Oct. 5, 2009
By Eric Trainer, Associate Director of Media Relations
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The Big Orange thinclads joined family, friends, coaches, support staff, administrators and team alums in celebrating their 2009 accomplishments Sunday night, as the annual University of Tennessee Track & Field Awards Banquet was held at The Foundry.
New Director of Track & Field J.J. Clark supplied welcoming comments, and decathlete/hurdler Matthew Best gave the invocation prior to the meal. After dinner, Associate Head Coach George Watts summarized the highlights of the 2009 campaign and introduced the squad's seniors and newcomers before giving way to noted public address announcer Buck Jones, the evening's master of ceremonies.
During the banquet, 16 different recognitions were made for athletic or academic prowess. The first three were academically-related, with distance runner Spenser Tipton of Maryville receiving the James Snow Award as the outstanding academic freshman, distance standout Steve Tobin of Springfield, Va., being given the Dr. Jack Chesney Award as the outstanding academic senior and 18 Vols garnering distinction as Academic Achievers. That group included Michael Ayers, Joe Berry, Matthew Best, Mike Brodsky, David Clabo, Nathaniel Couture, Steve Fassino, Jonathan Fluellen, Akeem Hardnett, John Hewitt, Matthew Maloney, Axel Mostrag, Matthieu Pritchett, Chris Rapp, Robert Rasnick, Kyle Stevenson, Steve Tobin and Richard Wooten.
Last year's team leaders were recognized with the Jon Young Captains Award. That group included Hardnett, Nick Panezich and Stevenson. Hardnett, a jumper from Fayetteville, Ga., also earned the Will Pritchett Award, which is presented by the Knoxville Track Club and goes to the most dedicated senior.
Panezich's and Stevenson's hauls didn't end there. Panezich, a thrower from Poland, Ohio, pulled in the Most Improved Athlete and Career Achievement Awards, while Stevenson, who hails from Memphis, walked away with the squad's Ironman Award for his diverse talents in the sprints and relays. Panezich also was mentioned for breaking the indoor school record in the shot put last season.
Another thrower was honored for his work in the weight room. Matthew Maloney of Barrington, R.I., was presented the John Stucky Lifter of the Year Award. Michael Seaman of Bardstown, Ky., meanwhile, drew a great deal of respect as the Comeback Athlete of the Year for his highly successful return from a back injury suffered during a scary pole vault fall early in the season.
Middle distance runner Joe Franklin of Tallahassee, Fla., was chosen as the squad's Most Valuable Freshman, while hurdler/jumper Brenard Wilson of Nashville drew praise as the winner of the Herb Neff Award, which annually goes to the freshman or walk-on who makes the biggest contribution. Pole vaulter Joe Berry of Horsham, Pa., meanwhile, was the recipient of the Volunteer Award, which goes to the guy tabbed as the toughest competitor.
In the final two presentations of the evening, Berry and sprinter Evander Wells were chosen as their team's Most Valuable Athletes for field and track, respectively, while Wells, a product of Stone Mountain, Ga., was selected as Tennessee's winner of the Ed Murphey Award, which is presented for the season's outstanding performance.
James Snow Award/Outstanding Academic Freshman
Dr. Jack Chesney Award/Outstanding Academic Senior
Michael Ayers, Joe Berry, Matthew Best, Mike Brodsky, David Clabo, Nathaniel Couture, Steve Fassino, Jonathan Fluellen, Akeem Hardnett, John Hewitt, Matt Maloney, Axel Mostrag, Matthieu Pritchett, Chris Rapp, Robert Rasnick, Kyle Stevenson, Steve Tobin and Richard Wooten
Will Pritchett Award/Most Dedicated Senior (Presented By Knoxville Track Club)
Jon Young Captains Award
John Stucky Lifter of the Year Award
Most Valuable Freshman Award
Herb Neff Award
Comeback of the Year Award
Most Improved Athlete Award
Volunteer Award/Toughest Competitor
Career Achievement Award
Most Valuable Athlete Award (Track)
Most Valuable Athlete Award (Field)
Ed Murphey Award/Outstanding Performance
School Records Set
Nick Panezich (Indoor, Shot Put)