By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Juniors A.J. Wilkerson and Allyson Dunn were both recognized as their team's Most Valuable Player, 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 for the second consecutive year, while Wilkerson took home the Gilbert Darcy Most Valuable Player award for the Golden Eagle men's team.
Accepting the leadership role of team captains for the women's team were both Dunn and senior Whitney Robertson, while Wilkerson earned the role on the men's squad.
"We're going to miss Whitney a lot," Brown explained. "I couldn't have asked anything more from her the last four years. She's a fine young lady and we hope that she keeps in touch. She's got a bright future ahead of her, whatever it is that she chooses. We can't thank her enough for choosing Tech and we're excited for her future.
"Just like last year, Allyson was just a joy to be around," Brown said. "She's such a disciplined player; on the golf course with her work ethic and in the classroom she's extraordinary. She has been everything that we have hoped when she transferred in, and I think she's going to have a lot more to offer her last year here. We're excited for what there is to come. She's been a great leader, and we look forward to having her back here in the fall."
Dunn, who also won team honors as the Best Putter, Long Hitter and Low Average, led the team with the third-lowest scoring average in program history, a mark of 76.57. She earned All-OVC accolades after notching three All-Tournament honors on the year. Dunn posted the second-lowest single round score in program history with a 4-under 68 in the third round of the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, finishing with a 220 overall.
Redshirt freshmen Arianna Clemmer and Shelby Johnson shared the team's Impact Award, each contributing in the fall and spring seasons. Johnson participated in four events, sporting an 80.25 scoring average. Also taking home the Most Improved honor, Clemmer totaled 21 rounds on the year, sporting a season-low 230 at the Memphis Intercollegiate and 79.19 scoring mark.
"We decided to redshirt them [Clemmer & Johnson] and they really got a great understanding of how to go about balancing school and golf," Brown explained. "It will be exciting to see how they further make an impact on this team in the coming years.
"Arianna made a huge leap from her first year, but I think she has finally figured out the way that college golf works. The sky is the limit for her. We're excited for her future. It's been great to watch her grow this year as a person both on and off the course."
Sophomore Hollee Sadler claimed the team's Most Dedicated honor, showing improvement from last year's sensational freshman campaign while playing in all 30 rounds for the Golden Eagles. Sadler averaged 77.97 on the year, taking medalist honors at the Starmount Forest Fall Classic with a career-low 219 to help Tech to a tournament victory.
"Hollee is definitely the hardest worker on the team," Brown said. "She hasn't even come close to reaching her potential yet. I think that if she keeps going down the path that she's going with her hard work, as long as she stays patient, it will pay off. She gets after it every day and that's what we need from the team in order to be successful. I'm glad to have her for the next few years."
On the men's side, Wilkerson was a rock and leader on his way to the Gilbert Darcy MVP award, also claiming the team's Low Average honor thanks to a team-best 74.63 mark. The Sparta, Tenn. native earned four top 10 finishes on the year, including an All-Tournament honor at the Samford Intercollegiate. He fired a career-low 214 at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate for his second of three straight top 10 finishes.
"I'm very proud of A.J.," Brown explained. "This year, he really emerged as the leader on the team. The way he played, his scores speak for themselves. He's a guy that all of the other players turn to, especially given this year's young group of guys, and he just went about things the right way. He worked hard, was focused on what he was doing, he did great in the classroom, and he just covered the whole spectrum of what entails captain and MVP of the team. We're really proud of him and actually we're really lucky to have him again for a fifth year."
A trio of true freshman took home shares of the Impact Award, including Dabney Dickenson, Charles Seals and Cameron Yeary. Both Dickenson and Yeary compiled 27 rounds of action on the year while Seals came on strong in the spring, particularly in a historic showing at the OVC Championships.
Dickenson, who also earned honors as the team's Long Hitter and Most Dedicated, averaged 78.70 in his first season in the purple and gold, posting a season-best 223 at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate. Yeary rounded a strong campaign with a 76.96 scoring mark, setting the tone for the year with an impressive 221 at the season's opening event, the GolfWeek Program Challenge.
"Dabney definitely was the hardest worker on the team," Brown said. "He was certainly the rawest player on the team coming in to the program, but he made some good strides, starting from the beginning of the fall to the spring and he has so much potential and upside. I'm very excited to see what he has in store for the next three years, because of his talent level and work ethic."
Seals, the team's Most Improved player, showed signs of competitiveness in the fall with a 222 in his collegiate event, the GolfWeek Program Challenge. He showed vast improvement in the spring, working towards a 75.39 scoring average that ranked third on the team with an incredible performance at the OVC Championships. The rookie led all golfers over the first two rounds of the event, eventually placing in a tie for fourth place overall with a 67-68-81=216.
"You couldn't ask for a better group of young guys," Brown explained. "They're extremely coachable, they listen, they work hard, and are just a fine group of young men. I'm looking forward to them taking the helm for this team in the next few years. They certainly made an impact on this team. They played a lot of events and all three of them participated at conference. They just really represent Tech in the right way. That's one of the main things that we look for when we bring young men here. They're great. We're very fortunate to have them on our squad."
Last year's Impact Award winner, Matthew Giles took home the team honor for Best Putter, using his fine touch on the green to rank second on the team in scoring average with a mark of 75.33.
"Matthew continued off the success he showed in his first year here," Brown said. We can't wait to see what he has in store for us over his final two seasons at Tech."
Photos by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information