The cross country and track & field programs were the big winners tonight, bringing home both the male and female HC Kennett Award, the University's highest athletic award. Additionally, the program's won Male Performance of the Year, Team of the Year and Female Rookie of the Year.
Cross country and track & field star Ryan Hill won both the Kennett Award and Male Performance of the Year award. Hill is the fastest American collegiate indoor track athlete in the 3000m event. At the Husky Invitational meet in Seattle, Wash., Ryan's time of 7:43.08 was the fastest time ever run by an American collegiate runner in the history of the sport, and was the world's leading mark for the event at the time.
Ryan won three individual ACC titles and one relay title this year: 2011 Outdoor Track - 10,000m, 2011 Cross Country and the 2011-2012 Indoor Track - 3,000m and Distance Medley Relay. He placed first at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships in cross country, and 12th at the NCAA National Championships. Ryan earned All-American honors by placing fifth in the 3,000m at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The women's Kennett Award winner went to Andie Cozzarelli, an All-American in the 10,000m during the 2011 outdoor season by taking 13th in the event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Andie also took home runner-up honors in the 10,000m at the ACC Outdoor Championship, earning All-ACC honors, and then followed that up with a fifth-place finish in the 5000m. Cozzarelli was the top runner for NC State's women's cross country team for every race in the 2011 season, and finished eighth at the ACC Championship meet, seventh at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, and led the team to a 23rd place finish at the NCAA Championships.
The men's cross country team earned Team of the Year honors after winning the 2011 ACC Championship with individuals in that race finishing 1, 2, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20. The team went on to win the Southeast NCAA Regional Championships with individuals placing 1, 4, 14, 24, 25, 30, and 36. The club finished 10th at the NCAA National Championships with two individuals earning All-America honors.
Female Rookie of the Year honors went to Kenyetta Iyevbele. As a true freshman, Kenyetta set the school record in the 800m during the 2011 outdoor track season. She also placed ninth at the NCAA East Regional in the 800m to advance to the NCAA Championships. At NCAA's she finished seventh to earn All-America honors, and is the only NC State athlete, male or female, to earn All-American status in the 800m event. Kenyetta then went on to win the USATF National Junior title and Pan-American Junior National title in the 800m. Kenyetta's performances on the track in this event were the best performances by any freshman in the country last year and the best in NC State history.
Coach of the Year went to men's basketball head mentor Mark Gottfried. In his first season at the helm of the Wolfpack, Gottfried guided the Pack to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, and a tie for fourth in the ACC regular-season standings. He led the Pack to its most overall wins (24) and conference wins (9) in six years. Gottfried and his staff have also assembled a top-10 recruiting class, all of which hail from North Carolina and were selected as McDonald's All-Americans. He also collected his 300th career coaching victory this season with the Pack's 67-64 win over Virginia in the ACC Tournament. He was only one of seven first-year head coaches to guide his team to the NCAA Tournament in his first season.
Performance of the Year went to the women's basketball team for their upset of Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Ninth-seeded NC State made history by becoming the first team seeded 8 or 9 to ever beat the top-seed in the tournament. The Wolfpack, behind 16 points from both Bonae Holston and Marissa Kastanek, earned a 75-73 thrilling victory over the fifth-ranked Blue Devils.
Play of the Year went to defensive back David Amerson of the football team. He broke the ACC single-season interception record with an interception and 65-yard return for touchdown at the Belk Bowl against Louisville. The play was a lead highlight for ESPN and was listed as one of the best plays of the 2011 bowl season. Amerson added to his record total with a game clinching interception and his 13th of the season.
Other awards given out tonight included Male Rookie of the Year to men's golfer Albin Choi. He enjoyed one of the finest freshman seasons in program history. He was unanimously named 2011 ACC Freshman of the Year and to the 12-man All-ACC Team, was Honorable Mention All-America by both PING and Golfweek, and was tabbed to the five-man All-Freshman team by both Golfweek and the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation. His 71.53 scoring average led the ACC, was the fourth lowest in school history.
Emili Tasler of the women's basketball team was named Comeback Player of the Year. She has been through four surgeries since arriving at NC State in 2007. She redshirted her first season due to a previous ACL injury, and lost a second-straight season due to additional knee issues. After finally playing in every game of her third season, and helping lead the team to the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Emili missed half of the 2010-11 season due to another leg injury.
At that point most athletes would have hung up their basketball shoes at this point, but she wanted to come back for a fifth season and she wound up being the only player this season to start all 35 games. She averaged 4.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, and was second on the team in both steals and assists.
The Frank Weedon Lifetime Achievement Award went to strength & conditioning coach Wright Wayne, who has been a part of NC State for over 30 years.
Men's basketball graduate assistant Jordan Green was given the Helping Hand Award for being a valuable asset to head coach Mark Gottfried and his staff in their first season at State.
Men's swimmer Conor Brennan received the Loyalty Award for his work as a co-captain this season, and Maureen Dunnagan of the women's golf team earned the Modesty Award for consistently being the hardest working member of the program.