FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University held its 35th-annual Athletic Banquet, Monday, April 25, 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 Stacy Sumter (Columbia, S.C.) was presented the Gail Summersett Outlaw Outstanding Cheerleader Award. A psychology major, she completed her second year on the Patriot cheerleading squad.
Senior Quentin Davis (Darlington, S.C.) was presented the Conyers O’Bryan M.V.P. Award for baseball. Davis, a 5-10 center fielder, is batting .352 and leads the Patriots in stolen bases (24-30), triples (6), slugging percentage (.531), and on-base percentage (.432), while ranking second on the squad in runs scored (43) and runs batted in (39). He has compiled 17 multi-hit games, while helping lead the eighth-ranked Patriots to a 34-14-1 record, and a current third-place standing in the Peach Belt Conference. The season win total is the second-highest ever for the Patriot program. Davis stands fifth on the PBC career list for steals (72) and fourth in career triples (13).
Senior Andrew Snipe (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) was presented the Howard Stokes M.V.P. Award for men’s basketball. Snipe, a 6-2 forward, averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game for last year’s 10-17 Patriot squad that finished fourth in the PBC North Division standings. He connected on 40.8 percent of his field goal attempts, including 35.2 percent of his three-point shots, and 60.3 percent of his free throw attempts. He was the only player under 6-5 to be ranked among the top 10 rebounders in the Peach Belt Conference. A great defender, who was many times asked to defend a much larger opponent, he ranked fourth in minutes played per game in the PBC and sixth in offensive rebounding.
Freshman Brittany Young (Moncks Corner, S.C.) was presented the Carroll Player Jr. M.V.P. Award for women’s basketball. Young, a 5-6 point guard, averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game for this past season’s 11-17 Patriot squad that tied for fourth in the PBC North Division standings. In addition to directing the FMU offense, she connected on 41.2 percent of her field goal attempts, including 34.3 percent from beyond the three-point arc. She ranked second in the Peach Belt Conference and 20th nationally in assists per game, and was sixth in the PBC in assists-to-turnovers ratio. She led the Patriots in minutes played.
Senior Ryan Plexico (Columbia, S.C.) was presented the Alice Baker M.V.P. Award for men’s cross country for the fourth consecutive year. He becomes only the third FMU student-athlete to earn four MVP awards for one sport. This past fall, Plexico was the top FMU runner in all seven meets, including three Top-10 finishes. He helped the Patriots to a sixth-place finish at the Peach Belt Conference Championship Meet with his 28th-place showing. He also placed 55th out of 137 runners at the NCAA Division II South Regional Meet, where the Patriots placed 18th in the team standings. He was also a member of the FMU track and field team.
Freshman Codi Knoch (Wapakoneta, Ohio) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for women’s cross country and the Most Valuable Player award for women’s track and field. She was FMU’s top finisher in all seven meets during the 2004 cross country campaign, including a 22nd-place showing at the PBC Championships in a personal-best time of 20:08, which helped the Patriots finish sixth in the team standings. She later finished 69th at the South Regional Championships, where the Patriots placed 20th as a team. On the track, Knoch led the Patriot women in points scored. At the recent Carolinas Track and Field Championship Meet, she placed second in the 5,000-meters, sixth in the 3,000-meters, and 14th in the 1,500-meters. FMU finished 12th in the women’s team standings. Earlier in the year, she placed third in the 5,000-meters at the USATF South Carolina State Championships, and was third in the 3,000-meters at UNC Pembroke’s Braves Classic.
Junior Aengus McAllister (Dublin, Ireland) was presented the Clifford Cormell M.V.P. Award for golf. McAllister is second on the Patriot squad with a 75.22 stroke average, and he was recently named to the PBC All-Conference Team. During the 2004-05 campaign, he has recorded two top-5 finishes and six top-20 finishes in 10 events. At the recent PBC Championship Tournament, he placed 22nd. Francis Marion is preparing to play in the NCAA Division II Atlantic/Southeast Super Regional Tournament, May 2-4, at the Bull Creek Golf Course in Columbus, Ga. This will be the Patriots’ eighth straight appearance in the regional tournament.
Senior Charlie Mitchell (Raleigh, N.C.) was presented the Jerry W. Wilson M.V.P. Award for men’s soccer. Mitchell, a 5-7 back, helped anchor the Patriot defense, while taking three shots and recording one assist. He was named to the Peach Belt All-Tournament Team following the Patriots’ 8-10-1 season. Seven of the team’s losses were by one goal. Mitchell, the last remaining player from the 2000 FMU squad that advanced to the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals, moved from the midfield to a defender position prior to the start of the season.
Senior Jackie Bateman (Southern Pines, N.C.) was presented the Most Valuable Player Award for women’s soccer. A 5-7 keeper, she started 15 of the team’s 17 matches and recorded a 1.07 goals against average, while posting a school-record eight shutouts. She recorded 54 saves and a .771 save percentage, while allowing only 16 goals in 1,340 minutes. She helped lead the Patriots to a 13-4-0 record and the program’s first-ever PBC regular-season championship. FMU fell in the semifinals of the PBC Tournament, knocking the Patriots from consideration for a national tournament bid.
Senior Betsy Bouknight (Leesville, S.C.) was presented the Bobbie Davis M.V.P. Award for women’s softball for the second straight year. A 5-3 speedy center fielder, Bouknight batted .397 and led the Patriots in hits (60), triples (4), and stolen bases (27-32). She shared the team lead in home runs (8) and was second in runs scored (41) and third in RBIs (32) and on-base percentage (.442). She had multiple hits in 20 of her 43 contests. She is ranked in the top 10 of the Peach Belt in seven statistical categories. A two-time All-PBC selection, Bouknight owns the school record for hits in a career (236), while posting career totals of 177 runs scored and 98 stolen bases (111 attempts) in 191 games. The Patriots, who spent three weeks in the Top 25 poll, ended the regular season at 36-14 and tied for fifth in the PBC standings. FMU is waiting for the May 9 announcement of the NCAA Division II national tournament field to see if the squad will receive the program’s first-ever invitation.
Junior Kevin Taylor (Benoni, South Africa) was presented the Lorin Mason M.V.P. Award for men’s tennis. Playing at the No. 1 singles position, he is ranked 15th among Division II singles players. He has compiled an 18-3 record, including an amazing 10-0 mark against Top 50 opponents. He also recorded a 16-5 doubles mark at the No. 1 slot. He earned All-Conference honors for his work, and was twice named the PBC “Player of the Week” during the 2005 season. Taylor has helped lead the 21st-ranked Patriots to a 17-5 record. FMU is awaiting the announcement of the NCAA national tournament field.
Sophomore Kamini Murugaboopathy (Chennai, India) was presented the Gladys Hite M.V.P. Award for women’s tennis for the second consecutive year. She occupied the Patriots’ No. 1 singles spot and is ranked 33rd among Division II singles players. An All-PBC selection, she compiled a 14-8 singles mark, including a 3-3 mark against nationally ranked opponents and a 7-3 conference record. She also played No. 1 doubles and posted a 10-15 mark. The young Patriot squad (no juniors or seniors) ended the year with a 10-15 record.
Senior Ezekiel Koech (Nairobi, Kenya) was presented the Jerry and Jean Lee M.V.P. Award for men’s track and field. Among his accomplishments on the track this spring, he set a school record in the 10,000-meters, recording a time of 32:32.80 at the UNC Wilmington Cape Fear Classic. He also finished first in the 5,000-meters and second in the 1,500-meters at the USATF South Carolina State Championships, and was first in the 5,000-meters at the recent Carolinas Intercollegiate Championships, where the FMU men tied for 10th in the team standings. He was also a member of the Patriot cross country team last fall.
Junior Kelly Feber (Norfolk, Va.) was presented the Joseph B. Durant M.V.P. Award for women’s volleyball. A 5-10 outside hitter, she led FMU in total attacks (1,319), was second in kills (414), kills per game (3.09), digs (485), and digs per game (3.62). She ranked 10th in the PBC in the latter category. She also tallied 42 services aces (0.31 service aces per game), 22 double doubles (kills and digs), and was one of only two FMU players to play in all 134 games during the 2004 season. She helped lead a young Patriot squad (no seniors) to a 21-14 mark and a third-place finish during the PBC regular season.
Senior women’s basketball player Jennifer Howard (Raleigh, N.C.) was presented the Debra Lee Orander Swamp Fox Academic Award for the second consecutive year. FMU’s third-leading scorer on the court this past season at 9.5 ppg, she owns a 4.00 grade point average as a biology and chemistry major. She has earned first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District honors each of the past three years, and was a second-team Academic All-American in 2004. She is enrolled in the university’s Honors Program, has been on the President’s List each of her first seven semesters, and serves as a math and science tutor. She is a Francis Marion scholar and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Beta Beta, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Chi Alpha Sigma honor societies, and was named to the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll in 2002, 2003, and 2004 and to the FMU Swamp Fox Athletic-Academic Honor Roll in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. She ended her playing career 14th on the Patriots’ all-time assists list with 244 and 26th on the school’s career scoring list (890).
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), five registered winning records this past year, and four appeared in national poll rankings.