EDISON, N.J. – Canisius College baseball standout Connor Panas and Iona College outstanding women’s cross country/track runner Kate Avery have been named the 2013-14 MAAC Student-Athletes of the Year by a vote of the league's sports information directors, announced today.
“These two student-athletes are individuals who have proven themselves as champions in their sports and in their academic majors,” notes Rich Ensor, Commissioner of the MAAC. “Connor and Kate are well deserving of this recognition for their efforts and the MAAC membership congratulates them and their families and coaches for their outstanding commitment to the conference’s mission to have programs that aim for excellence in athletics and academics.”
The MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration created the MAAC Student-Athlete of the Year award in October 2001 to recognize overall excellence in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community. Each MAAC member nominated one male and one female for the honor. The conference sports information directors vote to determine one overall winner for men and women. The conference awards honorable mention accolades to each nominee. Nominees must have at least a 3.2 overall grade point average, be in their second year of residence at the institution, and be a starter or important reserve on their team.
Panas, a junior third baseman from Toronto, Ontario, earned All-American honors twice in 2014 by being named a Louisville Slugger Second-Team All-American and ABCA Third-Team All-American. In the 2014 season, he led the MAAC with six home runs, 51 RBI’s, and in slugging percentage (.574), while also being named to the ECAC Division I First-Team All-Stars and ABCA Northeast All-Region First Team. Panas also ranked second in the league with 16 doubles, third in batting average (.362), and fifth in on-base percentage (.443). In MAAC play, he led the conference in batting average (.419), slugging percentage (.744), RBI’s (31), and home runs (five), en route to being named the 2014 MAAC Player of the Year and being selected as a unanimous choice to the All-MAAC First Team. Nationally, he ranked 36th in RBI per game and 44th in slugging percentage, while being only one of four players in the country to record a .350 batting average, 50 RBI, and 15 stolen bases. Additionally, Panas led his team with 22 multi-hit games, 13 multi-RBI games, and he registered a career best 15-game hitting streak in the 2014 season. In the classroom, he owns a 3.77 grade point average which earned him a spot on the MAAC All-Academic Team, Capital One Second-Team Academic All-American, and Capital One Academic All-District First Team.
"This is a great honor for Connor, our baseball program, our athletic department and Canisius College,” Director of Athletics Bill Maher said. "To have a student-athlete from our baseball program win this award for the second time in four years speaks to the quality of student-athletes that Mike is recruiting while also finding tremendous success on the field."
"I am extremely proud of Connor's achievement,” said head coach Mike McRae. “This award epitomizes the marriage of athletics and academics. Connor's passion and drive has enabled him to be extremely successful on and off the field. The MAAC has rewarded a very deserving young man."
Avery, a sophomore distance runner from Newton Aycliffe, England, became a three-time All-American in 2013-14 earning All-American honors in cross country, indoor track (3k, second team), and outdoor track (5k, first team). She won titles in all three MAAC Championship events that she competed in which included Cross Country, the Indoor Track mile, and Indoor Track 3k, while earning two MAAC Championship Most Outstanding Performer awards at the Cross Country Championships and Indoor Track & Field Championships. In cross country, Avery led the Iona women’s team to a team championship at the 2013 MAAC Cross Country Championship. She earned All-Region honors with a fifth place finish at the 2013 Northeast Regional Championship and became the highest finisher and second ever All-American in Iona women’s cross country history with a third place finish at the NCAA Championship. Avery became the first British woman to earn a medal at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. In indoor track, Avery set Iona school records in the mile and 3k breaking the 3k record by more than 20 seconds and becoming the first Iona women’s runner to finish under nine minutes. She set a new MAAC record in the mile at the 2014 MAAC Championship and earned Second Team All-American honors at the NCAA Championship with a ninth place performance in the 3k. In outdoor track, Avery broke a nine-year old school record in the 5k, breaking the record by more than 36 seconds and becoming the first Iona women’s runner to finish the event under 16 minutes with a time of 15:27.90. She earned her third All-American honor of the year finishing eighth in the 5k at the NCAA Championship. A 2013-14 three-time MAAC All-Academic Team member (cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track), a member of the 2013 USTFCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team, and a 2014 All-Academic Track and Field individual honor recipient; Avery holds a 3.35 grade point average while majoring in marketing at Iona College.
"A great honor, for a great student-athlete," said Iona College Director of Athletics Rick Cole Jr. "We are extremely proud of Kate's tremendous accomplishments both on and off the field of competition. Her efforts this past year were inspiring to the Gael Nation."
“Kate had a great year both inside and outside of the classroom,” said head coach Ricardo Santos. “It's great to see that all her hard work and sacrifices have paid off for her, she is very deserving of this great award.”
Honorable mention recognition was awarded to the following nominees: Canisius College – Maria Kotas (women's lacrosse); Fairfield University – Kevin Greener (men’s swimming & diving), Lauren Liseth (softball); Iona College – Matthew Gillespie (men’s cross country/track & field); Manhattan College – Daniel Festa (men's soccer), Kate Bowen (softball); Marist College – Joseph Dube (men's tennis), Brooke Zywick (volleyball); Monmouth University – Vincent Du Vernois (men’s track & field), Chevannah Paalvast (women’s basketball); Niagara University – Nick Garcia (men's soccer), Kim Vona (women’s cross country); Quinnipiac University – Tobias Esche (men’s soccer), Jess Rusin (field hockey); Rider University – Nick Richter (baseball), Emily Ritter (women's cross country/track & field); Saint Peter's College – Jon Kristoffersen (baseball), Maggie Neiswangner (women's soccer); Siena College – James Beeston (men's soccer), Taylor Akana (volleyball).