Makenzie Fischer Wins Second Cutino Award; Nikolaos Papanikolaou Wins Men’s Honor

Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

Makenzie Fischer Wins Second Cutino Award; Nikolaos Papanikolaou Wins Men’s Honor

Stanford Olympian Makenzie Fischer and Cal’s Nikolaos Papanikolaou won the 2022 Peter J. Cutino Awards Saturday night, taking home college water polo’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

The award winners were announced at the 23rd annual banquet at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Fisher, who won gold for the second time with the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics, won the award in 2019. She is a three-time finalist for the award and just the fourth player to win it twice since the award started in 1999. She joins fellow Stanford two-time winners Kiley Neushul (2012, 2015) and Annika Dries (2011, 2014), plus USC’s Kami Craig (2009, 2010). It’s the ninth Cutino Award won Stanford women.

Fischer hadn’t been in the water for the Cardinal since 2019, due to COVID-19 and preparation for the Olympics. The four-time ACWPC All-American was named the NCAA Tournament MVP after leading Stanford to its eighth national title. She led Stanford with 83 goals, 47 points and 130 points. With 288 goals, she is Stanford’s all-time leading scorer and third in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation history.

Papanikolaou is the fourth Cal player to win the Cutino Award and first since Luca Cupido in 2017, a special group given that Cutino made his name coaching at Cal. Papanikolaou led the MPSF with 68 goals and 35 steals on the way to an NCAA title. He was a finalist for the award last year and has two years of eligibility remaining.

“It’s a great honor for me to be the Cutino Award winner,” Papanikolaou said in a Cal statement. “I want to congratulate Nicolas Saveljic and Nic Porter for their nominations. They both were incredible this past season and it was really fun competing against them.”

UCLA’s Maddie Musselman and USC’s Tilly Kearns were the other women’s finalists. Papanikolaou was selected over UCLA’s Nicolas Saveljic, who won in 2021, and USC’s Nic Porter.

Established in 1999 by The Olympic Club, the Peter J. Cutino Award is given annually to the top men’s and women’s NCAA Division I water polo players as voted on by coaches from across the country. The namesake of the award is a legend in United States water polo history, with eight NCAA titles as head coach at Cal. The Olympic Club has a long and distinguished competitive water polo history, a tradition that continues today in the pool with some of the best age-group teams in the world.