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Tennessee Tech student-athletes, coaches honored at first Golden Wings Awards show since 2019

Tennessee Tech student-athletes, coaches honored at first Golden Wings Awards show since 2019

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time in three years, Tennessee Tech's Hooper Eblen Center served as the host site of the Athletics Department's annual Golden Wings Awards Thursday evening, celebrating the achievements of Golden Eagle student-athletes and coaches from the past complete seasons.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent cancellation of the remainder of campus activities for the 2019-20 academic year, the annual awards show was also canceled. The choice was made to still honor the student-athletes for their accomplishments, as each competitive season drawn from to determine the awards had been completed. In 2020-21, the annual awards show was officially cancelled for a second year due to complications with scheduling and COVID-19 protocols. Like the 2020 awards, the choice was made to still honor the student-athletes for their accomplishments from one of the most unique athletic years in history.

Designed to recognize excellence by Tennessee Tech student-athletes and coaches, the ESPYs-style, end-of-year event is a video-based production featuring over 30 awards and honors that reach each of Tech's 14 teams. The show was broadcasted live on the YouTube, allowing fans across the nation and world to view the accomplishments of Tech student-athletes, and can be viewed in its entirety here.

The timeframe of the awards period was the current 2021-22 season for 10 teams. The 2021-22 sports seasons of baseball, outdoor track & field, softball, and tennis will be recognized in the 2023 Golden Wings Awards, allowing for their full seasons to be taken into consideration as each team still had significant parts of their OVC schedules or championships still left to compete at the time of the awards show.

In the past, for sports that competed in the spring, including baseball, softball, outdoor track & field, men's golf, women's golf, and tennis, the previous campaigns were recognized with those sports still competing with a large portion of their seasons left. The Man and Woman of the Year awards always encompass the current period for all sports, including this year's show.

Doors opened at 7 p.m. CT, affording the student-athletes time to mingle, utilize the multiple photo booths available, conduct stand-up video interviews and enjoy a buffet of food options all in a gala "Purple Carpet" reception. The show followed at 8 p.m.

A pair of Golden Eagle programs took home a share of Outstanding Team of the Year honors, including women's basketball and men's golf. The women's basketball team finished the 2021-22 campaign 21-11 overall and 14-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play, securing a second-place finish in the regular-season standings.

Boasting the most league wins for Tech in a season since 2010-11, the purple and gold finished as the OVC Tournament runner-up and earned its fifth bid to the WNIT and first since 2011. The Golden Eagles went on to defeat SMU for its first WNIT win since 2006.

The men's golf team also delivered a runner-up performance at the OVC Championships, winning the stroke-play portion of the tournament and securing the No. 1 seed for the first-ever match-play portion of the league's annual postseason event. The Tech squad led the conference with a program-record 289.96 scoring average on the year. The Golden Eagles rounded out the season with four second-place showings and seven top-four finishes throughout the 2021-22 season.

The most prestigious honors presented by Tech Athletics each year, the Man and Woman of the Year Awards were presented to two most deserving individuals.

A graduate forward on the women's basketball team, Mackenzie Coleman was named the 2022 Woman of the Year following an illustrious career on the hardwood. Graduating with a bachelor's degree in education with an emphasis in pre-occupational therapy and minor in psychology in 2021 with a 3.6 GPA, she will earn her master's in interdisciplinary studies this upcoming May.

The Edmonton, Ky. native was an eight-time member of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll and four-time member of the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll. A team captain, she earned All-OVC Second Team honors in 2021-22 and finished her career second all-time in career free throw percentage (83.7), third in career blocks (172), 10th in career rebounds (730), and 13th in scoring (1,485 points).

Earning Man of the Year accolades was men's cross country's Ababu Mohamed. A fixture for the Golden Eagles for five years, he excelled in the classroom with a 3.64 GPA on his way to earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 2021. He is on pace to collect a master's in business administration this summer.

The Tech veteran was a nine-time Athletic Director's Honor Roll member, three-time OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll member, and one-time recipient of the OVC Medal of Honor. He was also named the team's President's Award winner three times. In the 2021 season, he competed in all six events, placing third for the Golden Eagles four times.

A pair of standout Golden Eagles earned co-Female Athlete of the Year honors, including volleyball's Taylor Dorsey and women's basketball's Anna Jones. Dorsey, an All-OVC First Team selection as a middle blocker and three-time OVC Defensive Player of the Week, led the league in hitting percentage (.316), total blocks (139), and block assists (126) while setting the single-season, rally-scoring era record for block assists.

Jones, a guard/forward, was named to the All-OVC First Team and was a two-time OVC Player of the Week during the 2021-22 campaign. She paced the Golden Eagles and ranked in the top-10 in the league in scoring (13.6 ppg), rebounds (7.3 rpg), and field-goal percentage (51.4%).

For just the third time since its inception in 1994, the Male Athlete of the Year Award went to a member of the men's golf team, as Nick Sutton became only the second men's golfer to collect the award (the other is TTU Sports Hall of Famer and PGA Tour Pro Scott Stallings). A member of the All-OVC Team, he finished with a 71.88 scoring average to rank third in the league and third in program history. Named OVC Male Golfer of the Week three times, he captured one medalist honor and boasted five top-10 finishes while earning a spot on the OVC All-Tournament Team.

For the first time, the Golden Wings Awards shifted from a Coach of the Year honor to a Coaching Staff of the Year honor, choosing to recognize the entire group that has such a lasting impact on the lives and success of the student-athletes. In the inaugural year of the Coaching Staff of the Year Award, there were co-winners.

The women's basketball staff, led by head coach Kim Rosamond and including assistant coaches Allison Clark, Melanie Walls, and Jasmine James and director of operations Emily Hatfield, oversaw a highly successful campaign that also earned Team of the Year honors. Men's golf, led by OVC Coach of the Year Polk Brown and assistant coach Amanda Smith, also shared the award behind one of the most successful seasons on the links in program history that also led to a share of the Team of the Year accolades.

The Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to Anna Walker, a sophomore forward of the women's basketball team who transferred to Tech from Chattanooga prior to the 2021-22 campaign. She finished fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.8 blocks per game. Walker was named to the OVC All-Newcomer Team and was an OVC Newcomer of the Week winner.

Collecting Female Freshman of the Year accolades was Ruby Wyles, making her Golden Eagle debut for the women's cross country and indoor track & field programs. Named the OVC Female Freshman of the Year for cross country, she showed her range by becoming just the second Golden Eagle ever to win the 5,000-meter run, totaling 18 points for the indoor track & field team at the OVC Championships.

Men's cross country rookie Miceal McCaul earned Male Freshman of the Year honors behind his own red-hot, debut season. The OVC's Male Freshman of the Year, he led Tech and finished third overall at the Golden Eagle Invitational and was the team's runner-up in the remaining five events. McCaul finished 13th overall at the OVC Championships with a top-25 time for the 8K in program history.

Madolyn Isringhausen of the volleyball team exploded in 2021-22 on her way to Breakthrough Female Athlete of the Year honors. Playing in just four matches in 2020-21, she started all 30 matches for Tech on the year, leading the team in kills (364), solo blocks (13), and points (421.5). Named to the All-OVC Second Team, she ranked in the top-10 in the league in kills and points.

Cookeville native David Gist earned the Breakthrough Male Athlete of the Year Award battling back from an injury-plagued 2020-21 campaign to more than double his previous career rushing numbers. An All-OVC Second Team Offense and Phil Steele.com All-OVC Second Team selection, he led the Golden Eagles and ranked in the top-five in the league in rushing yards (901), touchdowns (8), and all-purpose yards (1,139).

Game of the Year went to the soccer team's victory over Murray State in the OVC Tournament Quarterfinals. After taking a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute, Tech saw the Racers even the match at 1-1 in the 86th minute. The purple and gold responded in the 89th minute with the game-winning goal from Meredith Nye on a penalty kick to advance to the OVC Tournament Semifinals.

The 2022 Play of the Year was awarded to Anna Jones from the women's basketball team. The Tech star made a reverse layup in the closing seconds of the team's 57-55 victory at Belmont to give the Golden Eagles the lead for good and snap the Bruins' 16-game winning streak over OVC competition.

Indoor track & field rookie Cayla Johnson took home Performance of the Year after her showing at the OVC Indoor Championships. She became just the third Golden Eagle ever to win the pentathlon at the OVC postseason event, totaling 3,479 points overall. Johnson finished first in the long jump, first in the shot put, second in the 60-meter hurdles, and third in the high jump.

The Community Service Award had a special twist in 2022, presented to a trio of individuals that were instrumental in Tech's navigation through the introduction and heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. Golden Eagle Team Physician Dr. Richard Williams, TTU Director of Health Services Leigh Ann Ray, and Kim Williams, a registered nurse with TTU Health Services, were all recognized with the honor.

Working diligently every day to ensure the health and safety of each of Tech's student-athletes, coaches, and staff members, the three individuals played a critical role in Tennessee Tech Athletics' return to action last spring.

Fifteen Golden Eagle Awards, an honor created by members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee in 2016 to recognize the players who were elected as the best representative and the heart and soul of their programs were awarded to a member from each team. The winners included: Emily Carlevato (soccer), Seth Carlisle (football), Chase Faudi (men's cross country), Amanda Laboy (women's cross country), McKenna Young (volleyball), Megan Clark (women's basketball), Bailey Dozier (cheer), Rebekah Garber (dance), Cayla Johnson (track & field), John Pettway (men's basketball), Gabe Lacy (baseball), Sydney Love-Baker (softball), Ainsley Simms (women's golf), Jackson Skeen (men's golf), and Jun Sasagawa (tennis).

Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

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