Academics and Research / Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Student-athletes honored at annual awards banquet

Senior swimmer Blake Worsley and sophomore skier Antje Maempel earned Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, at DU’s 74th annual student-athlete awards banquet May 11 at the Ritchie Center.

The celebration honored each of Denver’s 17 intercollegiate sports programs and included awards for Pioneer sportsman and sportswoman of the year, comeback player of the year, and strength and conditioning. In addition, the Gold Vest Award is given to an outstanding Pioneer team for excellence in community service, academics, spirit, leadership and athletic performance.

Worsley, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., led Denver to first-ever Sun Belt Conference swimming and diving championship and earned his second consecutive SBC men’s swimmer of the year honor after setting conference records in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle. He advanced to the NCAA championships for the second time in his career and recorded the highest finish for a Pioneer swimmer since the University returned to Division I competition with a sixth-place finish in the 500 freestyle and a personal-best and school-record time of 4:13.81. Worsley owns seven school records in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay and 800 freestyle relay. Worsley was named an All-American for his performance this season.

Maempel, of Stützerbach, Germany, swept the individual skiing NCAA championships in the classical and freestyle, leading the Pioneers to their second straight NCAA national championship, DU’s 20th overall and sixth this decade. Maempel was just the second DU woman to sweep the national titles and the first since 1996. Maempel finished in the top five in all 12 of her races this year, including four wins, earning the 2009 Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Women’s Nordic MVP, as well as first team All-American honors in both classical and freestyle.

Men’s alpine skier Leif Haugen of Lommendalen, Norway, won the Pioneer Sportsman of the Year, which honors the most outstanding male first-year student-athlete. Haugen earned first team All-American honors by finishing second in the giant slalom and third in the slalom at the NCAA championships.

Wome’s basketball player Kaetlyn Murdoch of Temple, Texas, won the Pioneer Sportswoman of the Year award after posting one of the best performances by a freshman. Murdoch was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 9.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor and 60.8 percent from the free-throw line for the season. Murdoch tallied one of the best performances by a freshman in an NCAA game, turning in a 13-block, 11-rebound effort against Arkansas State in January, which set a new DU record for most blocks in a game and also set an conference record for most blocks in a game. She became the sixth player in NCAA history to finish with 13 blocks in a game, tied for fourth all-time on the most blocks per game list.

Women’s soccer player Taryn Hemmings of Greeley, Colo., was named the Comeback Player of the Year. After winning the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year award in 2006, Hemmings missed the 2007 season following hip surgery. This season, Hemmings bounced back to capture her second conference player of the year award and lead the Pioneers to their third-straight conference tournament title and an NCAA tournament appearance. Hemmings led Denver in nearly every offensive category this season, ending her career second on DU’s career scoring list with 112 points on 42 goals and 28 assists.

Hockey player J.P. Testwuide of Vail, Colo., and women’s golfer Dawn Shockley of Estes Park, Colo., received strength and conditioning awards. The honors are based on test scores, improvement in strength and conditioning over their careers, and the ability to use strength and conditioning to improve their athletic ability.

Peg Bradley-Doppes, vice chancellor for athletics and recreation and Ritchie Center operations, presented the volleyball team with the Gold Vest Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the department. The volleyball team won its second consecutive Sun Belt Conference West Division title, while posting a team GPA of 3.38 in the classroom. In addition to their performance on the court, the Pioneers were also very active in the community, helping with the Conservation Partners, Project Homeless Connect, 9News Health Fair, 9News Cares, Samaritan House and Hands on Conservation. The team also hosted a number of clinics throughout the community, including the DU Youth Clinic with the women’s basketball team and a clinic at St. Vincent DePaul.

View a complete list of the 2008–09 scholar-athletes of the year, team MVPs and freshman of the year.

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