Samantha Farrell captures national rank while Austin DeWitz jumps ahead of the pack for this week’s Athlete of the Week

Samantha Farrell (senior) is nationally ranked for tennis at #20 in the Division III West Regional Rankings. Photo taken at Occidental College in Los Angeles on April 9, 2018. Spruce Bohen/The Occidental

Austin DeWitz (junior) placed first in two events at a Track and Field dual-meet at the University of La Verne Saturday, March 31, contributing to Occidental’s win over Caltech in the meet, though Redlands still came out on top against the Tigers. DeWitz, the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) champion in high jump, placed the highest mark in the conference this season for that event, recording a leap of 6 feet 5 inches. DeWitz also won the 110-meter hurdles race with a time of 16.11 seconds and placed fourth overall (third within competing teams) in the triple jump.

This meet was the vice-captain’s first of the year due to an injury from the last basketball game of the season. The track athlete and award-winning basketball player expressed his excitement to get back on the track after completing rehabilitation for his knee injury and picking up where he left off last year.

“It’s nice to not have a huge drop from the end of last year because I do take off about nine months to play basketball,” DeWitz said. “Even though none of them were by any means personal bests, it’s a good starting place for the rest of the season.”

DeWitz’s teammate and training partner Andrew McCall (junior) commented on what DeWitz brings to practice each day.

“Training with Austin is one of my favorite parts of track,” McCall said via email. “I can’t wait for the basketball season to end so that he can be a full-time track athlete.”

In talking about his multi-sport career, DeWitz noted the simplistic nature of track and how it differs from basketball.

“In basketball, you can talk yourself up a little more than you are, like you can lie and say you are as good as you want, but in track you jump this high and you run this fast,” DeWitz said. “The numbers don’t lie.”

In the theme of indisputable numbers, DeWitz’s coach and Occidental alumnus David Foley ’12 used this interview to challenge DeWitz to match the 100-meter dash time Foley set as an Occidental runner.

“Ask him if he thinks it’s possible if he’ll run faster than his coach did in the hundred meters,” Foley said.

DeWitz responded with playful confidence.

“I hundred percent could run a hundred meters faster than Dave Foley,” DeWitz said. “Not a doubt in my mind.”

DeWitz is a biology major whose favorite restaurant is Delia’s on York Boulevard. DeWitz’s favorite video game is League of Legends and his favorite class is Climate in the geology department.

Samantha Farrell (senior) received a national ranking last week, earning number 20 in the nation for her performance on the women’s tennis team this season. The team followed in Farrell’s steps, receiving a national ranking last week as well, earning number 20 in the nation like their top player.

Farrell reflected on the first-time experience of getting ranked nationally.

“I’m having a really good season,” Farrell said. “I think I’m at seven singles matches that I’ve won in a row and I’ve never had a streak like that before.”

Farrell noted the same for the team ranking, explaining how she never saw the team receive recognition like this until now, crediting their new coach Rachel Manasse for their rise in success.

In reflecting on her season and career winding down, Farrell noted how the team recently fulfilled one of her goals by beating Whittier. However, Farrell emphasized her more personal goal to produce a positive experience on the court for her and her teammates.

“I think from this point on, we’re so close to the end, I just want people to feel good about how they play,” Farrell said.

Farrell demonstrated this attitude through her reaction to one of her teammates overcoming struggles throughout the season to come up with a win in the Whittier match.

“One of my teammates was bummed out because she wasn’t succeeding in her singles matches as much as she wanted to,” Farrell said.

She went on to explain how down her teammate felt and how tough the season was for her until a triumphant win in the close Whittier match.

“In the Whittier match that we won 5–4, she won her first singles match of the season,” Farrell said. “And I feel way more happy for her that she won that than any of my matches.”

Manasse further backed Farrell’s love for the team.

“She is loyal to her teammates and the program and truly sets an excellent example with her commitment to her school work and to the team,” Manasse said via email.

Farrell’s co-captain and teammate, Lauren Hutkin (senior), commented on Farrell’s role as a leader, noting her personality in such a role.

“She is also very approachable and the team, myself included, look to confide in her,” Hutkin said.

Farrell is a Media Arts and Culture major whose favorite food on campus is spicy shrimp ramen with an iced chai from the Berkus Coffee Cart. Farrell’s favorite movie is “The Lives of Others,” and her favorite class at Occidental was Discipline and Desire with Professor Thaddeus Russell in the American Studies department.