Sarah Awe (Washington Township, Mich.) received the Deb McPherson Female Athlete of the Year Award and was joined by men’s basketball senior Devin Daly as the Cliff Everett Male Athlete of the Year.
The annual evening dedicated to honoring the best and brightest student-athletes from LSSU for the 2015-16 seasons also included other major awards such as the Bud Cooper Coaches Award, which for the second-straight year went to both senior Sydne McMullen (Britton, Mich.) of the volleyball team and junior Mike Smutny (Saline, Mich.) of the men’s basketball team, and the Terry McDermott Freshman of the Year Awards, which were given to Lydia Heimonen (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) of the cross country and track and field teams and Gage Torrel (Monticello, Minn.) from the hockey team.
Daly, a native of Mahogany Heights, Belize, has called Sault Ste. Marie home for the last four years and helped coach Steve Hettinga ‘s group earn a program-best record of 88-36 during his time. This season, after developing as one of the premier sixth-men the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference had to offer as a junior; Daly earned GLIAC Player of the Year nominations and was named to the First Team All-GLIAC and All-Midwest Region First Team. The 6-4 forward finished second overall in scoring with 21.8 points per game, ranked fifth overall in the GLIAC with 8.5 rebounds per game, and was named GLIAC Player of the Week three times. Daly was also named U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division II National Player of the Week once this season.
Awe has steadily climbed the school’s ranking to finish in the top five of both doubles victories and combined wins and has led the Lakers through a tough transition year in 2015-16. As a senior, Awe has delivered an 8-7 record in singles play, including winning her final three matches and finishing 6-4 in her final 10. In doubles this season, Awe finished 5-10 while guiding a trio of freshmen as partners.
The Washington Township native racked up a singles record of 39-38 through her four-year career to finish in seventh place in all-time wins at LSSU. Her 37 doubles victories and combined 75 victories each pit her fourth all-time in LSSU women’s tennis victories.
This year also marked the second consecutive season that McMullen and Smutny were awarded the Bud Cooper Coaches Awards. The award, named in honor of legendary LSSU athletic director Bud Cooper and presented to both a male and female athlete each year, highlights student-athletes of extremely high character with passion for the Lake Superior State campus and the Sault Ste. Marie community.
McMullen has served as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where she has led LSSU’s student-athletes in service and citizenship on campus and in the local community. Last summer, instead of divulging all of her time and energy into the sport that she loves prior to her senior season, McMullen devoted her final weeks of the summer to volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti.
LSSU volleyball Coach Mallory Larranaga said of her senior middle blocker, “Sydne not only gave me more than I ever expected from a player in her final season but she gave everything she had to everyone else at all times. She was relentless in her service and work ethic. She is the strongest, most influential leader I have been blessed to coach. I am thankful for the footprint she left on all of us and what she has started for the Laker volleyball program."
Also a repeat Coaches Award winner, Smutny a 6-8 junior center for Saline, Mich., was a 2016 nominee for the National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team sponsored by Allstate Insurance. He is a GLIAC Academic Excellence Award winner, maintaining a 3.62 GPA in mechanical engineering and has been featured in the school’s Charter Media advertising campaign. Smutny tutors fellow student-athletes, and leads the team and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s volunteer initiatives such as the Summer Solstice 5k and Sault International Marathon, Special Olympics basketball tournament, local three-on-three tournaments, Make-A-Wish fund-raisers, and service to local shelters and the elderly during the holidays.
Of Smutny’s approach to every-day leadership and good will, coach Hettinga said, “I can think of 10 to 15 people who have come up to me and told me how special he is, or how he’s touched their lives, and I just smile and tell them, ‘yes, that’s the kind of kid he is.’”
The Terry McDermott Freshman of the Year Award is named in honor of the 1964 Olympic gold medalist in speed skating and former LSSU track letter winner (1961). Heimonen beat out an impressive list of candidates after leading the Lakers at every cross country meet this season. She recorded a top-10 finish at both the Chris Yanni Memorial and at the Northwood Invitational, before placing 62nd at the GLIAC Championships. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native also broke the school’s 800-meter record that stood since 2005, with a time of 21:19.03.
Torrel turned in an impressive rookie campaign for the hockey team after picking up Western Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Week and Rookie of the Month honors twice this season. He finished third on the team in scoring with eight goals and 19 points in 38 games and was named the team’s Outstanding Freshman and Most-Valuable Forward at the 34th annual Soo BlueLiners Banquet.
For the second consecutive season, the LSSU track and field thrower Justin Dieck received the Jim Fallis Award after garnering national recognition for delivering a second place finish in the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Pittsburgh, Kan. The award goes to an All-American or student-athlete who has achieved excellence in the classroom and in his or her sport, named after the All-America wrestler and former LSSU director of athletics. The second place finish was a respectable answer to winning the even last season as a junior.
This season he surpassed his national championship throw of 17.67 meters and achieved a school record of 17.85 meters early in the 2015-16 campaign. At last month’s national championship he again bested himself with an impressive 18.15 meters to finish as the runner-up.
Another thrower from the track and field team, Miranda Emaus (Hudsonville, Mich.) earned the Kiwanis Award in recognition of a 3.92 grade point average in forensic chemistry. The award is given to the senior with the top overall GPA among all of the sports offered at LSSU. Emaus is also a former winner of the Dillon Menard Scholarship and posted season bests of 9.15 meters in the shot put and 13.37 meters in the weight throw this year.
The Christina Comito Memorial Award recognizes the member of the Laker women’s basketball team who most exemplifies the determination, commitment and competitive nature of former Laker guard Chris Comito, who played at LSSU from 1988-92. Senior guard Megan Manninen earned the title this year, beating out teammate and last year’s winner Mackenzie Edwards. The Ishpeming native persevered through a nagging knee injury to become a co-captain for Coach Kristen Rogers’ squad. Manninen averaged 4.5 points and 3.7 assists per game while providing leadership on the defensive end. She finished her career with 280 assists, good for 10th on LSSU all-time list, and is a GLIAC Academic Excellence Award winner boasting a 3.88 GPA in exercise science.
The Chris Yanni Memorial Award is named in honor of the former NCAA All-Region cross country standout from Sault, Ontario, who died in a cycling accident in 1992. Ryan Rogers, a junior from Clinton, Mich., earned the award again for the second straight year. This season, Rogers was the Lakers’ No. 3 runner at the GLIAC Cross Country Championships, placing 73rd overall, and No. 4 runner at the NCAA Regional Cross Country Championships, placing 143rd overall. He moved up eight spots in the men’s 3,000-meter run at this year’s GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Finals, placing 12th overall. He earned GLIAC All-Academic honors in cross country and track and field this year while maintaining a 3.35 GPA in mathematics.
For the third straight year the LSSU softball team earned the honor of Laker Club Award winners after combining for a 3.246 team GPA, up from last year’s 3.21 team GPA. The Laker Club Endowment was established in 2012 to recognize the LSSU varsity team with the highest team grade point average.
Several scholarship and endowments were also announced Tuesday evening at the banquet. The Bud Cooper Endowment Awards, divided equally between the nine non-fully funded sports, went to junior Laura Roberts (tennis/Nelson, New Zealand), sophomore Trudie Mulville (cross country/Mason, Mich.), junior Jasmine Mata (track and field/ Monroe, Mich.) and junior Taylor Steinhelper (softball/ Waterford, Mich.) on the women’s side. The men’s recipients included sophomore tennis player Stephen Prica (Escanaba, Mich.), junior Jacob Baker (track and field/Northern Shores, Mich.), sophomore Jason Kerr (golf/Pattaya, Thailand) and Yanni Memorial Award winner, Ryan Rogers.
Sophomore golfer Taylor Trzasko (Port Huron, Mich.) was presented with the Dr. Harry Pike Scholarship, awarded to an athlete in a non-fully funded sport. The award, based on financial need and academic merit, is a rotating award and was set to be awarded to a member of the women’s golf team. Trzasko has a 91.4 scoring average on the year and has shown steady improvement this season.
Winning the Ruth Norvell Endowment Fun, established to benefit a walk-on or partially supported hockey player, was Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. native Aidan Wright. The sophomore defenseman has appeared in every game during his career, and has become a stalwart on the top blue line pairing. This season he contributed a goal and three assists.
The Marian and Ray Chelberg Outstanding Science Scholarship is presented annually to an outstanding student-athlete who majors in any of the sciences while excelling in a varsity sport. This year the award went to Emily Estep of the softball team. A pre-med major from Onaway, Mich., she is batting .189 through 26 games this season and has a .922 fielding percentage. In the classroom Estep sets a tremendous example by producing a 3.96 GPA.
Sophomore thrower Zachary Cameron, from Kalkaska, Mich., received this year’s Dillon Menard Scholarship, named in memory of the cross country and track team member who died unexpectedly in the fall of 2010. The scholarship is funded by the proceeds of several fund-raising events initiated by LSSU students, combined with contributions to the 25K Challenge, which was established by LSSU vice-president Ken Peress in 2009.
Cameron set a personal best this season with a 13.82 meters weight throw and placed 18th at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic. Academically, Cameron is a senior with a 3.1 GPA in fire science and earned GLIAC All-Academic honors this winter.
The Dr. Madan Saluja Endowed Scholarship was established in 2011 by former students and friends of LSSU’s legendary School of Business professor, who has taught at the University for more than 40 years. It benefits student-athletes who are members of the LSSU track and field or cross country teams and majoring in the School of Business or Engineering programs. Saluja, who is a former collegiate runner, received LSSU’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995 and the Michigan Teaching Excellence Fund Award in 1991.
Four members of the cross country and track and field teams shared the honor, including Rogers who had previously won the Yanni Memorial Award and Cooper Endowment Award. Other winners included senior Adam Birkeland (Rockford, Mich.) for the third year in a row, junior Hannah Passino (Indian River, Mich.) earning the award for her second time, and freshman Dylan Vetter (Caledonia, Mich.).
Birkeland was the Lakers’ No. 1 runner in three meets, including the NCAA Midwest Regional, where he finished 107th. He was the No. 2 runner on two occasions, including a top-75 finish at the GLIAC Championships. He opened the outdoor season with a first-place finish in the mixed 10,000-meter run at last weekend’s Northwood Open. He maintains a 3.1 grade point average in mechanical engineering and is a GLIAC All-Academic Team honoree.
Passino is a distance runner that was the Lakers’ No. 3 or 4 runner throughout the cross country season. She was 87th at the GLIAC Championships and 151st in the NCAA regional. Last Saturday in 31-degree temperatures at Northwood, she placed third in the women’s 5,000-meter run. She has a 3.29 GPA in business administration and was also a GLIAC All-Academic Team member.
A first-year recipient of the Saluja Award, Vetter is a distance runner who added depth to the men’s cross country team this season. His top finish was 38th at the Northwood Invitational.