Sarah Fails holds her Senior Female Student-Athlete of the Year award on Sunday night.
The Gannon University athletic department held its 14th annual Student-Athlete End of the Year Celebration on Sunday night in the Grand Ballroom of the Erie Bayfront Convention Center. The event honored about 700 student-athletes while also handing out season-ending awards.
The highlight of the evening was the revealing by Director of Athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk of the 2022-23 Senior Female and Male Student-Athletes of the Year.
Soccer player Sarah Fails was named the Senior Female Student-Athlete of the Year, and golfer Abe Holmes was selected as the Senior Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
Coaches from each of Gannon's 23 sports teams gave a brief wrap-up of their season, and Team MVPs were announced.
The banquet also recognized student-athletes for a variety of accomplishments, including the Doc Beyers Award, presented to a male and female student-athlete for Outstanding Achievement in Scholarship and Athletics, along with the Play of the Year, which was voted on through social media.
Fails had a superb senior season as a forward on the Gannon women's soccer team. The Girard resident who attended Villa Maria Academy used speed, ball-handling skills, and competitive fire to become a constant scoring threat for Gannon. She led the PSAC with 12 goals and 29 points while leading the Golden Knights to the PSAC West regular-season title and a spot in the PSAC Championship game. She also helped Gannon advance to the second round of the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional.
As a result of her big season, Fails received a variety of postseason awards. She was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America Third Team after earlier making the United Soccer Coaches All-Atlantic Region First Team. She was also named to the D2CCA All-Atlantic Region First Team. In the PSAC West, Fails was the Athlete of the Year and a First Team All-Star.
Her 12 goals were the sixth most in a season in Gannon history. She also had five game-winning goals and finished with five assists. Perhaps her biggest moment of the season came in the PSAC semifinals when she scored twice to fuel Gannon's 3-1 win over Bloomsburg.
As a student, Fails is a former PSAC Scholar Athlete who has a 3.324 GPA as an Early Childhood/Pre-K Education major.
Holmes is one of the most accomplished golfers in Gannon history. He could not attend Sunday's event because his team was traveling for a tournament that opens Monday.
He has won five tournaments during the 2022-23 athletic year, including four in the fall and one in the spring. As a result of his efforts, Gannon has won seven tournaments during the academic year, and the season isn't over. Holmes finished as the PSAC runner-up in the fall after narrowly missing a putt on No. 18 that would have tied him for the lead and forced a playoff.
The Barrio, Ontario, resident has been a PSAC All-Star three times, including First Team twice, and is a likely All-PSAC pick again. He also was a PSAC Athlete of the Year in 2021 and is a contender for the award again this year. In the fall alone, he was named PSAC Athlete of the Week four times. He has been an All-American once, and an All-Region honoree twice in his career.
Holmes is also a highly decorated student who has been a PSAC Scholar-Athlete four times, a CSC At-Large Academic All-District selection and a two-time D2ADA Academic Achievement Award winner. He is a graduate student working on his MBA with a 3.68 GPA after recording a 3.80 GPA while earning a sports marketing and management degree as an undergrad.
Meanwhile, acrobatics & tumbling athlete Maddie Olsen was honored as the female recipient of the Doc Beyers Award, and water polo goalie Jacob Hollo received the award for the men's sports.
Olsen is a senior top and tumbler who has adapted her role to what the team needs, including as an emotional leader for the Golden Knights. She has a 3.88 GPA as a Nursing major with a Spanish minor. She is a three-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete, a D2ADA Academic Achievement Award winner and a NCATA Academic Honor Roll member. Upon graduation, she will be working as a nurse at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh on an endocrine/oncology floor.
Hollo is a Chemistry/Pre-med major with a 3.542 GPA. He is a three-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete, and a D2ADA Academic Achievement Award winner. He has competed as a goalie for four years while helping Gannon to two CWPA Division II titles and two MAWPC-West titles. Hollo was also the MAWPC-West Rookie of the Year in 2019. He was awarded one of the few admissions to the LECOM Doctoral program where he will look to become a Psychologist.
Acrobatics & Tumbling – Sammy Gouge
Baseball – Ian Hess
Men's Basketball – Demetrius Mims
Women's Basketball – Samantha Pirosko
Cheer – Caesar Grandinetti
Men's Cross Country – Caleb Mandel
Women's Cross Country – Cait O'Rourke
Dance – Jaelyn Brookbank
Football – Kory Curtis
Men's Golf – TBD
Women's Golf – Ditte Petersen and Sarah White
Women's Lacrosse – Alli Jacobs
Men's Soccer – Sergio Del Castillo
Women's Soccer – Sarah Fails
Softball – Maggie Lenda
Men's Swimming & Diving – Stephen McCallum
Women's Swimming & Diving – Madalyn Myers
Women's Volleyball – Bengisu Arslan
Men's Water Polo – Drago Marjanovic
Women's Water Polo – Jade Strickland
Men's Wrestling – Nick Young and Dom Means
Women's Wrestling – Lili Ujfalvi
Mims, Pirosko, Del Castillio, McCallum, and Marjanovic are all repeat winners from 2021-22.
PLAY OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Football: A sack by Nick White forces a fumble, and Reginald Hamlette scoops it up, makes a move and goes the distance to put GU up 27-7 against Mercyhurst.
Men's basketball: Robertas Jonaitis follows a missed shot by Zach Kent with a thunderous dunk on the putback against Mercyhurst.
Men's soccer: Lennox Crews finds the right corner of the goal on a free kick over Georgian Court's defensive wall.
Men's wrestling: Nick Young makes an incredible move to flip his Shippensburg opponent to his back for the quick pin.
Volleyball: Sam Deinek's kill seals Gannon's victory over Clarion in the PSAC Championship match and triggers a joyous celebration.
Women's golf: A putt by Ditte Petersen secures the individual title at the Gannon Spring Invitational and helps the Golden Knights break the 18-hole team record with a 300.
Women's lacrosse: A quick goal by Grace Cunningham off an assist from Charlie Hunter puts the Gannon lacrosse team ahead of Mercyhurst in the fourth period on the way to a 10-9 win.
Women's swimming: Gannon finishes in third place in the PSAC Championships in the 400-yard freestyle relay thanks to a solid start and a strong finish.
As selected on social media, the winner of the 2022-23 play of the year is the Gannon football team.