SMU athletes shine bright on all fields

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In honor of this summer’s ESPY Awards, the Daily Campus sports staff decided it was time for the first ever DAILY Awards. The sports staff along with seven avid SMU sports fans/students voted on categories ranging from football to equestrian. Before we move on to the new season, we must first remember what our very own SMU athletes achieved last year!

1. Best Male Athlete:

Papa Dia (Basketball)- Dia was a force to be reckoned with in Conference USA last season as he averaged 18.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 1.8 assists. Dia was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and was selected to the Conference USA All-Defensive Team and All-Conference USA First Team. The power forward led SMU to their first post-season appearance since 2000 and set a CIT record with 21 rebounds against Northern Iowa. The recent graduate ranks fourth in rebounds and fifth in blocks all-time at SMU.

Also winner of: Best Male Basketball Player

2. Best Female Athlete:

Marta Lesniak (Tennis)- Lesniak finished the season with a spectacular 42-7 overall record, including 18-6 against ranked opponents. The 2011 ITA All-American was named Conference USA Player of the Year and earned All-Conference USA first team honors. Lesniak was also named C-USA Player of the Month four times. She finished the season ranked No. 9 in the nation and helped the Mustangs reach the NCAA Tournament for a school-record third consecutive season. Lesniak ranks second in career winning percentage and second in single season wins all-time at SMU.

Also winner of: Best Female Tennis Player

3. Best Championship Performance:

Courtney Webb (C-USA Quarterfinals)- In the quarterfinal round of the Conference USA Championship, goalkeeper Courtney Webb stepped up when it mattered the most. SMU and Rice played to a scoreless tie after 110 minutes as Webb recorded nine saves and forced a penalty shootout. Webb notched two more saves during penalty kicks, and also scored on SMU’s first penalty kick attempt to lead the Mustangs to a 4-2 penalty kick victory over the Owls.

4. Best Breakthrough Athlete:

Zach Line (Football)- In 2010, Line was considered just short yardage back and only had 189 yards rushing. Just a year later, Line became SMU’s feature back and busted onto the scene. The sophomore rushed for 1,494, which ranked him 11th in the nation and recorded the second highest single season rushing total in SMU history. Line added ten touchdowns and was named First Team All-Conference USA .

5. Rookie of the Year:

Juan Castillo (Soccer)- Prior to coming to SMU, Castillo was second-team All American at Kingwood Park. When he arrived on the Hilltop, he was immediately inserted into the starting lineup and scored a goal in his first ever collegiate game. Castillo tied for team lead in goals (10) and game-winning goals (4) and was second in points (24). He was dubbed Conference USA Freshman of the Year and earned All-Conference USA Freshman Team, NSCAA Midwest Region First Team, College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team, and Goal.com All-Freshman First Team honors.

6. Comeback Player of the Year:

Delisha Wills (Women’s Basketball)- After missing the entire 2009-2010 season due to injury, Wills notched 25 starts and averaged 10.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. She led the Conference USA free throw percentage, shooting 82.5 from the line. Wills became 18th player in school history to score 1,000 points and will forever be remembered as one of the best players of her era at SMU. Wills also excelled in the classroom and earned Scholar-Baller for the Southwest Region.

Also winner of: Best Women’s Basketball Player

7. Best Record Breaking Performance:

Raquel Christian (3 Pointers)- Christian set a school record and tied the Conference USA mark with eight 3-point field goals against UTEP. After scoring 10 points in the first half, Christian really heated up in the second half, draining five three pointers. Christian went 8-of-12 from behind the arc as she finished the game with 32 points, which is 10th highest in a game at SMU.

8. Best Game:

Soccer vs. Creighton- In the second round of the NCAA tournament, SMU twice rebounded from one-goal deficits thanks to goals by freshman forward Juan Castillo and junior midfielder Arthur Ivo and earned a 2-2 tie with Creighton. In the penalty-kick shootout, SMU converted on all five of their attempts to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

9. Best Team:

Men’s Soccer- SMU finished 16-2-2 overall and advanced to the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament, where they were the 5th seed overall. SMU’s magical run came to end against North Carolina as they fell just a few penalty kicks short of reaching the Final 4. However, the Mustangs were crowned Conference USA regular season champions and endured one of the best seasons in program history.

10. Best Coach:

Tim McClements (Men’s Soccer)- In his third season as head coach at SMU, McClements coached the Mustangs to one of their most successful seasons in program history. SMU finished with a 16-2-2 record and won the Conference USA Regular Season title. The Mustangs earned a berth in NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite 8.

11. Best Football Player:

Aldrick Robinson- Robinson led SMU with 1,301 yards receiving this season and finished second in program history (fifth in C-USA) with 3,314 career receiving yards. He currently ranks fourth in receptions (181) and second in touchdown receptions (30) all-time at SMU. The wide out set a single-season school record 14 receiving touchdowns and ranked 12th in the nation with 92.93 receiving yards per game Robinson was am All-Conference USA First Team selection. Back in April he was selected by the Washington Redskins in the 6th round of the NFL Draft.

12. Best Equestrian Rider:

Jordyn Pettersen- Pettersen was named an All-American by Varsity Equestrian after leading the nation in Adjusted VERS over the fences during the season. She participated in the prestigious WEF Collegiate Equitation Challenge and posted a win in the first round. Throughout her junior year at SMU, Pettersen earned six MVP honors.

14. Best Rower:

Lauren Hadaway- Hadaway was named a Scholar Athlete by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association and earned Conference USA Rowing All-Academic Team honors. In the water, Hadaway led the 1st Varsity 8+ to a pair of wins and and led SMU to a victory in the 2nd Varsity 8+.

15. Best Men’s Tennis Player:

Artem Baradach- Last season, Baradach went 14-8 in singles play, including an 11-5 mark in duals. He earned his second consecutive trip to the NCAA National Championships and earned All-Conference USA Singles and All-Conference USA Doubles First Team honors.

16. Best Men’s Soccer Player:

Arthur Ivo – Ivo led SMU in points (25) and was tied for the team lead in goals (10). He was a MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist and earned NSCAA All America Second Team and NSCAA Midwest Region First Team honors. For his dominance in conference play, Ivo was selected as the Conference USA Co-MVP and Conference USA Co-Offensive Player of the Year.

17. Best Women’s Soccer Player:

Lauren Shepard- Shepard, one of Conference USA’s fiercest defenders, Tied for the team lead in assists (6) and was tied for fourth in points (8). Despite focusing on defense, Shepard contributed one goal and was named All-Conference USA first team.

18. Best Men’s Swimmer/Diver:

Tom Cole- Cole placed 11th in the 200-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships and had another top-20 finish in the 100-yard backstroke, placing 18th with a season-best time of 53.39. The senior captain was named an All-American and set the Conference USA Championship and the SMU record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:54.54.

19. Best Women’s Swimmer/Diver:

Audra Egenolf- Egenolf was name an All-American, earning honors in both three-meter and
platform diving. She was dubbed the Conference USA Diver of the Meet at this year’s conference championships and was a seven-time C-USA Diver of the Week. Egenolf also excelled tremendously in the classroom and was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Women’s At-Large District VI First Team. She also received SMU’s prestigious “M” Award.

20. Best Men’s Golfer:

Kelly Kraft- Kraft is one of the most dominant golfers SMU has ever seen and finished season ranked as No. 31 golfer in the nation. H was selected to the honorable mention PING All-American Team, named to the Division I PING All Central Region Team, and earned first team All-Conference USA accolades. Kraft was a four-time C-USA Golfer of the Week and posted a season-low round of 65 at the Santa Clara Cabo Collegiate.

22. Best Women’s Golfer:

Amy Ruengmateekhun- Ruengmateekhun, who is known for her power, tied for 10th at the C-USA Championship. Only a rising sophomore, she made a name for herself as a freshman when she tied for fifth at Badger Invitational.

23. Best Track Athlete:

Simone Du Toit- Du Toit was named a First Team USTFCCCA All-American after posting a 17.00 meter throw for sixth place in the NCAA Indoor Championships. She also won the Conference USA Indoor Championship. Du Toit posted a school-record 58.81 meter discus throw at the Bobby Lane Invitational.

24. Best Volleyball Player:

Dana Powell- Powell compiled 22 double-doubles, notched 468 points with 416 kills, and recorded 445 digs. She was named to the AVCA All-American Honorable Mention team for the second consecutive season and earned First Team AVCA All-Midwest Region team recognition. She earned First Team All-Conference USA and was selected as the team MVP.

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