Valparaiso University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) announced its year-end awards on Sunday evening at the 11th annual Athletic Recognition Ceremony (ARC) Awards.
Junior men’s tennis player Brandon Ancona (Belvidere, Ill./Rockford Christian) was named Valpo’s Male Athlete of the Year, while senior women’s soccer star Cory Griffith (Lemont, Ill./Providence Catholic) was honored as the Female Athlete of the Year. Men’s basketball junior Ryan Fazekas (Chesterton, Ind./Marquette Catholic [Providence]) earned Male Newcomer of the Year accolades, while women’s basketball rookie Shay Frederick (Greenville, Wis./Hortonville) received Female Newcomer of the Year honors.
Ancona earned Male Athlete of the Year honors as he was named the Summit League Player of the Year this season, leading Valpo with twenty-three singles wins and nineteen doubles wins. A three-time Summit League Player of the Week, he already owns sixty-one career singles wins, ninth-most in program history.
Griffith received the Female Athlete of the Year award as she earned First Team All-MVC honors for a second straight season. Griffith finished the year fourth in the MVC with eight goals scored, a mark which ranks eighth in Valpo single-season history. She closed her career Valpo’s all-time record holder in game-winning goals, and second in both goals and points.
Fazekas claimed the Male Newcomer of the Year accolade as he finished second on the team in scoring in his first year at Valpo. A two-time MVC Newcomer of the Week, he led Valpo and ranked second in the Valley in three-pointers made, and also was fifth in the conference in three-point percentage.
Frederick brought home the Female Newcomer of the Year award as she was an MVC All-Freshman Team honoree. She finished the season fourth on the team in scoring and second in three-pointers and free throw percentage. Frederick ranked sixth in the conference and led all MVC freshmen in assists per game as well.
In addition Sunday, redshirt junior men’s soccer player Dylan Waugaman (Houston, Texas/Friendswood [Oregon State]) was the recipient of the Bill Steinbrecher Sportsmanship Award and women’s basketball junior Addison Stoller (Cissna Park, Ill./Cissna Park) received the Rebecca D. Carter Memorial Award, given to the male and female student-athletes who have best exemplified integrity and sportsmanship while representing Valparaiso University. Director of athletics Mark LaBarbera presented the Anderson-Hoffman Memorial Service Award, awarded to the student-athlete who best demonstrates what it means to be a champion in the community, to senior volleyball and women’s basketball player Katherine Carlson (Lake Orion, Mich./Notre Dame Prep).
Performance of the Year honors went to Griffith on the women’s side, for her record-setting four-goal game in a victory over St. Francis (Pa.), and to men’s cross country standout Alexander Bruno (Bloomington, Ill./University), as he broke Valpo’s 8K and 10K records in his final two races of the season. The department’s Play of the Year went to Markus Golder (Portland, Ore./Clackamas [North Idaho]) for his buzzer-beating halfcourt shot in the men’s basketball win over Illinois State. This year’s awards were rounded out by the Unsung Hero Awards, presented to football’s Mike Wheeler (Fullerton, Calif./La Habra) and women’s track and field’s Maria Greer (Chicago, Ill./Williams Medical Prep).
The awards were voted on by SAAC, which has representatives from all 21 of Valparaiso’s athletic teams, and by Valpo Athletics coaches and staff members. Sunday night’s program also featured recognition of all the student-athletes who have earned athletic or academic honors this year and a number of videos throughout the show.