SAULT STE. MARIE – Guard Makenzie Edwards and golfer Joe Ericson were named Lake Superior State’s senior athletes of the year awards during Thursday’s athletics banquet and inaugural “ESPYs,” which were sponsored by the LSSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
The SAAC and student-athletes went all-out for their version of the ESPYs, donning formal attaire, adding entertainment in the form of a Collin Saccoman magic show and video presentations. LSSU ESPY Awards went to tennis player Macarena Bielsa (Best Sleeping Video), thrower Bobbie Love (Most Injury Prone), basketball player Josh Goldschmidt (Most Epic Play), basketball player Lance Monroe (Best Roster Head Shot), Laker Hockey (Biggest Victory) and Laker Men's Golf (Most Spirited Team).
Goldschmidt was noted for his two winning free throws at Northwood, and Laker Hockey was recognized for its victory at Michigan.
Edwards (Gaylord, Mich.) received the Deb McPherson Female Athlete of the Year Award after leading the LSSU women’s basketball team in scoring for two years and finishing 19th on LSSU’s all-time scoring list. She scored 1,087 career points, including a school-record 182 three-point field goals. This season, she averaged 13.6 points per game to rank 10th in the GLIAC in scoring, led the league in average three-point field goals per game (2.5), was fifth in three-point field-goal percentage (43.1), and broke her own single-season three-point record with 69. Edwards received the Christina Comito Award in 2015, earned All-GLIAC Second-Team honors in 2016, and is a three-time GLIAC Academic Excellence Award winner.
Ericson (Utica, Mich.), the Cliff Everett Male Athlete of the Year Award winner, was unable to attend the banquet due to the LSSU golf team’s departure to Nashport, Ohio, for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, which begin Friday at The Virtues Golf Club. Ericson has maintained a remarkably consistent collegiate golf career, ranking 63rd in the region as a sophomore, 62nd as a junior and 57th as a senior. His low tournament score was a 1-under-par 143 at the GLIAC North Invitational in September, 2015, where he finished sixth among 80 golfers. This season’s best finish, to date, was a 2-over 146 at the Saginaw Valley State Spring Invitational, where he tied for seventh among 120 golfers at Cherry Blossom Golf Course in Georgetown, Ky. He also tied for seventh at this year’s Midwest Fall Regional in Chicago. Heading into this weekend’s GLIAC Championship, he has a season scoring average of 76.92 through 13 rounds and a career scoring average of 77.3 through 63 rounds.
LSSU’s other major award winners were senior distance runner Ben Deuling (Kiwanis Award for highest academic competence), basketball guard Claire Radtke (Terry McDermott Female Freshman of the Year), hockey forward Luke Morgan (Terry McDermott Male Freshman of the Year), basketball forward Lindsey Pajot (Bud Cooper Female Coaches Award), basketball center Mike Smutny (Bud Cooper Male Coaches Award) and LSSU Women’s Track and Field (Laker Club Award for highest team grade point average). Basketball player Natalie Peterson, representing the SAAC, also made a special tribute to outgoing Director of Athletics Kris Dunbar.
Deuling (Muskegon, Mich.) overcame injury and has enjoyed a successful senior campaign while maintaining an impressive 3.899 grade point average in biology. He finished 16th in the men’s 800-meter run at the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships in March and is competing in the half mile during outdoor season.
Pajot (Howell, Mich.) is a dual-sport athlete and engineering major. She returned to LSSU this Fall with the same competitive fire she had prior to her sport of softball befalling to last spring’s budget cuts. She continued to play outfield for the club softball team and joined the junior varsity basketball team. By mid-year the varsity basketball team needed a post player and she answered the call. Her positive energy and intensity provided an immediate boost for the basketball team, and she quickly established a leadership role. Her playing time also steadily increased, and she appeared in the Lakers’ final 15 games as a back-up power forward. While playing left field for the club softball team, she batted a team-leading .571 with 31 RBIs. Outside of athletics, she assisted the Integrated Marketing Committee with a video and billboard project and maintained a 3.6 grade point average in mechanical engineering – often by working through the night to complete her lab projects. She will serve as the basketball team’s co-captain in 2017-18.
It’s a clean sweep for the School of Engineering in regard to the Bud Cooper Coaches Award. Smutny (Saline, Mich.) is also an engineering major and joins a selective group of seven multiple winners since the award was first given in 1968. He and volleyball player Shaun Lake Antler, a 1981 graduate, are the only Lakers to win the award three times. This 6-8 senior center for the men’s basketball team was a 2016 and ‘17 nominee for the National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team. Among his numerous academic accomplishments, he is a three-time GLIAC Academic Excellence Award winner with a 3.53 GPA in mechanical engineering/robotics. He played a vital sixth-man role this season, averaging 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the 16-10 Laker men’s basketball team. His campus service included helping with Freshman Move-In Day, youth basketball camps, 911 memorials, and basketball tournaments for Make A Wish and Special Olympics. Off campus, he served holiday meals to the elderly and Red Cross, assisted with a local 5K race and marathon, made birthday cards for church members and participated in elementary school reading day. His biggest impact may have been on a sixth-grader he counciled through a bullying situation at school. He was named Student Government’s 2017 Senior Male of the Year and he will speak on behalf of the student body at commencement on April 29.
Bud Cooper Coaches Award Multiple Winners
Mike Smutny, basketball, 2015, ’16 and ‘17
Jamie Gross, volleyball, 2007 and ‘08
Bo Cheesman, hockey, 2004 and ‘05
Michele Koenigsknecht, track and field, 1999 and ‘00
Brad Willner, hockey, 1994 and ‘95
Jenny Dearden, volleyball and softball, 1987 and ‘88
Shaun Lake, volleyball, 1979, ’80 and ‘81
Radtke (New Berlin, Wis.) started all 28 games for the women’s basketball team and ranked third on the team in scoring while averaging 8.1 points per game. She scored in double figures in nine games, including three in a row in late January. During that stretch she scored a season-high 17 points against Northwood. Among GLIAC freshmen, she ranked fourth in scoring, first in minutes played and second in three-point field-goal percentage.
Morgan (Brighton, Mich.) was one of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s top rookies in 2016-17. The 5-11, 190-pound forward contributed seven goals and 22 points this season. He tied for 33rd overall and fifth among rookies in WCHA scoring. He recorded three multiple-point games, including back-to-back, two-assist games against Alabama-Huntsville. He was named WCHA Rookie of the week following that series, and also received the honor following the November Michigan series.
The Laker Club Endowment was established in 2012 to recognize the LSSU varsity team with the highest team grade point average. Women’s track and field is the 2017 recipient with a team GPA of 3.216. Track and field edged out perennial bridesmaid hockey, which came in second at 3.186, and women’s basketball, which was third at 3.141.