CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The 2017 Harvard men's water polo team announced its season award winners, recognizing five instrumental players who helped the program to its second-straight Northeast Water Polo Confernece title and second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Peter Hursh '74 Memorial Award was awarded to senior captain Harry Tafur. The award is given annually to the Harvard water polo senior who embodies the spirit and tenacity of the award's namesake. Tafur ended his final campaign with the Crimson with 16 goals, 58 assists and seven steals. Fellow senior captain Colin Chiapello earned the Coaches Award, voted on by the coaching staff, for his ability to step up as a leader during his time with the Crimson, and for his contributions in and out of the pool. Tafur and Chiapello make up the winningest class in Harvard water polo history, with a total of 94 wins.
Sophomore Austin Sechrest was named Most Valuable Player for his outstanding efforts in the pool this season. Sechrest, who was named Rookie of the Year in 2016, totaled 65 goals, 19 assists, 36 steals and 16 field blocks on the season.
Freshman Dennis Blyashov collected the Rookie of the Year honor, after leading the team with 94 goals on the season. Blyashov also collected 30 assists and 30 steals this season, on his way to being named the NWPC Rookie of the Year and named to the All-NWPC First Team.
Junior Grant Harvey took home the Most Improved award. Harvey worked hard in preparation this season, and totaled four goals, three assists and four steals.
Two other members of the Crimson earned All-NWPC recognition, as junior goalkeeper Anthony Ridgley and junior Nick Bunn were named to the All-NWPC Second Team. Ridgley collected 187 saves, 28 steals and 15 assists this season, while Bunn earned 42 goals, 21 assists, 26 steals and seven field blocks.
Harvard finished the 2017 season with a 24-8 overall record and went 8-3 in conference play. The Crimson earned its second-straight Northeast Water Polo Conference title after defeating Princeton in double overtime, securing a spot for the second year in a row in the NCAA Tournament. Harvard concluded its season with a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals in Los Angeles.