The year in Denison sports: 2023-24

Big Red Athletics
May 29, 2024

Historic postseason runs by the baseball and tennis teams and a national second-place finish by the women’s swimming and diving team highlighted an outstanding 2023-24 for Big Red athletics. Key spring performances helped Denison clinch its 20th North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports trophy — the most by any school in the league.

A few highlights:

  • Denison sent 10 teams to NCAA tournaments – more than a third of the university’s athletic programs – led by the women’s swimming and diving team (which placed second) and the men’s swimming and diving team (sixth).
  • The Big Red won five regular-season conference titles to power their way to a fifth consecutive NCAC all-sports championship.
  • The men’s tennis team reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time in program history. Kael Shah ’26 became the Big Red’s first player to advance to the NCAA singles finals. 
  • The baseball team won a program-record 42 games and advanced to its first-ever NCAA Super Regional. Outfielder Eric Colaco ’25 was named Player of the Year.
  • Athletic teams also produced four President’s Medalists, Denison’s highest student honor: Cara Bodary (women’s cross country), Kate Griffin (women’s golf), Nadeem Jones (men’s tennis), and Jack Nimesheim (football).

Recaps for all 2023-24 sports


The Big Red won its first NCAA regional tournament with a dominating three-game performance. In front of their home fans, Denison swept three games by a 54-8 aggregate, including a 13-0 win over Rowan University in the championship final.

Denison, which entered the super regionals ranked second in the nation, finished the season with a program-best 42 wins before falling to Birmingham-Southern University in the super regional.

Standout Eric Colaco ’25 led all Division III players in hits, runs, and doubles and was top-five in total bases, steals, and triples. 

Head coach Mike Deegan was named regional coach of the year by, and Deegan and assistants Ryne Romick and Danny LePera were the NCAC coaching staff of the year. 

Women’s basketball

Second-year coach Maureen Hirt guided the Big Red to an impressive turnaround while demonstrating great perseverance under adverse circumstances. Hirt was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2023, just as her team was preparing for the start of the season.

The Big Red responded with a 20-7 overall mark and a 10-4 record in conference play — doubling its win totals in each category from the previous season. The 20 victories were the most by the Big Red since the 2015-16 season. 

Hirt was a finalist for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association coach of the year in Division III and earned regional coach of the year from
Hirt and assistants Olivia Woolam, Griffin Tullis, and Rachel Mikulec were named conference staff of the year  

Men’s basketball

The program is gaining traction under coach Chris Sullivan. The 10-6 conference record marked the third consecutive season with at least 10 wins. The Big Red had never achieved that distinction in the NCAC era, which dates to 1983.

Ricky Radtke ’25, a second-team all-conference selection, set a program record with 65.2% shooting from the field.

Women’s cross country

Three seniors finished among the top 150 runners in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. Cara Bodary ’24 led the Big Red with a 98th place finish in a field of 269 runners. Overall, Denison was 26th out of 40 teams in the field.

Men’s cross country

Noah Cyr ’26 earned first-team NCAC honors for a second consecutive year while finishing fifth in the conference cross-country championship. Worth Hinshaw ’24 placed eighth. The Big Red were fifth in the NCAC race before finishing 20th out of 40 teams in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.


Head coach Peter Grandbois and assistant Rhys Douglas were named Eastern Women’s Fencing Conference coaching staff of the year. The team finished with a 29-16 overall mark and a No. 3 ranking among Division III programs in the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association.

The U.S. Fencing Coaches Association named Lal Ertun ’27 the Division III Foil Athlete of the Year and Maggie Zhu ’26 the Division III Epee Athlete of the Year.

Field hockey

One of the stingiest defenses in the conference sent the Big Red to the NCAA tournament and ended the undefeated season for rival Ohio Wesleyan.

Emma Gebhart ’27 scored a goal in overtime to help Denison to a 1-0 victory in the conference tournament championship. The victory capped an extraordinary run of defensive dominance in which the Big Red did not allow a single goal in 12 NCAC games, including two in the tournament. Grace Lock ’24 was named conference defensive player of the year.

 Head coach P.J. Soteriades and assistant Kelsey Devine earned NCAC coaching staff of the year.


The Big Red won its final four games to finish the season 7-3 overall and tie for second place in the conference.

The program has remained a model of consistency, winning at least six conference games for the eighth consecutive year. Denison was driven by a prolific offense that tallied 35-plus points five times. Running back Trey Fabrocini ’24 led the conference in rushing (1,406 yards) and scoring (120 points). Receiver Josh Aiello ’23 was second in scoring with 90 points while breaking the program record with 15 receiving touchdowns.

Women’s golf

The squad qualified for the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years.

Coach Lauren Grogan’s team made nationals by winning their fourth consecutive league title. Kate Griffin ’24, Anna Klass ’26, and Ella McRoberts ’25 finished third, fourth, and fifth respectively in the NCAC tournament.

Griffin and McRoberts are three-time first-team all-conference selections. Grogan and her assistant coaches were named NCAC coaching staff of the year.

Men’s golf

The Big Red finished sixth in the NCAC tournament. Jack Yurocek ’26 was a second-team all-conference selection for a second consecutive season.

Women’s lacrosse

The powerhouse program reached the NCAA Sweet 16 for a sixth consecutive year before falling to Tufts University, 22-13.

The Big Red finished the season with a 15-5 record. Four players earned first-team all-regional honors, including Kate Coward ’24, Mary Daniel ’25, Josie Lucchesi ’24, and Bridget Sheehy ’26. Daniel was named NCAC defender of the year.

A decade after winning her first conference coaching honor, head coach Amanda Daniels collected her third. Daniels and assistants Tori Vernau and Kat Schneeberger were named NCAC coaching staff of the year.

Men’s lacrosse

The Big Red won the conference tournament and qualified for the NCAA tournament for an eighth consecutive season.

Luke Fisher ’24 concluded a fabulous career by winning the conference offensive player of the year award for a second straight season. He also was named a third-team All-American by USA Lacrosse Magazine. Fisher is the program’s all-time leader in points with 306 (167 goals, 139 assists).

Women’s soccer

Sarah Brink delivered a conference tournament title in her first year as coach. The Big Red peaked at the right time, defeating Wittenberg University 1-0 in the semifinals before topping DePauw University 2-0 in the championship. The Big Red were 8-5-6 overall.

They were led by midfielder Ellie Reiser ’24, who earned third-team NCAA Division III regional honors.

Men’s soccer

The Big Red spent the majority of their season on the road and felt right at home in the environment. Due to construction of their new stadium, they played 13 of 20 games away from campus, earning a 7-3-3 mark that included a conference tournament championship win over Kenyon College, 3-1.

Chris Giglio ’24 and Kameron Kist ’26 garnered third-team all-regional honors. Kist was named the NCAC tournament most valuable player on the way to the team’s NCAA appearance.


Annabelle Calderon ’25 powered the Big Red to a 25-win season — their most victories in six years. The junior catcher led the team in virtually every offensive category, including home runs (12) batting average (.495), and RBIs (43). She earned conference player of the year honors and was named Diamond Sports/NFCA Division III catcher of the year.  

Coach Tiffany Ozbun and her assistants were named conference staff of the year as the Big Red finished second in the NCAC and swept perennial powerhouse DePauw University for the first time in program history.

Women’s squash

The squad finished third in the Liberty League Championships and was 8-12 in the regular season. Esme Adelman ’27 was named Liberty League rookie of the year.

Men’s squash

The Big Red finished with a 10-10 record, the best mark in the program’s four-year existence. Juan Felipe Hernandez ’26 earned first-team All-Liberty League honors for a second consecutive season.

Women’s swimming and diving

The Big Red followed up a national title in 2023 with a runner-up finish in 2024.

The women, two-time NCAA champions, posted 36 All-American performances (31 individuals, five relays) at the 2024 NCAA meet. Tara Witkowski ’24 capped a brilliant Big Red career with three top-5 finishes in the 500-yard freestyle, 400 individual medley, and 1650 freestyle. Emily Harris ’26 finished second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 200 butterfly.

Russ Bertram was named conference coach of the year in diving.

Men’s swimming and diving

A stellar final day at the NCAA meet vaulted the Big Red to sixth overall.

The men, five-time NCAA champs, finished with 26 All-American performances (23 individual, three relay). Lucas Conrads ’25 was third in the 1,650 freestyle and seventh in the 500 freestyle. Patrick Daly ’25 placed sixth in the individual medley and 200 breaststroke.

Daly (200 IM) and Gavin Jones (200 breaststroke) qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in June in Indianapolis.

Women’s tennis

The Big Red finished second to Kenyon College in the regular season and the conference tournament. Their 17-9 record allowed coach Jamie Scott to tie her best win total in seven years with the program. The team also recorded 17 wins last season.

For the third year in a row, Denison reached the NCAC tournament championship round. 

Seven of the nine Big Red players received all-conference honors, with Peyton Oda ’26 leading the way with first-team honors. It was the team’s most all-conference nominations since 2011. 

Men’s tennis

In his fourth season, coach David Schilling ’89 led the program to its first NCAA Elite Eight appearance, where it lost to eventual national champion University of Chicago. The Big Red have won 20-plus matches for three consecutive years.

Kael Shah achieved a pair of historic feats in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships. He’s the first Denison player to reach the finals —Tim Cianciola ’22 qualifying for the quarterfinals had been the program’s previous best. Shah also advanced to the semifinals of the doubles competition with Ethan Green ’26, marking the deepest run for a Big Red duo. Jacob Patterson ’26 also competed in the singles competition.

Andy Mackler ’24 is among four finalists for the prestigious ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award endowed by Billie Jean King. The award is based on contributions both on and off the court.

 For the second time, Schilling and assistants Chris Landauer and Grant MacPherson earned the conference staff of the year award. Over four years, Schilling and his staff have compiled a 23-1 match record in the NCAC.

Women’s track and field

Anaya Jolivette ’25 captured the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the outdoor conference meet, and teammate Sophia Ellerkmann ’24 won the 400. Jolivette was named NCAC sprints/hurdles athlete of the year. Denison finished fourth overall.

During the indoor season, the Big Red women were fifth in the NCAC meet. Ellerkmann led the way, winning the 400-meter dash and placing second in the 200-meter race.

Men’s track and field

Jacob Brown ’24 finished a decorated career by winning his third consecutive conference decathlon and qualifying for the NCAA outdoor meet for the first time. He was 22nd at nationals. Andrew D’Asaro ’25 was making his second NCAA appearance in the javelin. He finished 15th to earn second-team All-American honors, a year after placing 11th.

During the indoor season, Brown finished 18th in the heptathlon at the Division III NCAA meet. He also won the conference meet in that event, with the Big Red coming fifth overall.


The youthful squad finished 10-18 overall and 3-4 in conference play. Claire Hamilton ’27, an outside hitter, earned second-team conference honors.


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