Rector, Sommer, Jefferson Named Coca-Cola Student-Athletes of the Year at The Sparty’s 2017 Awards Banquet

April 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

The USC Upstate Athletic Department held its annual The Sparty’s Awards Banquet presented by Coca-Cola on Thursday evening and gave out more than 80 awards to celebrate the accomplishments of the department and its student-athletes in 2016-17. Lukas Sommer (men’s soccer), Ryan Rector (softball) and Raven Jefferson (women’s basketball) received the night’s highest honor in being named the Coca-Cola Student-Athletes of the Year.

In addition to the Student-Athlete of the Year awards, the Spartans honored career achievement with the Dr. Joe Bowman Pinnacle Award. Rachel Baylor (women’s soccer), Taylor White (men’s golf), Lexi Shubert (softball), Holly McKinnon (softball), Raven Jefferson (women’s basketball), Michael Buchanan (men’s basketball), Theodore Kountourogiannis (men’s cross country/track & field), Destinie Sykes (women’s track & field), Emily Koelling (volleyball) and Josh Cuthbertson (men’s basketball) were honored for career excellence as members of their respective programs.

Sommer has excelled for the last three seasons on the soccer field. He was named ASUN Preseason All-Conference this year and started in all 13 games at the defender position, registering a penalty kick goal against crosstown rival Wofford. Sommer was part of an Upstate defense that held opponents scoreless twice during the season including once in ASUN play after a 1-0 win over Jacksonville. The Spartans opened the season with a 1-0 win over Presbyterian College, marking the first season-opening shutout in the Division I era and first since the 2005 season. He was a unanimous selection to the ASUN All-Academic Team and is the second men’s soccer player in program history in program history to be named ASUN Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Rector has spent the last four seasons on the softball team, playing in 168 games in the outfield. She has played in all 46 games this season in right field and is hitting over .300 while going 10-for-10 in stolen bases. She is tied for the team-lead with three triples and has hit four home runs to go with 25 RBI. She hit her second career grand slam in a 9-1 win over N.C. State on March 22. Not only has she excelled on the softball field, but also in the classroom and community. She is currently serving as President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and over time has averaged between 15 and 20 hours of community service per month. She has been honored on the ASUN Winners for Life Team.

Jefferson recently wrapped up a four-year career on the women’s basketball team. She was the only women’s basketball player in the ASUN this season to earn both All-Conference and All-Academic Team recognition. Jefferson was named ASUN Second Team All-Conference after leading the Spartans, and ranking third in the league, with an average of 15.4 points per game this season. She scored a career-high 30 points against Bob Jones and finished in double-figures scoring 25 times, including 17 games in a row. Jefferson became the 17th player in Upstate history to score 1,000 career points, and finished her career with 1,124 points. Of the 126 games played in her career, she started 116 of them.

Athletic Department Awards
Coca-Cola Student-Athlete of the Year

Men – Lukas Sommer, Men’s Soccer
Women – Ryan Rector, Softball; Raven Jefferson, Women’s Basketball

Dr. Joe Bowman Pinnacle Award
Rachel Baylor, Women’s Soccer
Taylor White, Men’s Golf
Lexi Shubert, Softball
Holly McKinnon, Softball
Raven Jefferson, Women’s Basketball
Michael Buchanan, Men’s Basketball
Theodore Kountourogiannis, Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Destinie Sykes, Women’s Track & Field
Emily Koelling, Volleyball
Josh Cuthbertson, Men’s Basketball

Academic Excellence Award

Men – Theodore Kountourogiannis , Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field (3.759 GPA)
Women – Lexi Shubert, Softball (3.886 GPA)

Outstanding Freshman Award

Men – Joel Bunting, Men’s Soccer
Women – Pan Paksanont, Women’s Golf; Riley Popplewell, Women’s Basketball; Montana Swanson, Volleyball

Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award

Mike Hudak

Team Academic Excellence Award

Men – Men’s Golf (3.315 GPA)
Women – Women’s Tennis (3.53 GPA)

Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Fraternity
Honorees –
Rachel Baylor (women’s soccer), Kyle Juell (men’s soccer), Theodore Kountourogiannis (men’s cross country/track & field), Ryan Rector (softball), Raven Jefferson (women’s basketball), Alejandro Lopez (men’s golf), Abbie Millete (softball), Sam Moss (men’s soccer), Lexi Shubert (softball), Emily Koelling (volleyball), Griffin Eubanks (men’s track & field), Nia Payne (women’s cross country/track & field), Emma Sarfranek (women’s soccer), Kevin Hickey (baseball), Nicki Krejci (women’s soccer), A’Lexxus Davis (women’s basketball), Michelangelo Dovidio (men’s soccer), Heiko Allmendinger (men’s soccer), Brianna Tellschow (volleyball), Cory Tate (men’s track & field), Daniel Perry (men’s soccer), Jacob Schulte (men’s basketball), Kaleigh Kelley (volleyball), Rebecca Shearer (volleyball), Charlie Carpenter (baseball), Calon Minors (men’s soccer), Payton Culler (women’s golf), Tom Schofield (men’s golf), Sidney Dermody (women’s golf)

Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Leadership Award

Ryan Rector, Softball; Rachel Baylor, Women’s Softball

Leadership Award

Jade Hudson, Women’s Soccer
Tarynn Tirpak, Softball
Alex Love, Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Essence Jackson, Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Griffin Eubanks, Men’s Track & Field
Theodore Kountourogiannis, Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Courtney Bradley, Women’s Track & Field
Destinie Sykes, Women’s Track & Field
Ignacio Garrido, Men’s Tennis

Sportsmanship Award

Men – Bryan Hathaway, Baseball; Josh Cuthbertson, Men’s Basketball
Women – Raven Jefferson, Women’s Basketball; Kaleigh Kelley, Volleyball

Spartanburg Regional Sports Medicine Award

Felix Ewers, Men’s Tennis

Conrad Award for Strength & Conditioning
Men – Jacob Schulte, Men’s Basketball
Women – Payton Culler, Women’s Golf

Wilde Soccer Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Men – Lukas Sommer
Women – Delaney Bussey

Dr. Joseph C. Bowman and Deanna Bowman Endowed Scholarship Recipient

Morgan Deaville, Volleyball

Josh Lee Memorial Scholarship
Noah Walker, Men’s Track & Field

Spartan Heart Award – SAAC
Men – Daniel Perry, Men’s Soccer
Women – Rachel Baylor, Women’s Soccer

Most Improved Team – SAAC

Helping Hands Award – SAAC
Chris Rodriguez, Baseball

Best Action Photo Award – SAAC

Coach’s Heart Award – SAAC
Men – Tyson John, Women’s Soccer
Women – Morgan Vetter, Strength and Conditioning

Spartan 300 Award – SAAC

Men’s Tennis

Team Awards
Will be announced after the season

Men’s Basketball
Most Valuable Player – Michael Buchanan
Women’s Basketball
Most Outstanding Player – Raven Jefferson
Coaches Award – Riley Popplewell
Men’s Cross Country
Most Valuable Runner – Theodore Kountourogiannis
Coaches Award – Dorian Jones
Women’s Cross Country
Most Valuable Runner – Essence Jackson
Coaches Award – Leah Jostes
Men’s Golf
Most Valuable Player – Matt Carter
Spring Impact Player – Taylor White, Jordan Warnock
Women’s Golf
Most Valuable Player – Pan Paksanont
Spring Impact Player – Anna Chanthaphaeng, Payton Culler
Men’s Soccer
Spartan Award – Daniel Perry
Leadership Award – Lukas Sommer
Women’s Soccer
Most Valuable Player – Kate Winegarner
Spartan Award – Rachel Baylor
Freshman of the Year – Delaney Bussey
Most Valuable Player – Holly McKinnon
Defensive Player of the Year – Megan Obier
Men’s Tennis
Spartan Award – Francisco Neto
Women’s Tennis
Sarah Vande Berg Spartan Award – Taylor Dodd
Men’s Indoor Track & Field
Most Outstanding Track Performer – Tanner Saunders
Most Outstanding Field Performer – Desman Martin
Women’s Indoor Track & Field
Most Outstanding Track Performer – Kennedy Holton
Most Outstanding Field Performer – Destinie Sykes
Men’s Outdoor Track & Field –
Will be announced after the season
Women’s Outdoor Track & Field – Will be announced after the season
Spartan Award (MVP) – Madison Haake
George Gaines Heart Award – Callie Yeargin
Emily Koelling – Offensive Player of the Year
Kaleigh Kelley – Defensive Player of the Year
Spartan Pride Award – Cidney Foster
Spartan Achievement Award – Kate Braddock
Spartan Dedication Award – Lunden Hancock