Courtesy: Zach Edwards (Moscow, Idaho)
Silver & GoldSPYs
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 05/03/2012
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MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho athletics handed out its yearly awards on Sunday at the third annual Silver and GoldSPY Awards Show, presented by Northwestern Mutual.

The event is organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and each award is voted upon by the student-athletes, coaches and staff. In its third year of existence, the show featured several Vandal highlights from the year, several entertaining features, such as a “Cribs” video with athletic director Rob Spear, and several individual and team honors from the season.

SAAC president Calleagh Brown, a senior on the swimming and diving team, said the event is a good way to unify the teams and to share each group’s accomplishments from the past year.

“It’s something that we really enjoy doing and we put a lot of hard work into it,” Brown said. “It’s just a fun thing that we wanted to model after the real ESPYs.

“It’s teams supporting teams – we’re all coming together as Vandals and celebrating each other. It’s one last chance for all the athletes to be together before some of them leave.”

Junior Ryann Carter, a women’s volleyball player and the SAAC event planner, said it was the culmination of a year’s worth of work and planning by the group and that it was easy to see the connections building across the different teams.

“I think it’s good for individual teams, but it’s great for the entire athletics department, because it brings everyone together and it’s a nice way to kind of get everyone together and mingle at the end of the year,” Carter said. “At intermission, everyone was up and about and mingling with everyone, not just their own teams.”

For the first time since the event started in 2010, the event had a title sponsor in Northwestern Mutual. That allowed the event to add such features as an expanded the dinner menu, improved video and an event photographer.

After seeing the event come to fruition on Sunday, the committee members all said they’re already working on plans for the 2013 edition of the event.

“After seeing how everything went and how everything came together, I am more than pleased with the way it went and we are so excited to start planning for next year,” Carter said.

2012 Silver & GoldSPY Winners
Male Athlete of the Year: Andrew Blaser (Track & Field)
Blaser scored a school-record 40 points at the WAC Indoor Championships to lead Idaho to its first WAC team title in any men’s sport. He won WAC titles in the heptathlon, high jump and 60m hurdles and finished third in the long jump and pole vault to earn five total First-Team All-WAC honors at the meet. He was voted WAC Indoor Outstanding Field Performer and earned the WAC High Point Award for his efforts. His score of 5,324 in the heptathlon at the WAC Championships is the second-best in school history and ranked 46th in the NCAA.

Female Athlete of the Year: Hannah Kiser (Cross Country/Track & Field)
Kiser had a breakout year as a sophomore. She led Idaho’s women to a second-consecutive WAC team title after a second-place finish and First-Team All-WAC honor. She earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors and qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships as an individual. Kiser earned Second-Team All-America honors during indoor track and field in the 3000m after finishing 13th in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She won three golds at the WAC Indoor Championships after anchoring the distance medley relay that won and broke the WAC meet record. She also broke the WAC Championship meet record in the 3000m and added an individual victory in the mile run to earn WAC Indoor Women’s Outstanding Track Athlete honors. During the season, Kiser hit the NCAA automatic qualifying standard in the 3000m and broke the Idaho and WAC all-time records with a time of 9:07.23, which was ninth-fastest in the NCAA and was the 11th-fastest time by an American (at any level) this year. She was also a USTFCCCA Division I All-Academic selection in cross country.

Outstanding Team of the Year: Men’s Track & Field
Vandal men’s track and field put together a pure team effort to claim Idaho’s first men’s WAC title in any sport. The team won a program-record nine WAC titles at the meet and swept the jumping events and relays for the first time in school history at a single championship meet. A total of 24 different Vandals scored and earned All-WAC honors. Ten different Vandal men won a WAC title and the team combined to earn 29 First-Team All-WAC honors and 18 Second-Team All-WAC honors. In all, Idaho men set 21 career bests at the meet. They won the title in the most dramatic fashion possible, with a one-point lead over Utah State going into the meet’s final event, the 4x400m relay. Idaho led nearly from start to finish to win the relay title and clinch the team victory.

Coach of the Year: Wayne Phipps (Director of Track & Field/Cross Country)
Phipps was named WAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year and WAC Men’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year this season after leading both teams to conference titles. For women’s cross country, it was the team’s second in a row and fourth since 2005. The men’s indoor track and field title was its first since 1997 and was the first by any Idaho men’s program since 1998. At the WAC Cross Country Championships, four women and three men claimed All-WAC honors and at the WAC Indoor Track & Field Championships, Vandal men and women broke two WAC Championship meet records, won a combined 13 WAC titles and earned 41 total First-Team All-WAC honors and 28 total Second-Team All-WAC honors.

Freshman Male Athlete of the Year: Matt Sullivan (Track & Field)
Sullivan helped Idaho win its first men’s WAC title with a runner-up finish in the indoor pole vault behind teammate Jeremy Klas. He was a First-Team All-WAC honoree in his very first career conference meet. At the Husky Classic on Feb. 10, Sullivan broke the Idaho freshman record in the pole vault after clearing a career-best 16’ 2” in the event. He has also already cracked Idaho’s all-time top-10 during the outdoor season.

Freshman Female Athlete of the Year: Rachel Millet (Swimming & Diving)
Millet broke Idaho school records in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events, the 100 butterfly and swam a leg of the team’s 800 freestyle and 400 medley relay teams. Her name is scattered throughout Idaho’s all-time top-10 performance list. At the WAC Championships, Millet finished sixth in the 200 free, ninth in the 100 free, 11th in the 50 free and swam on four relays. In the team’s win over Washington State in the regular season finale, Millet won the 100 and 200 free and the 100 fly, then swam the opening leg of the winning 400 free relay to lead the Vandals past the Cougars. In the dual-meet win over Oregon State, Millet claimed wins in the 50, 100 and 200 free and swam a leg of Idaho’s winning 200 medley relay.

International Male Athlete of the Year: Benjamin Ayesu-Attah (Track & Field)
Ayesu-Attah anchored Idaho’s 4x400m relay to gold at the WAC Indoor Championships and clinched the men’s team title in the process. He finished fourth in the 400m at the meet with a career-best 48.12. Ayesu-Attah earned First-Team All-WAC honors in the 4x400m relay and Second-Team All-WAC honors in the 400m dash. He earned WAC Men’s Track Athlete of the Week honors on Jan. 16 after running a 49.75 to break the WSU Open meet record in the 400m.

International Female Athlete of the Year: Liga Velvere (Track & Field)
Velvere broke one Idaho school record, one WAC Championship meet record and claimed two WAC titles during the indoor track and field season. She ran a 2:07.63 to break Idaho’s six-year-old 800m record by more than two seconds at the Vandal Indoor. At the WAC Championships, she ran a leg of Idaho’s WAC Championship meet-record distance medley relay team that lapped nearly every other team in the field and won by a 35-second margin. She followed it up with an individual win in the women’s 800m for the second year in a row. She finished the year ranked 48th in the NCAA in the 800m. She earned First-Team All-WAC honors in both the 800m and Distance Medley Relay, and also helped Idaho’s win take third in the 4x400m relay for a Second-Team All-WAC accolade. She scored 14 points to help Idaho take second as a team at the meet.

Breakout Performance: Alyssa Charlston (Women’s Basketball)
Charlston was a First-Team All-WAC and WAC All-Tournament honoree and led the team with 14.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game on 48.6 percent shooting. She increased her scoring average by 8.3 points and rebounds by 5.0 per game over last year’s averages. She led the team in scoring throughout the year and had a streak of 15-consecutive double-figure scoring games. During WAC play, Charlston averaged a double-double at 15.5 points and 10.1 rebounds on 50.9 percent shooting.

Comeback Player: Deremy Geiger (Men’s Basketball)
Geiger shot just 32 percent overall and 31 percent from 3-point range last season as a junior when he averaged 8.7 points per game. This year, he stepped it up in a big way to lead the team to its most wins since 1992-93 and a second-consecutive postseason bid. He finished the season ranked 10th in NCAA and first in the WAC with a 43.9 percent average from 3-point range and shot 46.3 percent overall from the field. He tied for the team lead with 12.9 points per game and his 87 made 3-pointers ranked third in Idaho single-season history. He was second on the team with 77 assists and 26 steals during the season.

Most Inspirational Vandal: Daniel Micheletti (Football)
A walk-on sophomore, Micheletti played in 11 games and started four for Idaho this season. He had seven catches for 83 yards, but made his biggest play on special teams, when he recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown to tie the game late in the fourth quarter at Virginia. He is an Electrical Engineering major with a 4.0 GPA.

Play of the Year: Men’s Track & Field 4x400m Relay
In a very tight WAC Indoor Championship team race, Idaho went into the meet’s final event with a one-point lead over Utah State. Whichever team finished higher in the 4x400m relay would take home the WAC team title. Idaho sophomore Andrew Bloom led off the race and took the lead on the final straightaway of his leg, then handed off to senior Josh Dalton, who opened up a huge Idaho lead. Junior Kyle Tylor maintained Idaho’s advantage on the third leg and handed off to true freshman Ben Ayesu-Attah, who out-kicked the WAC’s No. 1 and No. 2 400m runners to win the relay and clinch Idaho’s first WAC title in any men’s sport.

Best Moment of the Year: Men’s Track & Field Wins First WAC Title
Idaho’s men won their first indoor team title since 1997 and gave the school its first WAC men’s title in any sport after a dramatic win over Utah State in the meet’s final event. At the meet, 24 different men scored and earned All-WAC honors and the team won nine men’s events and earned a combined 47 All-WAC honors. At the conclusion of the meet, Vandals were honored as WAC Coach of the Year (Wayne Phipps), WAC Outstanding Men’s Track Performer (Andrew Blaser) and WAC Men’s High Point Award (Andrew Blaser).

Biggest Upset: Hannah Kiser at Dellinger Invitational
Running in an invitation-only field that included four nationally-ranked teams and six regionally-ranked teams, sophomore Hannah Kiser made herself known with an individual win at Oregon’s Dellinger Invitational. Running in a tight lead pack that included four different All-American cross country runners, Kiser out-kicked the pack to win the women’s race in a time of 16:45.71. The win kept Kiser undefeated against collegiate competition for the third week in a row to start the 2011 season.

Professor of the Year: Dr. Mario Reyes (College of Business and Economics)
Reyes is the interim dean of the College of Business & Economics and a professor of finance at Idaho. He has been a part of the University of Idaho family since 1985 and has been recognized with several teaching honors, including the First Interstate Bank Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Idaho Award for Teaching Excellence.
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