TOWSON, Md. – Jack Saunderson
of the men's swimming and diving team and Kendyl Scott
of the softball team were honored as the Towson University Athletes of the Year at the Golden Paws banquet held on Monday night in SECU Arena.
This event is part of Towson University's second annual 'Celebration of Excellence', which is a series of events in April and May that recognize and celebrate the many achievements of its students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The Golden Paws, which highlighted the successes and triumphs of the 2017-18 athletic year, was hosted by women's basketball senior Daijha Thomas
, women's soccer junior Alexis Toles
, football junior Diondre Wallace
and women's track and field junior Jaina McLean
Saunderson was dominant in becoming the CAA's first repeat winner as Swimmer of the Year since 2012 and the eighth in conference history to win consecutive Swimmer of the Year honors. He joined former Tiger Aaron Krause who also won the conference's highest individual award in 2003 and 2004.
Saunderson made his second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Division I Men's Swimming Championship and earned a pair of Honorable Mention All-America honors after setting new all-time CAA records in both the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly. He placed 13th in the 100 fly, posting a program and conference record time of 45.51 seconds. The next day, Saunderson collected his second Honorable Mention honor after finishing 10th in the 200 fly with another program and league record of 1:40.87.
At the 2018 CAA Championship, Saunderson secured the most individual points of any male swimmer with 60 points, sweeping both the 100 (45.75 seconds) and 200 fly (1:41.69) events while also earning gold in the 200 IM (1:45.76). He set the program, conference meet and conference all-time marks for each event. Saunderson is a three-time Honorable Mention All-America selection and has won 15 medals at the CAA championship, including six gold, five silver and four bronze.
Scott helped Towson enjoy a memorable regular season in which it set school records for wins, runs, hits, doubles, and total bases. Her consistent performances this season in which she had 29 multi-hit games and a pair of games in which she drove in five runs has Towson back in the CAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.
Scott set a Towson single-season program record with 84 hits. She is the Tigers all-time career leader in runs with 158 and hits with 247. Scott is second in the NCAA in hits, fourth in batting average, and fifth in total bases. She's sixth in doubles, ninth in doubles per game, 10th in toughest to strikeout, and 30th in slugging percentage.
The senior career achievements awards went to Mike Morsell
of the men's basketball team and Megan Kelly
of the women's track and field team. The award recognizes student-athletes for outstanding achievements throughout their four years at Towson.
Morsell finished his Towson career ranked seventh in program history with 1,523 points. He also ended his career ranked second in 3-point field goal attempts (459), third in 3-pointers made (150), fourth in starts (103) fifth in made free throws (335), sixth in free throw attempts (457) and sixth in program history in field goal attempts (1,218). One of seven players in program history to score over 1,500 career points and one of five players in program history to start at least 100 games.
He had four games in which he scored 30 or more points including a career best 34 against William & Mary on Feb. 13, 2016. A three-time All-CAA honoree, Morsell made four game-winning baskets including one against Manhattan with 1.5 seconds remaining to win the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic on Dec. 2, 2017. He was a three-time CAA Player of the Week honoree.
A five-time CAA Women's Track Athlete of the Week winner, Kelly helped the Tigers win their first conference championship as a junior. She's a two-time CAA champion in the 400-meter hurdles. Kelly, who was named the 2017 Towson Female Athlete of the Year, currently owns the outdoor school record in the 400 meters and is a member of the 4x400-meter relay team that holds the fastest time in school history. She is also a member of the indoor 4x400-meter relay team that holds the fastest time in school history.
This season, Kelly set the school, meet and facility record in the 400-meter hurdles at the JMU Invitational. She posted a time of 59.05 seconds which is the fastest time in the CAA this season. Kelly finished first in the 400-meter hurdles at the TU Invite with a time of 1:00.46, the fastest time in the CAA this season. Her mark also qualified her for the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Track and Field Championship.
of the men's swimming and diving team and Kaitlin Thornton
of the women's lacrosse team were selected as the Tiger Rookies of the Year. The award is given to a freshman that had an outstanding first season and positively impacted their team.
Canny was the second Tiger, and first since 2007, to win CAA Rookie Diver of the Year. He won the bronze medal and earned All-CAA honors on the three-meter board at the CAA Championship. Canny totaled a career-high 294.14 on the three-meter to place first against Delaware on January 20 and posted a career-best 268.20 on the one-meter to place second at Georgetown on October 14.
In helping the Tigers qualify for the NCAA Tournament, Thornton was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team. She scored 26 goals, handed out 14 assists, and totaled 40 points in 18 games this season. She was named the Inside Lacrosse Women's National Rookie of the Week after totaling a career-high six points in a 21-13 win over Georgetown. Thornton was named CAA Rookie of the Week on March 26 after totaling a career-high four goals in a 14-11 win at No. 6 Florida.
Honored for their work in the classroom, as well as athletically, Zane Ventimiglia
from the football team and Lauren Cahalan
of the women's gymnastics squad were named Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year. The scholar athlete award was voted on by the Towson athletic advisors.
The strength and conditioning staff selected Ventimiglia and Megan Kelly
from women's track and field squad as their Strength and Conditioning award winners. The sports medicine department named Dirk Masters
from the baseball team and Gabriella Yarussi
from the gymnastics squad as the Comeback Players of the Year.
The Community Service award was given to Adam Ceribelli
of men's lacrosse and Cahalan. The award is given to a student-athlete that demonstrates commitment to community service, involvement and general positivity in support of Towson Athletics.
' walk-off grand slam to beat Hofstra and Peyton Windell's ace with a torn anterior cruciate ligament on senior day against Delaware were selected as the Best Moments. The Best Moment is given to a student-athlete or team for the best moment/play of the year.
Saunderson and the Towson softball team were the winners for Best Record Breaking Achievement. Saunderson was recognized after his record setting junior year. The softball team won a school record 40 games and opened the season with a 19-3 record, the best start in program history.
Men's lacrosse and volleyball were the recipients of the Bobbi Madison award for highest increase in GPA from fall 2015 to fall 2016. Men's golf and women's cross-country were given the Wayne Edwards award for the highest GPA after the fall semester.