The 2011-12 school year has come to a close, so it is time to review the year for the most memorable stories. This will be a three-part series to break the news into categories.
Yesterday's list included news and facts from the athletics department as a whole or the teams. Today, that list will include the top 25 individual stories and highlights. Tomorrow, a list will re-cap the top games or events played.
This list was compiled by the Sports Communications staff and based on input from each who documented the individual's accomplishments and significance in school history. The GSU school calendar year runs from July 1 to June 30.
Enjoy today's Part two of the three-part series.
TOP INDIVIDUAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS/ACCOLADES 2011-12
1. Women’s tennis player Abigail Tere-Apisah earned All-America status by advancing to the final 16 at the NCAA National Championships after winning two matches. The sophomore was the first GSU female tennis player to compete in the National Championships and the second ever selected. Tere-Apisah was named the CAA Player of the Year, the CAA Most Outstanding Player of the CAA Championships and to the All-CAA first team singles squad. Her 19-2 overall record is the best in school history as she lost only to the No. 1 ranked player in the NCAA in the championship and the No. 35 ranked player in a regular season match. During the regular season, she earned an ITA ranking as high as No. 34 and was No. 38 in the final list, which makes her the second highest in school history.
2. Senior women’s soccer player Bri Cagle became the first GSU student-athlete to have the highest GPA (4.12) at the University and receive the Kell Award for that honor at graduation. Cagle earned Academic All-America status (second team) for a second straight year, becoming just the second two-time Academic All-America honoree in GSU history.
3. Football senior Christo Bilukidi became the first GSU player drafted by an NFL team when the Oakland Raiders selected the 6-5, 290-pound defensive end in the sixth round, 190th overall. Senior linebacker Jake Muasau became the first to sign an NFL free agent contract after the draft when the Super Bowl champion N.Y. Giants added him to their 90-player roster in April. Senior safety Brandon Jones signed with the Arena Football League’s Tampa Bay Storm and began play this spring in that pro league.
4. Senior track and field triple jumper Angelia Nugent qualified for the NCAA National Championship Meet for a second straight year. Nugent set a school record in the triple jump when she finished 11th at the NCAA Regional Meet to qualify among the 24 finalists for the NCAA Meet. She earned a CAA Championship in her specialty for a second straight year as well.
5. Senior golfer Charlotte Lorentzen finished first at the CAA Championship and earned a bid to the NCAA East Regional, where she finished 19th overall. She was named the CAA Golfer of the Year and became the first golfer in CAA history to be named Golfer of the Year three times. Lorentzen finished first in four golf tournaments during her senior season and had a final national ranking of No. 52. She finished her four-year career being named CAA Golfer of the Week 11 different times, the most by any GSU athlete in any sport in their career. Lorentzen was named the GSU Female Student-Athlete of the Year for the third straight year and again picked up the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
6. Junior track star Tamara Moore was named Most Outstanding Track Performer at the CAA Championship Meet after winning both the 100m hurdle and 400m hurdle races to score 20 points for GSU, while adding six points with the GSU 4x400-relay team that finished third. She also had a first-place finish at the UGA Invitational Meet during the regular season.
7. Men’s soccer player Chris Locandro was named to the All-Region team after having been chosen to the All-CAA first team. The sophomore was just the third player in GSU men’s soccer history to earn All-Region and the second in school history to be named All-CAA first team. He played a key role in the team leading the CAA in fewest goals allowed and earning the school’s first-ever berth in the CAA Tournament and then first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.
8. Softball slugger Paige Nowacki became just the second GSU softball player to be named to the All-Region first team. The junior blasted 10 home runs, fourth most in a season in school history, as she helped the team reach the CAA Championship game in the tournament, where she was named to the CAA All-Tournament team. Nowacki had been named the CAA Player of the Week two times during the 38-18 softball season when she had two 4-RBI games and hit a grand slam home run.
9. Men’s basketball senior Jihad Ali earned the highest honor at the CAA Awards Banquet as a co-winner of the Dean Ehlers Leadership Award. A complete student-athlete, Ali was named to both the All-CAA team (third team) on the court and to the All-CAA academic team (first team) off the court. Ali was named the GSU Male Student-Athlete of the Year. He finished his career by playing in the most games in school history (126) on a team that won the second-most games in school history (22 this year). When GSU posted its first-ever win over NCAA Tournament team VCU on its home court in Richmond, Ali led the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
10. Volleyball senior Vineece Verdun earned All-CAA first team honors to repeat that feat and become the first volleyball player in school history with back-to-back first team All-CAA honors. She was named an Academic All-American to follow up being an Academic All-District honoree. Verdun was also honored as the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Her CAA Player of the Week honor made that a fourth time in her career to be recognized. She was one of the 30 finalists in the national Lowe’s Senior CLASS Awards and was honored with a Peach of an Athlete Role Model award.
11. Men’s tennis leader Victor Valente earned All-CAA first team singles honors, All-CAA second team doubles honors and was chosen to the Academic All-District team. The junior, who played No. 1 singles for the 20-win team that posted the second-most wins in school history, earned a Southeast Region ranking of No. 14. He was a two-time CAA Player of the Week winner during his 16-5 season against that tough No. 1 competition he faced. Valente, the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, made the President’s List with his 4.0 GPA in Computer Information Systems.
12. Men’s basketball senior Eric Buckner was named to the Mid-Major All-America defensive team and was named to the NABC All-District second team. The 6-10 leaper was picked to the All-CAA third team. Buckner was named the Georgia Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. He was one of the top five shot blockers in the country as he set a school record with 118 blocks.
13. Cross country runner Valentin Poncelet earned recognition as an All-Region runner when he finished 24th in the NCAA South Regional Race. The sophomore had already earned All-CAA honors by coming in 8th at the CAA Championship Meet. Poncelet also scored points in the spring with the track team at the CAA Championship Meet by placing 5th in the 5000m race. He was named the CAA Runner of the Week during the fall cross country season and again during the spring track season.
14. Softball catcher Callie Alford was named to the All-Region second team, which followed her being named to the All-CAA second team as well as the CAA All-Rookie team. She had also been a CAA Rookie of the Week. Alford knocked home 43 runs to produce the fifth-highest RBI total in a season in school history; the second highest total by a freshman. The freshman also led the 38-18 team that advanced to the CAA title game in doubles, total bases and slugging percentage.
15.Track sprinter Charlesha Lightbourne earned a bid to the NCAA Regional with her time in the 100 meters. She was a two-time All-CAA earner in track after finishing third in the 100m race and was third with the 4x400 relay team. Lightbourne also earned CAA Runner of the Week honors. She had nine top 10 finishes during the season.
16. Men’s tennis freshman Matias Hatem was busy collecting awards at the CAA Banquet after collecting wins during his first season. Hatem was named to the CAA first team in singles, was named to the CAA second team in doubles and was chosen as the CAA Rookie of the Year. Those awards followed his 21-3 singles season that saw him reel off wins in 15 straight matches during the regular season.
17. Men’s golfer Tyler Gruca was recognized on the All-CAA first team. The sophomore was also chosen to the All-CAA Tournament team after finishing in fourth place. He was a CAA Golfer of the Week twice as well. After the fall season, Gruca was the top golfer in the CAA in the ranking by GolfStat. His second place finish at the Wexford Plantation Invitational helped the team post its first tournament win since 2007 and helped him post a 74.17 season stroke average, second best on the team.
18. Runner Katharine Showalter was successful in both the fall and spring. The junior was an All-CAA cross country runner after finishing 11th at the CAA Championship and had two second-place finishes in regular season meets. In the spring she was All-CAA in track after winning the CAA championship 3,000m steeplechase event and finishing second in the 1500m race to score 18 points.
19. Men’s soccer goalkeeper Vincent Foermer was the CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He also earned a spot of the Academic All-District team. Statistically, Foermer was No. 85 in the in the NCAA in GAA (1.14) and set the school record for goals against average for a season
20. Women’s soccer player Jewel Evans stood out on the field and in the classroom. The sophomore was picked to the All-CAA second team after netting 21 points. She was chosen to the Academic All-District team. Evans had also earned a CAA Player of the Week award during the regular season.
21. Women’s cross country freshman runner Hannah Stefanoff was an All-CAA performer after finishing ninth at the CAA Championships. She had a school-record five CAA Runner of the Week awards. Stefanoff won three races during the cross country season. During the track season, she finished fourth at the CAA Championship Meet in the 5,000 meters.
22. Women’s golf freshman Lauren Court capped off her inaugural GSU season by being chosen the CAA Rookie of the Year. She had two Top 25 tournament finishes, including a 22nd at the CAA Championships. In the classroom, Court was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.
23. Mark Hogan became a two-sport leader as he started for the football team in the fall at linebacker and then picked up the baseball bat and glove to compete with the baseball team. Hogan has more than 100 career tackles in his two football seasons and had a game-winning pass interception in the end zone in the second overtime to seal the Panthers’ homecoming win. In baseball, he batted .319 with a .448 on-base percentage to go with two home runs.
24. Softball freshman Lauren Coleman began at GSU in grand style by being named to the All-CAA first team. The first baseman was also picked to the All-CAA Tournament team in helping lead GSU to the championship game. Coleman was selected to the All-CAA rookie team and was twice the CAA Rookie of the Week honoree. Her .436 on-base percentage was 3rd in the CAA and her .326 season batting average was 8th in the CAA. Solid in the field, she had only 3 errors and a .992 fielding percentage at the busy first place position where she was 3rd in the CAA in putouts (356) and second in double plays fielded (14).
25. Men’s tennis coach Chase Hodges was the CAA co-coach of the year after guiding the team to a 20-5 season, one-win shy of the school record. The team had three singles players earn All-CAA honors and a doubles team, while also having the CAA Rookie of the Year. Hodges’ team beat No. 37 UNCW and won both CAA regular season matches. They climbed as high as No. 54 in the ITA rankings in April, finishing the year at No. 60, another rise from the previous year’s No. 65 finish.
Check back tomorrow for part 3 that features the most memorable games and individual events from the seasons.