MELBOURNE, Fla. (Athletics News) – Florida Tech’s student-athletes were recognized for their athletic and academic achievements during the Carrabba’s Italian Grill of Palm Bay Athletic Awards Banquet at the Clemente Center. Handing out the awards were President Anthony J. Catanese and athletic director Bill Jurgens.
Taking home the coveted Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards were three individuals. Simon Cummings received the male honor after guiding FIT to its first outright Sunshine State Conference Regular Season Championship and an appearance in the NCAA Division II Championship. He led the SSC in scoring during the regular season at 17.5 points per game, while finishing first in minutes played (34.7) and second in steals per game (2.2).
Women’s cross country and track & field’s Nicole Clarke and women’s basketball’s Briauna Hagins were named co-recipients of the Female Athlete of the Year honor. Clarke qualified as an individual for the NCAA Division II Championship last fall in cross country. Leading up to the event, she recorded six top-10 finishes in seven races, including a first-place finish at the Florida Tech Invitational and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division II South Region Championship. In track & field this spring, she won one race and placed among the top three in three races.
Hagins, a two-time All-America Honorable Mention recipient, became FIT women’s basketball’s first player to record 1,000 rebounds over her four-year collegiate career. She finished her senior season as the program’s record holder for total rebounds with 1,079 and tied the program’s single-season record with 340. Her 11.7 rebounds per game ranked 11th in NCAA Division II and her 16 double-doubles ranked 10th. In March, she led her team to its second straight NCAA Championship appearance.
Volleyball’s Janelle Branch and once again baseball’s Ryan McChesney were tabbed Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
A senior majoring in chemical engineering, Branch holds a 3.9 cumulative grade point average. She has been on the Dean’s List each semester since her freshman year and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. At the Spring Honors Convocation, she was named the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Distinguished Student Scholar and Outstanding Student, and was the recipient of the Donald R. Mason Award.
On the volleyball court, she was a four-year starter at middle blocker. Each year, she led the team in hitting percentage, total blocks, block assists and solo blocks.
McChesney, a two-time Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, owns a 3.8 cumulative grade point average as a civil engineering major. He was named the Department of Civil Engineering’s Distinguished Student Scholar at the Spring Honors Convocation. Currently, he leads the team in nearly every offensive category and is just as talented defensively. Heading into this season, he was named Preseason All-America by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Following last season, he was selected Daktronics All-America Third Team.
Mike Schmidt from men’s tennis and women’s track & field’s Kelsey Clayton won the newly named Andy Seminick and Martha Work Sportsmanship Awards.
Schmidt emerged as a leader of the men’s tennis team, severing as one of its captains. Despite rupturing a plantar fascia tendon, he continued to practice in a boot for three months. His determination helped him work his way back into the starting lineup. Off the court, he holds a 3.75 grade point average and is a residential director. At the Spring Honors Convocation, he was selected to be a recipient of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Outstanding Student Award.
Clayton has been known to consistently encourage and support her teammates, while maintaining a positive attitude. She has been an active member of the Student Athlete-Advisory Committee, and has assisted with Habitat for Humanity and Give Kids the World Village.
Ashton McClairen from the women’s basketball team received the Athletic Director’s Leadership Award for her contributions to the team and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee of which she served as president. A four-year letterwinner, she is coming off a season in which she led the SSC in free throw percentage (.835) and three-point field goals made per game (2.8). She now holds the program’s single-season three-point field goal percentage mark at 40.9 percent. She helped guide the team to its second straight NCAA Championship appearance earlier this year.
In a competition among its peers, the softball team was awarded The Panther Cup for accumulating the most points in seven categories. Those categories were athletic excellence, academic excellence, athletes supporting athletes, career and personal development, commitment to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, community service, and going above and beyond. Head coach Val Silvestrini’s team totaled 656.91 points, which was over 120 points more than the second-place team.
The Male Team GPA Award went to the inaugural men’s swimming team for posting a 3.26 cumulative grade point average. The women’s accolade went to the tennis team for its 3.65 cumulative GPA.
Receiving a Scholar-Athlete Award on behalf of their team was baseball’s Ryan McChesney, men’s basketball’s Edgars Eglitis, women’s basketball’s Ashton McClairen, men’s cross country’s Chris Cacciapaglia, women’s cross country’s Nicole Clarke, men’s golf’s Christian Westhorpe, women’s golf’s Karisma Smith, men’s lacrosse’s Dominic Troese, men’s rowing’s Mindaugas Beliauskas, women’s rowing’s Kathleen OrRico, men’s soccer’s Kalle Mansson, women’s soccer’s Brittany Rainbow, softball’s Brianna Barth, men’s swimming’s Will Mitchell, women’s swimming’s Madison Hart, men’s tennis’ D.J. Pate, women’s tennis’ Monica Price, men’s track & field’s Ross Russell, women’s track & field’s Brittany Reinard and volleyball’s Janelle Branch.
Head men’s and women’s tennis coach Bill Macom was recognized with a plaque for his 300th career win, earned March 5 against Saginaw Valley State.
Nearly 150 student-athletes from each of the university’s 21 sports were named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for earning a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher. A complete list can be found by clicking on the link below the picture for this article.