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WVU Potomac State College 2024 CESPY Awards presented

Mandi Larkin standing next to CESPY winners to her left

WVU Potomac State College student athletes were recognized at the CESPY Awards for individual and team accomplishments throughout the academic year. Pictured with the recipients is WVU Potomac State College Athletic Director Mandi Larkin (far left). Those being honored include (l-r) Nik Rubendall, Alexa Shoemaker, Alex Kile, Jaden Fultz, Gavin Barkley, Arrisyn Amtower, Emonie Fennell, and Griffin Paugh.

The 3rd Annual Catamounts Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (CESPY) Awards were held on April 25, on the campus of WVU Potomac State College (PSC). Each year, student athletes and teams are recognized for individual and team accomplishments throughout the academic year. Four individual awards are presented to a men’s and women’s student athlete.

Emonie Fennell, posing with the award Griffin Paugh, posing with the award

The Freshman Athlete of the Year Award is presented to an outstanding first-year student athlete from a women’s and a men’s intercollegiate team. To be eligible, student athletes must be in their first year of NJCAA competition in the 2023-2024 academic year, with no prior NCAA or NAIA competition. This year’s winners were Emonie Fennell and Griffin Paugh.

Fennell is a freshman volleyball student athlete from Martinsburg, W.Va.  During her first year as a Catamount, Fennell earned the following honors: NJCAA Region 20 First Team, NJCAA All-American Nomination, and NJCAA Region 20 All-Tournament Team. 

Fennell finished the season ranked first in the region for kills per set (3.82), third for total kills (279), fifth for hitting percentage (.346), third in points scored (320.5), second in points per set (4.4), eighth in total digs (268), and ninth in digs per game (3.67). 

Fennell led the Catamounts in kills in 11 matches this year and led in digs in 10 matches this year. She also set a new PSC record in kills per game with a total of 26 kills against Carroll Community College.

Paugh is a freshman men’s cross-country student athlete from Keyser, W.Va. He was the top runner on the PSC men’s team all season long. Throughout the season, he was able to drop his race times and dropped a total of two minutes from the five-mile distance. He served as a team leader throughout the season in workouts, practices, and competitions.

Paugh finished consistently in the top 10 at every race this year. At the NJCAA Region 20 Championship he placed third overall, earning him NJCAA Region 20 honors and qualifying him for NJCAA Nationals in Huntsville, Ala.

Arrisyn Amtower, posing with the award Gavin Barkley, posing with the award

The Scholar Athlete of the Year Award is given to an outstanding student athlete from a women’s and men’s intercollegiate team at PSC. To be eligible for consideration, student athletes must have completed a minimum of one semester at PSC and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or better and must have competed during the 2023-2024 academic year. This year’s winners were Arrisyn Amtower and Gavin Barkley.

Amtower is a sophomore women’s cross country student athlete from Kingwood, W.Va. She is a psychology major and has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her time at Potomac State. In addition to her success in the classroom, Amtower was a strong presence on the cross-country course, and a solid first or second finisher for the team in every race. 

At the NJCAA Region 20 Championships, Amtower placed second overall and helped her team earn first-place honors, and their second trip to the NJCAA National Championship in two years. At NJCAA Nationals, she placed 100th overall and recorded her fastest time of the year at 21:07.80 on the 5000m course.

Barkley is a sophomore men’s basketball player from Berkeley Springs, W.Va.  He is a repeat Scholar Athlete of the Year winner, having earned the award the previous academic year. 

Majoring in sports management, Barkley has maintained a 4.0 GPA, earning 51 credits. During two seasons, he played in 50 games for the Catamounts for a total of 1085 minutes and scoring 417 points. Barkley shot 42 percent from the 3-point line in his career.

Alex Kile, posing with the award Jaden Fultz, posing with the award

The Catamount Culture Award is awarded to a female and male student-athlete from a PSC intercollegiate athletic team who exemplifies the qualities of pride, success, and commitment, and are leaders with their teams and in their community. These individuals are selfless examples of what being a Catamount is all about. This year’s winners were Alex Kile and Jaden Fultz.

Kile is a sophomore women’s cross-country student athlete from Capon Bridge, W.Va. During her freshman year, Kile placed first overall at the NJCAA Region 20 Championship and was anticipated to do the same this year.

During the race, a runner from Howard Community College established a solid lead and the gap was too great for Kile and her teammates to close. With 10 meters left in the 5000-meter race, the Howard runner collapsed to the ground. Alex finished in first place, not seeing the runner on the sideline of the crowded area before the finish line. The Howard runner crawled across the finish line to place fifth and had to be transported to the hospital (and was later released). The top five runners at the championship are named All-Region. 

This is where Kile showed just what being a Catamount is all about. After they presented her with the first- place finish award, she walked over to the Howard team and gave them the medal, asking that they present it to their teammate, since she had earned it. 

This is not just a one-time occurrence for Kile; the high character she possesses shines through in everything that she does, bringing energy and a smile to every workout and competition.

Fultz is a men’s basketball student athlete from Kingwood, W.Va., and is a Catamount through and through. The Catamount Culture Award describes him perfectly. Despite limited playing time this year, his leadership for the team never wavered. He brought energy and guidance day in and day out. You can find him involved with many things on campus such as serving as a resident assistant, he hosted the Keyser's Got Talent competition, and supports his fellow students in any way he can. Fultz is the first to offer a helping hand and his enthusiasm for life is contagious. Kile and Fultz were both recipients of the Catamounts Climb Higher Award at PSC.

Alexa Shoemaker, posing with the award Nik Rubendall, posing with the award

The Athlete of the Year Award is presented to an outstanding student athlete from a women’s and a men’s intercollegiate team at PSC. To be eligible, student athletes must have competed during the 2023-2024 academic year. This year’s winners are Alexa Shoemaker and Nik Rubendall.

Shoemaker is a sophomore from Keyser, W.Va. She is the Catamounts shortstop and as of this writing, her stats are as follows: first on the team for batting average (.459), first for at bats (133), second in runs (50), first in hits (61), third in doubles (10), first in home runs (14), first in RBIs (70), and first in total bases (11). 

Shoemaker is a true five-tool player on the field and pushes herself to continue her success from last year, being named as a 1st Team NJCAA All- American, 2nd Team NFCA Team All-American, 1st Team Region 20 and NJCAA Region 20 Tournament Team. 

Shoemaker is currently leading NJCAA Region 20 in home runs and RBIs. She is in conversations for being one of the top softball players in the history of the Potomac State Softball program. In addition, she is holding a 3.9 GPA in biology with hopes of becoming a doctor.

Rubendall is a sophomore from Norristown, PA. As of this writing, he has played in 89 games as a Catamount. His batting average this year is .361 with an on base percentage of .403 and a .569 slugging percentage.

Rubendall has driven in 46 RBIs this year, bringing his career total to 87 off of 103 hits. He is currently leading the team in hits, RBIs, and batting average. He is second in runs scored and doubles, and third in home runs. He has seen playing time in right field, first base and as the designated hitter.  

While we celebrate the accomplishments of the individuals above, we also want to recognize all the nominees for the 2023-2024 academic year:

Freshman of the Year

Emonie Fennell (volleyball); Hannah Hardy (women’s cross country); Hannah Ault (women’s soccer & women’s basketball); Taylor Lamp (softball); Paul Knotts (esports); Griffin Paugh (men’s cross country); Jayson Gordon (men’s soccer); Camren Wilkes (men’s basketball); Cooper Polcovich (baseball).

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Arrisyn Amtower (women’s cross country); Kelly Ours (women’s basketball); Hartley VanGilder (women’s soccer); Eva Ochoa (softball); Madison Mathias (volleyball); Will Haberlein (men’s cross country); Gavin Barkley (men’s basketball); Jan Haller (men’s soccer); Ben McDougal (baseball); Garrett Sions (esports).

Catamount Culture Award

Kamryn Feehan (volleyball); Jamie Kelly (softball); Alyssa Dunn (women’s soccer); Alex Kile (women’s cross country); Aaron Scott (esports); Griffin Paugh (men’s cross country); Jaden Fultz (men’s basketball); Will Thompson (baseball); Corbin McAllister (men’s soccer).

Athlete of the Year

Morgan Pyles (women’s soccer); Chelcie Forrester (women’s basketball); Kaitlin Heavener (volleyball); Alexa Shoemaker (softball); Alex Kile (women’s cross country); Andrew Swink (esports); Edwin Gonzalez (men’s soccer); Rodney Vilsaint (men’s basketball); Nik Rubendall (baseball).