PSU Athletics announces annual department award winners

PSU Athletics announces annual department award winners

Brunnette, Daniels selected as Athletes of the Year

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University Athletics Department has announced the winners of its major awards for the 2018-19 academic year, honoring ten student-athletes for their accomplishments on the field of competition, in the classroom and within the greater Plymouth community.

            The awards, presented annually, honor former coaches and educators who were pioneers in the development of physical education and athletics at Plymouth State. The ten recipients represent the best of more than 700 students who were involved with PSU Athletics as a student-athlete or support staff member during the 2018-19 school year. The award winners, selected following a vote by the head coaches and department administrators, will be honored during the annual PSU Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 19.

            "Plymouth State athletics is about commitment and excellence in the classroom, on their respective teams and in the community," said Associate Director of Athletics Courtney O'Clair. "These student-athletes embodied those qualities to the core. Plymouth State is fortunate to have such amazing leaders among us and representing our institution daily. The award winners have earned these prestigious honors that recognize many great former Panthers. Plymouth State has a rich history and it's great that our current student-athletes are adding to it every year."

            PSU recognizes the top athletic performances each year with the Paul E. Arold Male Athlete of the Year and the Janet Nell Female Athlete of the Year Awards. The top scholar-athlete is awarded the Van A. Hartman/Vernon Kelly Award and the top seniors are selected for the John C. Foley Leadership Awards.

            Also presented are the Peter S. Cofran Award, recognizing outstanding service and support for PSU Athletics, the Dorothy "Dot" Diehl Award, honoring a female student-athlete who exhibits leadership for the advancement of women's equity in sports and physical education, the Brady Wilby Award for leadership, character and service, and the John P. Clark Award, awarded to the top true freshman based on academic distinction and athletic excellence.

             * Recent graduate Sam Brunnette (Newport Center, Vt.), who leaves PSU as the most decorated cross country and track & field athlete of all time, was named the Paul E. Arold Male Athlete of the Year a third straight time. For the second consecutive year the distance runner appeared at the NCAA Championship meets in all three seasons – cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field – claiming All-America status in the 3,000 meters at the indoor championships with a seventh place finish.

             * The top scorer from the back-to-back-to-back Little East Conference (LEC) women's lacrosse team, senior Veronyca Daniels (Concord, N.H.), was voted the Janet Nell Female Athlete of the Year. Daniels was named the LEC Offensive Player of the Year and the LEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player while also garnering All-Region honors from the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) after leading the Panthers to a third straight tournament title and the program's second NCAA Tournament win in team history.

             * Men's soccer junior Joni Hongisto (Kaarina, Finland) was chosen as the Van Hartman-Vernon Kelly Award winner as PSU's top scholar-athlete. The two-year captain has maintained a perfect GPA as a marketing major while also contributing to the Panthers' midfield with three goals last fall. A two-time LEC All-Academic Team honoree, Hongisto helped start PSU's International Business Club and has been heavily involved with international events on campus.

             * A pair of recent graduates were named the John C. Foley Leadership Award winners. Men's soccer defender Dan Shaw (Winchester, England) and women's tennis two-year captain Megan Wheeler (Manchester, N.H.) both demonstrated excellent leadership skills on and off the field of play. Shaw, a three-time captain, was a two-time All-LEC selection and was invited to compete in the New England Intercollegiate Soccer League (NEISL) Senior All-Star Game after posting a pair of goals and an assist last fall. Off the pitch, Shaw worked on campus as a tutor, helped host international events and worked within the Athletics Department. The biology major hopes to attend medical school this fall.

            Wheeler anchored the women's tennis team with a 9-2 mark at No. 6 singles, and also posted a 7-7 record in doubles matches playing in the No. 2 slot while helping guide the Panthers to the LEC Championship match. When she wasn't on the court, Wheeler was busy making calls and giving tours to prospective students, earning the "Shooting Star" award from the PSU Admissions Department for her strong work ethic and positive attitude. She was instrumental in the team's food drive to support the Student Support Foundation while also performing admirably in the classroom. After graduation she accepted a position with the Florida Panthers of the NHL.

             * Junior alpine skier Michael Townsend (Layton, Utah) and junior diver Casey Allaire (Mattapoisett, Mass.) were picked as the recipients of the Brad Wilby Award for leadership, character and service. Townsend appeared in four Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) carnivals for the Panthers, highlighted by a 31st place finish in the slalom at the UNH Carnival. His leadership skills weren't limited to the slopes, however, as he served as a TA and tutor in multiple science courses, while aiding teammates with everything from school work to equipment and race suggestions.

            Allaire was named the LEC Diver of the Year following a standout campaign which included five 1-meter and 3-meter titles while winning every event she entered from November through January. She captured the LEC title on the 1-meter board and finished second at 3-meters, while finishing second (3-meter) and third (1-meter) at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association (NEISDA) Championships. The captain also organized community service events, was an officer with the Plymouth State chapter of the Best Buddies program and aided head coach Anne Barbeau with numerous other tasks.

             * Senior women's lacrosse midfielder Kimberly Zuccaro (Townsend, Mass.) is the winner of the Dorothy "Dot" Diehl Award for the advancement of women's equity in sports. Zuccaro was an All-LEC First Team selection after making a significant impact all over the field. She finished third in the league in caused turnovers and fourth in ground balls, while chipping in with 28 goals and nine assists on the offensive end. Her attitude, effort and intensity was no different off the field where she excelled in the classroom and as a vocal team leader.

             * Freshman distance runner Kim Bowles (Wonalancet, N.H.) was tabbed the John P. Clark Award winner, presented to the top true freshman based on academic distinction and athletic excellence. Bowles burst onto the scene in the fall, becoming the first women's cross country runner to garner a major LEC award after being named LEC Rookie Runner of the Year. She set the program record in the 6k, then made a similar impact on the indoor and outdoor track & field teams, where she claimed three other program records. Bowles was just as dominant in the classroom earning President's List honors in both semesters after posting a near-perfect GPA.

             * Senior women's lacrosse defender Emily Sauls (North Andover, Mass.) was selected as the winner of the Peter S. Cofran Award. Sauls served as the Athletics Communications fellow during the fall semester, aiding the office by maintaining schedules and results, creating game day programs and handling in-game statistics for a number of sports. In her spare time she also retained a desk shift at the PE Center and aided with game day operations as part of the event staff, all while performing in the classroom and fulfilling her responsibilities as a captain of the LEC champion women's lacrosse team.



PSU Athletics – 2018-19 Award Recipient Profiles


       Senior Sam Brunnette

            Sam Brunnette, Men's Cross Country/Track & Field (Sr., Distance, Newport Center, Vt.)

            (Two-year captain)

            Earned All-America status in indoor track (3,000 meters) … qualified for National Championship for cross country, indoor track and outdoor track … finished 103rd out of 280 runners at Cross Country National Championships meet … placed 7th at Indoor Track & Field National Championship (3,000 meters) to claim second straight All-America finish … placed 9th at Outdoor Track & Field National Championship (3,000 meter steeplechase) to finish one spot shy of All-American … named USTFCCCA New England Regional Cross Country Athlete of the Year, LEC Cross Country Runner of the Year (third straight year) … All-New England Region (cross country; indoor track – 3000m run; outdoor track – 3000m steeplechase, 5000m run) … DIII New England Regional Champion (cross country – second straight; outdoor track – 3000m steeplechase) … won LEC Cross Country title (third straight), two LEC Indoor Track & Field titles (mile run – third straight, 3000 meters – fourth straight in LEC record time) and one LEC Outdoor Track & Field title (3000m steeplechase – third straight) … set program records for cross country and indoor track (3000m run and distance medley relay) … went undefeated against LEC competition (excluding teammates) … Cross Country Panther Award winner … Environmental Science & Policy major

            FROM HEAD CROSS COUNTRY AND TRACK & FIELD COACH JOHN OSTLER: "Sam had another outstanding year on the course and track. He again qualified for all three national championships and earned his fourth career All-American award in the winter by finishing seventh in the 3000m run at NCAAs. Sam won two DIII New England Regional Championships (cross country, 3000m steeplechase) and was once again undefeated against competitors from other LEC institutions, racking up conference titles in cross county 8k, mile run, 3000m run (in conference championship meet record time) and 3000m steeplechase."



Senior Veronyca Daniels      

            Veronyca Daniels, Women's Lacrosse (Sr., Attack, Concord, N.H.)

             IWLCA All-Pilgrim Region Second Team … LEC Offensive Player of the Year … All-LEC First Team … LEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player after scoring seven goals and an assist in two tournament games … led PSU to third-straight LEC championship and program's second NCAA Tournament win in school history … team leader in points (63), goals (46) and assists (17) … surpassed the 100-point mark for her career … 122 career points (87 goals, 35 assists) ranks 24th among all-time leading scorers … established career high in points and goals this spring (more than doubling her previous season high in goals) … tallied three goals and an assist in 19-3 win over New England College in NCAA Tournament First Round … two-time LEC All-Academic Team honoree … Criminal Justice major

             FROM HEAD WOMEN'S LACROSSE COACH SANDY BRIDGEMAN: "Veronyca had a standout season this year and was a major factor in the team's championship run and trip to the second round of NCAAs. She was an offensive force, leading the team in both goals and assists, even while drawing much attention from opposing defenses. Veronyca also came up big in some of our biggest games versus top competition – most notably scoring three of the team's four goals against Middlebury College, which would go on to become national champions. She played nearly every minute of every game and was tireless in her efforts on the field."




       Junior Joni Hongisto

            Joni Hongisto, Men's Soccer (Jr., Midfield, Karina, Finland)

            (Two-year captain)

             Started all 15 games … finished season with three goals … scored two goals in conference play … finished a header at the far post to give PSU a 3-2 lead over New England College on Sept. 8 … scored in the 90th minute at Keene State to spoil the Owls' shutout bid … added a goal in the Panthers' 5-3 setback to Castleton in the next game … two-time LEC All-Academic Team honoree … Marketing major

             FROM HEAD MEN'S SOCCER COACH ROB WRIGHT: "Joni is an excellent student with a perfect GPA (English is his second language). He is currently in the UK after having earned a prestigious internship for the summer for a multi-national company based in London. He is a two-year member of the LEC All-Academic Team and will be a three-year captain this fall. He served in his country's military for two years prior to attending PSU. While at Plymouth, Joni helped start the International Business Club and he is heavily involved with international events on campus and has volunteered to speak at various athletics open houses. He has also visited local schools to talk about life in Finland and works within the PSU Advancement and Athletics Departments."



Senior Dan Shaw      

            Dan Shaw, Men's Soccer (Sr., Defense, Winchester, England)

            (Three-year captain)

             NEISL Senior All-Star Game … two-time All-LEC Second Team selection … Started all 15 games … finished season with two goals and an assist … headed in a corner, then added an assist in a 3-3 double OT tie at New England College on Sept. 8 … scored his second goal on a header off a corner kick in the 72nd minute of a 2-0 win at Northern Vermont-Lyndon on Oct. 17 … three-time LEC All-Academic Team honoree … two-time Panther Award winner … Biology major

             FROM HEAD MEN'S SOCCER COACH ROB WRIGHT: "Dan was an outstanding thee-year captain and two-time All-LEC selection. He was selected to compete in the NEISL Senior All-Star Game, which features the top seniors from all DIII soccer programs in New England. He was a two-time winner of the team's Panther Award and a three-time LEC All-Academic Team honoree. Outside of soccer, Dan worked on campus as a tutor, helped host international events and ran a marathon this May to raise funds for charity. He also worked events for the Athletics Department. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Biology and hopes to attend medical school in the fall."




       Senior Megan Wheeler

            Megan Wheeler, Women's Tennis (Sr., No. 6 Singles/No. 2 Doubles, Manchester, N.H.)

            (Two-year captain)

             Went 10-3 in singles play, including 9-2 at No. 6 and 8-1 in LEC matches … second-most singles wins on the team … tied for most singles wins in a season at No. 6 in program history … matched best winning percentage at No. 6 singles in a season … 20-12 career singles mark … top-15 in singles wins all-time … went 7-7 in doubles play, including 6-3 in LEC matches … three-time LEC All-Academic honoree … two-time Panther Award winner … Marketing major

             FROM HEAD WOMEN'S TENNIS COACH BARBARA RAWLSKY-WILLETT: "Not only has Megan been a leader for the women's tennis team, she was also a leader on campus. She worked for the Admissions Department as an Admissions Representative for three years and as a tele-counselor for two years, making calls and giving tours to prospective students. She received the "Shooting Star" award from Admissions for her strong work ethic and positive attitude. She was captain of the tennis team for two years and the team's Panther Award winner two times. She graduated magna cum laude and has been on the LEC All-Academic Team three times, as well as being an ITA Scholar-Athlete. Her greatest value lies in her passion for PSU women's tennis and Plymouth State. She was instrumental in our campaign for the Student Support Foundation, led by example when she tackled her own physical fitness and was always willing to help out – including speaking on behalf of the Athletics Department at open houses. Her never say die attitude was an inspiration to her teammates and she was always able to tackle any problem with a positive attitude. She is the best captain that I have ever had."



Junior Michael Townsend       

            Michael Townsend, Men's Skiing (Jr., Layton, Utah)

             National Collegiate All-Academic Team … appeared in four EISA carnivals … opened season with 42nd place finish in GS at St. Lawrence Carnival on Jan. 12 … finished 31st in the slalom at University of New Hampshire Carnival on Jan. 19 (best finish of the season) … top GS finish came at University of Vermont Carnival on Feb. 1 (45th) … competed at EISA Championships/NCAA New England Regionals for first time, placing 51st in slalom and posting a DNQ in the GS … Biology major

             FROM ASSISTANT ALPINE SKI COACH ALYSSA DEANE: "Michael is everything that this award encompasses. He is a natural leader and that shows in every aspect of his life. He is confident, has strong decision making skills and is not afraid to take on any task. He is accountable, organized and views things with a big picture mentality. Michael is the individual stepping up and taking initiative with any task that needs to be taken care of. He is always offering rides to practice, helping with school work and giving guidance with ski equipment and race suggestions. His leadership skills are not limited to his involvement with the ski team as he is also very involved with the academic side of school. He has been a TA for three science courses, as well as a tutor. His bold, outgoing and friendly personality is one that will stick with you forever. His strength of character is second to none. He is the individual that welcomes everyone to the ski team and can make them feel like they have been part of the team for years after just one conversation. Michael is selfless and always putting his teammates first. The team trusts him and looks up to him. He is kind, able to relate with others and always happy to help. All of these traits go beyond the ski team. He is a leader in every aspect of his life and his strength of character and service to others is outstanding. He is motivated and driven to make his team the best it can be while he is here at PSU and I have no doubt he will be involved for many years to come. We are incredibly lucky to have Michael and his bold, brilliantly fun personality."



       Junior Casey Allaire

            Casey Allaire, Women's Swimming & Diving (Jr., Diving, Mattapoisett, Mass.)


             Three-time NEISDA All-New England … two-time LEC Diver of the Year … two-time All-LEC First Team selection … three-time All-LEC Second Team honoree … won every event she entered from November through January … LEC 1-meter diving champion … LEC 3-meter diving runner-up … silver medalist at NEISDA Championships at 3-meters … bronze medalist at NEISDA Championships on 1-meter board … helped lead Panthers to 13th place finish at NEISDA Championships (highest program finish since 2013-14) … two-time LEC All-Academic Team recipient ... two-time Panther Award winner … Elementary Education major

             FROM HEAD SWIMMING & DIVING COACH ANNE BARBEAU: "Casey was the team captain for the 2018-19 season and was reelected for the upcoming year. She took on preseason training, organized community service events and helped with our team apparel. As a new coach it was wonderful to have her support and experience. She was also a remarkable support to her diving coach (Al Switzer) as he went through some difficult times throughout the year. When not focusing on school work or training, Casey found additional time to help with the Best Buddies program."



Senior Kimberly Zuccaro     

            Kimberly Zuccaro, Women's Lacrosse (Sr., Midfield, Townsend, Mass.)


             Three-time All-LEC First Team selection … finished season as team's third leading scorer (39 points) … tallied 30 goals and nine assists … ended second in LEC in caused turnovers (44) … was fourth in LEC in ground balls (59) … finished ninth in LEC with 54 draw controls … scored four goals in a game on three separate occasions … ended career with 108 points (85 goals, 23 assists) to rank 27th in program history … three-time LEC All-Academic Team recipient ... Sports Management major

             FROM HEAD WOMEN'S LACROSSE COACH SANDY BRIDGEMAN: "Kimmie's attitude, effort and intensity never wavered in any event where she represented Plymouth State. She is an excellent student and a vocal team leader who never shied away from holding her teammates up to a high standard, while holding herself to an even higher level."





       Freshman Kim Bowles

            Kim Bowles, Women's Cross Country/Track & Field (Fr., Distance, Wonalancet, N.H.)

             LEC Cross Country Rookie Runner of the Year ... first female cross country athlete to earn a major LEC award … set women's cross country program record for 6k (23:58.91) while finishing seventh overall (second among freshmen) at Bowdoin Invitational on Oct. 13 … won individual title at The Charger Open at Colby-Sawyer … finished fifth at the Purple Valley Classic at Williams College …  top freshman finisher at LEC Cross Country Championships (13th overall) … PSU's top performer in five of six cross country meets … set the women's indoor track mile run program record by nearly seven seconds, finishing in 5:40.91 at the Panther Invitational on Feb. 2 … part of the school record distance medley relay team that finished in 13:13.67 at the Division III New England Regional Indoor Track & Field Championships on Feb. 22 (topped old record by 8.92 seconds) … shattered school record for 5,000 meter run in outdoor season, finishing in 19:09.21 – more than 20 seconds faster than the previous best …  Mathematics major, Secondary Teacher Certification option

             FROM HEAD CROSS COUNTRY AND TRACK & FIELD COACH JOHN OSTLER: "Kim was a model student-athlete during her first year on campus. She was the top cross country runner on the women's team, earning LEC Rookie of the Year for her efforts in the fall. Over the course of the year, Kim re-wrote the middle distance record books, setting new program-best marks in the cross country 6k, Mile run, Distance Medley Relay and 5,000m run. In the classroom, Kim was stellar. She ended her first two semesters with a near-perfect GPA and is also very active on campus as a tutor and member of various clubs."



Senior Emily Sauls       

            Emily Sauls, Athletics Communications Fellow, PE Center Desk Worker, Athletics Events Staff, Women's Lacrosse (Sr., Defense, North Andover, Mass.)


             All-LEC Second Team … ranked fourth on the team with 17 caused turnovers … helped lead a defensive unit that topped the conference in caused turnovers (101), goals allowed (41) and goals against average (5.86) … three-time LEC All-Academic Team recipient ... Panther Award winner … Sports Management major

             FROM ASST. DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR ATHLETICS CHRIS KILMER: "Emily brought an exceptional level of professionalism and excellence to the Athletics Communications office. She took on every task with enthusiasm and was always looking for ways to contribute, be involved and assist. She was entirely responsible for statistics at all ice hockey games and also provided assistance at other fall and winter sports. She filled numerous roles within our office; maintaining schedules and results, creating game day programs, serving as an inputter or caller at field hockey, soccer and ice hockey games, researching student-athletes to update their online biographies and taking on larger archiving and records keeping projects. She was able to accomplish all of this while performing well in the classroom, working for the Athletics events staff, covering front office desk shifts and fulfilling her role as a captain with the lacrosse team. She will be sorely missed next year."

             FROM ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS COURTNEY O'CLAIR: "Emily Sauls was the ultimate student, student-athlete and student worker. She is someone that the Athletics Department grew to depend on. She always showed up for us and gave everything she had. She was a leader in every sense of the word. It didn't matter what the task was, there was never any doubt that she could handle it. Not only a good worker, but an all-around good person, there is no one within the department staff that didn't trust her 110 percent. She is exactly the type of student that Plymouth State University is proud to turn out into the world."




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