Category Archives: Sports
By Grant Pakhtigian
FLArmenians Sports Contributor
Last month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College Baseball World Series (CWS) took place in Omaha, Nebraska with the country’s top teams competing for the title of national champion. This summertime tradition in America’s heartland caps off the season for the young athletes looking to make a name for themselves as they seek to go pro. In the run up to the CWS, two Armenian American baseball players undertook their mission for the early summer slate in a series of 3-game playoffs to mete out the NCAA crown.
Florida college teams are among the finest in the nation as Florida State University (FSU), University of Florida (UF), and University of Miami (UM) all ranked in the top 25 in the 2014-15 season.
This year, University of Miami second baseman George Iskenderian became only the second Miami player ever to win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season batting title. He finished the regular season with a .391 batting average and started all 55 games. Iskenderian was recognized with first-team awards for another great year, originally playing short-stop before moving over to second base. Last year, he hit .373 with 23 RBIs in 40/55 games.
A junior college transfer and native of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Iskenderian helped make UM one of the most potent lineups in all of college baseball. During the CWS he hit .300 and went two for four in the season ending game against UF. UM took 6th place in the CWS, an admirable accomplishment.
Although the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him last year he decided to stay in Coral Gables to complete his senior year at the “U.” In the 2015 draft, Iskenderian was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round (211th overall).
In addition to our own college baseball star, another young Armenian American athlete made a name for himself this season. James Kaprielian, a pitcher for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), has shown his Bruins how pitching with numerous methods can bring his team victories along the path. He had one of the greatest pitching careers ever recorded by a Bruin. He recorded the fifth lowest ERA in program history, with sixth most strikeouts of all-time. Kaprielian was All-Pac-12 first team designee in this his last season.
Although UCLA didn’t make it to the CWS finals, Kaprielian received good news last month when he was the top pick of the New York Yankees (16th overall) in the 2015 MLB draft. The Yankees consider him very coachable and a good fit for their pitching roster, which is a big plus for teams who want someone they can trust for the betterment of the franchise. Kaprielian has had a challenging year and for him to work his way up to a top prospect in major league baseball is quite a feat.
By Grant Pakhtigian
March 3, 2014
The year 2014 was in play for the last weekend at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While much of the attention was on men’s ice hockey, many Armenian Americans followed the four-member Team Armenia. With thoughts of Gold, Silver and Bronze, each competitor hoped to capture and write his and her name in the record books.
As we think of the XXII Olympiad, we can point to a breakthrough competitor, Katya Galystyan who trail-blazed through this year’s cross-country event-the 10K. Born in 1993, on the first of January, Galystyan is the only woman to represent Armenia at the Sochi games. She placed 64th out of 76 competitors.
Another bright star is Armenian-American Arman Serabrakian. A dual citizen and second year medical student at Temple University in Pennsylvania, Serebrakian had the support of his fellow Armenian and American compatriots. “This is truly one of the best moments of my life, and I am happy to share it with my Temple family,” he said according to a university announcement. Arman is Armenia’s top ranked alpine skier. While an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado, he achieved four top-10 NCAA finishes. But getting to Sochi wasn’t easy. Online fundraisers were held by his supporters through friends of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), to help cover his trip and other expenses. FLArmenians was proud to contribute a nominal sum to assist the young Serabrakian achieve his life-long dream of being an Olympian. He competed in men’s giant slalom, the high-speed roller coaster of skiing. Clocks have long held speeds of 70-90 MPH in the downhill. Arman’s placement of 54 and 42, combined for 46th place overall, and took 2-hour heats on three different runs, totaling approximately 6+/- hours in competition. Then, as the Olympics came to a close, Arman received some exciting news. “Holy moly…I will be FLAG BEARER for the closing ceremony tonight. Wow what an honor!” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Olympian Sergey Mikayelyan raced through the men’s skiathlon and wound up on the other end as the number 46 pacer. With his six-days-a-week training sessions and only 21 years old, he has shown these Winter Games that he is a skier to be reckoned with now and in years to come. Sochi was Mikayelyan’s second Olympic experience, as he participated in the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Colombia at the tender age of 17.
The fourth Olympian from Armenia is Artur Yeghoyan. At 23, he has a fruitful career ahead of him. Cross-country is one of the races he competes in, along with the 15K and men’s skiathlon.
In addition, Yerevan got some extra attention during these Olympics. Given its proximity to Sochi, the Japanese women’s figure skating team apparently chose to practice in the Armenian capital, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Although team Armenian did not win any medals in the 2014 Winter Games they represented their country well. 1994 was the year Armenians popped the cork, realizing they were on the grand stage of the Olympics. History tells us that the Summer Games have been more productive than the Winter events for the tiny republic in the South Caucasus. Since 1996’s summer games in Atlanta, the colors of red, blue and orange have earned 12 medals; nine bronze, two silver and one gold.