Johnson & Wales University Athletics celebrated the 2017-2018 academic year on Thursday night with their annual awards program. This year, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) led by Head Women's Volleyball Coach and Senior Woman Administrator Alicia Roth and Head Women's Soccer Coach Amanda Davis, took over planning and execution of the event. The ceremony consisted of dinner before members of SAAC took to the stage to present their fellow student-athletes with the year's honors. Coaches were asked to nominate a members of their teams for each category and then SAAC selected the winners.
The evening kicked off with Men's Lacrosse Head Coach Kurt Ohlen serving as emcee of this year's event. Ohlen recognized the accomplishments of those in the room and thanked everyone for joining Wildcat Athletics for the evening celebration. He next invited Tom Byrnes, Director of Athletics, to the podium. Byrnes spoke of his appreciation of those in the room and congratulated everyone on remarkable seasons.
The first award of the evening was Teammate of the Year. The award recognized a student-athlete who positively impacted the lives of his or her teammates by putting the team's priorities above their own. Nominees were Bryce Moore (Men's Cross Country and Track & Field), Savanah Heinz (Women's Soccer), and Jontrell Herman (Men's Basketball). Herman was named Teammate of the Year for building relationships with his teammates through extra shoot-arounds, being a liaison to his peers and holding his teammates to higher standards.
The next award was Newcomer of the Year with the honoree making an immediate impact on their program. The nominees were Brianna Aluya (Women's Basketball, Jennifer Aragon (Women's Lacrosse), and Dan Larom (Men's Cross Country and Track & Field). Aluya was recognized as Newcomer of the Year after averaging 14.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. She led her team in both scoring and rebounding and was named an A.I.I. All-Conference Honorable Mention.
Teams were recognized for their work in the classroom with Men's Cross Country, Women's Soccer and Women's Volleyball leading the way with the highest grade point averages through the Fall and Winter terms.
Team of the Year was the next award presented with the winning team being recognized for an outstanding on court/field performance through the 2017-2018 season. The nominees included Men's Cross Country, Men's Basketball and Women's Soccer. Wildcat Women's Soccer was honored as the 2017-2018 Team of the Year for finishing with an 8-6-2 record and the highest winning percentage in program history. The squad boasted one All-Region selection, 3 A.I.I. All-Conference honors and five Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
The award for Performance of the Year recognized an individual or team who has shown an exceptional single competition performance. Nominees were Allison Butler (Women's Basketball) for guiding the 'Cats to a comeback victory over Colorado College with 24 points and .625 shooting from three point range. Alberto Rodriguez (Men's Track & Field) for his 9th place finish at the NAIA Indoor National Championships. He set a school record and beat his personal best, falling one-tenth of a second short from All-American honors. Andrew Romero III (Men's Basketball) who put up 38 points and 12 rebounds in the Wildcat's win over Colorado College. He dished out six assists and had four steals in the win. Rodriguez was named Performance of the Year for his feats at the NAIA Indoor Track Championship.
Next up was the nominees for Female and Male Athlete of the Year. The honorees are student-athletes who represented JWU as statistical leaders and were considered their team's most outstanding player for the 2017-2018 season.
Female Athlete of the Year nominees were Ashlee Guerrero (Women's Lacrosse) who was her program's leading scorer with 23 goals, Andromeda Sales (Women's Basketball) who averaged 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, and Natasha Martin (Women's Soccer) who had a team high 11 goals including five game winners and picked up 1st Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All-Region accolades.
The 2017-2018 Female Athlete of the Year was Natasha Martin.
Male Athlete of the Year nominees were Lucas Prolow (Men's Soccer) who earned 2nd Team All-Conference honors and was recognized as CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year, Andrew Romero III (Men's Basketball) who finished third in NAIA Division II in scoring with 26.3 points and scored 711 points to become JWU's all-time leading scorer. Alberto Rodriguez (Men's Cross Country and Track & Field) who garnered 1st Team All-Conference honors and set JWU records in both the 800 meter and the mile.
The 2017-2018 Male Athlete of the Year was Andrew Romero III.
The student-athletes took the opportunity to recognize those around them and also honored Roberto Chavez (Athletic Training) as Support Staff of the Year and Chris Sandefur (Men's/Women's Cross Country and Track & Field) as Coach of the Year.
Dr. Richard Wiscott, President of the Denver Campus, was next to the podium to speak and present the final awards of the night. Dr. Wiscott spoke of his appreciation of the student-athletes and the coaching staff for their commitment this past year. He also took the opportunity to recognize the families in the room for their support of their student-athletes.
The final honor of the evening was the announcement of the Mr. and Ms. Wildcat Award. The award recognizes those student-athletes who go above and beyond. They must have a GPA of a 3.5 or hiher, spend time serving their community with care and compassion, be an impact player on their team and represent JWU with pride. Lucas Prolow (Men's Soccer) was recognized as Mr. Wildcat and Erin Sosnowchik (Women's Volleyball) was honored as Ms. Wildcat.
Following the awards, seniors were invited to the stage to receive their student-athlete cords to wear at this year's Commencement.