Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University Department of Athletics honored the achievements of 233 student-athletes and undergraduate support staff Tuesday at its annual Academic Athletic Awards Banquet at E.A. Diddle Arena.
In addition to several individual academic awards, Erik Dandy and Riley Garcia were announced as Western’s 2003-04 Student-Athletes of the Year. Matt Rogers was selected the men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year, with Marci Kacsir and Sarah Lilly sharing women’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors.
Hilltopper baseball and Lady Topper golf were recognized as the school’s Scholar Teams of the Year, with men’s and women’s soccer and women’s cross country honored for their selections as Academic All-American squads.
And, J.C. Faircloth, Melissa Robinson and Allison Silver were recognized for being named to the Verizon Academic All-District IV team in their sports.
Dandy, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior inside linebacker from Mansfield, Ohio, is a two-time All-America selection. He was voted first-team all-Gateway Football Conference last fall after ranking fourth in the country in tackles per game and 11th nationally in stops behind the line of scrimmage. Dandy finished his final campaign with 167 total tackles, the fourth-highest figure in school history, and 22 stops for loss to go along with three interceptions and three fumbles. His efforts helped the Hilltoppers qualify for the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, the first time that has happened in the school’s history.
A 5-foot-6 catcher, Garcia is one of the top offensive players in the softball program’s five years. The Oak Creek, Wis., resident currently leads WKU in average (.373), runs (25), hits (57), doubles (11) and on-base percentage (.418), and has a .996 fielding percentage on the season. She ranks third in the Sun Belt Conference in batting, and is two multiple-hit games shy of breaking her own school season record. Garcia — the only player in school history with 200 hits — is a three-time all-league selection who also ranks first in the Hilltopper record books with a career .338 batting average.
Kacsir finished second in both the 1- and 3-meter diving events at this year’s SBC Championships, helping the Lady Toppers claim their fourth league title in as many years. A three-time Sun Belt Diver-of-the-Week selection, the Indianapolis, Ind., native qualified for the NCAA Zone B Diving Championships. She finished her senior campaign ranked second in the conference in the 3-meter event and third in the 1-meter standings.
In her final year on the Hill, Lilly competed in three events for the women’s golf team, recording a pair of top-20 finishes. The 5-foot-9 Owensboro, Ky., native carded an 84 to tie for fourth in a dual match against Tennessee State earlier this month, while she placed 18th in the season-opening tournament hosted by Tennessee Tech. And, Lilly’s best round of the year came in the EKU Fall Invitational as she helped Western to a top-10 finish.
Rogers, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound tight end on the football team, returned from a preseason injury to play in the final nine contests of 2003 including starting the final four games as Western advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA I-AA playoffs. He caught three passes on the year, including one for a touchdown, while his efforts also helped the Toppers rank in the top 10 in rushing nationally for the 14th straight season.
Robinson was the first WKU women’s soccer player in the program’s three-year history to be named to the academic all-district squad. The 5-foot-10 native of Maumelle, Ark., played in 17 matches and was part of a Lady Topper defense that allowed just 1.49 goals per match, helping Western to an 11-6-2 finish — that included a 5-1-2 record in Sun Belt action as WKU tied for third in the league standings.
Silver was voted first-team academic all-district as well as second-team all-SBC as a designated player after posting 15 wins and a 1.66 earned run average while batting .247 with a career-high four home runs and 20 RBI in ’03. A two-time conference Pitcher-of-the-Week selection her junior season, the 5-foot-9 native of Citrus Heights, Calif., ranked fourth in the league last year in both victories and ERA, and was fifth with 140 strikeouts.
A 5-foot-11, 215-pound resident of Jacksonville, Fla., Faircloth posted a 6-3 record with a 4.15 ERA during his sophomore season in 2003. The left-handed pitcher ranked second on the team with 82.1 innings pitched and was third in earned run average. Faircloth won each of his first five starts last year, including throwing the first complete game of his career in an 8-4 victory over Wright State in just his second start of the season.
All student-athletes and undergraduate staff at the banquet have a cumulative grade-point-average of 3.0 or better, or recorded a 3.0 GPA over one of the previous two semesters.