WORCESTER, Mass. – On Tuesday night, the Worcester State University Department of Athletics held their annual senior awards banquet at the May Street Building where they recognized the athletic and academic accomplishments of the 2016 senior class.
“It is exciting to be able to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our student-athletes, both on and off the field,” stated Worcester State Director of Athletics, Michael Mudd. “This event gives our institution the opportunity to celebrate their successes one last time before they graduate and begin their professional lives.”
Worcester State University’s Kemani Jones (Milton, Mass.) and Jackie Connors (Ashland, Mass.) of the football and women’s lacrosse teams took home the Robert Devlin Senior Athlete of the Year Award which is awarded to a male and female student-athlete for their outstanding athletic performance throughout their career at Worcester State. Jones was noted for breaking school records on the football field (career rushing total yards, all-time rushing touchdown record in a single game, and single season rushing yards). Connors is noted for breaking two records at Worcester State (all-time career assists and all-time record for assists in a single game), along with leading her team all four years on the MASCAC First-Team All-Conference.
Benjamin Dussault (Assonet, Mass.) and Francesca Casasanta (Milford, Mass.) of the men’s and women’s track & field teams were awarded the Margaret “Peg” Nugent Scholar Athlete Award for not only their athletic ability, but their achievements in the classroom. Both are members of the National College Athlete Honors Society, “Chi Alpha Sigma” and have been named to MASCAC All-Academic teams throughout the years. Dussault has been a standout student-athlete in track & field’s sprinting events, while Casasanta competes in jumps throughout the years at Worcester State. Both have qualified for Division III New England and ECAC Championships in their respective events.
Another male and female were recognized for their dedication to their athletic program and who exemplify leadership qualities and good sportsmanship with the Senior Lancer Athlete of the Year Award. Manny Cabral (Roslindale, Mass.) of the men’s basketball team and Jillian Witkowski (Leicester, Mass.) of the women’s soccer team were the recipients of these awards. Both were captains of their teams and both are actively involved in the Worcester State community as a part of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Worcester State’s Athlete Mentor Program (AMP).
Worcester State’s Zachary Besaw (Shrewsbury, Mass.) was awarded with the Rich Korzec Athletic Service Award (named after former Worcester State golf coach) for his outstanding service to the Athletic Department. Besaw, a football alumnus prolonged his dedication to the program and served as a student assistant for the past two years. He has served as both the media coordinator and assistant offensive line coach. He also is an active member in both SAAC and AMP.
17 seniors were recognized as they were inducted in the National College Athlete Honor Society “Chi Alpha Sigma”. Those seniors were Marissa Avanzato (Pittsfield, Mass.), Eva Bunszell (Bridgewater, Mass.), Casasanta, Drew Case (Plano, Texas), Amy DeFrancesco (Tewksbury, Mass.), Molly Downing (Dedham, Mass.), Dussault, Cassandra Goncalves (Ludlow, Mass.), Kristen Kenney (Rehoboth, Mass.), Kaylee Leduc (Swansea, Mass.), Dalena Le (Worcester, Mass.), Erika Lepkowski (Baldwinville, Mass.), Nicholas Maxner (Jefferson, Mass.), Katelyn Murphy (Billerica, Mass.), Dana Perry (Mendon, Mass.), Megan Ripke (Feeding Hills, Mass.), and Megan Shepard (Middletown, Conn.).
Despite it being a senior awards banquet, a group of freshman were honored with Freshman of the Year Awards. The award is presented to a male and female athlete who have stood out in their rookie year. This year was a unique one, as we have a very talented freshman class. Six awards were handed out – three male, three female. The recipients were Bryan Brasil (Williamsburg, Mass.) of the men’s soccer team, Alex Santos (Lawrence, Mass.) of the men’s basketball team, Marcus Vieira (Peabody, Mass.) of the track & field team, Mia Rogers (N. Dighton, Mass.) of the women’s cross country and track & field team, Tsara LeBlanc (Gardner, Mass.) of the women’s soccer team, and Brittany Herring (W. Brookfield, Mass.) of the women’s basketball team. Yes, indeed the future looks bright for Worcester State Athletics.
Photos from the Event are available at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1097697870269631.1073741837.142618305777597&type=3