By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Mitch Thomas and sophomore Allyson Dunn have been named as the Most Valuable Players, and two captains for each squad have been recognized as Tennessee Tech head golf coach Polk Brown recently announced the annual awards for the Golden Eagle men's and women's golf teams.
Dunn was selected as MVP of the women's golf team that soared to a second-place finish at the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, while Thomas took home the Gilbert Darcy Most Valuable Player award for the Golden Eagle men's team.
Accepting the leadership role of team captains, seniors Maddi Everts and Megan Williamson were recognized for heading up the women's squad while seniors Bryce Kendrick and Thomas earned the nod in their final season for spearheading the men's team.
"Allyson has made an enormous impact on this team," Brown said of the women's MVP award. "We cannot say enough about her contributions. She is an extremely hard worker, and we look for her to continue to do great things the next couple of years. Her leadership will be very important in taking this team to the next level.
Dunn, who also won both the Best Putter and Long Hitter Awards, had the low average on the tam with a mark of 76.77 through 30 rounds of tournament play. In her first season on the roster following a transfer from East Tennessee State, the Kingsport, Tenn., native earned four top five finishes, posted three rounds under par, and had the team's lowest round of the year of 69, a score she managed twice, to rank as the second-lowest score in program history. She scored a 69 at the Murray State Invitational in September, and matched that with her third round effort at the OVC Championship that helped her claim second place individually.
Also earning a second-place finish at the EKU Colonel Classic, Dunn shared the Impact Award with freshman Hollee Sadler. The Impact Award goes to the first-year player who had the greatest impact on the team.
Sadler shared the Impact Award and also won the team's Most Dedicated Player Award at the conclusion of her rookie season. A freshman from Manchester, Tenn., Sadler also played in 30 tourney rounds and enjoyed a 78.10 stroke average. Her top finish was a fourth place effort at the F&M Bank APSU Invitational in October, and she claimed a seventh place showing at the OVC Championships.
"Hollee is one of the hardest workers we have ever seen since we've been here," Brown said. "She has a relentless drive to be the best, and her impact this year was felt across the board. The future is very bright for this young lady."
Lindsay Miller, a freshman out of Nashville's Ensworth High School, won the Most Improved Player Award. After qualifying for one tournament during the fall season, she earned a spot in the Tech lineup for three tourneys in the spring and finished strong including a career-best round of 73 at the EKU Colonel Classic.
"Lindsay came a long way since the fall," Brown said. "She stepped up in the spring, and we expect her to be a big part of the team come next year."
The captain's job was shared by Williamson and Everts, who each wrapped up their Golden Eagle playing career.
Williamson, a senior from Murfreesboro, Tenn., was in the Tech lineup for 10 tournaments, and finished with an 81.7 average through 27 rounds to rank fifth on the team. She leaves as co-holder of the school record (218) for lowest 54-hole tournament.
Everts, a fifth-year senior from Ooltewah, Tenn., is also in the school record books several times, including the lowest round (67) in program history and a share of the second-lowest 54-hole score. Everts was third on the squad in 2015-16 with a 77.96 stroke average, appearing in 10 of the team's 11 tournaments with three top 10 finishes.
One of the men's team co-captains, Thomas received the Gilbert Darcy MVP Award, and also won the Best Putter Award while claiming the Low Average Award. A senior from Knoxville, Tenn., Thomas played in 31 tournament rounds while qualifying for all 11 tournament, and was below par in seven rounds on his way to team-best 73.32 stroke average. He scored the low round of the season by a Golden Eagle when he carded a 67 at the Golfweek Program Challenge to open the season last September. He posted three top 10 finishes, before a 19th place individual showing at the OVC Championships.
Thomas played in 122 rounds during his four seasons on the roster, finishing as one of the most consistent players in school history with a 73.89 career average.
"Not enough can be said about Mitch," Brown said. "He has been the rock of this program for the past four years. He is a consummate team player, and his leadership has been excellent since his arrival in 2012. He is more than deserving of the MVP award and has left some big shoes to be filled in the future."
Kendrick also departs the program as co-captain, wrapping up his four seasons after joining the team in the same recruiting class as Thomas in 2012. Kendricks was fourth on the team in average at 74.64 this season, and piled up 101 career rounds in tournament play with a 74.60 lifetime stroke average. He tied for the team lead with 10 rounds below par as a senior.
Ben Huskey, a redshirt freshman from Sevierville, Tenn., who made his playing debut, was awarded the Most Improved and Most Dedicated Player awards. He finished the year with 22 tournament rounds in eight events with a 77.82 average.
Neil Gannaway, a senior who played two seasons on the golf team after finishing a four-year career on the Golden Eagle football team, developed into an impact player in his final year. He captured the Long Hitter Award. Gannaway was second on the team in stroke average at 73.87, with three top 10 finishes and one top five showing. He also produced 10 rounds below par, tied for tops on the team with Kendrick.
His best effort netted a fourth place individual finish at the Big Blue Invitational, April 11-12, featuring a second-round 68 to match his career-best 18-hole score. He also fired a 68 during th Bash at the Beach in March, and had a 69 in the final tournament of the fall schedule.
"Neil has been a truly special addition to the team since he came aboard last spring," Brown said. "It has been a joy to watch him progress as a collegiate golfer (which is much, much different than playing football), and we felt that he really found solid footing this spring. We are extremely grateful for all his contributions."
Matthew Giles, a true freshman from Louisville, Tenn., captured the Impact Award for the men's team. In his debut season, he ranked third on the team with a 74.64 stroke average, featuring nine rounds below par and a career-best tally of 69. He finished with a pair of top five tourneys, claiming second individually at the WKU Kenny Perry Invitational in October and third at the ASU Fall Beach Classic later that month. Three times in the fall season he was named the OVC Golfer of the Week. He was Tech's top finisher at the OVC Championships, closing strong for 13th place.
"Matthew looks to be a solid force for us in the next few years," Brown said. "He has had one of the best freshman years in recent memory, and his impact on the team was amazing. The sky is the limit for this young man, and we cannot wait to see what is ahead for him."