11 nominated for UAA's 2014-15 MacKay Athlete of the Year
Eleven student-athletes representing all 13 of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s intercollegiate sports are have been nominated for the prestigious Bill McKay Athlete of the Year award for 2014-15.
The nominees are Sean Alexander (men’s skiing), Karolin Anders (women’s indoor track & field and outdoor track & field), Henry Cheseto (men’s cross country), Amy Johnston (women’s cross country), Mackenzie Kanady (women’s skiing), Olivier Mantha (hockey), M’rcy Matsunami (gymnastics), Megan Mullings (women’s basketball), Cody Thomas (men’s indoor track & field and outdoor track & field), Travis Thompson (men’s basketball), and Katelynn Zanders (volleyball).
The 31st annual award will be presented Friday, April 24, at the athlete-of-the-year banquet at Lucy Cuddy Hall on the UAA campus.
Alexander, a junior from Calgary, Alberta, earned his second career All-America result with an 8th-place finish in the men’s slalom race at the NCAA Championships. Alexander also took 21st in the giant slalom as he helped UAA to a ninth-place team result at nationals, and he was eighth in the slalom at NCAA West Regionals.
Anders, a junior from Berlin, Germany, earned All-America honors in the multi-events at both the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships and 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships, including a runner-up finish in the heptathlon last spring. The Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion in both events, Anders led the Seawolves to a repeat of their outdoor team crown in 2014 and captured the Outstanding Female Performer award at the 2015 indoor championship meet.
Cheseto, a freshman from Kapenguria, Kenya, swept the GNAC and NCAA Div. II West Region individual titles as he led the men’s cross country team to its fifth straight league crown and a runner-up finish at regionals. The GNAC Freshman of the Year also paced the Seawolves’ sixth-place team finish at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.
Johnston, a senior from Salinas, Calif., had an outstanding effort in her lone campaign after transferring from Metro State, capturing GNAC Newcomer of the Year honors. She finished fourth at the GNAC Championships and fifth at the West Regional Championships, while boosting the Seawolves to an 8th-place NCAA finish with All-America honors.
Kanady, a junior from Anchorage, was the top point producer on the women’s ski team throughout the season, leading the Seawolves in all but one skate race. The former Service High School standout ranked sixth in the West Region in the Nordic freestyle and placed 14th at the NCAA Championships, helping UAA to a ninth-place team finish.
Mantha, a freshman goaltender from La Tuque, Quebec, earned Most Valuable Player and Most Inspirational Player honors for the Seawolves’ hockey team. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association Rookie of the Week for Jan. 11-17, Mantha posted a solid .914 saves percentage and 2.90 goals-against average.
Matsunami, a junior from Omaha, Neb., produced arguably the best season in UAA gymnastics history, setting five school records and qualifying as an all-arounder for the NCAA Div. I West Regional meet. In UAA’s last five team competitions, Matsunami earned five of the top seven all-around scores in school history – including a record-breaking 39.200 – and won the uneven bars title at the MPSF Championships.
Mullings, a junior from Glendale, Ariz., earned honorable mention All-America, unanimous First Team All-GNAC, and GNAC Newcomer of the Year awards after helping the women’s basketball team ascend to a 29-2 record and No. 1 in the national polls for five weeks. The 6-1 center shot a school-record 60.4 percent from the field, while averaging 13.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
Thomas, a junior from Blenheim, New Zealand, earned All-America finishes with a runner-up effort at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships and 7th-place in the decathlon at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor meet. He was named Outstanding Male Performer of the meet at the 2014 GNAC Outdoor competition, and he led the Seawolves to their first-ever GNAC team title at the 2015 league indoor meet.
Thompson, a senior from Anchorage, led the men’s basketball team with 17.2 points per game as he earned First Team All-GNAC, Second Team All-West Region and CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-America Third Team honors. The former Dimond High star finished as the No. 2 scorer in UAA history with 1,667 points and left as the school and GNAC all-time three-point leader with 302 treys.
Zanders, a junior from Anchorage, was an honorable mention All-American and repeat unanimous All-GNAC selection after helping the Seawolf volleyball team to a program-best 21-6 record and an NCAA Tournament berth. The South Anchorage High School product led UAA with 3.44 kills per set and ranked No. 2 in the GNAC with 0.31 aces per set.
The 2015 Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year is selected for excellence in the 2014-15 athletic campaign. However, because of calendar concerns, this will mark the ninth straight award that takes the previous year’s track & field season into consideration.
The award is voted on by a committee comprised of UAA Athletics staff members, local media, and Benton Bay representatives.
Past Bill MacKay Athletes of the Year
Year Winner Sport
2014 Micah Chelimo Men’s Cross Country/Indoor Track & Field/Outdoor T&F
2013 Micah Chelimo Men’s Cross Country/Indoor Track & Field/Outdoor T&F
2012 Taylor Rohde Men’s Basketball
2011 Ruth Keino Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
2010 Calli Scott Volleyball
2009 David Registe Men’s Track & Field
2008 Luke Cooper Men’s Basketball
2007 Rebecca Kielpinski Women’s Basketball
2006 Kemmy Burgess Men’s Basketball
2005 Mandy Kaempf Women’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
2004 Peter Bullock Men’s Basketball
2003 Tobias Schwoerer Men’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
2002 Tobias Schwoerer Men’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
2001 Ed Kirk Men’s Basketball
2000 Edda Mutter Women’s Skiing
1999 Jim Hajdukovich Men’s Basketball
1998 Zuzana Razusova Women’s Skiing
1997 Frode Lillefjell Men’s Skiing/Cross Country Running
and Elena Tkacheva Gymnastics
1996 Allegra Stoetzel Women’s Basketball
1995 Jason Kaiser Men’s Basketball
and Karen Hoey Gymnastics
1994 Kerry Robitaille Gymnastics
1993 Jennie Szczerbinski Volleyball
1992 Jon Pauole Swimming
1991 Paul Krake Hockey
1990 Teri Frankie Gymnastics
1989 Michael Johnson Men’s Basketball
1988 Robin Graul Women’s Basketball
1987 Hansi Gnad Men’s Basketball
1986 Teri Frankie Gymnastics
1985 Tiina Kantola Women’s Skiing/Cross Country Running