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Athletics award night highlights a year of accomplishments

Posted: April 23rd, 2014

TOP SENIOR ATHLETES – Derek Billing of the men’s basketball team and Emily Snyder of the volleyball team pose with their trophies after being named Lake Superior State’s senior athletes of the year during the LSSU Department of Athletics annual banquet April 17 at the Cisler Center. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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By Linda Bouvet
Sports Information Director

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Derek Billing of the men’s basketball team and Emily Snyder of the volleyball team were named Lake Superior State’s senior athletes of the year during the LSSU Department of Athletics annual banquet April 17 at the Cisler Center.

Billing (Anna, Ohio), who was named Cliff Everett Male Athlete of the Year, is a 6-2 guard with impressive athletic and academic resumes which include being named to the Capitol One Academic All-America Second Team, Daktronics and NABC all-region teams, All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference First Team and Division II Bulletin All-America Honorable Mention. He is a three-time GLIAC all-academic award winner and last season received the prestigious GLIAC Commissioners Award.

Statistically, Billing led LSSU and ranked fifth in the GLIAC in scoring this season, averaging 20.7 points per game. He also ranked in the top 10 in the league in free-throw and three-point shooting and steals, and was 11th in assists. He ranked in the top 25 nationally in total points, field goals and free throws made. He set new school records for single-season free throws, and finished second on LSSU’s all-time single-season lists for total points and three-pointers. Career-wise, he finished fifth in scoring with 1,799 points, first in three-point field goals with 284, fourth in assists and free throws, and fifth in free-throw percentage. Billing was the leader on an outstanding team that won a school-record tying 27 games and a GLIAC regular-season championship, and made the program’s third NCAA Tournament appearance.

Snyder (Archbold, Ohio), who received the Deb McPherson Female Athlete of the Year Award, amassed impressive numbers during her volleyball career while overcoming shoulder and ankle injuries during her sophomore and junior seasons, and two coaching changes. She enjoyed a healthy and outstanding senior campaign last Fall, led the team in attacking and earned All-GLIAC honorable mention.

Snyder ranked ninth in the GLIAC in kills per set at 3.08 and 12th in points per set at 3.4. She was one of the league’s best servers and all-around players, and setting a career high of 22 kills during a 3-2 victory over Lake Erie on Oct. 5 and reaching double figures in digs in six matches. This season’s attack percentage of .155 and reception percentage of .930 are her best ever. The 5-11 outside hitter moved up to 10th on LSSU’s career kills list with 838. She also finished with 650 career digs, 86 aces and 80 blocks.


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TOP RUNNER AWARD – Sophomore Adam Birkeland (Rockford, Mich.) received the Chris Yanni Memorial Award. The award is named in honor of the former NCAA All-Region cross country standout from Sault, Ontario, who died in a cycling accident in 1992. Yanni had a strong interest in outdoor recreational activities and a concern for the protection of natural resources. He was also a strong advocate for athletics and the virtues of clean, healthy living. The recipient for this scholarship must be one of the top-seven runners of the LSSU men's cross country team who has made significant contributions to the success of the LSSU cross country program. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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SCIENTIST-ATHLETE AWARD – Lake Superior State University School of Biology Chair Nancy Kirkpatrick, right, presents the Marion and Ray Chelberg Award is presented to the outstanding student-athlete majoring in any of the sciences and was awarded to golfer Megan Henry (Novi, Mich.). Henry, a junior, leads the squad with an 84.3 scoring average. She is a biology major with a 3.52 grade point average. The award goes to an outstanding science-athlete majoring in the natural sciences in his or her junior year with at least a 3.0 GPA. Professor Emeritus Raymond Chelberg and his wife Marian were one of the original faculty families at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, Sault Branch in 1946. When he retired in 1970, Professor Chelberg was chair of the Chemistry Department. He was a dedicated teacher for more than 44 years and was remembered for his personal, caring and effective approach to teaching. In 1959, Michigan Technological University named him Teacher of the Year. He wrote a "Workbook for First Year College Chemistry" that was used throughout the United States. Marian taught music appreciation at Lake State and was one of the founders of the Musicale. She was choir director at Central United Methodist Church and was one of the first women invited to join the Rotary Club. Together, they significantly enhanced the scientific, athletic and cultural aspects of Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding community. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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BASKETBALL STANDOUT – Lake Superior State University women's basketball player Laura VanEs accepts the Christina Comito Memorial Award, which goes annually to the member of the team who most exemplifies the determination, commitment, and competitive nature of the late Christina Comito. Shown presenting is Comito's father, Tony, of St. Clair Shores, Mich. VanEs, a senior from Eau Claire, Wis., received the honor during LSSU's annual all-sports banquet held in Sault Ste. Marie on April 17. This award is presented in memory of Christina Comito, a 1992 LSSU graduate and Laker women's basketball player from 1988-1992. She scored over 1,000 points in her Laker basketball career and received the Outstanding Student Award in Exercise Science in 1992. Tragically killed in an automobile accident in October 1995, Comito had a will to succeed both on and off the court. At the time of her death, she was a therapist at Henry Ford Hospital and attending classes to enter medical school. Her named endowment benefits both the women's basketball program and Comito's major – exercise science. VanEs was selected by the women's basketball coaching staff, athletic director, and the coordinator of the LSSU Exercise Science Program. A plaque, donated by the Comito family, commemorates recipients and is displayed in the James Norris Center lobby. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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COACHES CHOICE – Lake Superior State University Foundation Executive Director Tom Coates presents the Ronald "Bud" Cooper Coaches Trophy to Kaleb Schweiger (track and field) and Chloe Balanda (volleyball) during a Lake Superior State University all-sports awards banquet held April 17 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The annual award, based on a poll of LSSU coaches, goes to a male and female athlete who displays top citizenship and leadership qualities in furtherance of Laker Athletics. Balanda (Big Rapids, Mich.) started her volleyball career as a role player and earned more playing time each season. Coach Jennifer Constantino described the 6-1 right-side hitter as a “consistent offensive and defensive threat in the front row.” As a captain and starter this season, she helped her teammates adjust to a new coaching staff and new systems. She was active in community-service events and served as vice-president of the LSSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She was a three-time GLIAC All-Academic honoree, maintaining a 3.4 grade point average in biology, and will be attending medical school this Fall. Schweiger (Richmond, Mich.) was also instrumental in helping his teammates through a coaching change. He helped run practices last Fall until head coach Jason Davis was hired in mid October, and he aspires to be a college coach someday. He volunteers his time with high school athletes in the pole vault and other field events. During the indoor track and field season, he set a new school record in the pole vault, won the GLIAC heptathlon title and earned All-America honors with a sixth-place heptathlon finish at the indoor nationals. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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COOPER SCHOLARS – Kevin Cooper presented an athletics scholarship award in his father's name to juniors Megan Henry, left, (women’s golf) and Kirsten Thompson (softball) during an all-sports banquet April 17 at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Ronald “Bud” Cooper Endowed Award is awarded to athletes on LSSU’s nine non-fully funded teams. Other recipients were sophomore Luke Ogren (men’s tennis), junior Sean Seuhr (men’s track and field), junior Anthony Silva (men’s cross country), sophomore Sarah Awe (women’s tennis), and sophomore Margaret Beal (women’s track and field), junior Jessica Allen (women’s cross country). Men’s golf did not have an recipient this year. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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JIM FALLIS AWARD – Lake Superior State University Math Professor Tom Boger presents track and field's Justin Balczak with the Jim Fallis Award during an all-sports banquet April 17 at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Jim Fallis Award, named after LSSU’s All-America wrestler and former director of athletics, goes to an All-American or student-athlete who has excelled in the classroom and in his or her sport.. Junior Justin Balczak (Cedar Springs, Mich.) is a four-time All-American in the multi-events. He finished second in the NCAA Outdoor decathlon last spring and third the year before. At the NCAA Indoor Championships, he has finishes of 10th, second and fifth in the heptathlon. He owns LSSU school records in both events, along with the indoor 55-meter hurdles, and outdoor 110-meter hurdles and pole vault. He got off to a slow start during this year’s NCAA Indoor heptathlon, but improved throughout the meet, topping off his performance with a first-place finish in the shot put. He went on to finish fifth in the event. He is red-shirting during this outdoor season. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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KIWANIS SCHOLAR ATHLETE –Lake Superior State University professor of math and computer science Brian Snyder presents the Kiwanis Award to the LSSU senior student-athlete who attains the highest academic competence. Recipient Haleigh Edgar (Tecumseh, Mich.), a senior second baseman on the softball team, is a biology major with a 3.966 grade point average and will be a three-time GLIAC Academic Excellence Award winner. This standout slapper and lead-off hitter has a career batting average of .260 with 103 hits. The award was given during an all-sports banquet April 17 at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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SALUJA SCHOLAR-ATHLETES – Lake Superior State University business professor Madan Saluja, right, presents the track and field scholarship set up in his name to sophomores Adam Birkeland (Rockford, Mich.) and Nolin Livingston during an all-sports banquet held April 17 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Assisting is business professor Brian Zinser, left. The Dr. Madan Saluja Endowed Scholarship was established in 2011 by former students and friends of LSSU’s legendary School of Business professor, who has taught at the University for more than 40 years. It benefits a student-athlete who is a member of the LSSU track and field or cross country teams and majoring in the School of Business program. Birkeland is a two-time GLIAC All-Academic honoree in cross country and track and field. He was the Lakers’ No. 2 runner at the GLIAC Cross Country Championships, where he finished 54th, and at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Last weekend he placed fourth in the 1,500-meter run at the Northwood Invitational. He competes year-round and maintains a 3.19 GPA in mechanical engineering.Livingston is a sophomore thrower on the track and field team who placed 16th in the weight throw at the 2014 GLIAC Indoor Championships, and he recently placed 12th in the hammer throw at the Michigan State Outdoor Invitational. At last weekend’s Northwood Invitational, he finished second in the hammer throw and fifth in the discus. He maintains a 3.8 grade point average in manufacturing engineering technology and is expected to earn GLIAC Academic Excellence Awards during the winter and spring seasons. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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FIRST-YEAR STANDOUT – Lake Superior State University sports information director Linda Bouvet presents the Terry McDermott Award to Alex Globke (hockey) during an all-sports banquet held April 17 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The annual citation goes to male first-year varsity athletes who, as decided by coaches and a selection committee, best balance athletic commitment with campus participation while displaying outstanding qualities of citizenship and leadership. Globke, from Waterford, Mich., was an imposing 6-3, 206-pound left wing who led the Laker hockey team in scoring with 12 goals and 31 points. After ranking 15th in the WCHA in overall scoring and leading all rookies in points, he was also named WCHA Freshman of the Year. Globke, who also ranked 10th nationally in rookie scoring, is only the second Laker hockey player ever to earn league rookie of the year honors, with the other being the great Steve Mulholland in 1980. (LSSU/John Shibley

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FIRST-YEAR STANDOUTS – Lake Superior State University athletic director Kris Dunbar presents the Terry McDermott Award to volleyball's Jen Marren (left) and softball's Carly Banchiu during an all-sports banquet held April 17 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Banchiu (Waterford, Mich.), has been an immediate impact player for the softball team. She is batting .258, ranks second on the team in doubles and third in RBIs. To date, the rookie infielder has 160 putouts and only one error. Marren (Berrien Springs, Mich.) is a 5-10 outside hitter and all-around player who appeared in 85 of 90 sets for the Laker volleyball team, finished second on the team in kills with 241 and ranked 17th in the GLIAC in kills per set at 2.84. She reached double figures in kills in 14 matches and had two of the Lakers’ top three individual attack performances of the season. The annual citation goes to male and female first-year varsity athletes who, as decided by coaches and a selection committee, best balance athletic commitment with campus participation while displaying outstanding qualities of citizenship and leadership. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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LAKER CLUB WINNERS – Members of Lake Superior State University's softball team accept the 2014 Laker Cup award and ceremonial check from retired employee and long-time athletic booster Carol Boger, right, during an all-sports banquet April 17 at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The softball team, with a team grade point average of 3.28, won the endowment, which was established in 2012 to recognize the LSSU varsity team with the highest GPA. In addition, this year's award offered $2,000 to help defray logistical expenses. From left are softball players Carly Banchiu (Waterford, Mich.), Kirsten Thompson (Oxford, Mich.), Haleigh Edgar (Tecumseh, Mich.), Danielle Reveley (St. Clair Shores, Mich.), and Felicia Gingrinch (holding award; St. Johns, Mich.). (LSSU/John Shibley)

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DILLON'S SCHOLARSHIP – Sophomore thrower Miranda Emaus (Hudsonville, Mich.), accepts the Dillon Menard Scholarship from Lake Superior State University’s vice-president of student affairs Ken Peress during an all-sports banquet held April 17 in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The Dillon Menard Scholarship is named in memory of the cross country and track team’s beloved teammate, who died unexpectedly in fall of 2010. This scholarship is funded by the proceeds of several events initiated by LSSU students combined with contributions to the 25K Challenge, which was established by Peress in 2009. Emaus recorded indoor season bests of 8.95 meters in the shot put and 12.12 meters in the weight throw. During her outdoor season opener at Michigan State, she threw distances of 7.63 meters in the shot put and 22.06 meters in the discus. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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-LSSU-

CONTACT: Linda Bouvet, e-mail, 906-635-2601.


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