Courtesy: Cal Athletics
BERKELEY – For the third consecutive year, California men’s water polo junior Nikolaos Papanikolaou has been named one of the three finalists for the Peter J. Cutino Award, given to the best male and female NCAA water polo player each year.
The two-time ACWPC Player of the Year and back-to-back national champion took home the sport’s most prestigious collegiate honor last year, becoming the fourth Golden Bear to do so.
Papanikolaou’s dominance on both ends of the pool saw Cal claim its third consecutive MPSF regular-season title in 2022. He ranked among the nation’s best in goals while also leading the conference in earned exclusions and ranking in the top 10 in steals and field blocks.
The Bears’ postseason run concluded with the 16th national championship in program history following a legendary 13-12 victory over USC in which Papanikolaou scored seven times. He ended the year with 62 goals and an MPSF-leading 80 earned exclusions. He also garnered a fourth straight ACWPC All-American honor, including three consecutive years earning first-team recognition.
The two other finalists for the 2023 Cutino Award are Pacific’s Reuel D’Souza and USC’s Jake Ehrhardt.
The Cutino Award is named after legendary former Cal coach Pete Cutino, who led the Bears to eight national titles. This year’s award will be announced on Saturday, June 3, at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. The ceremony will be live streamed for free on USA Water Polo’s YouTube channel.