Boca Raton, Fla. – Lynn University's athletics department proudly hosted its eighth annual Student-Athlete Recognition Awards show on Wednesday evening, presenting a record 47 awards to a litany of Fighting Knight teams and student-athletes. The highly-touted Blue and White Athlete of the Year Award went to men's golf's Toto Gana and women's tennis' Klaudia Boczova while Daniel Cooper of men's basketball and Kristina Ortiz of women's golf took home the Mr. and Mrs. Fighting Knight honors. Women's swimmer Catalina Berraud-Galea and men's lacrosse student-athlete Conrad Rhein were tabbed the Scholar-Athletes of the year with the men's lacrosse program also winning the first-ever Social Impact Team Award.
Gana was honored as an All-Sunshine State Conference performer for the second-straight season, earning first-team accolades for the first time. He has helped the men's golf program to runner-up and National Champion finishes at the 2017 and 2018 NCAA Championships, respectively, and will leave the program as the career leader in stroke average, which currently stands at 71.38.
Boczova was dominant during the 2017-18 campaign, her lone season in the Blue and White, going 24-0 at the No. 1 singles slot. She also secured a 22-3 record at No. 1 doubles, earning Singles and Doubles All-America honors from the ITA. The accolades kept coming for Boczova as she was named the ITA South Region and SSC Player of the Year, earning first-team nods from the SSC for both singles and doubles.
Cooper and Ortiz claim Mr. and Mrs. Fighting Knight honors as students that show the most Fighting Knight pride and dedication, campus leadership and spirit. Both are heavily involved around on campus and in the surrounding community, exemplifying what it means to be a Lynn student-athlete.
Berraud-Galea earned the women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year while Rhein earned the accolade on the men's side. Berraud-Galea has a 4.0 GPA in sports management and is a two-time winner of prestigious NCAA Elite 90 Award, which goes to the student-athlete with the highest GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA Championships. Rhein finished his undergraduate degree with a 3.97 GPA in May of 2018 and currently holds a 4.0 GPA in his entrepreneurial management graduate program, having been named to the SSC Commissioner's Honor Roll in each of his previous three years.
Karolina Smylek claimed Newcomer of the Year honors after strong performances at both the Sunshine State Conference Championships and 2019 NCAA Division II National Championships. Smylek became the third true freshman in Lynn history to earn All-SSC honors, joining Thalie Carmigniani and Berraud-Galea. At the SSC Championships, she became the first Blue and White swimmer to medal in both the 100 & 200 backstroke and then followed that with a program-record time in 100 back at the NCAA Championships, placing eighth overall.
The third annual Boca Raton Regional Hospital Comeback Player of the Year went to Jack Watson of the men's soccer team, who came back from a knee injury to lead the Fighting Knight attack. Watson led the team in goals and points despite playing in just 12 of the team's 18 matches. Additionally, Watson recorded game-winning goals in road matches at Saint Leo and Tampa and notably scored the game-tying goal in the team's upset of second-ranked Palm Beach Atlantic in the NCAA South Region Tournament.
The Best Game Performance honor went to men's tennis student-athlete Jean-Baptiste Mateo for his huge upset victory in the NCAA South Region Finals which helped propel Lynn to the 2018 NCAA National Tournament. Playing in the NCAA South Region finals, Lynn was tied 4-4 with No. 2 ranked Saint Leo. Mateo defeated the reigning SSC Player of the Year and previously undefeated and top-ranked individual Thomas Grinberg to secure the win and send the Fighting Knights to the National Championships.
The men's golf team had a hand in Best Championship Performance for the second straight season, as Carlos Bustos secured the honor with a mammoth effort at the 2018 NCAA National Championships. Bustos claimed match play victories over the top two golfers in Division II, including the clinching point to win the National Championship. In the semifinals match against Barry, Bustos knocked off All-American Jorge Garcia by shooting a 65 to advance Lynn to the finals. Once there, Bustos went toe-to-toe with top-ranked West Florida's three-time All-American and reigning National Player of the Year and won 66-67 to win his match and the national title.
Under the tutelage of head coach Brian Kingsbury, the men's lacrosse team took home the first-ever Social Impact Team Award, which is presented by Lynn University's Social Impact Lab. This award is for programs who have been active in social causes around campus and the local community. These teams honor the principles of Spirit, Service and Strength in all facets and are leaders in social change. The men's lacrosse program participated in several beach cleanups, assisted at local YMCAs, raised money to fight cancer via the Headstrong Foundation and provided help at the Lynn Business Symposium this past academic year. The Fighting Knights also took part in several initiatives organized by the OneLove Foundation, which included a benefit game in the spring, to help create awareness about the prevention of domestic violence.
The night began with a dinner for the senior student-athletes and the annual inductions to the Lynn University Athletes Hall of Fame. Lacy Redwine, Devon Woolard, Daniel Young and Beau McMillan became the four newest members of the Lynn Athletics Hall of Fame. The night concluded with the announcement of Boczova and Gana as Blue & White Athletes of the Year.