On Tuesday night, the 5th annual RAwards took place at the RAC. It’s become a great tradition in honoring and celebrating all of the student-athletes at Rutgers at the end of each school year. Many awards are given out, including athletes of the year for each class, team awards, academic awards, as well as several other categories. The nights most prestigious award is the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Per the Rutgers press release, the award is described as:
This year marks the 105th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, awarded annually to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each member institution who have demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career. The conference’s most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence.
RVision produced this red carpet video from the start of the evening.
Here is a full listing of the RAward winners. All bios below were provided by the Rutgers Athletics Communications department. Congratulations to all of the winners!
ANTHONY ASHNAULT: MALE BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR; CO-BAUER MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR; SENIOR MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
The most decorated wrestler in program history, Ashnault finished his time ‘On the Banks’ as a four-time All-American, three-time Big Ten Conference champion and RU’s all-time wins leader with 123 career victories. In his final season, the 2019 Hodge Trophy finalist went 32-0, secured the 2019 Big Ten title and closed his collegiate career with a national title at 149 pounds. He was also a Big Ten Conference Winter All-Academic selection after earning a degree in planning and public policy with a minor in economics in May of 2018. During his historic redshirt senior season, the South Plainfield, New Jersey, native led the team with 85 dual points and eight falls, as he finished the regular season as the consensus No. 1 wrestler at 149 pounds.
SARAH JOHANEK: FEMALE BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR
A two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection, Johanek has been one of the leaders for the Rutgers rowing program since her arrival ‘On the Banks’. She was a key contributor in several of program’s milestones, including the first-ever Big Ten Boat of the Week honors and first-time team ranking in the national polls. Johanek also helped guide Rutgers to its best finish in the Big Ten Championship in 2018 with a sixth-place finish in the varsity eight. In 2018, she earned the opportunity to represent her country on the U.S. Rowing Under 23 National Team as a member of the women’s coxed four. Johanek went on to capture the gold medal in Poznan, Poland, defeating a five-team international field. In addition to her success on the water, Johanek has been a standout in the classroom. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, she was a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, two-time CRCA Scholar Athlete, inductee of the Delta Chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma Society and member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. The public health major carries a 3.8 GPA and has committed to spending two years in the Peace Corps, serving as a Healthy Schools Coordinator in Guatemala.
NICK SURIANO: CO-BAUER MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR; MALE GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR; JUNIOR MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Suriano produced an historic season during his junior campaign, compiling a 29-3 record en route to both a Big Ten title and the program’s first national championship at 133 pounds. The Paramus, New Jersey, native finished the regular season with 24 victories, was first with 18 wins by bonus points and second with 73 dual points. Suriano went 4-0 at the Big Ten Championships to claim the 133-pound conference crown, and went 5-0 at nationals, as he defeated No. 1 seed Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) in the 133-pound final with a takedown in overtime to seal the historic victory.
AMIRAH ALI: BAUER FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR; SOPHOMORE FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Following a decorated rookie season, Ali added Second Team All-America, First Team All-North Region, First Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Tournament Team accolades to her growing resume. The forward paced the league in the regular season in total goals (10), game-winning goals (5), and finished second in total points (23). The 2017 Big Ten Freshman of the Year helped guide the Scarlet Knights to a program-record six overtime victories, netting four golden goals in OT and assisting another. Overall, the Voorhees, New Jersey, native had a hand in seven of the team’s 12 conference goals as RU recorded its best Big Ten finish in history as runner up to the regular season title. Ali’s performance pushed the Scarlet Knights to their seventh straight NCAA appearance to conclude the year. Additionally, she has been called up to the U-20 squad for Team USA.
ADAM CHARALAMBIDES: CO-COMEBACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
After being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2016, Charalambides suffered multiple knee injuries that caused him to miss the next two full seasons. After twice going through the rehab process, he was able to return to the field this spring for his first game action in over two years. He excelled on attack for the Scarlet Knights, scoring 47 goals, which led the team and was third most in program history. His 18 goals in conference games led the conference as he was named First Team All-Big Ten. He had 14 multi-goal games, including six times scoring at least four goals in a game, and was seventh in the nation in goals.
CHRIS MIRABELLI: CO-COMEBACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
After earning First Team All-America status with an eighth-place finish in the javelin at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Mirabelli nearly saw his career come to an end. The three-time All-American, two-time Big Ten champion, and Rutgers record holder in the javelin would be sidelined due to the need for shoulder surgery to aid injuries from his record-breaking year. Following his surgery, the Lumberton, New Jersey, native was faced with more adversity, being diagnosed with a heart condition that threatened to halt his career for good. Instead of giving in, Mirabelli battled through endless rehab, doctor’s appointments, and tests to return safely to competition this outdoor season. In his first meet back, he won the javelin event with a throw of 72.30m, which ranks him first in the league heading into this weekend’s Big Ten Championships.
ROWING VARSITY EIGHT: FEMALE GAME PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Rutgers won the varsity eight Grand Final in a photo finish over a pair of ranked opponents. The Scarlet Knights clocked a time of 6:32.00, outpacing No. 14 Syracuse by 31 one hundredths of a second (6:32.31), followed by No. 15 Minnesota in third in 6:34.50. The win guided RU to a team victory at the Doc Hosea Invitational. It also led the Scarlet Knights to the program’s first-ever national team ranking in the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association/USRowing Coaches Poll as Rutgers appeared at No. 15.
VERA KOPRIVOVA: SENIOR FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Koprivova will graduate as the most prolific backstroker in Rutgers swimming history. The school record holder in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events, Koprivova also became Rutgers’ first Big Ten medalist in a swimming event - and shortly after, the first two-time medalist - by winning bronze in both backstroke events at the Big Ten Championships in February. With her school-record time of 1:52.42 in the 200 at the Rutgers Invitational in November, Koprivova booked a second career trip to the NCAA Championships, where she placed 17th in the nation in the event and missed All-America honorable mention status by just one-hundredth of a second. Representing Rutgers and her native Czech Republic on the international scene, Koprivova has qualified for her second World University Games in the 200-meter backstroke this summer.
AMANDA VISCO: JUNIOR FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Visco anchored a back line that led the Big Ten in GAA in 2018, propelling RU to its highest conference finish since joining the league as runner-up to the regular season title. The Manalapan, New Jersey, native was a force in the team’s eight overall shutouts, five of which came in Big Ten action. Additionally, her leadership kept RU unbeaten in an NCAA record-tying 11 overtime matches, boasting a 6-0-5 record across those contests. The 2016 Big Ten All-Freshman Team honoree and an Academic All-Big Ten recipient also scored two goals on the year, bringing her career total to four as a center back.
GEO BAKER: SOPHOMORE MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
An Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection by both the league’s coaches and media, Baker averaged 12.2 points-per-game while scoring in double figures 22 times. He ranked second in steals (1.6), fifth in assists (4.1), eighth in minutes (34.0) and tied for ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4) among Big Ten players. Versus ranked opponents, the Derry, N.H. native averaged 4.6 assists and 12.4 points-per-game. A human resources management major, Baker was also a Winter Academic All-Big Ten Conference and Third Team All-Metropolitan honoree.
MEAGAN MCCLELLAND: CO-FRESHMAN FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
McClelland recorded a stellar rookie season, being named the 2018 Big Ten Freshman of the Year after leading the conference in GAA (0.60) and shutouts (8) across 1,785 minutes in net. She garnered Third Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten All-Freshman Team, and Third Team All-Region accolades. The Kearny, New Jersey, native posted five shutouts in league action, maintaining a Big Ten leading 0.48 GAA in conference games only. McClelland collected four weekly honors on the year, being named both the Big Ten Goalkeeper and Freshman of the Week to close the season. Additionally, the goalkeeper is a member of USA’s current U-20 women’s national team player pool.
KATIE WINGERT: CO-FRESHMAN FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
The Big Ten home run leader, Wingert’s clutch and powerful bat has pushed sixth-seeded Rutgers softball into the Big Ten Tournament with its highest seed since joining the conference in 2015. Wingert was recently featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter in Top 10 Plays and a one-minute segment after hitting three extra-inning, walk-off home runs in consecutive home games. Rutgers is 12-3 this season when Wingert hits a home run, and her 44 RBIs rank fifth all-time for a single season in Rutgers history. Her 17 home runs rank second for a single season at Rutgers, and have helped the 2019 Scarlet Knights set a school record with 53 home runs in the regular season. Behind the plate, the Carlisle, Pennsylvania native has 12 caught stealing throws and three pickoffs.
A’NAN BRIDGETT: FRESHMAN MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Bridgett opened his career “On the Banks” with a Big Ten medal in the long jump, earning bronze at the indoor championships with a mark of 7.27m. The Princeton Junction, New Jersey, native followed up the performance with a third-place finish at the IC4A Championships, earning All-East accolades in the event. Overall, Bridgett posted six top 3 finishes in the long jump this past indoor season. Moving into the outdoor campaign, the rookie has already reset his PR with a 7.72m leap for third-place at the Virginia Challenge. The mark ranks him second in the conference heading into the Big Ten Outdoor Championships this upcoming weekend.
WOMEN’S GOLF: TOP FEMALE TEAM GPA
Under the leadership of head coach Kari Williams, women’s golf maintains a 3.82 grade point average to lead all programs for the fourth consecutive year. After boasting six Big Ten Distinguished Scholars in 2017-18, the team is poised to have all six eligible student-athletes earn Big Ten All-Academic honors this spring. Women’s golf has received public recognition from the NCAA for its multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) score for seven consecutive years and was recognized by the WGCA in July 2018 for having the highest team grade point average among all Power 5 conference programs. This past February, the team accepted its second straight National Girls and Women in Sports (NAGWS) Day Team Academic Award.
MEN’S GOLF: TOP MALE TEAM GPA
Under the leadership of head coach Rob Shutte, men’s golf maintains a 3.329 grade point average to lead all male programs in 2018-19. Five members of the program are eligible for 2019 Big Ten All-Academic honors this spring, with senior Matthew Mourin set to be a two-time academic all-conference selection. Men’s golf was recognized by the NCAA for its multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) for the first time in program history, highlighted by five academic all-conference picks last academic year.
VOLLEYBALL: MOST IMPROVED FEMALE TEAM GPA
The Scarlet Knights combined for a 3.673 grade-point average during the fall semester while they were in season. That mark was the second highest in the department, and was the most improved fall term GPA from 2017 to 2018 within Rutgers Athletics. The volleyball team also came in second in cumulative team GPA through fall classes, and again ranked second in cumulative GPA improvement from 2017 to 2018. Five from the volleyball team qualified for the Academic All-Big Ten list in December.
BASEBALL: MOST IMPROVED MALE TEAM GPA
Seniors Tyler McNamara and Carmen Sclafani, a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honoree, led the way with 4.0 grade point averages during the fall semester, while juniors Kyle Gerace and Jack Parkinson also made the Dean’s List by achieving a 3.5 or better. In addition, the program earned public recognition from the NCAA for their most recent multiyear Academic Progress Rate (APR) score. Five student-athletes are poised to earn Spring Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
ERIEL SANTAGADO: FEMALE CHANCELLOR’S SCHOLAR-ATHLETE AWARD
Gymnast Eriel Santagado epitomizes academic excellence with a 3.969 cumulative grade point average. The evolutionary anthropology major is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Santagado collected her third consecutive National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women Scholastic All-America recognition after recording a perfect 4.0 GPA in 2017-18. A member of Chi Alpha Sigma Society, Santagado earned the team’s Scholar-Athlete Award two years in a row, boasting the highest GPA amongst the team in 2017 and 2018.
BRIAN SHUSHKOVSKY: MALE CHANCELLOR’S SCHOLAR-ATHLETE AWARD
Men’s soccer goalkeeper Brian Shushkovsky is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honoree with a 4.00 cumulative grade point average. A finance major, Shushkovsky was inducted into the Delta Chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma Society, the first national scholar-athlete society to honor collegiate student-athletes who have excelled in both the classroom and in athletic competition.
SARAH MACDONALD: SPIRIT AWARD
Sarah is the captain of the All Girl cheer team and a four-year letterwinner. Her thoughtfulness for her teammates and her drive for the team has continued to bring the team forward both at games and in national competition. Her work ethic and dedication are outstanding on her team, not only on the field, in the arena, or on the mat, but in the classroom.
KATHLEEN CONLIN: TRUE GRIT AWARD
Kathleen first arrived “On the Banks” after marrying men’s basketball student-athlete and NCAA Final Four team member Mark Conlin in 1974. She recalls her husband competing during the 1975-76 season as the “most exciting time of her life.” A proud mother and grandmother, she has worked in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics since 1992, serving as Assistant to the Deputy Director of Athletics and, most recently, as a marketing assistant. Beloved in the Rutgers community, Kathleen served as an inspiration when she twice battled and defeated cancer, and while persevering through challenges with unwavering strength and grace.
BRIAN PAICH: VARSITY R AWARD
Paich is a past president and current board member of the Scarlet Knights Wrestling Club. He is a Varsity R board member and was the first Varsity R Wrestling ambassador. A long-time mentor for student-athletes across multiple sports, he has helped arrange for internships and job opportunities for both undergraduates and alumni letterwinners. Paich is a 1973 graduate from Rutgers College with a B.A. in sociology who played rugby as an undergraduate.
KNIGHTS GIVE BACK AWARDS: TOP COMMUNITY SERVICE HOURS
Macey Jordan (spirit program), Carmen Sclafani (baseball), Joey Downes (men’s basketball), Ryan Cassidy (football), Jack Doherty and Shayler Dance (men’s golf), Mark Schachte (men’s lacrosse), Brian Shushkovsky (men’s soccer), Patrick Walsh (men’s track & field/cross country), Jordan Pagano (wrestling), Victoria Harris (women’s basketball), Megan Cunningham and Alanna Gollotto (field hockey), Ashleigh Greenham (women’s golf), Polina Poliakova (gymnastics), Tess Howland (women’s lacrosse), Rachel Usen (rowing), Dana Goldstein (women’s soccer), Adriana Burcar (softball), Clare Lawlor (swimming & diving), Kat Muzik (tennis), Lou Mialhe and Jenna Sobieski (women’s track & field/cross country), Merle Weidt (volleyball).