Frank Stranzl

Football defensive end Chris Gocong, golfer Travis Bertoni and women’s soccer defender Sierra Simmons, all seniors, were honored as Cal Poly’s 2005-06 Athletes of the Year at the annual Night of the Mustang banquet and awards ceremony Tuesday night at Embassy Suites.

Gocong, who earned the Buck Buchanan Award as the nation’s Division I-AA defensive player of the year, was Cal Poly’s third football player to participate in the East-West Shrine Game, following Jordan Beck in 2005 and Stan Sheriff in 1954. Last month he became Cal Poly’s highest NFL Draft selection, chosen 71st overall (third round) by the Philadelphia Eagles.

A 6 foot 3 inch, 265-pound Carpinteria High School graduate, Gocong was named to the prestigious AFCA Division I-AA Coaches’ All-America Team, the Associated Press Division I-AA All-America Team, the Sports Network’s All-America first team and the Walter Camp Football Foundation Division I-AA All-America Team.

He was named Great West Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year in November and recorded 42.0 career sacks, 1.5 sacks shy of the career mark set by Tom Carey (1985-88).

Last season, Gocong finished first in the nation in sacks-per-game (1.81), second in tackles for lost yardage (2.35 per game) and 23rd in forced fumbles (.31). He recorded 98 total tackles (46 solo), including a school-record 23.5 sacks and 31.0 tackles for lost yardage, leading the Mustangs to a 9-4 record, a second-straight Great West Football Conference championship and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.

Gocong was runner-up to Beck for the 2004 Buck Buchanan Award and was named Defensive Lineman of the Year for 2005 by the online service Football Gazette published by Don Hansen. He was also named I-AA.org Defensive Player of the Year.

Bertoni, the three-time Big West Conference Golfer of the Year, finished second in this year’s conference final after winning the individual title in 2005. He was sixth in the conference tournament in 2004 and fifth in 2003. Bertoni has qualified for the NCAA West Regional each of his four years at Cal Poly, including this weekend’s event at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club.

Bertoni’s career-best round is a 65, accomplished twice – at the Santa Clara Invitational in October 2003 and at the UCLA Gold Rush in September 2004. He has carded a 66 a dozen times, most recently at the 2006 Big West Conference Championship.

Bertoni is believed to be tied for No. 4 on the NCAA’s list of career victories with Lindy Miller of Oklahoma State, each with 11. Phil Mickelson of Arizona State won 16 tournaments for the record while Chris Perry of Ohio State and Luke Donald of Northwestern each earned 13 career victories.

Bertoni has won three tournaments this season and has posted 26 top-10 finishes, 38 top-20 finishes and 79 rounds of par or better, including 36 rounds in the 60s.

Simmons has led Cal Poly soccer to three Big West Conference championships, three NCAA playoff appearances and numerous national rankings.

As a senior, she was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Adidas Scholar All-American team as well as the all-region team. She was also voted onto the Big West Conference first all-academic team and was a first team all-conference selection for the second year in a row.

Simmons twice earned the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year award as a sophomore and junior – and was named to Soccer Buzz Magazine’s All-West Region first team and honored by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America by being named to the Scholar All-West Region first team as a junior.

As a sophomore, Simmons was named second-team All-West Region as selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and second-team All-West Region as chosen by SoccerBuzz Magazine.

In her final three seasons as Cal Poly’s top defender, the Mustangs notched 32 shutouts and allowed just 45 goals in 60 matches.

Other male athletes nominated for the Athlete of the Year award were baseball third baseman Josh Lansford, basketball forward Derek Stockalper, cross country runner Matt Johnsrud, soccer defender/midfielder Justin Woodward, swimmer John Michelmore, tennis No. 1 singles and doubles player John Nguyen, track and field distance runner Luke Llamas and 125-pound wrestler Chad Mendes.

Female athletes nominated for the award were basketball forward Jessica Eggleston, cross country runner Rachel Valliere, golfer Jessica Huss, indoor track and field hurdler and pentathlete Danielle Ayers-Stamper, softball center fielder Lisa Modglin, swimmer Kira Linsmeier, tennis No. 1 singles and doubles player Samantha Waller, track and field middle distance runner Deidre Byrne and volleyball setter Chelsea Hayes.

Cal Poly’s Scholar-Athletes for the 2005-06 school year are men’s soccer midfielder Matt Robinson and women’s volleyball outside hitter Kayla Mulder. Robinson is a mathematics and statistics major while Mulder majors in kinesiology.

Mulder and men’s swimmer Nate Williams were named Cal Poly’s Big West Conference scholar-athletes.

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