Auburn Swimmers Honored At 10th Annual “AUSPY Awards”

Photo Courtesy: Ashley Ward/Auburn Athletics

The Auburn swimming & diving team had a number of award winners at the Auburn Athletics Department’s 10th Annual “AUPSY Awards” that were held earlier this week to honor performances from the past year.

Zoe Thatcher won the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, for her 4.0 GPA as an apparel merchandise major. Thatcher competed at NCAA’s three of her four years at Auburn and was a competitor at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha.


Additionally, according to the official Auburn Swim & Dive Twitter account postgraduates Natasha Lloyd and Joe Patching were honored as well. Lloyd was was the recipient of the 2017 H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete of the Year Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500, while Patching won the Cliff Hare Award. Both finished up their collegiate careers during the 2016-17 season, with Patching graduating as a 16-time All-American at Auburn.

Full recap of Auburn’s “AUSPY Awards”:

The Auburn Athletics Department honored the best in athletic and academic achievement for athletics teams and individuals during the Spring 2017, Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 seasons for performances from April, 2017-March, 2018, at its AUSPYs award program. Below are the winners:

TEAM OF THE YEAR: Men’s Basketball … The men’s basketball team won its third Southeastern Conference regular season title in program history in 2018, leading the league wire-to-wire. The team finished with a 26-8 overall record, notching the second most wins in program history. Auburn, who was ranked as high as No. 8 nationally, reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. In addition, the Tigers enjoyed home-court advantage and went 15-1 in games played on the Plains.

MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Nathon Allen, Track and Field … Nathon Allen made a statement in the 400m during his first season on the Plains. The 2017 NCAA runner up in the event also finished fifth at the World Championships in London in August, representing Team Jamaica. His 44.19 in the semifinals surpassed the Auburn record of 44.45 set in 2001. He picked up a pair of 2017 outdoor All-America first team honors, coming in the 400m and as a part of the 4x100m relay. In addition, he secured all-SEC second team recognition in the 400m and the 4x100m relay. His success in the 400m placed him on the SEC all-freshman team.

FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR (two winners): 
Kara Kaufmann, Equestrian … Kara Kaufmann had an outstanding first year with the equestrian program, leading all Horsemanship riders with an 11-3-1 overall record. She secured NCEA All-America first team honors in the event, while also earning SEC Horsemanship Freshman of the Year. Her excellence in the event for Auburn also placed her on the all-SEC and SEC all-freshman teams. To add to her success, Kara went undefeated for the Tigers in Horsemanship at the 2017 NCEA National Championship.

Natalliah Whyte, Track and Field … Natalliah Whyte concluded the 2018 indoor season as one of the fastest women on the track, coming in third at the NCAA Indoor Championship in the 60m dash. Her performance at the national meet also had her set a new Auburn record in the event, clocking in at 7.12. She secured All-America first team recognition for her finish.

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR (two winners): 
Kerryon Johnson, Football … Kerryon Johnson was the 2017 SEC Offensive Player of the Year and a second team All-American. He led the SEC in three categories – rushing (115.9 ypg), scoring (10.0 ppg), and all-purpose yards (132.1 ypg). Kerryon came in ninth in Heisman Trophy voting, while also being a Doak Walker Award semifinalist. He finished sixth nationally in scoring with 20 total touchdowns and his five touchdowns at Missouri (Sept. 23) was one short of the school record. Overall, Kerryon had eight 100-yard rushing performances out of 12 games played.

Casey Mize, Baseball … Casey Mize turned in one of the best seasons on the mound in Auburn history in 2017 as he became the program’s 25th All-American, leading the team with an 8-2 record and a 2.04 ERA. His ERA registered third in the SEC and 25th in the NCAA, while his 109 strikeouts were the highest by an Auburn pitcher since 1999. He led the NCAA with a 12.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio and ranked 15th in the country by striking out 11.73 batters per nine innings. In addition, he was the eighth Auburn player to represent Team USA with the Collegiate Baseball National Team this past summer.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Jesse Earl, Volleyball … Jesse Earl had an outstanding senior season for the Tigers. She became the first in program history to earn AVCA All-America recognition, being placed on the honorable mention team. She also earned her third straight AVCA All-South Region honor, the first Tiger to do so. Jesse played in all 102 sets and started all 27 matches at libero for Auburn, leading the team with 529 digs. Her 5.19 digs per set average led the SEC, awarding her all-SEC recognition; that average ranked in the Top 30 nationally and set a new Auburn single season record. She tied a program record with 36 digs in the win at Tennessee (Oct. 4) and her 1,657 career digs (over three seasons only) finished No. 2 all time at Auburn. In addition, her .42 aces per set finished first on the single season list.

COMEBACK AWARD (two winners): 
Keegan Thompson, Baseball … After missing the 2016 season with an injury, Keegan Thompson stepped back into Auburn’s Friday-night starter role a year ago and set the table for the most successful season since 2010. Keegan posted a 7-4 record with a 2.41 ERA and led the team with 93.1 innings pitched. He went on to be selected by the Chicago Cubs in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft, selected with the 105th overall pick, the highest drafted Auburn pitcher since 2004.

2017 Women’s Tennis over South Carolina … Trailing 3-0 after dropping the doubles point and two individual matches, Auburn put together four straight points to pull off a 4-3 comeback win. Freshman Taylor Russo kicked things off with a win at No. 3 singles and was followed by an upset victory from Andie Dikosavljevic over the No. 36 player nationally. Alizee Michaud tied the match up with a win on court two and it came down to freshman Georgie Axon. After dropping the opening set (2-6), Georgie came firing back with a 6-3 win in set two. Trailing 5-2 in the third, Georgie battled back to send the match to a tiebreaker and clinched the team win with a 7-6 victory.

WAR EAGLE MOMENT: Football’s November to Remember … The Auburn football team closed out the 2017 regular season with a difficult task ahead in November, hosting two of the nation’s top teams in Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers downed then-No. 1 Georgia, 40-17, and then sealed the SEC West title with a 26-14 win over then-No. 1 Alabama. Auburn became the first team in history to defeat two No. 1-ranked CFP teams in the same season.

INSPIRATION AWARD: Sarah Le Beau, Soccer … On a day the program was raising awareness for multiple sclerosis, goalkeeper Sarah Le Beau, whose dad battles the disease and was in the stands, pitched one of her eight shutouts of the season against No. 10 Florida. Le Beau, who was shown in an emotional feature on the videoboard and dedicated her performance to her dad, made seven saves and countless other plays on the ball as she controlled her box for the entire 90 minutes against the Gators.

SASS Academic Achievement Award: Brenda Kigen, Women’s Cross Country
Highest Spring 2017 Team GPA: Women’s Cross Country 3.57; Men’s Tennis 3.57
Highest Fall 2017 Team GPA: Volleyball 3.62; Men’s Tennis 3.56
Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Zoe Thatcher, Swimming & Diving
Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Wes Curles, Track & Field
Spirit of Auburn Award: Randall Ceneus, Men’s Track & Field; Victoria Draper, Softball, and Cara Stricklin, Gymnastics
Virgil Starks Passion Award: Bria Johnson, Women’s Basketball

Press release courtesy of Auburn Athletics. 

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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