Rising Stars Oct. 2

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Author: Spencer Donaldson|Zach Heerwagen

Cordell Harris (Football)
Despite his small stature, slot receiver Cordell Harris is making a name for himself on offense and special teams for the Occidental Tigers football team. At 5-foot-7 inches and 166 pounds, Harris uses his raw speed and quickness to get open on routes and avoid defenders in the open field. He has not recorded an official time in the 40-yard dash, the test of pure speed used at the National Football League (NFL) Combine, but he estimated he could run a time of about 4.5 seconds, which would be a mark competitive with some of the NFL’s top athletes. During his time at Grant High School in Portland, Ore., he was awarded first team all-city honors for baseball and second team all-city honors for football. Through the first two games of the Tigers’ season, Harris has nine catches for 81 yards. His first collegiate reception was a touchdown in the team’s home opener. He also has six kick returns for 146 yards. “The coaches have been giving me the opportunity, and that’s all I’ve ever asked for,” Harris said. “Now I’m getting my chance, and I can’t ask for anything more.”

Natalie Dwulet (Volleyball)
At 6-feet, Natalie Dwulet has used both her height and playmaking ability to earn a starting spot at middle blocker for the Occidental volleyball team. She asserted herself from day one as a player who could step in as a first-year and immediately fill the Tigers’ biggest void at the front of the net. Dwulet is the only first-year on the squad to start every SCIAC contest and leads the team in total blocks with 34 so far this season, which she complements with 58 kills. She played basketball as well and was a standout in both sports at Los Altos High in Los Altos, Calif. before choosing to focus on volleyball after her sophomore season. She received second team all-league honors her senior year and led her squad to the Central Coast Section semifinals as captain. Dwulet knew that she wanted to play at a Division-III school from the beginning of the recruiting process, and it was Occidental’s sterling academic reputation that drew her to the college.

Grayson Burdon (Men’s Soccer)
Grayson Burdon has seen plenty of playing time as a forward in almost every game this season. His shining moment to date was his first collegiate goal against rival Whittier on Sept. 14. The goal came late in the second half while Occidental was down 4-0. “It was just a work ethic goal,” Burdon said. “I didn’t want to get shutout, and I wanted to show everyone what I can do for the team. Then, I just took advantage when Coach [Rod Lafaurie] put me in.” Burdon thinks of himself as a goal scorer who utilizes his quickness by making runs at the goal and toeing the offsides line. He has been playing soccer for as long as he can remember, first learning the game in his hometown of Los Altos, Calif. at age five. When he was nine, he joined his first club team and decided to quit the other sports he was playing to focus on his passion. From the beginning, Burdon was the star of his team at Pinewood High, receiving first team all-league honors all four years and serving as the team’s captain for three.

Julie Khil (Women’s Soccer)

Starting striker Julie Khil has already proven that she can score goals under pressure at the collegiate level. Through the first seven games of the season, Khil has three goals, ranking her second on the team and tied for seventh in the SCIAC. Along with a goal in the 88th minute against Cal Lutheran to extend the game to overtime, Khil scored a game-winner in double overtime to defeat Pacific Lutheran. Even though she had been part of state championship winning teams in her final three years at Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, Khil remains a humble member of the Tigers. “I feel honored to be on the team,” she said. “I just do what I can out there and just try to finish opportunities given by the midfielders who work really hard.” Khil uses her speed, field vision and perseverance to score at any given moment. “The only thing I feel like my job is, is to work hard and not give up because we can still win regardless of the time we have left,” she said. Khil’s hard work has paid off so far, and she looks to be a goal-scoring fixture for the Tigers in coming years.

 

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