Seniors Honored At 24th Annual Athletics Awards Banquet

Seniors Honored At 24th Annual Athletics Awards Banquet


Senior Award Presentation Team Photo Gallery | Major Award Winner Photo Gallery

The Worcester State University hosted their 24th Annual Senior Awards Banquet in the Lancer Gymnasium on Tuesday, May 7. The event is held at the end of every academic year to recognize the achievements on and off the field of the senior class.

After dinner, individual clocks were handed out by President Barry Maloney and Chair of the Board of Trustees John Brissette, to every senior in attendance. Head women's basketball coach and Associate Athletic Director Karen Tessmer also recognized the great academic achievements of the class as well.

Graham Asum (Marlboro, MA) was honored as the “Robert Devlin” Senior Male Athlete for his contributions to the football team.

Asum, a standout shutdown cornerback finished his career tied for fifth on the all-time interceptions list with 12 picks for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also put up a fine season as a Third-team All-American Return Specialist for leading the NCAA Division III in kick return yards (31.7) and for breaking the single-season Division III record with 30 returns for 958 yards and a trio of touchdowns.

Briana Wise (Worcester, MA/Burncoat) and Meaghan O’Keefe (Warren, MA) were each handed the “Robert Devlin” Senior Female Athlete Award four-year efforts over their four years.

Wise is a seven-time Division III New England Champion and last year’s national runner-up at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships in the 200 meters as an All-American. Wise has helped the Lancers claim three MASCAC indoor and outdoor championships in each season while the team has also had four top-10 finishes at the Division III New England Championships in each of the last four semesters.

O’Keefe averaged double-double figure scoring (15.8 PPG) and rebounding (12.6 RPG) as she was honored as the MASCAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, on the All-NEWBA Second-team and as one of two representatives from the conference on the All-Northeast region team.

Monte Goodwin (Boston, MA/Belmont) and Jon Parrella (Wilmington, MA) both shared this year’s Male “Lancer” Award while Ally Valencia (Foxboro, MA) was the lone female winner. The award is given to a male and female student-athlete who exemplifies dedication to their program, leadership qualities and good sportsmanship.

Goodwin wrapped up his four-year career as a forward on the men’s basketball team with 908 points, 535 rebounds and as the second all-time leading blocker with 107 rejections. As a two-year team captain, he was loyal and dependable and helped embody the mission of the program.

Parrella has helped the 4x400 meter relay team reset the school record on numerous occasions and earn All-New England honors at the Division III New England Championships. While serving as one of the team captains, Parrella has also acted like an assistant coach acting as the perfect liaison between the coaching staff and his peers by organizing fundraising activities, on-off season workout sessions and recruiting visits.

Valencia, who co-captained the field hockey team, is a student-leader on campus as the President of the Student Athletics Advisory Committee (SAAC). She helped lead the charge in the group’s efforts to bring more students on campus to sporting events throughout the academic year.

The Senior “Peg Nugent” Award male winner was Kurt Sabacinski (Worcester, MA/St. Peter-Marian) while Alex Kerr (Franklin, MA) and Erin Donohue (Saugus, MA) were the female honorees.

The "Peg Nugent" Award is in honor of the long-time senior women's administrator who was responsible for expanding the role of women in the athletics department. It is handed out to the senior male and female athletes who are outstanding in athletic competition and in the classroom.

Sabacinski, who will graduate with a 3.45 GPA in Business, was a team captain and helped lead the team by example on the field. He also was third on the team in batting average and as the starting catcher, he helped the pitching staff put up the second-lowest ERA conference play and the most strikeouts in MASCAC-only games.

Kerr will walk across the stage with a 3.82 GPA in Health Education. Kerr, who was recently honored with department accolades last week, helped lead the softball team to three ECAC Division III New England Tournaments, a pair of MASCAC Regular-Season Titles and the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2011. At third-base this season she did not commit an error in conference play.

Donohue, who holds a 3.82 GPA in Psychology, is looking to attend UConn for her masters this upcoming Fall. She shares or holds the records in seven different distance events, is a three-time All-MASCAC/Alliance Cross Country honoree and by winning the 5,000 meters this past outdoor season she helped the Lancers captured their first-ever New England Alliance title in program history.

TJ Magnell (Leominster, MA) was distinguished with the “Rich Korzec” Athletic Service Award for playing an instrumental role in the athletics department over the last two seasons as a graduate assistant in charge of field maintenance and home-events supervision.

The plaque was renamed this past season in memory of former men’s golf coach and Assistant Director of Facilities Rich Korzec, who passed away last spring. Rich was known for always going above and beyond the call of duty to serve anyone on or off campus.

DJ Gustafson (Webster, MA) was recognized with the Blue and Gold Award, which is given for a senior student-athlete who overcomes severe adversity to continue their playing career and have success in action.

Gustafson sustained a devastating leg injury in his final semester of eligibility, but got the season back through a hardship waiver and after months of rehabilitation; he helped lead the men’s soccer team to the MASCAC Quarterfinals as an All-MASCAC midfielder.

The Freshman Athlete Awards were passed out to Jackie Connors (Ashland, MA), Meghan Rich (Chelmsford, MA), Jerome Drane (Uxbridge, MA) and Y-Kim Sheppard (Waterford, CT).

Connors made the difference in the resurgence of the women’s lacrosse team as she also participated on the women’s soccer squad. She currently leads the team with a squad-best 72 points (44 goals – 28 assists) and she has helped the team set a new program standard for wins with a 13-5 record.

Rich was an impact freshman as the number two starter on the softball team. She has gone 9-6 with a 1.78 ERA to go with 60 strikeouts in 102 innings with just 10 walks to establish a new school record. In MASCAC-only games she made the most of her opportunities with a 5-1 record, a 1.05 ERA and just six earned runs in 40 frames of work.

Drane, a standout men’s track and field athlete and who was a reserve back on the men’s soccer team, helped the 4x200 meter relay rewrite the record book and capture an ECAC Division III Championship crown while he also placed sixth for All-ECAC accolades and he was ninth at the Division III New England Indoor Championships, just seconds away from scoring points.

Sheppard, a defensive back, helped shore up a secondary that had been decimated with injuries by starting in all 10 games and chipping in with 46 tackles (37 solo), 3.5 tackles for a loss and four pass deflections. He was voted as the NEFC Bogan Division Defensive Rookie of the Year.