for the first time in program history,” Wallace said. “I know head coach Larry Hamilton is super excited about the potential of this program and what we’re going to do moving forward.”
The women’s tennis team finished with a 24-4 record, including three wins in the NCAA tournament, lifting them to an eighth-place ranking, the highest in school history. They also had four athletes named All-Academic, including three who received All-Academic Excellence honors: senior Sabrina Laynes (management/Saginaw, Michigan), and juniors Suki Mandair (philosophy/Dexter, Michigan) and Anais Ruyssen (management/Nantes, France). Junior Marta Komar (psychology/Inowroclaw, Poland) was named GLIAC All-Academic.
Ruyssen and Komar, the Warriors’ top doubles team this season, were named Doubles All-Americans by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association after being ranked sixth nationally by the organization. The pair compiled a 19-10 record, including an 8-2 stretch in the final 10 matches with wins over six ranked opponents.
“Our men’s and women’s tennis programs had phenomenal seasons again,” Wallace said. “They both hosted regionals here based on their top ranking and both won. It’s always fun when you're hosting and you win it.”
Both tennis teams moved on to the national championships where they each reached the Elite Eight in Orlando, Florida.
“Both teams actually ended up eighth in the nation,” Wallace said. “So that was another super successful season for both of our programs.”
Not to be outdone, the remaining spring teams – women’s track and field, softball, and men’s golf and tennis – had a total of 58 student-athletes receive postseason academic accolades.
The women’s track and field team shattered the university’s previous record (21) with 27 GLIAC All-Academic honorees, including 18 named to the All-Academic Excellence team. They were graduate students Kaleigh Flowers (exercise and sport science/Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Teanna McCuaig (sports administration/Sparta, Michigan); seniors Thailyia Christensen (marketing/Flushing, Michigan), Cameron Martella (public health/Gaylord, Michigan), Katherine Ray (sports management/Novi, Michigan), Makenzie Wank (biomedical engineering/Richland, Michigan), Mikayla Williams (management/St. Charles, Michigan) and Charlene Yarema (communication sciences and disorders/Romeo, Michigan); juniors Emily Esker (mathematics/Livonia, Michigan) and Mikaela Owen (design/Bridgman, Michigan); and sophomores Robin Bresolin (environmental science/LaSalle, Ont.), Kynnedee Cowles (management/Detroit), Natalie Davies (journalism/Chelsea, Michigan), Mattie Drennan (exercise and sport science/Clarkston, Michigan), Renae Kutcha (marketing/Jackson, Michigan), Layla Martini (environmental science/Casnovia, Michigan), Lexi Movsesian (public health/Macomb, Michigan) and Makenzie Wellner (exercise and sport science/Menominee, Michigan).
The WSU softball squad had 12 GLIAC All-Academic Excellence recipients, marking the 10th straight year the Warriors had at least 10 players receive All-Academic accolades. Named to the GLIAC All-Academic Excellence team were seniors Emily Guzzo (biological sciences/London, Ontario), Becky Hodder (exercise and sport science/Orangeville, Ontario), Gabby Kaple (electrical engineering/Galion, Ohio), Brooke Nadolny (sports administration/Clinton Township, Michigan) and Breanna Paolatto (psychology/Belle River, Ontario); juniors Alexis Bonk (psychology/New Hudson, Michigan) and Shelby Miller (marketing/Georgetown, Ontario); sophomores Sydney Bogden (management/Shelby Township, Michigan), Rylie Josephson (nursing/West Bloomfield, Michigan), Mady Ruczynski (mechanical engineering/Richmond, Michigan) and Leah Wrubel (design/Kalamazoo, Michigan); and redshirt freshman Jessie O'Donnell (sport management/Campbellville, Ontario).
The men's golf team added 12 student-athletes to the GLIAC All-Academic squad, including six who received All-Academic Excellence awards. They are redshirt junior Matt Pelak (mechanical engineering/Mattawan, Michigan); juniors Ian Smith (marketing/Canton, Michigan) and Chris Yousif (finance/Commerce, Michigan); redshirt sophomores Max O'Rourke (finance/Commerce Township, Michigan) and Conor Spencer (management/Jackson, Michigan); and sophomore Tyler Hurtubise (sport management/Essex, Ontario).
The men’s tennis team featured seven players on the GLIAC All-Academic list. They are graduate student Niklas Karcz (MBA/Bottrop, Germany); senior Ryan Okonski (Global Supply Chain Management/Stevensville, Michigan); redshirt juniors Luke Laws (Actuarial Mathematics/Sunderland, England) and Dom Spicer (Management/London, England); juniors Daniel Grey (Neuroscience/Wiesbaden, Germany) and Joe Steele (Finance/Beverly Hills, Michigan); and sophomore Cedric Drenth (Management/Sulzbach, Germany).
Drenth was voted College Sports Communicators Academic All-American of the Year in Division II, and Karcz was named Midwest Region recipient of the Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes outstanding student-athletes in all five divisions (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and JUCO).
Wallace finished her report by thanking President M. Roy Wilson for his support.
“I’ve been here for the past four years and have been able to witness the support that he and Jacqueline have for Wayne State Athletics,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a secret to anybody that President Wilson likes sports. But it was surreal for me the first year I was here just to go to a sporting event and have the president of the university just be there and be supportive of everything. And especially these last six months, you have really helped me grow and you have allowed Wayne State Athletics to really take it to the next level. I appreciate that so much and I appreciate you, and I know all of our student athletes do as well.”