The women's cross country and track and field teams collected a combined five of 17 awards on the night, as junior Erika Kemp highlighted the night for the program by winning one of the two H.C. Kennett Awards.
The highest athletic award at NC State, the H.C. Kennett Award is given annually to a male and female superior athlete who demonstrates the finest attributes of good sportsmanship and team play. A two-time NCAA Champion and four-time All-American, senior Nick Gwiazdowski joined Kemp as the male recipient of the award.
The men's swimming and diving team won three awards, as it won Team of the Year and Performance of the Year for its success at the ACC and NCAA Championships. Additionally, Justin Ress was named Male Rookie of the Year.
Here's a look at all of the award winners from the Pack's special night:
Male Rookie of the Year- Justin Ress, Swimming and Diving
Justin scored valuable points for the team throughout the year. He was named the ACC Male Freshman of the year and was an All-American as part of the second-fastest 800 freestyle relay of all time. Justin was the only freshman in the ACC to make the A Final in all three individual events, scoring the most points of any freshman at the ACC Championships.
Female Rookie of the Year- Ryen Frazier, Cross Country
Ryen earned two USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week and ACC Women's Performer of the Week honors after both of her wins this season. She led the team to a second-place finish at the ACC Championships, earning her All-ACC honors. Ryen finished fourth on the team and 17th overall at the NCAA Southeast Regional to earn All-NCAA Southeast Region honors. In addition she was the team's fifth runner on the fifth-place squad at the NCAA Championships.
Comeback Player of the Year- Tommy Gantt, Wrestling
Tommy broke one of his feet in April 2014 and then the other one while running sprints in January 2015. In spite of all the time he missed and the two major injuries, he led the wrestling team this year. He was the first-ever NC State Midlands Champion and completed the regular season with a 22-0 record. He won the ACC Championship beating a three-time ACC Champion (and three-time All-American) in the finals. He went to the NCAA Championships and garnered All-America honors.
Community Spirit- Football
Members of the football team have spent 1,236 hours volunteering in their communities over the past year. Various members of the team visit sick children at Wake Med. They participate in football camps for youth in the community. Several of the student-athletes make elementary and middle school visits and speak to the youth about the importance of education. Some of the team participated in the Duke Medical Dance marathon, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Miracle League program.
Male Performance of the Year- Men's Swimming and Diving 400 Freestyle Relay at NCAA Championship
The men's swimming and diving 400 freestyle relay team won the NCAA championship, becoming NC State's first relay team to win a NCAA Title.
Female Performance of the Year- Women's Cross Country at NCAA Championship
The women's cross country team finished in fifth place at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. It was a true team effort as no one garnered All-America honors yet the team still finished fifth in the country.
Kay Yow Award- Alexis Perry, Women's Track and Field
Alexis Perry will graduate in May with a degree in Applied Nutrition Science. She is a 2014 & 2015 Arthur Ashe Scholarship Award recipient. During her 2016 season, Alexis was named to the Indoor All-ACC first team in to 60mH and Indoor All-ACC second team in long jump. She was ranked 25th in the nation in the 60mH. Alexis has served numerous hours of community service through her involvement with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Alexis has also served as a three-year team captain and has been the front line of communication between the men's and women's track teams.
Men's ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year- Holden Fender, Men's Soccer
Holden Fender graduated Magna Cum Laude in December of 2015 with a degree in Business Administration. He earned CoSIDA Academic All-District and All-South Region Third Team mentions in 2015, while starting all 17 matches. He is currently working at Manhattan Associates as a Software Consultant.
Women's ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year- Kaitlyn Kramer, Cross Country/Track and Field
Kaitlyn Kramer, a member of the women's cross country and track teams, is a senior from Charlotte, N.C. She is double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Textile Engineering. Kaitlyn is a member of the Omega Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Honor Societies. She has also been named to the All-ACC Academic Team, the ACC Honor Roll, the Dean's List and has received Capital One Academic All-District honors. After graduation she plans to attend graduate school at NC State.
Coach of the Year- Pat Popolizio, Wrestling
Under Coach Pat Popolizio NC State won its first ACC team title since 2007 and had four individual ACC champions. NC State finished the season ranked No. 2 in the final NWCA/USA Today Wrestling Coaches Poll. The team finished 23-1 in duals, setting both a NC State and ACC record for most wins in a single season. The 23 wins also led the NCAA this season. NC State became the first team in NCAA history to win at both Oklahoma State and Iowa in the same season.
Wolfpack Unlimited- David Cooke, Men's Golf
Working to overcome the tragedy of his younger brother passing away during a pick-up basketball game over Christmas break, David Cooke of the NC State men's golf team endured a very difficult 2015 spring semester. The Illinois native showed tremendous character throughout his junior season, winning two collegiate tournaments and finishing with the team's lowest stroke average throughout the season. During the summer of 2015, Cooke won the Illinois Open as an amateur, defeating multiple professional players and tying the record for the largest margin of victory by an amateur since 1977. He then advanced to the second round of the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Men's Team of the Year- Swimming and Diving
The men's swimming and diving team earned back-to-back ACC Championship titles and the 2016 title marked the program's 26th in history. The team proceeded to finish fourth at the NCAA Championships, tying the highest finish in program history. Collectively, the Pack earned 37 All-America honors and capped off the meet with an NCAA title in the 400 freestyle relay. The win marked the first relay title for NC State and first for the men since 2006, as well as the first relay title among the ACC.
Women's Team of the Year- Cross Country
The Women's Cross Country team finished in second place at the ACC Championships, with four All-ACC honors; second in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, earning four All-NCAA Southeast Region Honors and an automatic qualification to nationals for an NCAA record 32nd time. Their fifth-place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships was the highest national team finish since 2001. The ranking was also an 11-spot increase from 2015.
H.C. Kennett (Men)- Nick Gwiazdowski, Wrestling
Nick was the 2016 NCAA Finalist at 285 pounds, reaching the NCAA Finals for the third straight year. He was also an All-American in 2016 for the fourth time in his career. Having earned the 2016 ACC Wrestler of the Year for the third straight season, Nick is only the second ACC wrestler all-time to accomplish that feat. He finished the year 33-1, including 17-0 in duals.
H.C. Kennett (Women)- Erika Kemp, Track and Field/Cross Country
Erika is on the 2015 All ACC Cross Country team and led the team to a 5th place finish at the NCAA cross country championships. She is the 5,000 meter school record holder for indoor track and field. Erika ran to a fifth place finish in the 5,000 meters to earn First-Team All-America honors at the track and field indoor NCAA Championships. She earned her second All-America honor of her career and season with an 11th-place finish in the 3,000 meters at the indoor championship. Erika was also First Team All-ACC for the 2015 outdoor track and field season.