TOWSON, Md. – Terrance West of the football team and Kaitlin Burke of the women’s swimming and diving squad were named the Towson University Athletes of the Year on Monday night at the Golden PAWS event in SECU Arena. The event was held to honor and remember the successes achieved by the Tiger teams during the 2013-14 season.
“The Golden PAWS banquet is a night for our student-athletes to celebrate their accomplishments and the accomplishments of their peers during the 2013-14 season,” said Towson deputy director of athletics Tricia Turley Brandenburg. “From our football team’s trip to the FCS National Championship game to our women’s lacrosse team reaching its third-straight NCAA tournament, it’s been another successful year for Tiger athletics.
“We’re grateful for all our sport programs to be able to share their success and to celebrate our student-athletes.”
A three-time All-America running back, West was a consensus All-America first team selection in 2013 when he led all college football players with 2,509 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns. Honored as the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the 2013 Walter Payton Award, West led the Tigers to the NCAA FCS championship game. With 2,509 rushing yards, West shattered the NCAA FCS single season record of 2,326 yards set by Jamaal Branch of Colgate in 2003. He also broke the NCAA FCS record with 42 touchdowns, eclipsing the record of 39 set by Omar Cuff of Delaware in 2007.
Burke earned CAA Swimmer of the Year honors for the second straight season in 2013-14. She is one of two Tigers to win that award twice. Burke was undefeated in the dual meet season and won three individual events and a relay at the CAA meet. She earned honorable mention All-America honors after placing 11th at the NCAA Championship in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 16:04. The senior captured the 1650-free (16:11.55) and the 500-free (4:41.07) for the third year in a row and took first place in the 200 free (1:46.46) for the third time in her career. She was also a member of the Tigers’ first-place 800 freestyle relay team.
Burke also took home the Female Senior Achievement award, while the Male Senior Achievement award went toEric Pike of the football team.
Burke is a two-time honorable mention All-America honoree. She was named the CAA Swimmer of the Year in 2013 and 2014. Burke was named the CAA Rookie Swimmer of the Year in 2011. She won nine individual events in the CAA Championship meet during her career. Burke was named the CAA Swimmer of the Week multiple times in her career including four weeks as a senior.
A two-year captain, Pike was a consensus first team All-America selection as a senior. He earned All-CAA honors three times, including first team notice as a junior and senior. During his career, he helped the Tigers win two CAA championships and make two appearances in the NCAA FCS playoffs. As a senior, he helped the Tigers post a 13-3 record and reach the national championship game. Pike was named as the winner of the Doc Minnegan Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player. He set a school record by starting all 50 games of his college career and is only the third offensive lineman to win the award which was started in 1969.
The Male and Female Rookie of the Year awards went to Darius Victor of the football team and Gabby Cha of the women’s lacrosse squad.
Victor earned first team freshman All-America notice from the College Sports Journal. Named as the winner of the CAA Offensive Freshman of the Year award, Victor was the team’s second-leading rusher. He ran for 629 yards on 98 carries and led the CAA by averaging 6.4 yards per carry. He also caught five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. In the Tigers’ post-season run to the NCAA FCS championship game, Victor rushed for 219 yards on 33 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 52 yards and scored a touchdown.
Cha burst on to the scene for women’s lacrosse and played a key role through their CAA Championship run and first round NCAA Tournament game. Named the CAA Rookie of the Year, she finished third on the team with 36 points on 22 goals and 14 assists. She is the fourth Tiger and first since 2006 to earn CAA Rookie of the Year honors. Cha was a three-time CAA Rookie of the Week honoree. During CAA play, Cha tied for second in the league in assists per game (1.60). She recorded a point in 16 of the team’s 19 games this season and has three hat tricks on the year.
Honored for their work in the classroom as well as athletically, Joe Gunerman of the men’s golf team andMelanie Rowland from women’s swimming and diving were named the Scholar Athletes of the Year. The scholar athlete award was voted on by the Towson athletic advisors. In addition the Wayne Edwards Academic Team Awards went to men’s golf with a 3.286 cummulative GPA and the gymnastics squad who had a 3.61 GPA.
The strength and conditioning staff selected football’s Doug Shaw and gymnastics’ Alexa Davis as their strength and conditioning award winners. The athletic trainers named Joe McCargo of the football team and Andi Raymond from women’s lacrosse as the Comeback Players of the Year.
For the first time this year a Tiger Spirit Award was given to the student-athlete that exhibits well roundedness by excelling in areas including athletics, academics, community outreach, campus involvement and general positivity and support for the Towson Athletics Community. The players were nominated by the SAAC and voted on by all student-athletes. This year’s Tiger Spirit Award winners were Billy Pappas and Kendall Towe of the swimming and diving teams.
In addition each team had a leadership award winner selected and they are listed below.