It’s currently preseason for the Cal men’s water polo team, and after being crowned NCAA champions in the 2021 season, the Cal athletes were awarded numerous accolades during the postseason. This ranged from 12 members being named to the Pac-12 All-Academic honor roll to 14 athletes being selected to the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches, or ACWPC, All-Academic team.
As the 2022 spring semester came to a close, the Bears were able to earn one more honor with junior center Nikolaos Papanikolaou becoming the fourth Cal water polo player in history to win the Peter J. Cutino Award. The title, established in 1999 by the San Francisco Olympic Club, is named after Cal head coach Peter Cutino who coached the blue and gold to eight NCAA titles in 25 years.
Papanikolaou topped the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation leaderboard in the 2021 season with 112 earned exclusions, 68 goals and 35 steals. In addition to winning the Cutino award, he was also named MVP of the NCAA Championship, ACWPC National Player of the Year, MPSF Player of the Year and a member of the ACWPC All-American first team.
Considered to be the highest honor in American collegiate water polo, the Cutino award winner is decided from three nominees selected by Division I water polo coaches. The two other finalists for the Cutino award were USC’s senior goalkeeper Nic Porter and UCLA’s graduate student attacker Nicolas Saveljic.