Highlander Spotlight: Incoming and transfer student-athletes contributing to UCR Athletics next school year.

Hansel Chu, Sports Editor

The 2021-2022 school year displayed massive improvements in sports at UC Riverside. With basketball, track and field, and softball all improving in wins and statistics, many other sports at UC Riverside have high expectations to do the same next school year. Last year’s freshman and transfer students made a significant impact on UCR Athletics, and the new wave of student-athletes is looking to do the same.

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

Men’s

Men’s basketball is welcoming six new student-athletes for the next school year. Kaleb Smith is a 6’8 small forward from Damien High School in California. In his senior year, he led Damien High School to a CIF Division 1 State Championship, in which he put up 23 points en route to a tournament MVP. Kyle Owens is a 6’8 small forward from Montana University. In 25 games played in the last year, Owens averaged 4.4 points per game and 1.8 rebounds per game. Luke Turner is a 6’7 shooting guard from Wofford University. In his freshman year last year, he averaged 2.9 points per game and made 15 3-pointers in 29 games played. Jamal Hartwell II is a 5’10 guard from Mason University. His best season at Mason University came in the 2019-2020 season when he averaged 9.6 points per game and 1.7 assists per game in 29 games. Lachlan Olbrich is a 6’10 center from Australia. In the Australian State League, he averaged 18.6 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game in eight games played. Nate Pickens is a 6’3 point guard from AZ Compass Prep and ranked as the number one player in the state of Arizona. As a sophomore at Paradise Honors High School, he averaged 16.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game, and 2.2 steals per game. 

Men’s soccer is welcoming six new student-athletes for the next school year as well. Nathan Scott is a 5’7 midfielder that was a part of the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, which consistently produces Division 1 talent. Alongside him is Diogo Baptista, who is a 5’11 midfielder also from the San Jose Earthquakes Academy. Jona Martinez is a midfielder from LAFC Academy and is a Riverside native. Alfonzo Ramirez played for the Total Futbol Academy and is incoming as a freshman next year. Aleksandar Vukovic is a 6’3 defender from LSU Eunice transferring as a redshirt freshman. Westley Hastings is a 5’6 forward from Oceanside, California, where he played for the Oceanside Breakers and San Diego Select.

Women’s

Women’s basketball is welcoming two new student-athletes for the next school year. Zoe Tillery is a 5’9 guard from Laguna Creek High School. In her senior year, she averaged 17.5 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 3.6 assists per game, 3.7 steals per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. She was ranked 34th in the state of California and most notably had a 41-point performance in January of 2022. Hanna Hansson is a 6’3 center from Stockholm, Sweden. One of her most notable feats was playing for the Nordic WU18 Championship for the Swedish National Team.

Victor Lei / The Highlander

Women’s soccer is welcoming eight new student-athletes for the next school year. Chelsee Duran is a 5’8 midfielder from Cal State Bakersfield. In her freshman year, she was named to the All-WAC Freshman Team. McKenzie Moore is a 5’7 forward from the University of Hawaii. In her sophomore year at the University of Hawaii, she played in 18 games and earned the University of Hawaii’s Scholar-Athlete Award. Spenser Gonzales is a 5’4 midfielder from Rancho Cucamonga, California, and played for Legends FC. Emma Gonzalez is a centre-back from Orange Lutheran High School. Just this year, she was chosen to play for the Puerto Rico Women’s National Soccer Team. Marieke Ten Brink is a left outside back from Folsom, California, and played for the San Juan Spirits. Elise Jabbour is a 5’5 forward from Escondido, California, and played for the SDSC Surf. Jenna Reinhardt is a defender from Belmont, California, and scored four goals in her senior year of high school. Frida Monsalvo is a defender from Mount San Antonio College and played in 21 games last season. 

Track and field are welcoming eight new student-athletes for the next school year. Raykiyat Olukoju is a sprinter from JW North High School. In 2021, Olukoju was named Inlands Girl’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year by winning multiple CIF championships and helping her school capture a section title. Zachary Carroll is a sprinter from Heritage High School and was a double-winner in the Stocking Super 7 Invitational. Tyler Kaan is a long-distance runner from Santiago High School and placed first in the 3200 meters race at the Roosevelt Invitational in March of 2022. Chelsea Aninyei is a jumper from Mayfair High School and won the Girl’s High Jump Title along with the Triple Jump Crown. Melanie Ceballos is a jumper from El Camino High School and finished first in CIF San Diego Section Division 1 Preliminary Round and second in the finals. Riley Jones is a long-distance runner from the University of Buffalo and ran a personal best of 10:05.67 for the 3000-meter race. Janessa Morse is a jumper from Granada Hills Charter High School and finished first in the Long and Triple Jump at the West Valley League Finals in 2022. Jacoby Madise is a short sprinter from Paraclete High School and finished first in the Gold Coast League Preliminary and Final Rounds.

These new student-athletes will be looking to immediately contribute to their respective sports and continue to build on a winning culture set from the recent success of UCR Athletics.

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