Senior varsity athletes honored at Jack B. Riffle Celebration

Front row, left to right: Sam Walther '18, Darby Philbrick '18, Hanna Jerome '18. Back row, left to right: Evan Buitenhuis '18, Joe Tigani '18, Eli Saucier '18.
Front row, left to right: Sam Walther '18, Darby Philbrick '18, Hanna Jerome '18. Back row, left to right: Evan Buitenhuis '18, Joe Tigani '18, Eli Saucier '18.

Women's hockey goaltender Sam Walther '18 (Gambrills, Md./The Gunnery [Conn.]) and men's hockey goaltender Evan Buitenhuis '18 (Burlington, Ontario/Nelson HS) received the 2018 Jack B. Riffle Awards at Hamilton College's senior varsity athlete awards celebration on Tuesday, May 15.

Walther and Buitenhuis established themselves as arguably the best goaltenders in their program's history as both were two-time all-Americans and collected a NESCAC player of the year award.

The Riffle Awards have been presented annually since 1987 to the top male and female athlete in Hamilton's senior class. Riffle graduated from Hamilton in 1950 and passed away on Dec. 13, 1986. A group of Riffle's friends and associates established a memorial fund in his name because of his deep interest in Hamilton athletics.

Walther is the third women's hockey player to win the Riffle Award and the first since 2006. She helped lead the team to 48 wins, including a program-record 14 in 2016-17, and four postseason appearances. She's the first Hamilton women's hockey player to make the all-America team twice as she was placed on the first team in 2017 and 2018. She was voted the NESCAC player of the year in 2018 after setting program single-season records for save percentage, goals against average and shutouts. She was selected to the all-conference team three times, including the first team twice, and was named the NESCAC player of the week on five occasions during her career. Walther owns program records for career save percentage, goals against average and shutouts, and ended up second on the career saves list.

Buitenhuis is the third men's hockey player to win the Riffle Award, joining Robbie Murden '17 and long-time NHL goaltender Guy Hebert '89. Buitenhuis helped lead the team to 57 wins and four postseason appearances. In 2016-17 Buitenhuis and the Continentals won a program-record 20 games, advanced to the NESCAC championship final for the first time, and earned their first at-large bid to the NCAA Division III championship. He made the all-America third team in 2018 and was placed on the first team in 2017 when he received the American Hockey Coaches Association's Sid Watson Award as the Division III player of the year. He was voted to the all-NESCAC team three times, including the first team twice, and collected the conference's player of the year award in 2017. He led Division III and set program single-season records for save percentage and goals against average in 2017-18, and he holds the team records in both categories. Buitenhuis ended up in fourth place on the program's career saves list.

Women's cross country and track & field athlete Hanna Jerome '18 (Englewood, N.J./Dwight-Englewood School) and men's golfer Joe Tigani '18 (Hockessin, Del./Tatnall School) received the Milton H. Jannone Awards. The Jannone Awards have been presented annually since 2009 to a male and female senior athlete who exhibit outstanding athleticism, leadership and academic accomplishment.

Jerome qualified as an individual for the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Cross Country Championship and earned a pair of all-Atlantic Region honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for cross country. She was honored again by the USTFCCCA with another all-region award after the 2018 indoor season for performances in the mile run and the distance medley relay. She owns the program's indoor records in the 1,000-meter run and the mile, and is part of a record-setting relay in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. She was a member of the NESCAC fall all-academic team twice and the winter and spring all-academic teams three times apiece. Jerome holds a dual major in art and Hispanic studies.

Tigani was one of four golfers to qualify as individuals for the 2018 NESCAC Men's Golf Championship and he helped guide his team to the event in 2015 and 2016. He was a four-time member of the all-conference team, including three first team honors, and was selected for the Division III all-Northeast Region team by the Golf Coaches Association of America each of his first three years at Hamilton. He earned a spot on the NESCAC fall all-academic team in 2015 and 2016 and made the 2018 spring team. Tigani is a mathematics major with a minor in economics.

Women's lacrosse and soccer player Darby Philbrick '18 (Alexandria, Va./St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School) and men's track & field and football athlete Eli Saucier '18 (Douglasville, Ga./Hiram HS) received the Jean-Marius Gelas Memorial Awards. The Gelas Awards are presented annually to a male and female senior student-athlete who has displayed outstanding development in sportsmanship, leadership, character and athletic ability during their college years.

Philbrick served as co-president of Hamilton's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as a junior and a senior. The 2018 women's lacrosse team captain helped lead the program to 39 wins and four postseason appearances, including two at-large bids to the NCAA championship. She was selected for the 2017 NESCAC Women's Lacrosse All-Conference Team and has collected two women's lacrosse Division III all-region team honors, including the first team in 2017. She finished her 67-game women's lacrosse career with 97 goals and 20 assists for 117 points in 62 starts. She helped lead the women's soccer team to 30 victories and three postseason appearances. Philbrick and the Continentals advanced to the semifinals of the NESCAC women's soccer championship and received an at-large bid to the NCAA championship in 2017. She ended up with 10 goals and two assists for 22 points in 59 career games.

Saucier competed at the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship in the 200-meter dash and is one of the top sprinters in program history. He holds school indoor records in the 60- and 200-meter dash, and is part of the record 1,600-meter relay. He owns school outdoor records in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash, and is part of the record 400-meter relay. He collected Division III all-Atlantic Region honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association after the 2018 indoor season for his performance in the 60 and the 200 meters. He also earned all-region honors after the 2017 outdoor season for the 100 and the 200 meters. He grabbed a spot on the 2018 all-NESCAC team for his performance at the conference outdoor championships in the 100 and the 200 meters and the 400-meter relay. He also made the 2017 all-conference team for the 200 meters. He finished his Hamilton football career with 204 receiving yards and 58 rushing yards in 27 games, and he caught a touchdown pass that contributed to a 35-14 win against Bates on Senior Day. Saucier is a member of the 2017 NESCAC Fall All-Sportsmanship Team.