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USC's Tina Graudina, Earnie Sears III Named Tom Hansen Medal Winners

Jun 22, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO – USC beach volleyball All-American Tina Graudina (Jurmala, Latvia) and men's track and field All-American Ernie Sears III (Palmdale, Calif./Bishop Alemany HS) were each awarded the 2021-22 Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal, the Pac-12 announced on Wednesday, June 22.
A Conference Medal is awarded annually to each member institution's outstanding senior male and female student-athletes based on the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics, and leadership.
Conference Medal winners have been named every year since the 1960-61 academic year. In 2009, the Pac-12 renamed the award the Tom Hansen Conference Medal in honor of Tom Hansen, who retired at the end of June 2009 following 26 years of service as Commissioner of the Pac-10.
Graudina is one of the most decorated collegiate beach volleyball athletes in the short history of the sport. She was a 2020 Olympian and was part of the first-ever Latvian women's beach volleyball pair to compete in the Olympics. She is a two-time NCAA champion (2021, '22) and a two-time Pac-12 champion (2019, '22) and one of only four student-athletes ever to garner AVCA All-America first-team laurels four times in her career. She and partner Hailey Harward were chosen as the 2022 AVCA National Pair of the Year. Graudina was named Pac-12 Player of the Year three times and was part of the Pac-12's Pair of the Year with three different partners. She holds a record-setting eight Pac-12 Pair of the Week awards, is a four-time Pac-12 All-Conference Team and All-Tournament Team choice and earned her third NCAA All-Tournament Team award in 2022. She served as a USC captain in her senior season, was named to the 2021 Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll, was a member of the 2019 Pac-12 All-Academic second team and received the Trojaneer Diamond Award as the female student-athlete who has brought the most fame and distinction to the university. She is pursuing a graduate degree in communication management after earning her undergraduate degree in political science. Graudina has used her platform to assist in a relief effort campaign for Ukraine with Latvian Beach Volleyball National Team.
Sears III completed both a bachelor's degree in communication and master's degree in entrepreneurship at USC. He is a three-time Pac-12 high jump champion (2018, 2019, 2022) and one of just three athletes to win three titles in the event (Dick Fosbury, Nick Ross). Sears III is a four-time NCAA All-American in the high jump, twice outdoor and twice indoor. He is tied for fifth in Pac-12 history and second in USC history with personal-best clearances of 2.30 meters (7-6.5), which qualified as the second-best mark in the world in 2022. Sears III was a participant in the LA Reinvestment Fund Turkey Give-A-Way in 2018 and '19 and was a two-time Student-Athlete Volunteer Tour Guide for A Day in Troy (2018-19).
Under third-year head coach Dain Blanton, the Trojans captured their fourth NCAA Championship (fifth national title) and fourth Pac-12 crowns in 2022. The Women of Troy finished the year ranked No. 1 and had a record of 37-1 with a 36-match win streak intact at the end. USC added four AVCA All-Americans to its history books with the four-time selection of Tina Graudina as well as the third-career honor for Sammy Slater. Graudina was named the Pac-12's Player of the Year a third time and earned Pac-12 and AVCA Pair of the Year honors with partner Hailey Harward, who was also tabbed an AVCA All-American along with sophomore Megan Kraft.
Under first-year head coach Quincy Watts the Trojan track and field program earned a combined 11 first-team All-America honors during the outdoor season and 12 during the indoor season. USC posted a combined 15 USC outdoor all-time top-10 times or marks and 23 indoor all-time top-10 times or marks. The men's and women's teams combined to set four school records during the indoor and outdoor seasons.