Go Mustangs!
SMU Athletics Announces Annual Awards

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

May 2, 2011

DALLAS (SMU) - The first-annual SMU Student-Athlete Awards & Recognition Banquet, sponsored by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the SMU Lettermen's Association, was held Sunday night at Moody Coliseum. The event introduced a new tradition and instituted department level honors for SMU Student-Athletes and celebrated their successes.

Picking up the night's big awards were track and field star Simone Du Toit and football player Pete Fleps, who were honored with the Student-Athlete of the Year awards.

du Toit took sixth place in the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships, earning All-America honors, and won the event at the C-USA Indoor Championships by over six feet. She is currently ranked second in the nation in the discus and recently broke a long-standing school record in the event. She is set to compete for an NCAA title in June. du Toit is also active in SAAC and has achieved numerous classroom achievements.

Fleps was selected as SMU's team captain in 2010 and named a National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy semifinalist. He finished the campaign ranking second on the squad with a career-high 123 tackles and tied for second on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss. As a junior and senior, he helped SMU appear in the program's first bowl games since 1984. The Southlake native recorded a 3.56 GPA while pursuing a master's degree in liberal arts after earning a bachelor's degree in management. He was recently one of nine college scholar-athletes honored The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) and continues to garner honors.

Soccer player Juan Castillo and swimmer Nina Rangelova took home the Freshman of the Year Awards.

Castillo collected 24 points in his first collegiate season with the men's soccer team, scoring 10 goals on the year including four game-winning goals. He also had a six-game goal-scoring streak, including three straight game-winners, and was named the NSCAA's National Player of the Week of Sept. 13-19 for his efforts. In addition to this honor, he was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, made the C-USA Second Team and was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team. He helped the team to a 16-2-2 final mark and an appearance in the NCAA Elite 8.

At the C-USA Championships, Rangelova helped the Mustangs to a relay gold medal in the 400-yard medley relay while also earning two other golds and one silver medal. She was named C-USA Freshman of the Year and was the only first-year in the league to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Rangelova is also showing well in international meets, taking 10th at the 2010 World Championships and having already qualified for the 2011 World Championships as well.

Highest Team GPA Awards went to the men's and women's tennis teams. The women posted a 3.38 GPA and had eight team members with GPAs of 3.0 or better, while the men's team had 12 members with a GPA of 3.0 or better as the squad posted a team mark of 3.25. Also receiving note for academic achievement was the men's basketball team. The squad boasted the Most Improved GPA upping the team's GPA nearly 2/10ths of a point over the past year.

Rounding out the team awards, the women's swimming and diving team was honored with the Mustang Cup Award, given to the team that has earned the most points in a variety of categories over the course of the year, such as personal and career development, school spirit, involvement in Student-Athlete Advisory Committee sponsored activities, community service, and academic and athletic performance.

Senior equestrian team member Lauren Lieberman and Darren Walsh of the men's tennis team were honored with The Meyer Brothers Award. It is the most prestigious award presented to SMU student-athletes for combined athletic achievement, academic success, and community involvement. Lieberman has succeeded as a leader and contributor to the SMU equestrian team, while at the same time earning a 3.98 GPA. In addition to her athletic and academic success, Lieberman is a volunteer at the Memphis Jewish Home and has a little sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Walsh is senior computer science major with a 3.95 GPA. In addition to his academic success, Walsh is a leader on his team both through his abilities on the tennis court and as a mentor to his younger teammates. Outside of academic and athletic responsibilities, he is involved in SMU's Ambassadors for Prospective Engineering Students program, giving tours to prospective students and their parents.

The Scholar Baller Academic Momentum Award, which recognizes student-athletes who are most improved academically and have performed over and above the academic standards that are set for them, went to Petya Kertikova of the track program and Mike Walker from the basketball team. Kertikova arrived at SMU the fall of 2007 from Bulgaria with little to no knowledge of the English language. The stress of the new language, culture and being away from home took a toll on her emotionally. Later that year, she found out she had osteoporosis, which ended her track and field career. She has since gone on to earn high grades in her classes and is expected to graduate this spring with a degree in Journalism. Identified as an "at risk" student by SMU Admissions, Walker entered SMU and started strong, earning a 3.3 his first summer and has never looked back. Walker has served as the MBB representative to SAAC for two years and has always completed his required study hall hours and work with tutors. He is currently doing an internship with the Dallas Legends and will graduate in the first APSM class with his specialization in Sport Management.

Volleyball player Kelli Becerra and Kelvin Beachum, Jr. earned the Spirit Award for exhibiting the greatest passion and dedication to SMU Athletics. Becerra is heavily involved in SAAC and regularly attends the events of her fellow student-athletes - often bringing her teammates with her. Kelly is passionate about SMU Athletics and does anything she can to highlight athletics on the SMU campus whether it's through a school project or in volunteering in marketing the program. Beachum is the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, serves on the Student Affairs Leadership Council and the SMU Athletic Council among other organizations. Becerra was also honored with the Sportsmanship Award along with men's tennis athlete Adham el-Effendi.

Two student-athletes who had to overcome a great deal during the past year, swimmer Tom Cole and Monika Korra of the track and cross country teams, were honored with the Perseverance Award. In August, Cole had thoracic surgery - a surgery that would keep many swimmers out for the season. But Cole fought and began swimming again in October. He came back to win 10 races this season and finished 11th in the nation at the NCAA Championships in the 200 meter breaststroke. He earned All-America honors, broke a 30-year-old school record which had been held by Golf Medal winner and SMU Hall of Famer Steve Lundquist and was named C-USA co-Swimmer of the Year. During the last school year, Korra suffered a personal attack that would have crushed the future of most individuals. Korra has bravely continued at SMU, competing for the track and cross country teams and staying on point in the classroom. Despite the terrible situation, Korra has kept her 3.88 GPA and continues to contribute to her team as well.

The Mustang Character Award went to Beachum and women's swimmer Therese Svendsen, the student-athletes who exhibited the most character both on and off the field through their individual efforts and teamwork. Svendsen finished her junior year earning All-American status by placing ninth in the 100-yard backstroke at the NCAA Championships with an SMU-record time. At the 2011 Conference USA Championships, she broke two meet records en route to winning six gold medals. She also bettered previously held records in the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke. Svendsen's other gold medals at the C-USA Championships were achieved in the 200-yard medley relay, 800-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard individual medley and 400-yard medley relay. Beachum earned a third honor, as he was one of 10 SMU students to earn the "M" Award, the University's most prestigious honor, given to individuals who go "above and beyond the call of duty."

Diver Audra Egenolf was also honored by the University for her dedication to sport, academics and the SMU community. She was one of just three students to receive the Presidential Award of Excellence. The senior is a three-time Conference USA Academic Medal Winner and three-time Swimming All-Academic Team selection, holding a 3.982 GPA as an accounting major. She turned in several first-place performances throughout the season and posted a career-best 346.85 points as she won the three-meter dive at the SMU Classic.

Award Winners:
Highest Team GPA - Female Sport - Women's Tennis
Highest Team GPA - Male Sport - Men's Tennis
Most Improved GPA - Men's Basketball
Mustang Cup Award - Women's Swimming
Meyer Brothers Academic Award - Female - Lauren Lieberman (Equestrian)
Meyer Brothers Academic Award - Male - Darren Walsh (Tennis)
Scholar Baller Academic Momentum Award - Female - Petya Kertikova (Track & Field)
Scholar Baller Academic Momentum Award - Male - Mike Walker (Basketball)
Spirit Award - Female - Kelli Becerra (Volleyball)
Spirit Award - Male - Kelvin Beachum, Jr. (Football)
Mustang Character Award - Female - Therese Svendsen (Swimming)
Mustang Character Award - Male - Kelvin Beachum, Jr. (Football)
Sportsmanship Award - Female - Kelli Becerra (Volleyball)
Sportsmanship Award - Male - Adham el-Effendi (Tennis)
Perseverance Award - Female - Monika Korra (Track and Cross Country)
Perseverance Award - Male - Tom Cole (Swimming)
Presidential Award of Excellence - Audra Egenolf (Diving)
M Award - Kelvin Beachum, Jr. (Football)
Newcomer of the Year Award - Female - Nina Rangelova (Swimming)
Newcomer of the Year Award - Male - Juan Castillo (Soccer)
Student-Athlete of the Year Award - Female - Simone Du Toit (Track & Field)
Student-Athlete of the Year Award - Male - Pete Fleps (Football)