HARROGATE, TN -- The student-athletes, coaches and staff that make up the Lincoln Memorial University athletic department gathered on Thursday evening to celebrate the 2012-13 seasons in the annual LMU Athletics Banquet. The LMU Athletics Banquet is hosted at the completion of the school year for the purpose of honoring the players, teams and moments that comprised the year in Railsplitter athletics.
The volleyball team and head coach Jenny Michael kick-started the festivities, as three different awards were handed out to honor the Lady Railsplitters' 21-14 season that included a third-place SAC finish and a fifth-straight NCAA Southeast Regional bid. Jazzy Oates (Franklin, TN) was awarded Most Improved Player distinctions after the middle blocker finished fourth on the team in kills per set and fifth in total kills in her debut season with the Lady Railsplitters. The IF Award, which is based on the cumulative efforts of a player in the team's offseason workouts, was presented to Allison Beavers (Tomball, TX). The sophomore setter/right side combo filled out her stat ledger this season with 1.79 kills per set, 5.18 assists per set and 2.01 digs per set. Blaire Fowler (Fort Worth, TX) brought home Most Valuable Player laurels after leading the team in nearly every offensive category this season. The All-SAC First Team and AVCA All-Southeast Region selection was also the co -recipient of the Female Athlete of the Year award, which was presented at the end of the evening.
Men's and women's cross country coach Jeremy Donahue was next on the podium, and he presented three awards for both the men and the women. On the men's side, Shane Curtsinger (Clarksville, OH) was given the Railsplitter Award, while freshman Tia Belter (Somerset, WI) earned that same distinction on the women's side. Curtsinger finished with two top-ten placements and an 18th place run at the SAC Championship. Belter also tallied two top-ten finishes along with a 17th place run at the SAC Championship, good for a place on the All-Freshman Team. The Most Improved Runner award went to Jon Slaven (Harrogate, TN) on the men's side and Aura Penalosa (Bogota, Columbia) on the women's. The Most Valuable Runner distinction was handed out to Bradley Maldonado (Spring Hill, TN) for the men and Sofia Lopez Mimendi (Mexico City, Mexico) on the women's. Maldonado was an All-SAC First Team and All-Southeast Region performer while Mimendi also notched All-Southeast Region honors following a 20th place finish at the Southeast Regional.
Head men's and women's soccer coach Helio D'Anna presented a total of ten awards on the evening, beginning with the Coaches Award. On the women's side, Michelle Allen (Cove, UT) took home that prize, while Pedro Villa (New Braunfels, TX) earned the award for the men. Allen sat out all of the 2012 season with a knee injury. Villa tallied two goals and one assists in 290 minutes this season for the Railsplitters. The Rookie of the Year awards went to Josefin Hedstrom (Burtrask, Sweden) and Marcel Barwanietz (Berlin, Germany). Hedstrom was an All-SAC First Team selection after tallying four goals and two assists in her debut season, while Barwanietz posted a 0.80 goals against average in 16 starts for the Railsplitters. Callum Home (East Kilbride, Scotland) was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the men, while Sam Adams (Harwood, MD) and Kayla Hanson (Melbourne, FL) shared that honor for the women. Both Home and Adams were All-SAC Second Team selections after providing t he backbone of their team's defensive unit. In 11 starts this season, Hanson posted a 0.91 goals against average. The Most Improved Player award was given to Kristen Cook (Little Rock, AR) and Yuri Passos (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). On the women's side, Nicole McKinney (Ooltewah, TN) claimed Most Valuable Player distinctions, and Mario Pinto (Uberlandia, Brazil) garnered the same award for the men. McKinney notched three goals and three assists for the Lady Railsplitters this season, while Pinto led the Railsplitters in nearly every category. Pinto was named the Male Athlete of the Year at the conclusion of the night.
The women's basketball team was next on tap, and head coach Roger Hodge handed out five awards to recognize the Lady Railsplitters' 14-15 finish. Kalasia Green (Laveen, AZ) was presented the Leading Scorer award after churning out 11.2 points per game this season, while MaRanda Boddie (Springfield, OH) earned the Leading Rebounder & Blocked Shots award with 8.0 boards per and 65 total blocks. The Iron Splitter Award, which is given to the hardest working player in offseason training, was given to freshman Miranda Davenport (Evarts, KY). Finally, the Coaches Award went to Elliotte Roberts (McDonough, GA) and the Assists Leader award was collected by Kelsey Bradford (Metropolis, IL). Bradford dished out a team-high 81 total assists this season.
Head men's basketball coach Josh Schertz stepped to the floor next, and the fifth-year coach presented a total of five awards to honor the individuals who helped lead the Railsplitters to a 25-6 season that included a SAC regular-season championship and a third-straight bid to the NCAA Southeast Regional. Tim Pierce (Albany, GA) was named the Newcomer of the Year, as the SAC All-Freshman Team selection pitched in 4.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. The Coaches Award went to fan favorite Jairocey Simpson (Detroit, MI), while Curtis McMillion (Fayetteville, NC) brought home Most Improved Player distinctions. Simpson tallied 2.3 points per game in eight appearances and two starts. McMillion notched 2.4 points per to go along with 2.5 rebounds per. Chance Jones (Knoxville, TN) was named the team's Defensive Player of the Year after finishing with a team-leading 25 steals. All-SAC First Team selection Vincent Bailey (Jennings, FL) earned Most Valuable Player laurels following a season in which he led the team in scoring and rebounding.
The men's and women's golf teams fell next in line to be presented, and head coach Travis Muncy passed out a total of nine awards. For the women, Whitney Ball (Newport, TN) and Brittany McCown (Sevierville, TN) were the co-recipients of the Most Valuable Player award after that pair led the Lady Railsplitters in scoring average. They were both selected to the All-SAC Second Team. Mercedes Smith (Monterey, TN) was named the Most Improved Player, while Desta Coaker (Dunsford, Ontario) earned the Coaches Award. Smith notched a scoring average of 82.67 this season in three events. Coaker posted two top-ten finishes and a 79.35 stroke average in eight events. The Freshman of the Year award went to Danielle Burrell (Basingstoke, England) after she earned one top-ten finish in five events this season. On the men's side, SAC Player of the Year Jamie Chapman (Sussex, England) was named the Most Valuable Player with seven top-tens to his credit in ten events this season. Rand Wasson (N orris, TN) earned the nod for the Most Improved award thanks to three top-ten finishes this season. After coming on strong late in the season, Garrett Metz (Knoxville, TN) was tabbed with the Coaches Award, while SAC Championship Medalist Connor Froning (Knoxville, TN) was named the Freshman of the Year. Froning also nabbed the Male Newcomer of the Year award at the completion of the night. The final award went to Braden Galyon (Powell, TN), as he collected the 110% Award after notching three top-ten finishes in ten events.
Head softball coach Natalie Layden was next to present, and the first-year coach handed out five awards following a 30-22 season for the Lady Railsplitters. Sophomore Amanda Snow (Knoxville, TN) was named the team's Most Valuable Player after leading the Lady Railsplitters in home runs, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. The Clutch Award was presented to Kirstin Toole (De Bary, FL). Toole tallied a .306 batting average with a team-leading 12 doubles to go along with a 6-4 record and a 2.92 ERA in 64.2 innings pitched this season. The O3 Award, given to the player who most clearly represents the characteristics of toughness and determination, was presented to Kelly Dreier (Knoxville, TN). Dreier posted a .269 batting average while starting 48 games for the Lady Railsplitters. The Highest GPA award was presented to senior Sarah Walz (Innisfail, Alberta). The final award was the Newcomer of the Year distinction, and the battery of Samantha Smith (Knoxv ille, TN) and Laura Taricano (Bradenton, FL) were the co-recipients of that prize. Smith earned the Female Newcomer of the Year award at the end of the night after leading LMU to a 30-win season with a 20-13 mark on the mound, while Taricano posted a .248 batting clip with six doubles and five home runs. She played in all 52 games with 51 starts to her credit.
Fresh off of their run to capturing the 2013 Food Lion SAC Championship crown, the baseball team was next in line to be presented at the LMU Athletics Banquet. Head coach Jeff Sziksai gave a total of four awards, beginning with the honor of Most Improved Player. That distinction went to Nick Morabito (Vienna, VA), who finished third on the team with a .335 batting average including eight doubles and three home runs. The Most Valuable Position Player award was a three-way split between Josh Coker (Murphy, NC), Curt Fuqua (Jackson, TN) and Andre Rodriguez (Las Piedras, Puerto Rico). Rodriguez led the Railsplitters with a .362 batting average, 72 hits and 17 doubles. Coker led the team with 11 home runs and 53 RBI while hitting .331. Fuqua hit .301 with eight home runs and four triple en route to earning the nod for the All-SAC First Team. Senior Brandon Cowan (Tequesta, FL) brought home Most Valuable Pitcher distinctions after leading the team at the top of the Railsplitters' r otation. He notched three complete games and totaled 92 innings pitched with a 5-2 overall mark. All-SAC First Team selection Nick Pressley (Knoxville, TN) nabbed the Coaches Award. Pressley posted a .330 batting average with 17 doubles, three triples and a home run.
Head men's and women's tennis coach Benny Collins presented a total of seven awards on the evening, beginning with the women. The Most Valuable Player award went to senior Leah Donoff (Tipp City, OH), who also nabbed the Co-Female Athlete of the Year award after being selected as the Co-SAC Player of the Year. Donoff finished 12-3 at the No. 1 singles spot this season for the Lady Railsplitters. The 110% Award went home with Elena Vasilyeva (Yaroslavl, Russia) after the freshman compiled a 6-3 record at No. 2 singles. The final honor for the women, the Coaches Award, was presented to junior Jessica Baker (Barbourville, KY). On the men's side, Philipp Hoffmann (Karlsruhe, Germany) nabbed the Most Valuable Player award. The All-SAC First Team selection went 15-3 at No. 1 singles to lead LMU to the 2013 Food Lion SAC Championship crown. Will Sparks (Knoxville, TN) brought home the 110% Award and Marcelo Alvim (Sao Paulo, Brazil) was the Coaches Award winner for the third-straigh t season. That doubles tandem went 16-2 this season en route to earning All-SAC Second Team doubles honors. The final award was affectionately coined the Finisher Award, which was given to freshman Guilherme Rocha (Victoria, Brazil) after he capped the Railsplitters' SAC Championship title match victory with a three-set triumph at No. 6 singles.
Head cheer and dance coach Marcia Yeary-Hembree presented a pair of awards, with Hannah Kate Byrge (LaFollette, TN) taking home the Railsplitter Spirit Award and Amy Orick (LaFollette, TN) earning the LMU Star Award.
In addition, head athletic trainer Donald Grisby passed out five awards to honor the outstanding achievements in the athletic training department this year. The Academic Achievement Award went to Cassandra Faulkner, while the Program Leadership Award was given to Clint Gibson. Ashley Thomas earned the Newcomer/Rising Star Award. Heather Green was named the Student of the Year and Kacy Denny was honored as the Clinician of the Year.
Mixed in among the the major awards (Athlete of the Year, B. Frank Turner, Newcomer of the Year), three student-athletes were honored with the President's Award to bring the night to a close. The President's Award is given to an athlete who has persevered through uncommon adversity to participate at the highest level of collegiate athletics, inspiring their peers along the way. Volleyball player Jasmine Oates (Franklin, TN), cross country runner Sarah Jones (Hendersonville, NC) and men's basketball player Wally Jones (Greensboro, NC) were all proudly presented with the President's Award to bring the night to a resounding and emotional conclusion.
Leading Scorer: Kalasia Green
Leading Rebounder & Blocked Shots: MaRanda Boddie
Iron Splitter Award: Miranda Davenport
Coaches Award: Elliotte Roberts
Assists Leader: Kelsey Bradford
Most Valuable Player: Vincent Bailey
Most Improved Player: Curtis McMillion
Defensive Player of the Year: Chance Jones
Coaches Award: Jairocey Simpson
Newcomer of the Year: Tim Pierce
Most Valuable Player: Jamie Chapman
Most Improved Player: Rand Wasson
Coaches Award: Garrett Metz
Freshman of the Year: Connor Froning
110% Award: Braden Galyon
Most Valuable Player: Whitney Ball, Brittany McCown
Most Improved Player: Mercedes Smith
Coaches Award: Desta Coaker
Freshman of the Year: Danielle Burrell
Most Valuable Player: Philipp Hoffmann
110% Award: Will Sparks
Coaches Award: Marcelo Alvim
Finisher Award: Guilherme Rocha
Most Valuable Player: Leah Donoff
110% Award: Elena Vasilyeva
Coaches Award: Jessica Baker
Most Valuable Position Player: Josh Coker, Curt Fuqua, Andre Rodriguez
Most Improved Player: Nick Morabito
Coaches Award: Nick Pressley
Most Valuable Pitcher: Brandon Cowan
Most Valuable Player: Amanda Snow
Clutch: Kirstin Toole
O3: Kelly Dreier
Highest GPA: Sarah Walz
Co-Newcomer of the Year: Sam Smith, Laura Taricano
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
Most Valuable Runner: Bradley Maldonado
Most Improved Runner: Jon Slaven
Railsplitter Award: Shane Curtsinger
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
Most Valuable Runner: Sofia Lopez Mimendi
Most Improved Runner: Aura Penalosa
Railsplitter Award: Ontario Belter
Most Valuable Player: Mario Pinto
Most Improved Player: Yurri Passos
Defensive Player of the Year: Callum Home
Rookie of the Year: Marcel Barwanietz
Coaches Award: Pedro Villa
Most Valuable Player: Nicole McKinney
Most Improved Player: Kristen Cook
Co-Defensive Player of the Year: Sam Adams, Kayla Hanson
Rookie of the Year: Josefin Hedstrom
Coaches Award: Michelle Allen
Most Valuable Player: Blaire Fowler
The IF Award: Allison Beavers
Most Improved Player: Jazzy Oates
Railsplitter Spirit Award: Hannah Kate Byrge
LMU Star Award: Amy Orick
Athletic Training Education Program Academic Achievement Award: Cassandra Faulkner
Athletic Training Education Program Leadership Award: Clint Gibson
Athletic Training Education Program Newcomer / Rising Star Award: Ashley Thomas
Athletic Training Education Program Student of the Year: Heather Green
Athletic Training Education Program Student Clinician of the Year: Kacy Denny
Sarah Jones Wally Jones Jasmine Oates
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Leah Donoff Mario Pinto
B. FRANK TURNER AWARD
Brittany Pugh Bradley Maldonado
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Casey Mense Connor Froning
Visit lmurailsplitters.com for the latest news and info on Lincoln Memorial University Athletics.