FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University held its 33rd-annual Athletic Banquet, Monday, April 28, in the university’s Edward S. Ervin III Dining Hall. Most Valuable Player awards were given in 14 sports. An outstanding cheerleader award and a student-athlete award were also presented.
Junior Allyson Bigby (Easley, S.C.) was presented the Gail Summersett Outlaw Outstanding Cheerleader Award for the second time in three years. An English (liberal arts) major, she previously won the award following the 2000-01 school year. Her minor is business.
Junior Erin Jones (Dillon, S.C.) was presented the Conyers O’Bryan M.V.P. Award for baseball. Jones, a 5-10 right-handed pitcher, ended the regular season with a team-best 9-4 mark and a 2.84 earned run average. He set a team single-season record with 111 strikeouts, in only 107.2 innings, while walking only 11. Opponents are hitting only .249 against him, and he completed 10 of his 13 starts. He has helped lead the Patriots a 29-18 record and a No. 14 national ranking. The team is currently awaiting the end of the regular season and the announcement of the NCAA Division II national tournament field.
Junior Jaquan Bracey (Bennettsville, S.C.) was presented the Howard Stokes M.V.P. Award for men’s basketball. Bracey, a 6-5 center, led FMU in rebounding with a 9.3 per game average, the 10th highest season average in team history and the highest average in 20 years. That figure also ranked him 34th in the final NCAA Division II national statistics. He was second on the squad in scoring (12.4 points per game) and his field goal percentage of 57.9 percent ranked 27th nationally. He helped guide the Patriots to a 13-14 record, a third-place finish in the Peach Belt Conference’s North Division, and a nine-win improvement over the previous season – best in the conference.
Senior Jontell Johnson (Charleston, S.C.) was presented the Carroll Player Jr. M.V.P. Award for women’s basketball. Johnson, a 6-0 center, led the Patriots in scoring (15.1 ppg), rebounding (8.2 rpg), field goal percentage (52.1%), steals (43), and blocked shots (67), while earning second-team All-Conference honors. She ranked 15th nationally in blocked shots per game (2.4), and during the 2002-03 season she became the Peach Belt’s career leader in blocks (231). She was named to the PBC Tournament All-Tournament Team as she led the 12-18 Patriots to the semifinals of the tournament.
Sophomore Ryan Plexico (Columbia, S.C.) was presented the Alice Baker M.V.P. Award for men’s cross country for the second consecutive year. He also received the Jerry and Jean Lee M.V.P. Award for men’s track and field. Plexico was the top FMU runner in five of seven meets last fall and he recorded five top-10 finishes. His performance at the Overton’s ECU Pirate Meet on Oct. 5 was the fastest time (26:23) by a Patriot runner in 12 years, and the 49th fastest in school history. He helped the Patriots to a fifth-place finish at the Peach Belt Conference Championship Meet with his 23rd-place showing. He also placed 44th out of 125 runners at the NCAA Division II South Regional Meet, where the Patriots placed 15th in the team standings. On the track this spring, he placed fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and fifth in then 5,000-meters at the recent Carolinas Track and Field Championships as the Patriot men placed 10th in the team standings. He finished third in both events at the South Carolina State Championships. During the year, he also competed in the 10,000-meters, and he recorded the squad’s best times of the season in all three events.
Graduate student Stefanie Schaller (Nuremberg, Germany) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for women’s cross country. Four times last fall, Schaller was FMU’s second finisher, including a 46th-place showing at the PBC Championships, where the Patriots finished 10th in the team standings. She also competed on the nationally ranked Patriot tennis team.
Junior Fredrik Ohlsson (Goteborg, Sweden) was presented the Clifford Cormell M.V.P. Award for golf for the second straight year. Heading into next month’s NCAA Division II Atlantic/Southeast Super Regional Tournament in Greensboro, Ga., he leads the seventh-ranked Patriots with a 72.38 stroke average. That average puts him on pace to have the lowest season average in the history of the program. He has posted five top-10 finishes, and in half of his rounds (13 of 26), has shot even or below par. He has not missed a tournament in two years. FMU owns a 106-42-2 team record.
Senior Dennis Salomon (Ann Arbor, Mich.) was presented the Jerry W. Wilson M.V.P. Award for men’s soccer. Salomon, a 5-10 midfielder, directed the Patriot offense while scoring six goals and dishing out four assists. He helped lead FMU to a 15-5-0 record and the PBC regular-season championship (the squad narrowly missed earning an NCAA Tournament invitation). He earned both PBC “Player of the Week” and All-Conference recognition and was also named to the NSCAA/adidas All-Southeast Region Team. Salomon ended his career with 13 goals and 15 assists.
Senior Amanda Liles (Cincinnati, Ohio) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for women’s soccer for the second straight year. A 5-7 goalkeeper, Liles started 18 of 19 matches last season, while helping lead the Patriot women to a 12-6-1 record and a berth in the PBC Tournament semifinals. Liles faced 213 shots, posted two shutouts, recorded a team-record 109 saves, and allowed only 23 goals for a 1.27 goals against average. She was selected to the All-PBC Team, and ended her career as the team’s all-time leader in saves (243), minutes played in goal (5,082), and matches played in goal (56).
Senior Amy Birch (New Port Richey, Fla.) was presented the Bobbie Davis M.V.P. Award for women’s softball. A 5-9 right-handed pitcher and part-time designated hitter, Birch anchored the Patriot pitching staff with a 19-5 record, two saves, and a 1.54 earned run average. She struck out 114 batters in 136.1 innings, while walking only 39. Opponents hit only .207 against her. At the plate, Birch hit .294 with eight doubles and nine runs batted in. She helped lead Francis Marion to a 36-9 record (equaling the third-highest win total in the program’s history), a fourth-place finish during the Peach Belt regular season, and a No.19 national ranking. Birch concluded her career as the Patriots’ winningest pitcher with a 64-27 mark.
Senior Mark Bube (Nuremberg, Germany) was presented the Lorin Mason M.V.P. Award for men’s tennis for the second consecutive year. Playing at the No. 1 singles position, the three-time All-American has registered an 8-2 mark and is currently ranked 36th in Division II. He owns a 9-5 doubles record, having played at both the No.1 and No.2 spots. Bube has helped lead the 18th-ranked Patriots to a 13-4 record and the program’s ninth straight NCAA Division II national tournament invitation. FMU will play in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, May 3-4. Francis Marion finished fourth during the PBC regular season and fifth at the Peach Belt Tournament. Bube also became a four-time All-PBC honoree.
Junior Lillian Jamieson (Greenville, S.C.) was presented the Gladys Hite M.V.P. Award for women’s tennis. She posted an 11-6 singles record, playing mainly at the No. 4 position, and a 13-6 doubles record, almost exclusively at the No.3 spot. The Patriots ended the year with a 12-8 record, with all eight of the losses coming at the hands of nationally ranked opponents. FMU was ranked 38th in the latest Top 40 poll.
Sophomore Shayla Tarte (Summerville, S.C.) was presented the Most Valuable Player award for women’s track and field for the second straight year. She placed third in 200-meters and sixth in the long jump at the recent Carolinas Track and Field Championships as the Patriot women placed eighth in the team standings. At the Coastal Carolina University Opener Meet, she won both the 100- and 200-meters while finishing third in the long jump.
Junior Kim Covil (Castle Hayne, N.C.) was presented the Joseph B. Durant M.V.P. Award for women’s volleyball. A 5-11 outside hitter, Covil led the Patriots in kills (376), service aces (44), and digs (334). She ranked third on the squad in hitting percentage (.203) and fourth in total blocks (77), while posting 11 double-doubles (kills/digs). She helped lead the young Francis Marion team to a 13-22 mark last fall and a fifth-place finish during the PBC regular season.
Junior women’s soccer player Jessica Skarzinski (Charles Town, W.V.) was presented the Debra Lee Orander Swamp Fox Academic Award. An All-Conference and All-Region selection on the playing field, she owns a 3.78 grade point average in the classroom as a biology major. She is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Tri Beta honor societies, and is a member of Chi Alpha Sigma, the National College Athlete Honor Society. She has been named to the PBC Presidential Honor Roll and the FMU Athletic-Academic Honor Roll each of her years at FMU, and has been on either the university’s President’s List or Dean’s List, all five of her semesters at Francis Marion. This past fall on the soccer field, the 5-5 back anchored the Patriot defense, while also scoring her first collegiate goal. She has started all 60 matches during her three seasons. She is a three-time All-Conference performer and has been twice selected to the All-Region squad.
Of the 10 FMU athletic teams that keep won-loss records (excluding the cross country and track and field squads that compete in multi-team events), seven registered winning records this past year, and seven have appeared in national poll rankings.