Sebastian and Boyce win The Occidental Athlete of the Week

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Occidental’s Swim Team trains hard in the heat in Los Angeles. Jack Schofield/Occidental Weekly
 Zeke Sebastian (first year) received the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) swimmer of the week award Feb. 12 for his performance at the meet against Whittier Saturday, Feb. 10. Sebastian broke two school records this past week at the SCIAC Championships, one independently in the 500-meter freestyle and the other as a member of the 200-meter freestyle relay team.

Going into SCIACs, Sebastian — a Verona, Wisconsin native — strove for nationals so his family could see him swim on a big stage.

Courtesy of Oxy Athletics.

“Unfortunately, my family couldn’t make it out to the [conference] meet because of some complications, so I’m looking to drop three seconds in my 200 time to make a national cut so I can go swim in Indianapolis, and then they can drive down and watch,” Sebastian said.

Whether or not he makes it to Indianapolis, Sebastian feels like he has grown into a family at Occidental from the relationships he formed on the team.

“There’s no way to sum up the family of the swim team in brief enough words,” Sebastian said. “It’s just such a strong community, and we really bond over winter break when everybody else is gone.”

According to the Occidental Athletics website, at the Whittier meet, Sebastian won the 200-meter freestyle by a margin of more than five seconds. Sebastian also won the 100-yard freestyle and swam the fastest leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Sebastian’s continued success did not go unnoticed by his teammates. Fellow swimmer Samuel Sachs (first year) gave his take on Sebastian’s season.

“It’s been amazing to watch Zeke perform all season and see him pull through with unbelievable times,” Sachs said via email. “It seemed like all season he was at his peak.”

Head Swimming and Diving coach Steve Webb gave his input in an article on the Occidental Athletics website.

“This honor is well deserved as he had a great meet and a great season thus far,” Webb said. “He has absolutely shattered all his current lifetime best times and is poised to have an even better SCIAC championships.”

Sebastian is an undeclared major. He said his go-to meal is salmon with white rice and asparagus, his favorite class is Waves (Physics 117) and his favorite musical is the Book of Mormon.

Sam Pess/The Occidental

Dallas Boyce (senior) pitched 10 innings against the University of Redlands softball team in a dramatic extra-inning victory in game two of a conference doubleheader Feb. 17.

Boyce earned her first conference win, giving up two earned runs over 10 innings pitched, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out two.

While her pitching performance against the Bulldogs may not reflect it, Boyce said she struggled heavily at the start of the season, something she has never had to manage in her career before.

“I actually had probably pitched the worst I had ever pitched before this weekend,” Boyce said. “The first three weekends were really hard physically, and because I was physically struggling, I was really mentally struggling as well.”

Boyce went on to say how she worked diligently in the bullpen the week leading up to the Redlands matchup to fix her issues in preparation for the Tigers’ first conference matchup. According to Boyce, the work paid off, as she kept improving as the game went deeper.

“When we hit the seventh inning, I don’t think I’ve ever pitched better than the three innings after, which was a great feeling,” Boyce said.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the team is optimistic about their chances at contending a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) conference championship title. Head coach Allison Haehnel spoke to their goal and how Boyce fits into their plan to achieve it.

“We want to make our first ever appearance in the SCIAC tournament,” Haehnel said. “We’re expecting to be top four. We talk about it every day. For Dallas, we expect her to be one of our starting pitchers and to continue to be a leader for us in the circle.”

Haehnel elaborated on Boyce’s value to the team, focusing not only on their pursuit of a SCIAC championship but also on her ability to be a positive team player.

“If she has a rough day, you would never know it because she’s jumping on the back of somebody else trying to help them have a great day,” Haehnel said. “She’s emotionally very sturdy for us.”

Fellow softball player and Boyce’s roommate Olivia Thayer (senior) spoke highly of her teammate’s contribution to the team’s chemistry.

“I would describe her as the rock of the team,” Thayer said. “Anyone can go to her for anything. She acts as the glue.”

Boyce shared that she is a psychology major whose favorite snack is chips and guacamole. She said her favorite movies are “Mamma Mia” and “A Cinderella Story” while her favorite class at Occidental is Theories of Personality in the psychology department.