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Western Carolina Honors Student-Athletes at Annual Awards Banquet

April 27, 2006

2005-06 Western Carolina Student-Athlete Awards

2006 Awards Banquet Photo Gallery

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina University held its annual Athletics Awards Banquet Monday night at the Ramsey Activity Center, honoring its teams and student-athletes for the 2005-06 season. In addition to recognizing all the Catamounts who earned conference, regional and national honors, the highlight of the evening was Chris Ahearn (baseball) being named the 2005-06 WCU Male Scholar Athlete of the Year and Susanna Sjokvist (tennis) being named the Female Scholar Athlete of the Year. (The WCU Male and Female Athletes of the Year will be named once all the spring sports' seasons are over).

To be named Western's Scholar Athlete of the Year, the student-athlete must have attended WCU for at least one complete year, carry the highest cumulative grade point average and compete in a sport during the 2005-06 season. Ahearn, a sophomore shortstop for the Catamounts from Charlotte, N.C., has a cumulative 3.724 GPA in Sport Management. Sjokvist, a sophomore tennis player from Gustafs, Sweden, has a cumulative 4.0 GPA in Biology.

Western also recognized the following student-athletes as recipients of their respective sports' endowed scholarships:

Blake Murphy (Baseball) - Ronnie G. Childress Scholarship Fund
Tyler Sexton (Baseball Pitcher) - O'Dell Griffin Scholarship
Steven Strausbaugh (Baseball) - Johnny Pust Scholarship
Linden Ryan (Football) - Walter J. Durr Scholarship
Lamar Barnes (Football) - Wallace and Jeanette Hyde Scholarship
Brian Rucker (Football) - Bob Waters Scholarship
Bianca Melone (Women's Golf) - Sanborn Scholarship
Ashley Hovda (Women's Golf) - Brydon S. Greene Golf Scholarship
Heather Dittmer (Soccer) - Schrader Scholarship
Susanna Sjokvist (Tennis) - Deeann Jagger Scholarship
Asia Davis (Track & Field/Cross Country) - Sue & Jack Wakeley Scholar
Matt Harlfinger (Track & Field/Cross Country) - Sue & Jack Wakeley Scholar
Casey Davis (Soccer) - Betty Peele Leadership Award

The following were named their respective sports Most Valuable Players during the 2005-06 season:

Baseball: Jonathan Greene (sophomore from Boone, N.C.) came on strong the second half of the season to earn first team All-Southern Conference accolades. A mere two weeks before the end of the regular season, Greene did not rank among the league leaders in any offensive category. However, after closing the regular season with a nine-game hit streak and hitting a home run in the final five regular-season contests, Greene ended the year ranked second in home runs (14), sixth in total bases (136), ninth in RBI (54) and ninth in hits (81) while raising his batting average nearly 90 points. Over the final month, Greene led Western with a .476 batting average (30-for-63) with 12 of those hits going for extra bases, including a team-best seven home runs, adding 14 runs scored in 15 games with a team-best 20 RBI. This season, he was named was named Southern Conference Player of the Week and was named one of Collegiate Baseball / Louisville Slugger's" National Players of the Week after batting .722 with five home runs in earning the honor.

Men's Basketball: Corey Muirhead (senior from York, Ontario) became Western's "go-to" guy down the stretch. With him averaging 19.5 points over his final eight games, including for 20-point outings, he scored eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for his career, finishing with 1,025 career points. This past season, he had three double-doubles and established a career high in scoring twice. First, he scored 23 points to hand Davidson a 77-70 loss, snapping the Wildcats 19-game winning streak in Belk Arena. Then, he scored a career-high 28 points, making 12-of-20 shots from the field at Appalachian State. Muirhead ended the season 18th in the SoCon and second on the team in scoring (12.0 ppg) and 13th in steals (1.5 avg.).

Women's Basketball: Monique Dawson (sophomore from Charlotte N.C.) was named to the Southern Conference Women's Basketball Championship All-Tournament second team. She averaged 14.5 points in leading the Lady Catamounts to a win over Appalachian State and a near upset of top-seed and eventual champion Chattanooga. Dawson, who was the team's high scorer 10 times in 2005-06, finished second on the team in scoring (11.0 points per game), while leading the Catamounts in free throws made (98) and steals (43). During the second half of the season, Dawson recorded double-digit scoring outputs in 15 of the 19 games to lead the team in scoring over the span. She recorded her career-high with 23 point in the road win over Appalachian State, including eight of WCU's first 10 points. Another big game for the sophomore was scoring 20 at home versus Wofford and adding 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.

Cheerleading: Co-winners Alyson Clayton (Raleigh, N.C.) and Callie Utz (Greensboro, N.C.). Clayton, a senior and four-year member, was captain on this past year's squad. Utz is also a senior and four-year member, who received All-American status from the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) last August in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Men's Cross Country: Adam Puett (senior from Huntsville, Ala.) was tabbed All-SoCon after finishing fifth in the Championship race, leading Western with a time of 25:14.07 and placing 15th on WCU's all-time men's 8K individual bests list. Puett finished second at the South Carolina Invitational helping his team to a first place finish. He ran the 12th-best WCU men's 8K race (25:11) at the Great American Cross Country Festival, finishing 13th overall. Puett had a strong showing at the NCAA Southeast Regionals, placing 46th and earning the sixth-best 10K time in WCU history (31:38).

Women's Cross Country: Kerrie Savery (sophomore from Palm Harbor, Fla.) lead the Catamounts in four of six races, beginning with the Great American Cross Country Festival where she finished 37th with a time of 19:24, 26th quickest in WCU women's history. Placed 31st at the Blue Ridge Open Meet (19:58) and 22nd at the SoCon Championship race. Her time of 19:13 became 23rd in all-time bests for WCU. At the NCAA Southeast Regionals, she ran the 4th quickest 6K time in WCU history (23:26) and finishing in 31st place.

Football: Lamar Barnes (senior from Clayton, N.C.) was named to both the 2005 All-SoCon teams, as voted by the coaches as well as the media. He ranked no lower than third on the team in tackles in each of his last three years, including a tie for second this pat season with 58 stops. Of his 58 tackles, which tied for 15th in the SoCon, eight went for losses, while adding a forced fumble. Barnes had three career games as a senior. First, he tallied 10 stops, including two for losses, in a near upset at Cincinnati. At Georgia Southern, he led the Cats with 11 tackles, including one for a loss. Barnes concluded his stellar career by recording a career-high 12 tackles at Appalachian State, including one for a loss. Barnes played a key role in Western ranking first in the nation in pass defense and first in the SoCon in total defense, while ranking 20th in the nation in total defense and 24th in scoring defense.

Men's Golf: Matt Cook (sophomore from Murphy, N.C.) was only the second ever Catamount to win the SoCon Individual Championship as well as being named SoCon Men's Golfer of the Year, adding first team All-SoCon honors. He was named SoCon Player of the Month for March, and held two consecutive titles of men's SoCon Player of the Week. Cook placed among the top 10 in eight of the 10 season competitions and placed among the top five in all five spring events. Along with his SoCon tournament win, Cook won the Francis Marion tournament and the Elon/Sea Trail Intercollegiate. He finished the regular season with a stroke average of 71.52, which led the SoCon and is a WCU school record. Cook was one of six golfers to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA regional marking the first-time for a WCU men's golfer.

Women's Golf: Ashley Hovda (senior from Springfield, Ohio) was a two-time SoCon Golfer of the Month, as well as a Catamount Student-Athlete of the Month. She was first team All-SoCon and became the first-ever Catamount to qualify for the 2005 United States Golf Association Women's Amateur Tournament. Hovda recorded nine top 10 finishes this year, including winning two tournaments at the Elon/Sea Trail Intercollegiate and the Wachovia-Great Smokies Intercollegiate. She finished the season with a school-record stroke average of 74.81.

Soccer: Alesha Row (junior from Fargo, N.D.) led Western Carolina to the 2005 Southern Conference Championship and the program's first ever NCAA Tournament berth. She was tabbed second team All-SoCon for the 2005 season, SoCon All-Tournament team and SoCon tournament MVP. In addition, she was named as the SoCon's TIAA-CREF student-athlete of the week, TIAFF-CREF SoCon All-Academic team, SoCon Soccer Player of the Month for November, and Catamount Student-Athlete of the Month for November. She compiled an 18-6 overall season record, with her SoCon-leading 13 shutouts shattering the previous WCU record of six. Row's 0.74 goals against average, which ranked 30th in the NCAA, ranks as the best single-season mark in school history and second in the Southern Conference, with her .856 save percentage, which ranked 15th in the NCAA, ranking as the second-best, single-season mark all-time.

Softball: Mendy McKenzie (freshman from Clemmons, N.C.) led Western to the 2006 Southern Conference softball regular season championship in the first-year of the program. She led the SoCon in victories (22) as a rookie while ranking second in strikeouts (210) and third in ERA (2.28) at season's end. She earned a league-record five SoCon Pitcher of the Week honors and was twice dubbed the conference hurler of the month.

Women's Tennis: Trish Hanson (sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga.) was named the recipient of the SoCon's Sportsmanship Award as voted by the league's head coaches. Hanson became the second WCU women's tennis player on record to garner post-season accolades from the Southern Conference. She finished the season with six wins in singles matches as the top seed, scoring WCU's lone win in SoCon action. Hanson led the Cats with three wins at number one in doubles action.

Women's Indoor Track & Field: Raquel Ramseur (sophomore from Charlotte, N.C.) earned All-SoCon honors during the indoor conference championships and led the SoCon's 400-meter dash performance charts (00:55.10), while also ranking second in the 200-meter dash (00:24.75) and fourth in the 60-meter dash (00:07.83). She holds the WCU record in the 200-meter dash (00:24.51) and second in the 55-meter dash (7:24). Ramseur was named Catamount Student Student-Athlete of the Month for February after tallying six podium appearances, including five, first-place finishes.

Women's Outdoor Track & Field: Asia Davis (a junior from Charlotte, N.C.) eclipsed the 60-second barrier five times this season and also qualified for the NCAA East Regional meet a combined five times, which includes the automatic berth that comes with winning the SoCon championship in 400-meter hurdles. At the regional, Davis became just one of eight Catamounts all-time to earn a berth to the NCAA's National Outdoor Championship, accomplishing the feat for the first-time since 2002, finishing 25th in the nation. Amidst her five, under-60 times, Davis broke her own WCU school record in the 400-meter hurdle event at the East Regional with a time of 58.05. She also helped set school benchmarks in the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays. Davis also led the WCU outdoor performance charts in the 100-meter hurdles (14.18) and was second on the 100-meter dash list and was named an Arthur Ashe Sport Scholar and All-SoCon.

Men's Indoor Track & Field: Co-Winners Dan Fassinger (junior from Snellville, GA) and Zeb Johnson (sophomore from Charlotte, N.C.). Fassinger finished the season strong when winning the one mile run with a time of 4:18.07, placing second in the 800-meter run and third in the 3,000-meter run at the SoCon Indoors. In addition, he was the anchor in the championship distance medley team which posted a WCU men's indoor record time of 10:05.02, and set the stage for WCU's championship run the following day. He holds WCU's season best mile run time (4:09.80) and WCU's second best season time in the 3,000-meter run (8:30.86). Johnson, who was named the SoCon's Indoor Most Outstanding Track Performer, won the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes at the meet, while finishing second in the 400 meters. During the season, Johnson also garnered first-place finishes in the 55-meter dash (6.39) at the Mountaineer Winter Open in Boone, and in the 400-meter dash (49.32) at the Clemson Invitational. He led the WCU seasonal performance charts in the 55-meter, 60-meter, and 200-meter dash events, while also running on the 4x400-meter relay team.

Men's Outdoor Track & Field: Zeb Johnson (sophomore from Charlotte, N.C.) set a both a Catamount Athletic Complex and WCU school-record in the men's 200-meter, crossing the line in 20.88 to take first-place and qualify for the NCAA East Regional at the Western Invitational. Johnson would taste individual victory two additional times during the outdoor season - winning the 100- and 200-meter dash events at the SoCon Outdoor Championships. As a part of both the men's 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams, Johnson stood atop the podium on a combined four occasions, qualifying for the regional meet an equal number of times. Western's men won both of the relay events at the SoCon Championship en route to their second-ever outdoor team title, sweeping both seasons. Two weeks later, at the Georgia Tech Invitational in mid-May, Johnson and three teammates clocked a pair of school records in both the 400-meter(40.23) and 1,600-meter relays (3:08.34).

Volleyball: Ellie Talbot (senior from Evanston, Ill.) played in all 126 games of Western's 34 matches last season. She led the Catamounts with 329 kills and total attempts with 1163, creating personal career bests in both categories. Talbot also ranked second on the team in digs with 465, which is the fourth-best, single-season in WCU history, while also recording a career-best with 43 total blocks. Talbot concluded her career ranked second on WCU's all-time digs chart (1,668), 15th in service aces (93) and 22nd in kills (591).