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April 19. 2013 4:19AM

Athlete of the Month: Tarczewski comes up big in March voting


Arizona Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski (35) shoots against Colorado during the first half in the second round of the Pac 12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Like many high school basketball players, Claremont's Kaleb Tarczewski dreamed about playing in the NCAA tournament. Unlike most players from New Hampshire, Tarczewski had his dream come true.

Tarczewski's freshman season at the University of Arizona came to an end when the Wildcats lost to Ohio State, 73-70, in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Sixth-seeded Arizona qualified for the tournament as an at-large selection, and beat Belmont (81-64) and Harvard (74-51) before the Ohio State defeat.

Tarczewski's role in getting the 'Cats that deep into the tournament earned him BASC/Apple Therapy Athlete of the Month honors for March, based on voting by the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges.

Weeks after Arizona's tournament run came to an end, Tarczewski was still trying to process the experience when he spoke with the Union Leader Wednesday night.

"The tournament has so much tradition, and it's an honor to play in it, but to be honest, it's all a blur when you're out there playing," he said by phone from Arizona. "It was a great experience. It really was kind of a dream come true."

A 7-foot center, Tarczewski started in all 35 games for the Wildcats, averaging 6.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. He tied his season high by scoring 12 points (on 5-for-5 shooting) and grabbed eight rebounds against Belmont, and collected seven points and eight rebounds against Harvard. Tarczewski had three points, two rebounds and one blocked shot in the loss to Ohio State.

Earlier in March, Tarczewski tied his season high by pulling down 13 rebounds during a loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament. For the month, he averaged 6.9 points and 7.7 rebounds in seven contests.

In winning the Athlete of the Month award, he topped a ballot that included University of Connecticut pitcher Carson Cross of Brentwood, Trinity High of Manchester forward Carmen Giampetruzzi, Franklin Pierce College first baseman Zach Mathieu of Derry and Bishop Guertin of Nashua track and field standout Betsy Garnick of Pelham.

. A redshirt sophomore right-hander, Cross went 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA in March.

. Giampetruzzi, a senior forward, averaged 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in four tournament games to help Trinity win the Division I basketball title.

. Mathieu, a junior first baseman, was named the Northeast-10 Conference and National Collegiate Baseball Writers East Region Player of the Week for the period ending March 24 after he hit .417 with six RBIs and nine runs scored in six games with the Ravens.

. Garnick, a senior, broke her own NHIAA record in the 55-meter hurdles when she won that event at the New England Interscholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships at Boston's Reggie Lewis Center.

Manchester Central boys' hockey player Ian Beliveau (Manchester), Southern New Hampshire women's lacrosse attacker Lindsay Bucknam (Bow), Stonehill women's lacrosse attacker Kayla Green (Londonderry) and Kenyon College women's lacrosse attacker Jane Symmes (Concord) were also on the ballot.

Tarczewski saw little varsity action as a freshman at Claremont's Stevens High but became a key contributor as a sophomore and emerged as one of the top recruits in the country after transferring to St. Mark's School in Southborough, Mass.

In his first year of college ball, he helped Arizona finish the season with a 27-8 record and the No. 14 ranking in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll.

"I have high standards," Tarczewski said. "I think I could have done more this year, but Arizona's a great school. I love it here. I really couldn't have asked for more from my freshman season."


To submit a nomination for Athlete of the Month consideration, email the Union Leader sports department at sports@unionleader.com and enter "Athlete of the Month" in the subject line.

Previous 2013 winners: January - Sean Doherty, Conway, biathlon; February - Drew Ledwith, Keene, swimming.


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