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Urbana honors student-athletes during awards banquet

Urbana University held its third annual All-Sports Awards Banquet on Saturday night in the Warren G. Grimes Gymnasium. Each of the University's 15 intercollegiate athletic programs recognized outstanding performances from the 2012-13 school year, and at the end of the night, the athletic department handed out its most prestigious awards.

(Pictured at left from top to bottom: Blue Knight of the Year Award winners D.J. Mendenhall and Ciara Geiger)

Olympic gold medalist Matt Vogel was the featured speaker at the banquet. Vogel won two gold medals at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. He gained fame as one of the first Olympic swimmers to shave his head before competition, gaining a physical and psychological advantage over his competition. After grabbing Team USA's final qualifying spot in the men's 100 yard butterfly, Vogel shaved his head for the Olympic final and upset a star-studded field. He literally shaved 48-hundredths of a second off his preliminary time to score the gold. Later, he also claimed gold on Team USA's world record-setting 4x100 medley relay team.

Vogel shared some of his Olympic experiences with the Blue Knights. He also shared friendly advice on how to carry successes from the collegiate playing field out into the real world.

The Blue Knight men's soccer team kicked off the awards presentations by honoring its 2012 G-MAC Championship team. It was the first conference championship in program history. Head Coach Nick Roberts also handed out awards for Most Improved Player (Ed Willoughby), Sportsman of the Year (Mwaliko Ahmed) and Player of the Year (Tyler Wason).

Head Football Coach Dave Taynor followed, awarding the Offensive MVP to junior quarterback D.J. Mendenhall, the Defensive MVP to senior linebacker Drew Underwood, and the Uncommon Award to junior defensive back David McComas and senior fullback Maurice Harden. Taynor also recognized the winners of the team's "Want to-Tempo-Us" Award, juniors Jake Krupko and Kyle Wallace. The duo will serve as team captains next fall.

Head Women's Soccer Coach Lauren Lewicki reflected back on the team's fall season, noting that the senior class went out on top by helping the program win more games than the it had in 4 seasons. Lewicki also took time to honor former Blue Knight Andia Shisler, who would have graduated this spring had she not lost her life in a tragic car accident in September of her freshman season. Lewicki thanked the Shisler family for contributing to the team's spirit over the past 4 seasons.

First-year Head Volleyball Coach Troy Haught awarded the Offensive Player of the Year to sophomore Kelsey Volkmer. The Defensive Player of the Year went to senior Amy Hickman, and the Blue Knight Award was shared by Hickman and fellow seniors Karla Vogel and Katie Miller.

Second-year Head Coach Kevin Horne handed the Runner of the Year awards to freshman Jackie Smith and junior Patrick Malloy. He also recognized senior Sara White with the Blue Knight Award.

Head Swim Coach Dave Johnson kicked off the winter sports awards by recognizing his seniors. Johnson also named freshman Jacqueline Rex and sophomore Matt Stover as the recipients of the team's Blue Knight Awards. The team MVP awards went to senior Breanne Schroeder and sophomore Kim Helander.

Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Haley Ducey highlighted the team's All-Conference award winners from this past season's G-MAC Championship team. Additional award winners were sophomore Katy Barkley (Sportsmanship Award), senior Andrea Vogel (Blue Knight Awards) and sophomore Ciara Geiger (Team MVP). Vogel received additional recognition for scoring her 1,000th career point on Senior Day this past season.

Men's Basketball Head Coach Jeff Porter awarded junior Danny Goins the Most Outstanding Performance Award for his record-setting 45-point game against West Virginia State University this past winter. The Heart & Hustle Award went to sophomore Casey Baker. Baker will also serve as team captain in 2013-14. The final men's basketball award was the Blue Knight Award, bestowed upon senior Ramel Mitchell.

With a couple of weeks left to play in their season, Head Baseball Coach Mike Goldschmidt was unable to hand out team awards, but he took the opportunity to recognize his seniors, Brad Puckett, Tom Piatt, Greg Liming, Josh Weber, Joemar Melendez, Josh Gratsch, Aaron Bingham and Drew Ryan.

Like baseball, third-year Head Softball Coach Danielle Lowe could not hand out all of their team awards with their season still in progress, but she did name senior Bridgette Barney the recipient of the team's Blue Knight Award, and she recognized senior Alyssa Maag, junior Haley Kolmerten and assistant coaches Jeff Eichelberger and Larry Spahr for all of their assistance and contributions this spring.

Second-year Head Women's Lacrosse Coach Aimee LeClair recognized the Team's "Ground Ball Queen", freshman Chanelle Bondurant. LeClair also honored her three seniors Alyssa Ashcroft, and Nora and Emily Boerger.

Head Men's Golf Coach Jerome Armstrong recognized his lone senior, Ross O'Neal, presenting him with a personalized golf bag for his career efforts at Urbana.

Before the athletic department recognized the year's top student-athletes, Athletic Director Doug Young awarded Tom Lessig a special award for his service to the University's athletic programs. As the Director of Marketing for Outpatient Rehabilitation for Mercy Memorial Hospital, Lessig has graciously spearheaded efforts to donate the funds that helped the University improve several of its athletic facilities over the past few years.

Next, the Athletic Department recognized junior softball player Haley Jo Kolmerten with the Community Service Award. Kolmerten is the acting president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. As such, she has spearheaded community service projects for many Blue Knight student-athletes, all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in the University's Honor's Program and pitching the Blue Knight softball team to its first winning season in over a decade.

Following Kolmerten's award, the athletic department recognized its top academic achievers of the 2012-13 school year. Senior football player Drew Underwood earned the male's top award after becoming the University's first NCAA Division II Academic All-American this past fall. Underwood also received the Athletic Department's top academic award following his sophomore season in 2011.

For the second straight year, there was a tie on the women's side for the top academic achiever. Senior women's basketball player Andrea Vogel earned the award for the third straight year, sharing it this school year with senior volleyball player Amy Hickman. Both student-athletes shined for their respective squads this season while maintaining GPA's above a 3.9.

The final awards of the night were the Male and Female Blue Knight Student-Athletes of the Year. Junior quarterback D.J. Mendenhall (West Jefferson, Ohio) took home the men's award for the second straight year. Mendenhall earned All-American recognition for the second straight season after leading the Blue Knight football team to a 7-4 season. Sophomore women's basketball player Ciara Geiger (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) took home the top female award after leading the women's basketball program to its first conference championship in 15 years.

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