Kemboi, Plantz Named Coca-Cola Student-Athlete of the Year at Upstate Athletic Awards Banquet

Kemboi, Plantz Named Coca-Cola Student-Athlete of the Year at Upstate Athletic Awards Banquet

Spartanburg, S.C. – The USC Upstate Athletic Department celebrated the 2012-13 year in sports Thursday night, holding its annual Coca-Cola Awards Banquet in the Hodge Center. At the end of the night, men’s cross country/track & field star Gilbert Kemboi and women’s soccer standout Sarah Plantz took home the department’s top honor in being named the Coca-Cola Student-Athlete of the Year.

In all, Upstate handed out 40 departmental awards, 32 team awards and announced the Chi Alpha Sigma National Student-Athlete Honor Society inductees and graduates.

Kemboi not only added to his lengthy resume in 2012-13, he punctuated it and cemented his place in Upstate lore as one of the best student-athletes in the 45-year history of athletics at the University. Excelling as a multiple-sport athlete in cross country and track & field, Kemboi began his record-setting year by leading the men’s cross country team to its second straight A-Sun Championship while defending his third individual conference title. He advanced to the NCAA Nationals, becoming the first Spartan to advance to an NCAA National Championship, and missed out on All-America honors by two positions. His excellence continued in the winter when he successfully defended his championships in the 3,000 and 5,000 meter races at the A-Sun Indoor Track & Field Championships, breaking his own A-Sun record time in the 5,000 meters. In 2012-13 alone, he has won three individual championships, was named the A-Sun Runner of the Year in cross country and the Most Outstanding Track Athlete of the Year in indoor track & field, and earned four all-conference honors, and he still has the 2013 A-Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships to come next month. He also excelled academically and was named the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year in cross country and indoor track & field while owning a cumulative GPA of 3.545 as a sociology major. He is a three-time member of the A-Sun All-Academic team and is an A-Sun Conference Scholar. Kemboi has also been active in the community, continuing his work on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the USC Upstate orientation staff, International Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and working in Spartanburg with the Spartanburg Foster Parents Association, Ignite and Spartanburg Boys and Girls Club outreach organizations. For his excellence as a student and athlete, Kemboi was awarded the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, the first USC Upstate student-athlete to ever receive the prestigious scholarship. For his career, Kemboi has won 12 A-Sun individual championships, 14 all-conference honors, five A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards and owns three A-Sun records. He is the fourth Spartan to receive two Student-Athlete of the Year honors at Upstate.

Plantz turned in a tremendous season in goal for the Upstate women’s soccer team, finishing the season as the top goalkeeper in the A-Sun and one of the top statistical keepers in the country. Playing more than 1,500 minutes, she was ranked ninth in the nation with 122 saves when Upstate’s season ended and finished the year 15th overall. She recorded nine or more saves in five matches on the season and recorded two shutouts along the way. She topped all A-Sun keepers in total saves and saves per game en route to earning A-Sun Goalkeeper of the Year honors and first team all-conference accolades, the first women’s soccer player to earn a major individual award and all-conference honors from the A-Sun. She has also cemented herself as one of the top keepers in the history of the program and with a year of eligibility remaining, ranks fifth all-time in saves and within striking distance of the all-time record. Plantz has also excelled as a student. A two-time A-Sun All-Academic team member, she is also an A-Sun Conference Scholar, carrying a 3.566 cumulative GPA as a criminal justice major. In addition to her athletic and academic performance, she has also been active in the community. She has worked with the women’s soccer team in their soccer clinics for underprivileged children, the team’s cancer initiatives, has volunteered at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen and has been a member of the USC Upstate Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Plantz is the first women’s soccer player to be named Student-Athlete of the Year at Upstate.

In addition to Kemboi and Plantz taking home Student-Athlete of the Year honors, Upstate honored 11 senior student-athletes with the Dr. Joe Bowman Pinnacle Award for career athletic achievement, three senior student-athletes with the Academic Excellence Award for career academic achievement and owning a .375 GPA or better, men’s golfer Ryan Cornfield and softball player Jamie Ujvari with the Most Outstanding Freshman Award, and Keith Hansen (Mathematics and Computer Science) with the Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award for his commitment to enriching the lives of the students at Upstate and for his ongoing support of the student-athletes and athletic department. See below for a full listing of the award winners.

Athletics Department Awards

Student-Athlete of the Year
Female - Sarah Plantz, Women’s Soccer
Male - Gilbert Kemboi, Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field

Dr. Joe Bowman Pinnacle Award
Gaither Bumgardner - Baseball
Tee’Ara Copney - Women’s Basketball
Davey Dennison - Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Ericka Harris - Softball
Dylan Hoop - Men’s Soccer
John Kadane - Men’s Soccer
Gilbert Kemboi - Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Brandon Lee - Baseball
Emily Sanders - Volleyball
Kenny Sugishita - Men’s Track & Field
Cameron Thomas - Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field

Academic Excellence Award
Matt Begley - Men’s Soccer
Julie Bell - Women’s Tennis
Samantha Poarch - Softball

Outstanding Freshman Award
Female - Jamie Ujvari, Softball
Male - Ryan Cornfield, Men’s Golf

Outstanding Faculty/Staff Award
Keith Hansen, Mathematics and Computer Science

Team GPA Award
Female - Volleyball
Male - Men’s Soccer

Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Fraternity
Inductees –
Meredith Barnes (Softball), Rachel Carr (Women’s Soccer), Amanda Carroll (Volleyball), James Hadley (Men’s Soccer), Yvon Haessig (Men’s Tennis), Anna Miller (Softball), Mindy Quimby (Volleyball), Morgan Page (Volleyball), Sarah Plantz (Women’s Soccer), Michael Rankin-Byrne (Men’s Soccer) and Daniel Seeba (Baseball);

Graduates – Ben Augenstein (Baseball), Emily Bingham (Volleyball), Chris Cox (Baseball), Gilbert Kemboi (Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field), Chris Knauff (Baseball), Ross Oden (Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field), Sam Poarch (Softball), Emily Sanders (Volleyball), Jordan Stampler (Baseball) and Laura Transue (Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field).

Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Leadership Award
Marissa Clontz – Women’s Golf
Emily Sanders - Volleyball

Leadership Award
Ben Augenstein - Baseball
Julie Bell - Women’s Tennis
Yvon Haessig - Men’s Tennis
Ericka Harris - Softball
John Kadane - Men’s Soccer
Kayla McAvoy - Volleyball
Kareem Richardson - Men’s Soccer
Emily Sanders - Volleyball
Jordan Stampler - Baseball
Laura Transue - Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field

Sportsmanship Award
Female - Isabel von Stryk, Women’s Tennis
Male - Tyler Miller, Baseball

Spartanburg Regional Sports Medicine Award
Tee’Ara Copney - Women’s Basketball

Conrad Award for Strength & Conditioning
Female - Sarah Plantz, Women’s Soccer
Male - Brian Thompson, Baseball

Wilde Soccer Scholarship Recipient
Women’s Soccer - Hailey Venable
Men’s Soccer - Derek Dearmond

Team Awards

Baseball - Will be announced after the season

Women’s Basketball
Newcomer Award - Brittany Starling
Most Improved Player - Shelby Hicks
Senior Award - Tee’Ara Copney

Men’s Cross Country
Most Valuable Performer - Gilbert Kemboi
Coach’s Award - Davey Dennison

Women’s Cross Country
Most Valuable Performer - Jasmine Polite
Coach’s Award - Anastasia Kolesnitchenko

Men’s Golf
Most Valuable Player – Adam Goins
Workhorse Award – Ryan Cornfield

Women’s Golf
Most Valuable Player – Taylor Barnes
Workhorse Award – Rachel Reiling

Men’s Soccer
Achievement Award - Dani Alvarado, John Kadane

Women’s Soccer
Most Valuable Player - Sarah Plantz

Impact Player – Meredith Barnes
Most Outstanding Newcomer – Jamie Ujvari
Defensive Player of the Year – Cheyenne Griffin

Men’s Tennis
Most Valuable Player – Matthias Kidler
Leadership Award – Yvon Haessig
Spartan Award – Jacob Darling

Women’s Tennis
Leadership Award – Alison Beeler
Spartan Award – Julie Bell
Spirit Award – Sarah Vande Berg

Men’s Indoor Track & Field
Most Outstanding Track Performer - Gilbert Kemboi
Most Outstanding Field Performer - Kenny Sugishita
Coach’s Award - Cameron Thomas

Women’s Indoor Track & Field
Most Outstanding Track Performer - Dominique Nock
Most Outstanding Field Performer - Brittany Walls
Coach’s Award - Heaven Briggs

Men’s Outdoor Track & Field
Will be announced after the completion of the season

Women’s Outdoor Track & Field
Will be announced after the completion of the season

Spartan Team Award - Kayla McAvoy
Iceberg Award - Amanda Carroll
George Gaines Heart Award - Emily Sanders

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