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Lee University photo / Lee University's Beck Burnette is the NCAA Division II winner of the Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award for 2020 after his scoring average set a program record for the Flames and ranked 10th nationally.

One can only speculate what Lee University's Beck Burnette might have done in his first year of college golf if given a full season this spring to follow his hot start. What's certain is that Burnette accomplished enough in a schedule shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to be honored as the NCAA Division II winner of the Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award, as announced this week by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Already a PING All-America second-team member and an All-South Region selection this year, Burnette's scoring average of 71.30 for 2019-20 ranked 10th in D-II, according to Golfstat, and set a single-season program record for the Flames, who enjoyed a No. 7 national ranking this year. Burnette finished 11th or better in all six events in which Lee competed, with four of those in the fall schedule. Before going on to become a PGA Tour star and the winner of five major championships, Phil Mickelson was a college golf standout at Arizona State who won three NCAA individual titles and was a four-time All-American, and the annual awards that bear his name recognize the potential of young talents such as Burnette. "I'm extremely blessed to be the recipient of the Mickelson award. I'm honored to be selected, and this definitely is a confidence boost for the rest of my collegiate career," he said in a Lee release. "Being nationally recognized is something I only could have dreamed of just a few years ago. But winning this is also humbling when I see the other great players that have won the Mickelson award in the past." Burnette also said he was thankful for the encouragement and guidance of his teammates and coach John Maupin, who described the freshman's performance as "incredible." Added Maupin: "When you look at the past winners of this award, you quickly see how prestigious it is, and it's exciting to see Lee University represented on there now. Beck set this as a goal for himself to begin the year and put the work in; it's very cool to see that pay off for him." This year's other Mickelson honorees are Florida's Ricky Castillo in Division I, Averett's Elias Haavisto in Division III, Keiser's Wilhelm Ahlgren in NAIA and Ranger's Jacob Scov Oleseon in NJCAA.

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Staff file photo / UTC's Tanner Smith, right, was the SoCon's freshman wrestler of the year for 2019.

Wrestling

* University of Tennessee at Chattanooga redshirt sophomore Tanner Smith is a national Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-American. Smith, who is majoring in business analytics, has a 3.85 GPA and is the Mocs' 14th NWCA Scholar All-American. On the mat, he is a two-time NCAA tournament qualifier who was the Southern Conference freshman of the year in 2019 and this past season led the Mocs with a 25-9 record, was the league runner-up at 149 pounds and was seeded 22nd for the national tournament before it was canceled.

 

Tennis

* Sewanee has three Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Americans this year, with the tandem of senior Ellie Czura and junior Catherine Owen recognized in women's doubles and senior Jordan Brewer honored in men's singles. Czura and Owen finished the 2019-20 season with a No. 9 national ranking and a 4-1 record, including 3-0 in the spring schedule while helping the Tigers go 4-1 before play was halted and ultimately canceled. Czura and Owen, whose selections brought the Sewanee women's program's all-time ITA All-Americans sum to 15, were twice named the Southern Athletic Association doubles team of the week in the short spring season. Brewer went 10-1 and was 20th in the season's final rankings, going 6-0 in the spring schedule to help the Tigers post a 4-2 record and finish his collegiate career with a 55-17 singles mark. He is the men's program's 11th All-American.

 

Lacrosse

* Lee midfielder Shawna Ryan, a sophomore from Collierville, is the inaugural recipient of the Gulf South Conference's "Champion Scholar-Athlete" award for women's lacrosse. Ryan's 19 goals and five assists helped the Lady Flames to the hottest start in program history at 6-2 this year before the season was canceled. Ryan, whose major is media communications, has maintained a 4.0 GPA and already has completed 94 credit hours. In a Lee release announcing the honor, Lady Flames coach Derrel Martin saluted Ryan's "drive" in the classroom and on the field, calling her "the paradigm of a Lee University student-athlete."

 

Baseball & softball

* Bryan College softball middle infielder Heidi Smith and baseball outfielder Wade Weinburger, both seniors who are set to graduate this month with degrees in exercise and health science, have been recognized as their school's top female and male student-athletes for 2019-20. Each was announced as a Lion of Valor Award winner with this week's release of the virtual honors day program for the Dayton private college. On-field success is only part of the criteria for the honor, with a Bryan release stating a Lion of Valor should "model the character qualities of Christ on and off the field of play," prioritize team success and encourage others. Smith, from Cookeville, regularly received Appalachian Athletic Conference all-academic and "Champions of Character" recognition during a Lady Lions softball career in which she served as a team captain and started 154 of 155 games. Weinburger, from James Cistern, Bahamas, started all 189 games of his accomplished Lions career in which he rated as one of the best hitters in the NAIA, receiving both All-AAC and All-America recognition and ranking second in program history for home runs in a season with 22.

 

Basketball

* Cleveland State sophomore Jaquez Hicks has signed with Claflin University, an NCAA Division II program in Orangeburg, South Carolina. A 6-foot-8 forward from Conyers, Georgia, Hicks averaged 11 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in 2019-20, when he set the Cougars' program records for blocks in a career (63), season (44) and game (seven). As a freshman, he helped Cleveland State earn the TCCAA/Region VII tournament and win a game at the NJCAA tourney. In addition, Cougars sophomore Demonte Person is moving on to play for NAIA Division I program Blue Mountain College, which competes in the Southern States Athletic Conference that includes Dalton State. Person, a 6-foot-guard from Arlington High School near Memphis, is the Cougars' all-time assists leader and made the all-conference second team this year, when he also was Cleveland State's male athlete of the year.

 

Volleyball

* Cleveland State sophomore Aly Grace Lemons will continue her athletic career at Tennessee Wesleyan University, becoming the program's second player in recent days to sign with the NAIA Division II and AAC program in Athens, where she will join former Lady Cougars teammate Celie Patterson. Lemons is a 5-foot-11 middle blocker from Cleveland who prepped at Walker Valley, and she is Cleveland State's all-time leader in multiple statistical categories including aces, blocks and kills.

 

Miscellaneous

* The Southern Athletic Association recently announced its coaches' selections for the league's all-sportsmanship teams for winter and spring sports in 2019-20, and Sewanee's representatives were seniors Michael Barry (men's basketball), Caroline Cole (women's golf), Nick Ewing (baseball), Tommy Oliver (men's golf), Taylor Sprouse (women's tennis) and Grace Zechman (women's lacrosse); juniors James Hoyt (men's swimming and diving), Molly Montgomery (women's track and field), Cameron Noel (men's track and field) and Paisley Simmons (women's swimming and diving); sophomores Thomas Harrison (men's tennis), Kinsley Logan (women's basketball) and Drew Mullen (men's lacrosse); and freshman Sarah Wright (softball).

Compiled by Marty Kirkland. Contact him at mkirkland@timesfreepress.com.

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