Student-Athletes Honored at Annual Blazer Athletic Banquet

| April 22, 2016
blazer awards

VALDOSTA – The Valdosta State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted the annual Blazer Athletics student-athlete banquet this week, where several of the top athletes at VSU were recognized for their achievements during the 2015-16 athletic season, both on the field and in the classroom.

The banquet, attended by Blazer Athletic staff, coaches and student-athletes, served as a formal event where softball’s Caitlyn Calhoun and football’s Kenny Murphy were named the 2015-16 Valdosta State Student-Athletes of the Year.

Calhoun currently leads the Gulf South Conference in wins with 24, and strikeouts with 208. This season, she became just the second player in Valdosta State History to record 500 or more career strikeouts, and her no-hitter against Florida Southern on March 15th represented her second of the season and the sixth of her career. Caitlyn was named the 2015 Gulf South Conference Pitcher of the Year and a 2015 First Team All-American.

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Caitlyn Calhoun was named the 2015-16 Female Athlete of the Year

As for Murphy, 79 tackles on the season, including six for loss, made it no suprise that the 2015 linebacker was named a USA College Football All-American, earned All-Region honors, and made his second straight appearance as a First Team All-GSC honoree. Murphy delivered several memorable plays for Valdosta State last season, and delivered one of the most memorable of his career in the second round of the playoffs last December, when he picked off his second pass of the season against West Georgia and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown in the second round of the playoffs.

Other student-athletes recognized at the banquet included volleyball’s Lea Jaklen and Taylor Holder, who were named as Female Co-Academic Award winners, and football’s Thomas Wright, who picked up the Male Academic Award.

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Lea Jaklen was one of two to win the Female Academic Award

Holder made appearances in 19 matches for the Blazers on the year and played in 39 sets. She helped lead the Blazers to a 23-7 record overall and an 18-3 finish against GSC opponents, contributing to the team’s effort with 40 digs, 15 kills, and five service aces on the year. Meanwhile, Jaklen served as one of the driving forces behind Valdosta State volleyball’s attack on offense. With 331 kills on the season and an average of 3.21 kills per set, she not only led the team in the category, but also ranked among the top hitters in the entire Gulf South Conference. Her performance in the GSC Tournament earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Both Holder and Jaklen finished with 4.0 GPA’s during the fall semester.

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Taylor Holder was one of two to win the Female Academic Award

Wright helped lead the Blazers to the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs with significant contributions to the Valdosta State special teams unit. On defense, he also racked up 14 tackles on the year with five solo tackles and a sack on October 22 against Shorter. Wright’s work in the classroom in the fall resulted in a 4.0 GPA during semester and boosted his overall GPA to 3.93.

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The VSU softball team won the F. Lamar and Nancy Pearson Community Service Award

The Valdosta State softball team was also recognized as the program with the most community service hours recorded during the last athletic season. The F. Lamar and Nancy Community Service Award presented to the team marked the seventh straight for the softball program.

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The 2016 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
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