May 20, 2016 at 1:15pm

Millikin Athletics honors Student-Athletes

The Millikin University Athletics Department held its 2nd Annual Big Blue Student-Athlete Awards Ceremony on May 15 at the Griswold Center in Decatur, Ill. The event featured a ceremony were several individual and team awards were presented. Male and female honorees were selected in each category.

The first award presented was the Big Blue Award for an athlete that gives full effort in practice and competition and goes above and beyond for their teammates. The Male Award winner was senior men's basketball player Bryn Agnew (Towanda, University H.S.) with the Female Award going to senior volleyball and softball player Alyssa Visvardis (Homer Glen, Lockport Township H.S.).

Millikin Softball

The Comeback Award was presented to a student-athlete who has worked diligently to return from an injury. The Male Award was shared by senior men's golfer Alex Koulos (Naperville, Waubonsie Valley H.S.) and junior wrestler Stephan Birt (Gibson City, Gibson City Melvin Sibley H.S.). The Female Comeback Award was presented to junior volleyball player Emily Mihalkanin (Willowbrook, Hinsdale South H.S.).

The Leadership Award was presented to a student-athlete that demonstrates the best leadership qualities in all scenarios for their team. The Leadership Award winners were senior track and field athlete Jordan McCall (Illiopolis, Sangamon Valley H.S.) and senior volleyball player Geena Mancuso (Naperville, Waubonsie Valley H.S.).

Millikin Volleyball

The Newcomer of the Year Award was presented to the most outstanding first year varsity male and female student-athletes with freshman wrestler Chris Williams (Bethalto, Civic Memorial H.S.) and freshman swimmer Caroline Lodovisi (Crown Point, Indiana, H.S.) winning the award.

Twenty-nine student athletes were recognized for being two-sport athletes with freshman football and wrestling athlete Keajion Jennings (O'Fallon, H.S.) and Alyssa Visvardis being named the Two-Sport Athletes of the Year.

The final individual award was the Student-Athlete of the Year for the most outstanding male and female student-athletes of year. Criteria for the award included athletic prowess, academic achievement and any contributions to the success of their team and Millikin at large. The Male Student-Athlete of the Year was junior men's golf Blaine Buente (Troy, Triad H.S.). Buente was the 2016 CCIW Men's Golf Champion and won five events this year. He set a new Millikin record for season scoring average at 72.90. The Female Student-Athlete of the Year was senior track and field and cross country athlete Jamie Michl (Newton, H.S.). Michl was the 2016 CCIW 800 Meter Champion at both the Indoor and Outdoor conference championships. Michl is Millikin's Indoor 800 Meter school record holder and ranks second all-time in the Outdoor 800 Meters.

Millikin Golf

The Millikin men's cross country and women's basketball teams were recognized for having the highest team grade point averages. The men's basketball team's win at Illinois Wesleyan won for Best Upset for male teams. The softball team's win at Illinois Wesleyan was the Best Upset on the female side. The men's basketball team's win at Illinois Wesleyan and the women's soccer team's Homecoming win over North Park received the Best Moment Award.

The Big Blue Team Award was presented to the team that best represents Millikin University and the Athletics Department in its mission, values and overall "Spirit of Big Blue" impact on campus and in the community. The baseball team and the women's basketball team were the winners of the Big Blue Award for the second straight year. Wrestling and volleyball earned the Most Successful Team Award for 2015-16.

Student-athletes that won sports specific awards during their seasons were recognized. Thirty-nine athletes earned CCIW All-Conference honors this season. Eleven Millikin athletes were named All-Region in their sport with wrestler Chris Williams, cross country athlete Sarah Bradley (Decatur, MacArthur H.S.) and volleyball player Erin Syversen (Pewaukee, Wisconsin, Waukesha West H.S.) earning All-American honors.

Millikin Track

Millikin student-athletes that set new Big Blue school records were highlighted with 26 new records being tied or set. Millikin student-athletes that won College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin leadership and academic honors were recognized. Taylor Sanders (Marshall, H.S.) and Jamie Michl were honored for winning the CCIW Merle Chapman Award.

One hundred and thirty-five student athletes were honored for earning CCIW Academic All-Conference honors by lettering in a varsity sport and maintaining a 3.30 cumulative grade point average. Seventeen Millikin student-athletes were recognized for having a perfect 4.0 semester grade point average.

Two Millikin coaches were recognized for earning Coach Awards in 2015-16. Volleyball Coach Debbie Kiick was the CCIW Volleyball Coach of the Year and Head Wrestling Coach Ryan Birt was the winner of the NWCA's Rookie Coach of the Meet at the 2016 NCAA Division III National Championships.

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Athletics Campus