BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech women’s soccer player Mandy McGlynn and men’s cross country and track and field standout Peter Seufer were selected as the 2020 Female and Male Athletes of the Year and recognized as such at The Gobblers – the Virginia Tech Athletics Department’s end-of-year ESPY-style awards show.
Held virtually Monday night because of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Gobblers celebrated the top athletics accomplishments and community success stories by the university’s varsity student-athletes over the past year.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representatives for each team, head coaches, and staff members from the strategic communications office nominated and voted on most of the awards handed out. SAAC reps and support areas nominated student-athletes for the Golden Gobblers – the top award handed out to a male and female athlete who excels athletically and academically, with also a mindset for service and a motivation to help others – and SAAC reps conducted the final vote.
Here are those recognized for their accomplishments this year:
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Mandy McGlynn (women’s soccer); Paige Petty (lacrosse); Keely Rochard (softball); Caitlan Tate (women’s track and field)
McGlynn earned second-team All-America honors after stopping 76 shots this past season for a save percentage of 83.5 – the second-best save percentage in a single season at Tech. The Jacksonville, Florida native led the Hokies to 12 wins, and she finished with 10 shutouts. McGlynn departed Tech with a school-record 32 shutouts.
Following the season, the Sky Blue FC drafted McGlynn with the No. 20 pick in the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Draft. She became just the second player in program history ever to be drafted by the top women’s soccer professional league.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Rayshard Ashby (football); Hunter Bolen (wrestling); Blake Manoff (men’s swimming and diving); Peter Seufer (men’s cross country and track and field)
Seufer enjoyed an incredible final campaign with the Hokies, winning the ACC’s individual cross country title for the second consecutive season. He went on to win the NCAA Southeast Region crown, and at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, he finished in fourth place – the top finish ever by a Tech men’s distance runner. He earned All-America honors in cross country for the second straight year.
During the indoor track season, the Lynchburg, Virginia native won gold medals in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races at the ACC Indoor Championships. He won five ACC gold medals in track and field during his career.
Nominees (female): Sarah Edwards (women’s cross country and track and field); Nika Kozar (women’s tennis); Emily Mahar (women’s golf); Abby McKinzie (volleyball)
Nominees (male): Jaelyn Demory (men’s track and field); Isaiah Rogers (men’s track and field); Ian Seymour (baseball); Tyrell Smith (football)
The Golden Gobblers awards recognize the individuals who are successful not only athletically, but have excelled academically, have a service mindset, and a motivation to make a positive impact on others. Beyond the scope of athletics, these students exemplify passion, pride, leadership, sportsmanship, dedication, and commitment. Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Monogram Club, The Golden Gobbler is awarded to a student-athlete that is the true definition of a Hokie.
The winners of this year’s Golden Gobblers were Abby McKinzie from the volleyball squad and Tyrell Smith from the football team.
McKinzie embodies the idea of a complete student-athlete by being a leader in and out of her sport. She was selected as a team captain for the volleyball team in her senior season and serves as president for Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Virginia Tech and across the ACC. She is dedicated to serving the Blacksburg community, earning the ACC Top VI for Service award two years in a row, and her commitment to academics is on display with a 3.4 grade-point average. She her undergraduate degree in communication in a couple of weeks.
Despite an injury during the 2019 football season, Smith has showcased outstanding leadership, commitment, and pride for Hokie Nation. He was voted a team captain by his teammates, served as a member of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and was recognized with the Black Male Excellent Network’s (BMEN) leadership award. Smith’s dedication to the student part of student-athlete is obvious, as he earned his undergraduate degree in criminology, a master’s degree in instructional technology, and he is pursuing a second graduate degree.
FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Kelsey Bennett (softball); Kayla Frank (lacrosse); Elizabeth Kitley (women’s basketball); Logan Mosley (volleyball)
Kelsey Bennett won this award after a great true freshman season in 2019. She set the Tech freshman record in home runs with 14, total bases with 116, and a slugging percentage of .725. She finished the season earning a plethora of postseason honors, including the ACC Freshman of the Year award and a spot on the All-ACC first team.
MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Bryce Andonian (wrestling); Chris Gerard (baseball); Bryan Hudson (football), AJ Pouch (men’s swimming and diving)
AJ Pouch took home the rookie of the year award after winning a bronze medal in the 200-yard breaststroke at the 2020 ACC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships held in Greensboro, North Carolina in February. He had the top qualifying time and then swam the event in the finals in a time of 1 minute, 53.69 seconds – the second-fastest time in program history. He holds the second-fastest times in Tech history in the 100 breaststroke, the 200 breaststroke, and as a member of the 400 medley relay – all of which he accomplished this past season. He qualified for NCAA championships in three events and wrapped up his rookie campaign as an Olympic Trials Qualifier.
CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Hunter Bolen (ACC wrestling champion); Peter Seufer (ACC men’s cross country champion); Tech women’s track and field team (ACC indoor champions)
The award for championship performance of the year goes to the Tech women’s track and field team after the Hokies won the ACC championship at the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships held in February. Behind gold medal performances from Rachel Baxter, Sarah Edwards, Caitlan Tate, Sara Freix, and the women’s 4×400-meter relay team of Tate, Kennedy Dennis, Nykah Smith, and Arlicia Bush, the Hokies won their first ACC indoor title since 2006.
SPORTS MOMENT OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Bud Foster Day (Tech’s win over Wake Forest on the day Bud Foster was honored); Amanda Hollandsworth (fifth-place finish at NCAA Championship); Nick Menken (his diving catch against No. 8 UNC that kept a no-hitter alive)
This award honors an inspirational and memorable performance on or off the playing surface, and this year’s winner is “Bud Foster Day” at Lane Stadium in which the school recognized longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who retired at the end of the season. The Hokies rolled past No. 22 Wake Forest 36-17 on this day, becoming bowl eligible in the process. Tech’s players carried Foster off the field after the game as a way of honoring him for his service of more than three decades in Blacksburg.
Nominees: the men’s basketball team’s victory over No. 3 Michigan State; the men’s tennis team beating No. 16 Notre Dame; the volleyball squad beating No. 23 Louisville
The Tech men’s basketball team upset then-No. 3 Michigan State at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Maui, Hawaii in November to win this award. Five Virginia Tech players scored in double figures to lead the Hokies to a 71-66 victory. Landers Nolley II led the way with 22 points. With the victory, Tech beat a top-five team in nonconference play for the first time since 1964.
BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Amanda Hollandsworth (fifth-place finish at NCAA Championships); Aisha Sheppard (All-ACC selection); Caitlan Tate (won individual gold and silver medals at the ACC Indoor Championships)
After spending much of the 2019 season injured, Caitlan Tate broke through in a big way in 2020 to earn the nod here. Tate won a gold medal in the 400-meter dash at the ACC Indoor Championships, breaking her own school record with a time of 52.42 seconds, and she added a silver medal in the 200. In addition, she led off the 4×400-meter relay team that won the gold medal.
This past season, Tate set school records in the 200, the 300 and the 400, and she was part of the 4×400-meter relay team that set a school record.
Nominees: Kayla Frank (eight assists vs. Radford); Jacory Patterson (set NCAA record in the 300-meter race); Aisha Sheppard (set a single-game record for 3-pointers vs. Virginia)
Tech’s track and field teams excelled throughout the indoor season, and Jacory Patterson was no exception, claiming the best performance of the year award when he broke the collegiate record in the 300-meter dash at the Hokies’ season-opening Virginia Tech Invitational held at Rector Field House in January. Patterson ran the event in a time of 32.28 seconds, besting the previous record of 32.32 held by former Georgia runner Torrin Lawrence – who set that mark at Record Field House in 2010.
ACC TOP VI FOR SERVICE AWARDS
The ACC’s Top VI for Service Awards went to six student-athletes who demonstrated outstanding dedication to community service and outreach programs over the past year, and that group included Molly Feighan (women’s soccer), Nika Kozar (women’s tennis), Cecilia Marenick (women’s track and field), Abby McKinzie (volleyball), Brendan Palmer (men’s basketball), and Matt Zambetti (men’s soccer).
FRANK BEAMER STAFF EXCELLENCE AWARD
The athletics department reserved a portion of the evening to recognize the winner of the Frank Beamer Staff Excellence Award, an award named in honor of former head football coach Frank Beamer and given annually to a department employee committed to integrity, service, honor, and excellence. Nominations and final voting are open to the entire staff within the Virginia Tech Athletics Department.
This year’s award went to Cara Walters, who serves as an associate athletics director for operations. For more than 30 years, Walters has coordinated more than 130 regular-season athletics home events each year. In addition, she has been the lead organizer of numerous ACC, regional, and NCAA Championships.
SAAC MEMBER OF THE YEAR
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) named volleyball standout Abby McKinzie as the SAAC Member of the Year. Voted on by all SAAC members, the SAAC Member of the Year goes to a SAAC member who shows passion, commitment, and high involvement in SAAC initiatives throughout the year.
McKinzie has been a member of SAAC for two academic years, serving as president of the Executive Team this past year. Her passion and commitment to serving her fellow Hokie student-athletes was seen through her work on the Welcome Home event for freshmen athletes, co-chairing the Legislation Task Force, and many more SAAC initiatives. Additionally, McKinzie serves as ACC SAAC President, leading members across all conference institutions.
Virginia Tech student-athletes have some of the best support – from academics, sports medicine, sports psychology, and so much more. The sports nutrition awards honor two student-athletes, one female and one male, who have been highly engaged with the Virginia Tech Sports Nutrition services. Athletes of the Year are selected by the Virginia Tech nutrition staff.
The Sports Nutrition Female Athlete of the Year goes to Trinity Baptiste from the women’s basketball team, while the Sports Nutrition Male Athlete of the Year goes to Thierry Siewe Yanga of the men’s track and field and cross country teams.
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Selected by each team’s strength coach, this award goes to the student-athlete in each sport who unquestionably embodies the standards, morals and principles of the Virginia Tech Athletics Department. Each winner must be hard-working, consistent, mentally and physically tough, and a model for fellow teammates to emulate. It’s not all about the numbers. It’s also about the attitude, effort, leadership, and resolve that they display daily in every aspect of their training.
The winners included: Ian Seymour (baseball), Nahiem Alleyne (men’s basketball), Trinity Baptiste (women’s basketball), Jarrod Hewitt (football), Connor Burgess (men’s golf), Jessica Spicer (women’s golf), Sarah Spicer (women’s golf), Kiley Kettle (lacrosse), Matt Zambetti (men’s soccer), Lily Weber (women’s soccer), Olivia Lattin (softball), Riley Wilson (spirit), Nicole Freitas (spirit), Simon Shi (men’s swimming and diving), Teagan Moravek (women’s swimming and diving), Ryan Kros (men’s tennis), Elizabet Danailova (women’s tennis), Jacory Patterson (men’s track and field), Rachel Baxter (women’s track and field), Anabel Zier (volleyball), and John Borst (wrestling).