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Georgia Tech Athletics Celebrate 2015-16 Season

April 25, 2016

THE FLATS – It was a cause for celebration Monday night as the Georgia Tech Athletic Association honored its nearly 400 student-athletes at the annual Yellow Jacket Celebration. The event was held at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Convention Center in Tech Square.

Women’s tennis senior Megan Kurey and current Student-Athlete Advisory Board President and men’s tennis senior Nathan Rakitt were the recipients of the night’s highest honor, the Total Person Award.

All-American guard Aaliyah Whiteside and men’s basketball senior Marcus Georges-Hunt were named the 2015-16 GTAA Athletes of the Year.

Baseball’s Tristin English and women’s track and field standout Bria Matthews were recognized as Georgia Tech’s Rookies of the Year. English has quickly become one of the ACC’s best freshman hitters, batting .346 with a team-high 15 doubles, three home runs and 30 RBI. English is the only Yellow Jacket with multiple home runs in a game, crushing two homers on April 23 at Clemson. Matthews was named ACC Women’s Indoor Freshman of the Year after claiming gold medals in both the long jump (6.35m) and the triple jump (13.08m). She improved on both marks with two first-team All-America showings at the NCAA Championships, placing seventh in the long jump (6.39m) and the triple jump (13.16m).

The women’s swimming & diving squad set records in 11 different events at the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships. They include the 100 free, 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay events.

Brad Homza won the gold medal in the platform diving event at the ACC Swimming & Diving Championships with a school-record dive of 436.25. He was named Diver of the Meet by the league’s coaches for his performance. He also reached the finals in the 1-meter and 3-meter events. At the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships hosted by Georgia Tech, Homza earned Honorable Mention All-America honors in both the platform and 1-meter events.

Zaire O’Neil (women’s basketball) and Casey Kay (men’s tennis) were named the 2015-16 Comeback Athletes of the Year. O’Neil tore her ACL prior to the 2015 WNIT. She missed the season’s first nine games but made her season debut Dec. 13 vs. Samford. She averaged 6.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 24 games. After undergoing surgery on both hips which had plagued him for much of his first three seasons, Kay enjoyed his full season, posting a 16-12 doubles record with his younger brother Michael.

Women’s basketball’s road win at Duke and football’s “Miracle on Techwood” were unanimous selections for this year’s Best Moments in Sports. Sophomore Antonia Peresson scored a career-high 20 points as the Jackets won for the first time at Cameron Indoor Stadium since Jan. 29, 1993 (an 86-80 OT win). When the Jackets won in 1993, none of the current Yellow Jackets were born yet and it was Coach MaChelle Joseph’s first win in Durham.

The “Miracle on Techwood” is arguably the craziest finish in Tech football history. With the game tied 16-16, Florida State lined up for game-winning field goal. Pat Gamble blocked Roberto Aguayo’s 56-yard field goal attempt and Lance Austin picked up the ball and raced 78 yards for the game-winning score for a 22-16 upset win over No. 9 Florida State. The Jackets handed FSU its first ACC loss since Oct. 6, 2012, and marked their second straight win over the Seminoles in Atlanta.

The women’s tennis squad finished the regular season with a 16-7 record overall and an 11-3 ACC mark. At the ACC Championship, the Jackets reached the semifinals with an impressive 4-0 win over Notre Dame. Head coach Rodney Harmon was named the ACC Coach of the Year, while Johnnise Renaud and Paige Hourigan earned All-ACC honors. The Yellow Jackets defeated 11 ranked opponents during the season. Hourigan and Renaud are currently ranked No. 41 and No. 42, respectively, in the ITA singles rankings, while Kendal Woodard and Hourigan are ranked No. 10 in the nation in doubles.

The Georgia Tech Spotlight Awards recognizes one player from each team whose contributions to his or her program go far beyond the scope of athletics. Spotlight Award winners were:

Six Georgia Tech student-athletes were honored by the ACC with the league’s Top 6 for Service Award, an honor presented annually to six student-athletes from each ACC institution who demonstrate dedication to community service and outreach programs. Georgia Tech’s recipients were Andrea Demick (women’s diving), Chance Eldridge (men’s cross country / track), KeShun Freeman (football), Alex Grady (men’s cross country / track), Samantha Kase (women’s swimming) and Katarina Vuckovic (women’s basketball).

Swimmers Andrew Chetcuti, Darelle Cowley and Nico van Duijn were honored as Georgia Tech’s ACC Postgraduate Scholarship recipients in February. Men’s cross country and track distance runner Brandon Lasater was selected as an honorary postgraduate recipient. The Weaver-James-Corrigan and Jim and Pat Thacker postgraduate scholarships are awarded to selected student-athletes who intend to pursue a graduate degree following completion of their undergraduate requirements. Each recipient will receive $5,000 toward his or his graduate education. Those honored have performed with distinction in both the classroom and their respective sport, while demonstrating exemplary conduct in the community.

The ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award was established in September 2007 to be awarded annually to the top junior or senior student-athlete in their respective sports. Candidates for the award must have maintained a 3.0 GPA for their career as well as a 3.0 for each of the last two semesters. Georgia Tech’s 2015-16 ACC Scholar-Athletes of the Year were Teegan Van Gunst (volleyball) and Trey Braun (football).

This award is given to one male and one female who are graduating or within 20 hours of graduating. Recipients have to be in good academic standing; lettered at least two years; achieved ACC, regional or national recognition or awards; made significant contributions to his or her team; and possess the attributes of the Total Person (career ambitions, family relations, health consciousness, self-motivation, and community involvement). The 2015-16 winners are Megan Kurey (women’s tennis) and current Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) president Nathan Rakitt (men’s tennis).

The Bobby Dodd Scholarship is given to one male and one female returning student-athlete with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Each recipient must have lettered in his or her sport at least one year and they must both exemplify good citizenship and participation in community service, outstanding sportsmanship and dedication. The 2015-16 recipients are Annika Van Gunst (volleyball) and Alex Grady (men’s cross country / track).

This award, made in honor of L.W. “Chip” Roberts’ family, is given to one male and one female graduating senior. Both must be the top student-athlete in academics, athletics and campus life, while possessing a 3.0 GPA or higher and an outstanding athletic record. The 2015-16 recipients are women’s diver Shannon Lumbra and men’s swimmer Ricky Lehner.

The GT Leadership Award is given to one student-athlete that demonstrates leadership qualities on the playing field, in the classroom, and in the community. This year’s recipients are volleyball’s London Ackermann and baseball co-captain Jonathan King.

This award is given to applaud the athletic accolades of some the nation’s best athletes. This year’s recipients are the 2016 Georgia Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Aaliyah Whiteside and All-ACC men’s basketball guard Marcus Georges-Hunt.

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