CWRU Athletics Announces 2018-19 Award Winners at Annual Banquet

CWRU Athletics Announces 2018-19 Award Winners at Annual Banquet

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The Case Western Reserve University Department of Athletics announced its annual award winners at the 2019 Student-Athlete Awards Banquet on Monday night at the Kevin & Eleanor Smith Foundation Ballroom inside the Tinkham Veale University Center.

Seniors Karina Bondelid of the volleyball team, Megan Masterson of the women's soccer team and Rocco Maue of the baseball team each received the Patricia B. Kilpatrick Award, presented to the four-year varsity participant with the highest cumulative grade point average.  All three had perfect cumulative 4.0 GPAs during their collegiate careers.

The 2018-19 Nancy Gray Rookie of the Year Award, presented annual to a first-year female student-athlete who has made an outstanding contribution to her sport during her first year of competition, was presented to a pair of outstanding freshmen in Christina Hickson of the women's soccer team and Liv Thomas of the softball team.  Hickson was one of the top scoring threats in the UAA during her freshman season, earning a spot on the all-conference second team and the all-Ohio third team.  She led all of the players on her team with eight goals and 17 points.  The eight goals, including a pair of game-winning strikes, matched the 10th-most all-time in program history.

Thomas earned a spot on the All-UAA Second Team in 2019, and currently ranks second among all conference players with six home runs.  In addition, she is tied for third in the league overall with 29 runs batted in, and finished the year with a .396 batting average.

Drew Saxton of the football team was named the Robert Del Rosa Rookie of the Year Award winner, after his historic inaugural campaign for the Spartans in 2018.  He was named to the All-Region third team, one of just 12 freshman football players across the country to garner an all-region honor and the only one on the offensive side of the ball.  He was selected as the Rookie of the Year in both the UAA and PAC, and became the first player in UAA Football history to be named both the Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season.  Saxton matched a school record with 34 touchdowns, the fifth-most in Division III during the season, threw for 3,033 yards, the third most ever by a Spartan quarterback.

Sophomore Madeleine Paolucci of the women's tennis team received the Dorothy L. Hoza Award, given to the female freshman, sophomore or junior student-athlete, who has made a strong contribution to the women's intercollegiate sports program, maintained a high level of academic achievement, shown leadership in the team, and contributed to the Department and the University.  Paolucci became the first women's tennis player in CWRU history to earn All-America honors last year, claiming the award after reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Doubles Championships.  She followed that success this season by repeating the honor, this time claiming the doubles title at the Fall ITA Regional Championships.  She is currently ranked third in the region and has a 17-11 record in doubles play, while ranking sixth in the region with an 18-7 singles record.  Paolucci's 33-18 career singles record already ties her for the 14th-most victories in program history, while her 39 doubles wins are also the 14th-most ever by a Spartan player.

The 2018-19 Arthur P. Leary Award winner, presented to the outstanding freshman, sophomore or junior male student-athlete who has demonstrated leadership in the team, maintained good academic standing in the University, demonstrated good sportsmanship, and made a contribution to the department and University, was sophomore Trey Razanauskas of the cross country and track & field teams.  During the fall, he was the team's top finisher at its three biggest meets of the year for the cross country team – the NCAA Championships, the Regional Championships and the UAA Championship.  His finishes earned him all-region and all-UAA second team honors.  Razanauskas followed that with a standout indoor track and field season, breaking a 13-year old school record in the 5,000-meter run, placing third in the event at the UAA Championships with the effort, and eventually placing 15th in the event at the NCAA Championships.  He saved some of his best work for the UAA Outdoor Championships, claiming the conference title in the 10,000-meter run, and following it up the next day with a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter run.  In addition, he has a perfect GPA since coming to Case Western Reserve.

The Emily R. Andrews Award was given to senior Suhan Mestha of the women's swimming and diving team, for making a strong contribution to the program, maintaining a high level of academic achievement, showing leadership in team, and contributing service to the department and University.  She is a three-time All-America honorable mention, finishing 14th at the NCAA Championships in the 50 free in 2019, and both the 200 Back and 200 Medley Relay in 2018.  She claimed a pair of individual All-UAA honors this year, finishing third in both the 100 free and 100 back at the conference championship meet, and has five total all-UAA honors over her career.  Mestha has received CSCAA Scholar All-America honors and is a two-time UAA All-Academic honoree, while also receiving a spot on the Dean's honor list four times during her academic career.  In addition, she has been an undergraduate teaching assistant, and the President of the Pre-Dental Society.

Senior Jacob Kucia of the baseball team received the 2018-19 the Philip K. "Nip" Heim Award, presented annually to the senior male student-athlete who has made the most outstanding contribution to Case Western Reserve University through the athletics program.  As a four-year starter, Kucia has made a constant impact on the team's success over his time as a Spartan.  He is a career .290 hitter with four home runs and 78 RBIs, and has saved some of his best play for his senior campaign, batting a team-leading .390 with one home run and a career-best 25 RBIs.  In addition, he has emerged as one of the top defensive third basemen in Division III during his senior campaign, recording a .952 fielding percentage during the year.  Kucia has participated in Shanerock, a non-profit charity that focuses on providing care, resources and equipment to local families with a member battling pediatric cancer.

The Doug Mooney Program of the Year Award was added for the 2018-19 year, and will be presented annual to CWRU varsity team with the highest NCAA Championship finish from the spring of the previous year through the winter of the current year.  This year featured two winners of the award - the 2018 Softball Team, which reached NCAA Division III World Series for the first time in program history, set a program record for wins in a year, going 38-12, and finished the year ranked sixth in the NFCA Top-25 Poll, and the 2018 Men's Soccer Team, which reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Championships, finishing one win short of the program's single season record, going 16-4-2, and ranked seventh in the final poll of the year, the highest final ranking in the program's history.

The Glenn and Peggy Nicholls Female Athlete of the Year Award, presented annually to the female student-athlete who has made outstanding contributions to her sport, was given to senior Hillary Hellmann of the women's basketball team.  Hellmann is a three-time All-University Athletic Association selection, including this season, when she earned a spot on the All-UAA First Team after leading the conference in scoring during the regular season.  She was also third in the league in rebounds per game and selected as the UAA Athlete of the Week Twice, while also being of the 10 Division III women's basketball players selected as a Jostens' Trophy Finalist.  Hellmann ended her career second in program history in points scored, and is the program's all-time leader in three pointers made.  She is also a three-time UAA All-Academic Honoree, served as a captain for the Spartans for Special Olympics, and has tutored at the Mary Bethane School in Cleveland.

Junior men's soccer player Zachary Senft was named the Dr. David Hutter Male Athlete of the Year after earning All-America honors and leading the team to one of the best seasons in the program's history in 2018.  He was also an All-UAA First Team and an All-Great Lakes Region second team honoree last year.  Senft paced the Spartans' squad with 28 points (the seventh-most in a single season in program history), while scoring 10 goals and assisting on eight others.  Among his goals were three game-winning strikes, including one during NCAA postseason play.  He was twice named the UAA Athlete of the Week during the season.  Over his two years on the team, Senft has scored 16 goals and assisted on 11 others for 43 points, pacing the squad in points scored each of the last two years.

The Bill Sudeck Outstanding Student-Athlete Award honors the individual who best exemplifies the attributes of the Case Western Reserve University student-athlete in the spirit of legendary coach, mentor and friend William "Bill" Sudeck. Coach Sudeck spent more than half his life - 46 years - shaping the young minds of cross country, basketball, and track and field athletes. The award is given to the student-athlete that has demonstrated and achieved significant athletic accomplishments, academic achievements, engagement in campus activities, and has shown leadership in athletics and in the classroom.  Considered the program's most important award, graduate student Cassandra Laios of the women's track and field team claimed the 2018-19 honor.  Laios recorded a 3.87 cumulative grade point average as an undergraduate student, and emerged as the best athlete in her sport in the University Athletic Association as a junior in 2017.  Her career was briefly derailed after suffering a season-ending injury early in her senior campaign.  However, she returned this season as a member of her team, while working towards her Masters' Degree.  During that time, she not only regained the form from her junior year, but raised her ability to a higher level.  After claiming the UAA Most Valuable Performer award and winning conference titles in two events at the Indoor Track and Field Championships in February, Laios secured the first All-America honor of her career with a fourth-place finish in the weight throw at the NCAA Championships.  She claimed conference titles in three events – the discus throw, the shot put and the hammer throw, setting meet records in the latter two at the UAA Outdoor Championships, earning UAA Most Valuable Performer honors for the second time this season and the fourth time over her career.  Her hammer throw mark of 55.05 meters currently leads all Division III athletes, and she is also ranked seventh nationally in the shot put and 21st in the discus.  Laios has been a volunteer with multiple organizations on and off campus, and is an executive board member for the Engineering Honors Society at CWRU.

The CWRU Association of Student-Athletes presented the Ultimate Spartan Awards, given to the varsity athletes who best represent the spirit of a CWRU.  Winners this year included Brian McNamara of wrestling, Christian Lytle of men's soccer, Kara Hageman of women's basketball, Max Day of men's basketball, Bailey Hagedorn of volleyball, Shannon Carroll and Jonathan Hailing of track and field, Ellen Sears and Eric Rachita of cross country, Keith Erichsen and Alexa Simoneau of swimming and diving, Steven Bachie of football, Nicole Doyle of softball, Jacob Kucia of baseball, Henry Squire of men's tennis and Nidhi Jha of women's tennis.

In addition, Head Wrestling Coach Danny Song presented awards to the participants with perfect attendance in the CWRU Leadership Academy, known as 'The Program.'  Perfect attendees at the Program included Austin Navarette, Nick Kadlecik, Colton Morgan and Jacob Berg of the football team, Andrew Green of the men's cross country team, Matthew Chen, Max Vicario, Jonathan Powell, Rob Stroup, Sam Concannon, Anthony Kanam and Chaitanya Aduru of the men's tennis team, Musa Hakim Jr. of the men's track and field team, Nicole Carty, Ilissa Hamilton and Nicole Doyle of the softball team, Faith Ellis of the volleyball team, Mary Kate Ford, Bailey George and Lauren Unterborn of the women's soccer team, Madeline Lindemann and Kiera Olson of the women's cross country team and Alec Hoover and Andrew Hoover of the wrestling team.

The banquet concluded with the 2018-19 CWRU Athletics highlight video, which can be seen below: