04/27/04 — MOC athletic banquet

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MOC athletic banquet

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 27, 2004 1:56 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Success on either the athletic field or court and the classroom can be attributed to a number of factors.

Michael Lefler and Beth Martin, two outstanding student-athletes at Mount Olive College, base their success around commitment, teamwork, self-confidence and dedication.

Lefler, admittedly, struggled to succeed in men's soccer last season. But new faces and an energetic coach helped turn his career around. Lefler grew as a player on the field and constantly drew confidence from his teammates. He also grew academically and that success paid off Monday evening when he earned male scholar of the year at Mount Olive's season-ending athletic banquet.

Martin, a tremendous long-distance runner, saw her hard work begin to pay off a year ago. She emerged the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference cross country champion and finished second in NCAA regional competition. Martin carried that success into this season and accomplished the same feats again.

"I kind of expected it," said Martin, who graduated in December and also won the female athlete of the year. "I've worked hard (and) it took a lot of commitment. I'm going to come back in the fall and coach, and hopefully I'll coach my own team some day."

More than 50 athletes received some type of honor during the two-hour ceremony, which took place in the school's cafeteria. Student-athletes were recognized in 11 of 12 sports with the exception in baseball. Veteran head coach Carl Lancaster did not release his individual awards list since the team's season isn't quite finished. The Trojans will take this week for semester-ending exams and return to practice next week.

Mount Olive captured the program's first CVAC Tournament title since 2000 with a victory against top-seeded Pfeiffer University on Sunday afternoon. It was the Trojans' fifth tournament crown since 1996. They won't know their postseason fate until May 9 when bids are extended to the 32-team NCAA Division II Tournament.

However, two baseball players were honored. Seniors Craig Hurba and Steve Parrish earned the male co-athlete of the year awards. Both players are ranked nationally in several categories and are two reasons that Trojans stand 19th nationally, and fourth in the South Atlantic Region.

Brenda Cates, the faculty athletics representative, presented the academic awards and acknowledged the top 10 student-athletes who earned a grade-point-average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher in the classroom. Those athletes received T-shirts recognizing their accomplishments. Cates also presented plaques and T-shirts to the women's cross country team and the men's golf team for recording the highest GPAs during their respective seasons. The women's cross country team posted a 3.510, while the golf team sported an overall GPA of 3.215.

Dr. Allen "Mac" Cassell, the school's athletics director, presented more than 20 seniors with embroidered blankets bearing their names and their sport's logo. Cassell concluded that the Trojans enjoyed success in both the classroom and on the field.

Mount Olive finished 10th overall in the annual Joby Hawn Cup standings, which recognizes the top athletics program in the CVAC. The Trojans finished one-half point out of ninth place, which was occupied by Erskine (S.C.) College.

Here are the individual award winners:

Women's soccer: Coach's Award -- Jessica Steffne; MVP -- Heather Ressler.

Women's cross country: Coach's Award -- Jessica Murphy; Most Improved -- Meg Ryan; Runner of the Year -- Beth Martin.

Women's basketball: Ruby Hines Dedication Award -- Brandy Smith; Most Promising -- Melanie Cobb; Iron Trojan -- Teneal Boone; Co-MVPs -- Ladora Charles, Latoria Harvey.

Women's golf: Coach's Award -- Ashley Schatzman; Lowest Stroke Average -- Lindsay Snyder.

Women's tennis: Coach's Award -- Mariana Shimoda; Most Improved -- Samanthi Wijesekera, Ashley Westbrook; MVP -- Lucia Henkle.

Softball: Coach's Award -- Jackie Wyman; Bat Buster Award -- Erin Wilson; Golden Glove Award -- Jamie Pruitt.

Volleyball: Coach's Leadership Award -- Agnes Jankowski, Paige Maloney; MVP -- Heidi Busch.

Men's soccer: Most Valuable Offensive Player -- Cory Worrell; Most Valuable Defensive Player -- Ryan Brown.

Men's cross country: Most Improved -- Fernando Crisosto; Runner of the Year -- Tim Insley.

Men's basketball: Team Mate Award -- Janson Greene; Coach's Award -- Sean Barnette; Mr. Hustle -- Maurice Horton.

Men's golf: Coach's Award -- Jason Lodge; Lowest Stroke Average -- Eric Royster.

Men's tennis: Coach's Award -- Renato Varella; Most improved -- Juane Schutte; MVP -- Rafael Bustos.

Baseball: Awards not presented due to the team awaiting an NCAA Division II regional bid.

Top 10 Student-Athletes: Jessica Murphy (women's cross country), Chasity Oxendine (volleyball), Lyndsay Snyder (women's golf), Beth Martin (women's cross country), Michael Lefler (men's soccer), Greg McDermott (men's golf), Michael Bradshaw (men's golf), Christof Franzsen (men's tennis), Weston Curles (baseball) and David Marquez (baseball).

All-CVAC Academic: Michael Bradshaw (men's golf), Michael Erexson (baseball), Christof Franzsen (men's cross country/men's tennis), Michael Lefler (men's soccer), Beth Martin (women's cross country), Greg McDermott (men's golf), Jessica Murphy (women's cross country), Chasity Oxendine (women's volleyball), Ashley Schatzman (women's golf), Juane Schutte (men's tennis), Jason Sharp (baseball) and Charlene Spadaccini (women's cross country/women's soccer).