FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University held its 34th-annual Athletic Banquet, Monday, April 26, 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.
Senior Allyson Bigby (Easley, S.C.) was presented the Gail Summersett Outlaw Outstanding Cheerleader Award for the third time in four years. An English (liberal arts) major, she previously won the award in 2001 and 2003. Her minor is business.
Senior Erin Jones (Dillon, S.C.) was presented the Conyers O’Bryan M.V.P. Award for baseball for the second straight year. Jones, a 5-10 right-handed pitcher, ended the regular season with a team-best 8-3 mark and a 2.88 earned run average. He struck out 90 batters in 100 innings, while walking only 19. Opponents hit only .261 against him, and he completed seven of his 13 starts. He helped lead the Patriots a 29-17 record, and a current sixth-place standing in the Peach Belt Conference standings. He finishes his career holding team records for wins (29), complete games (29), innings (336), and strikeouts (315).
Junior Louis McCullough (Goose Creek, S.C.) was presented the Howard Stokes M.V.P. Award for men’s basketball for the second time in three seasons. He averaged 17.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.4 assists per game, while helping lead the Patriots to their most successful season ever: a 27-4 mark, a Top-5 national ranking, and an appearance in the NCAA Division II national tournament Sweet Sixteen. He ranked second in the Peach Belt Conference in both scoring and blocked shots (48), connected on 51.7 percent of his field goal attempts, including 44.2 percent of his three-point shots (third best in the PBC), and 80.5 percent of his free throw attempts (third best in the PBC). He was named to the All-PBC squad and selected to two different All-Region teams. During FMU’s Sweet Sixteen loss to the eventual national champion Kennesaw State University, he became only the second Patriot to amass 1,000 points, 600 rebounds, 100 blocked shots, and 100 steals during a career.
Senior Joanna Tincher (Bedford, Ind.) was presented the Carroll Player Jr. M.V.P. Award for women’s basketball. Tincher, a 5-10 center, averaged 10.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game, while ranking seventh in the PBC in field goal percentage (50.5%) and eighth in blocked shots. She helped lead FMU to a 14-13 record and a third-place finish in the PBC’s North Division standings.
Junior Ryan Plexico (Columbia, S.C.) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for men’s cross country for the third consecutive year. He also received the Jerry and Jean Lee M.V.P. Award for men’s track and field for the second time in two years. Plexico was the top FMU runner in six of eight meets last fall and he recorded five top-10 finishes, including first-place honors at the Erskine College Invitational. His performance at the Overton’s/Pirate Invitational Meet at East Carolina University on Oct. 4 was the fastest time (25:47) by a Patriot runner in 10 years, and the 15th fastest in school history. He helped the Patriots to a fifth-place finish at the Peach Belt Conference Championship Meet with his 19th-place showing. He also placed 48th out of 107 runners at the NCAA Division II South Regional Meet, where the Patriots placed 13th in the team standings. On the track this spring, he won the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the South Carolina Championships, and was second in the event at both the Braves Track Classic and the Carolinas Intercollegiate Championships. In the three scored meets, he led Francis Marion in points. He also competed in the 5,000-meters, placing third at both the S.C. Championships and the Carolinas Intercollegiate Championships, as the Patriot men placed fifth in the team standings at the latter event.
Sophomore Nicole Hoeppner (Mannheim, Germany) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for women’s cross country. She was FMU’s top runner in all eight meets last fall, including a first-place win at the FMU Invitational last September. She was 18th at the PBC Championships, where the Patriots finished eighth in the team standings. Hoeppner posted four sub-20:00 times last fall, including a program-best time of 19:10 at the Overton’s/Pirate Invitational Meet at East Carolina University on Oct. 4.
Senior Fredrik Ohlsson (Goteborg, Sweden) was presented the Clifford Cormell M.V.P. Award for golf for the third straight year. Heading into next week’s NCAA Division II Atlantic/Southeast Super Regional Tournament in Wilson, N.C., he leads the ninth-ranked Patriots with a 73.31 stroke average. He has posted seven top-10 finishes, and in nearly a third of his rounds (9 of 29) has shot even or below par. He has not missed a tournament in three years. FMU owns a 108-48-6 team record, including winning the recent Peach Belt Conference Tournament, where Ohlsson also gained All-Tournament honors with a third-place finish.
Sophomore Mike Greenaway (Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada) was presented the Jerry W. Wilson M.V.P. Award for men’s soccer. Greenaway, a 6-3 back, anchored the Patriot defense, while taking 21 shots, scoring one goal, and recording one assist. He earned both All-Conference and All-Region recognition, while FMU posted a 9-10-0 record. Five of the team’s losses were by one goal, and the Patriot defense allowed only seven goals over the season’s last five matches.
Freshman Brittany Rothenbach (Bel Air, Md.) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for women’s soccer. A 5-7 midfielder and back, she started all 19 matches and helped anchor a defense that allowed only 22 goals. She also recorded 10 shots and assisted on one goal. She earned PBC All-Tournament Team honors as the 11-7-1 Patriots reached the tournament semifinals before falling to the eventual national champion.
Junior Betsy Bouknight (Leesville, S.C.) was presented the Bobbie Davis M.V.P. Award for women’s softball. A 5-3 switch-hitting center fielder, Bouknight batted .363 and led the Patriots in runs scored (54), doubles (18), and stolen bases (24 of 27). She also hit three home runs from her leadoff position and drove in 29 runs, with a slugging percentage of .547. During the 2004 campaign, she recorded a team-best 10-game hitting streak along with 19 multiple-hit games. For her accomplishments, she was named to the All-Peach Belt team. She helped lead Francis Marion to a 37-17 record (the third-highest win total in the program’s history), a fourth-place finish during the Peach Belt regular season, and third-place showing at the PBC Tournament. The Patriots are awaiting next week’s announcement of the NCAA Division II national tournament field to see if they will receive the program’s first-ever invitation.
Freshman Chatwinder Singh (Chandigarh, India) was presented the Lorin Mason M.V.P. Award for men’s tennis. Playing at the No. 2 singles position, he compiled a 15-4 record, including 11 consecutive wins to close the season, and had a 6-2 mark against PBC competition. He also recorded a 13-9 doubles mark at the No. 1 slot. Singh helped lead the 34th-ranked Patriots to an 11-12 record that saw FMU lose four matches by 5-4 decisions. Seven of the team’s losses were to nationally ranked opponents.
Freshman Kamini Murugaboopathy (Chennai, India) was presented the Gladys Hite M.V.P. Award for women’s tennis. She occupied the No. 1 singles spot as a first-year player and compiled a 10-8 mark. She was 5-14 at No. 1 doubles. The Patriots ended the year with a 7-13 record, with all but one of the losses coming at the hands of nationally ranked opponents.
Junior Shante Merriweather (Batesburg-Leesville, S.C.) was presented the Most Valuable Player award for women’s track and field. The team’s leading scorer, she competed in the hammer, discus, and shot put. At the recent Carolinas Track and Field Championships, she won the hammer throw with a toss of 98.05, and placed seventh in the discus, and 12th in the shot put, as the Patriot women finished six in the team standings.
Freshman Lezlie Logan (Cleburne, Texas) was presented the Joseph B. Durant M.V.P. Award for women’s volleyball. A 5-10 middlehitter, she led FMU in kills (2.81 per game) and total blocks (0.94 per game), and was one of only two Patriots to appear in all 129 games this past season. She recorded a .215 hitting percentage, 12 assists, 15 service aces, and 53 digs (0.41 per game), and following the season was named the PBC “Co-Freshmen of the Year.” She had a team-high 20 matches where she registered double-figure kills, and recorded 10 matches with a hitting percentage above .300, including three matches above .500. She helped direct a young Patriot squad (only one senior) to an 11-24 mark.
Junior women’s basketball player Jennifer Howard (Raleigh, N.C.) was presented the Debra Lee Orander Swamp Fox Academic Award. FMU’s second-leading scorer on the court this past season at 10.6 ppg, she owns a 4.00 grade point average as a biology and chemistry major. She earned second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors this year. She is enrolled in the university’s Honors Program, has been on the President’s List each of her first five semesters, and serves as a math and science tutor. She is a Francis Marion scholar and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and was named to the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll in 2002 and 2003 and to the FMU Swamp Fox Athletic-Academic Honor Roll in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Howard started 26 games this past season for the 14-13 Patriots, led the team in assists (72), was second in steals (47), and averaged 3.8 rebounds per game. She connected on 38.4 percent of her field goal attempts, including 31.3 percent from behind the three-point arc, and 77.1 percent of her free throws.
Of the 10 FMU athletic teams that keep win-loss records (excluding the cross country and track and field squads that compete in multi-team events), six registered winning records this past year, and six appeared in national poll rankings.