MU Holds Ninth Annual Olympic Sports Banquet

Marshall University held its ninth annual Olympic Sports Banquet, sponsored by Rubberlite, Inc., at the Marshall Memorial Student Center on Monday night. Each Thundering Herd Olympic sports program presented one of its players with the annual Leadership Award. In a change in the normal ceremony, the Ed Starling Marshall University Male Athlete of the Year and the Dr. Dorothy Hicks Marshall University Female Athlete of the Year awards will be selected following the completion of spring sports.

The two winners will be introduced and presented their awards at a Thundering Herd home football game this fall. The Marshall men's golf team won the Dr. Tom Scott Men's Sports Academic Award for both semesters in 2004: in the fall (3.11 grade point average) and the spring (3.09 gpa) seasons. The women's tennis team won the Dr. Jose Ricard Women's Student-Athlete Academic Award in the fall of 2004 (3.50 gpa) and the women's golf team in the spring of 2004, with the highest of the 2004 calendar year with a 3.53 grade point average.

Student-Athletes selected by their coaches from each sport introduced their teammates and commented on the past or current seasons, while each coach presented the Leadership Awards to one individual student-athlete. Other honors on the evening included the introduction of Marshall Athletic Trainer of the Year, head trainer Jeff Carrico, and the awarding of the Dr. and Amy Ricard Sports Medicine Scholarships. The winners were Kelly Puckett and Brendon Harris.

This year's Leadership Award Winners:
Men's Golf Leadership Award-Brad Tweel, Sr., Huntington, WV/Huntington HS. Tweel is third on the team with a 76.65 stroke average this year. His best finish was at the Mid-Pines at Pinehurst, where he finished 18th with a low round of 70 and low score of 219 for this year. He has played 23 rounds and has 1,763 strokes. Tweel is team captain and is the Herd's only senior.

Women's Golf Leadership Award-Amber Churchill, So., Dublin, Ohio/Coffman HS. Marshall sophomore was one of six players to be named to the All-Mid-American Conference first team at this weekend's MAC Women's Golf Championships. Churchill, who led the Herd at the 2005 championships in a tie for 12th place with score of (77-81) 158, is the first Marshall player to ever garner All-MAC first team honors. She collected four top-ten finishes this spring, including a career-best third place at the Indiana Invitational on April 3, and finished competition this season with a 77.88 stroke average.

Sam Hood Men's Soccer Leadership Award-Joe Nebel, Jr., Brentwood, TN/Father Ryan HS. An All-Mid-American Conference Academic selection, Nebel finished his second year in goal for the Thundering Herd and made the team with a 3.80 GPA in Sports Management and Marketing. He started 14 of 20 games in goal this season. Nebel recorded two shutouts in 2004, one in the double overtime tie at Akron and the other in the win over Alabama A&M. He will enter coaching in 2005, already landing a graduate assistant job at Georgia Southern in the Southern Conference.

Women's Soccer Leadership Award-Ashleigh Woods, Sr., Penfield, NY/Penfield HS. Herd keeper had a stellar performance against Akron, racking up a career and program-best 13 saves for the second time this season. The senior finished with 119 saves, 1.91 per game, en route to giving up 32 goals in 2004. Woods finished 3-9-1 in 2004, with one shutout, in 15 starts and 18 games played.

Linda Holmes Volleyball Leadership Award- Nikki Sanlin, Jr., Fairview Heights, IL/Belleville East HS. One of the junior leaders on team with eight freshmen and no seniors, Sanlin appeared in 119 game for the 22-11 Herd, runners-up in the MAC Tournament for the second consecutive year. She recorded 133 kills, 1.12 per game, and had only 82 errors. Her total attacks were 394, a percentage of .129, and recorded 26 aces on serving.

Women's Cross Country Leadership Award-Emily Bailey, Fr., Kenova, WV/Spring Valley HS. Prior to MU, Bailey attended Spring Valley HS where she was coached by David Duncan and also lettered in track, basketball and soccer. At the EKU Invitational, Bailey helped the Herd to third place and placed 14th with a time of 20:08.40. At the MAC Championships, Bailey was the top finisher for the Herd by finishing100th in a time of 22:35.85.

Men's Cross Country Leadership Award-Jason Pyles, Sr., Gallipolis Ferry, WV/Point Pleasant HS. In 2004, Pyles finished sixth at the Miami Invitational, had an 11th place finish at the Queen City Invitational, placed seventh at the EKU Open and finished 42nd at the MAC Championships.

Tennis Leadership Award-Ashley Kroh, Sr., Louisville, KY/Sacred Heart Academy. One of five seniors for the Herd. Since the arrival of this group of standout seniors, the Herd has compiled an unheard of record of 42-2 in the MAC, with two regular season championship and three-straight tournament titles and they are back for one more in 2005. She was named All-American in 2004, reaching the finals of the NCAA Doubles Tournament before losing to UCLA 3-6, 3-6. Kroh now has194 career victories, in singles and doubles, to propel her to number two on the all-time MU wins list, just one behind Anna Mitina. She is also just one doubles win behind Mitina for the all-time lead in that category with 104 wins and is 36-1 verses MAC All-time.

Arlene Stooke Track & Field Leadership Award-Emily Shoemaker, Sr., Northrup, OH / Gallia Academy. In 2003-2004, Shoemaker placed 11th in the 400m hurdles at the Miami Invitational and was 12th in the 400m dash at the Cardinal Open. In 2001-2002, she ran a career-best third in the 400H at the EKU Invitational and finished ninth in the 400m at the Ohio Early Bird Invitational. As a freshman, she was fourth in 400H at EKU Invitational, fourth in 200m and fifth in 400H at Marshall Invitational and ninth in 400H at Spring Gobbler Invitational.

Baseball Leadership Award-Chris Koutsavlis, Jr., Pittsburgh, PA/Mount Lebanon HS. Tied for 10th in career wins with 11 in three seasons and is 7th in career innings pitched with 216.1 so far. Leads team in innings pitched (60.1), starts (10), complete games (1) and 34 strikeouts (128 in career). 2-4 this season with 5.79 earned run average.

Softball Leadership Award-Randi Nielson, Sr., Tucson, AZ/Sahuaro HS. In 2005, Nielson has helped MU to 30-15 record, 15-3 and first in the MAC East. She leads the team in ERA (2.17), record (16-6), games started/completed (23/12), shutouts (6), innings pitched (132.0), strikeouts (91) and opponent batting average (.215). In 2004, Nielson had the seventh best ERA (1.67) in the MAC and went 13-17. She led all Herd pitchers in strikeouts (130) and innings pitched (163). In 2003, she was the MAC Pitcher of the Year and was second-team All-Mideast Region selection. Her 23 wins were the most in a season in Marshall history and the 23rd most in the country in 2003.

Swimming & Diving Leadership Award-Erika Nilsson, Sr., Haninge, Sweden/Northern Illinois transfer. Nilsson captured the top spot and set a new school record in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:52.95 to lead all Marshall swimmers on the first day of the Mid-American Conference Championships in 2005. She helped to lead MU to a best-ever 10-7 finish in women's swimming for 2004-05. Nilsson finished third in the individual points standing and earned First Team All-MAC honors. In 2003-2004, she was named to the All-MAC Second Team. Nilsson holds MU records in the following events: 500-yard free (4:56.04), 1000-yard free (10:20.49), 1650-yard free (17:07.47), 400 free relay (3:32.42), 800 free relay (7:40.77), 400 medley relay (3:57.98).

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