April 16, 2012
DALLAS (SMU) - The SMU athletics department, in conjunction with the Lettermen's Association and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, honored its student-athletes at the annual awards banquet, recognizing teams and individuals for their successes on the field and in the classroom.
Silje Fjortoft, a member of the women's track and cross country teams, and men's soccer defender Diogo de Almeida were named SMU Student-Athletes of the Year. de Almeida was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year after leading SMU to the conference championship, while Fjortoft earned All-America honors at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Fjortoft was also recognized as a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence, an award presented by the university to three students this year. She was honored for her dedication to sport, academics and the SMU community.
The Meyer Brothers Award, which is named after long-time Mustang supporters Jim and Mark Meyer, is awarded to the male and female student-athletes who most exemplify SMU through athletics, academics and service to the community. This year, women's soccer senior goalkeeper Courtney Webb and men's swimmer Richard Cornelius earned the prestigious honor.
The swimming and diving teams swept the Newcomer of the Year awards, with Rachel Nicol and Devin Burnett taking the honors. Nicol set league records in winning two C-USA Championships and earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. Burnett was named C-USA Diver of the Year, sweeping the diving events at the C-USA Championships.
Kelvin Beachum, a four-year starter and three-time All-C-USA selection on the football team, and Denisa Smolenova, a nine-time C-USA champion and All-America selection as a swimmer, were presented with the Mustang Character Award.
Women's basketball standout Christine Elliott, who scored her 1,000th point in her hometown of Wichita, Kan., this season, and Richard Cornelius, who helped lead the men's swimming team to the title at the C-USA Championships, were honored with the Perseverance Award.
Women's golfer Liz Wells and football All-C-USA honorable mention honoree Chris Banjo took home the Sportsmanship Awards. Katie Jones, a member of the equestrian team, and men's soccer player Joe Cooper were honored with the Spirit Awards.
Cross country and women's track runner Monika Korra joined Banjo as a recipient of the Scholar Baller Academic Momentum Award, which recognizes student-athletes who are most improved academically.
The women's cross country team posted the highest GPA on the women's side with a 3.395, while the men's golf team had the highest men's GPA at 3.305. The women's volleyball team had the most improved team GPA.
Winners of the awards were voted on by the senior administrative athletics staff from nominees by each of the head coaches.