CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern senior Sophie Cloessner earned the Hunter Cup and the Senior Female Athlete of the Year award, while fellow senior Anthony Ellis was named Senior Male Athlete of the Year highlighting CSU's 52nd Annual Athletic Awards Banquet on Monday night. Senior Lydia Frierson was recognized with the R.L. Wynn Female Christian Leadership Award, while freshman Matt Inman was named the Michael Frost Male Christian Leadership Award recipient.
Cloessner will receive the Hunter Cup at CSU's commencement ceremony on May 5 thanks to her work in the classroom as a Management major while minoring in Psychology. Cloessner was recognized this past week as the Big South Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year while boasting a 3.944 GPA.
The Wetzlar, Germany native has been a standout on the tennis court since stepping foot on the campus her freshman season. She finished her career at the Big South Women's Tennis Championships with a 51-10 overall record in singles play and a 25-3 mark in Big South Conference singles action. She was also 46-21 all-time in doubles with a 22-6 conference record.
Cloessner was a three-time All-Conference singles recipient and a two-time All-Conference doubles player with the Bucs. She was a key member of the 2015 Big South Tournament Championship team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Bucs won or tied for the regular season championship twice during her career at CSU.
She finished up her senior season with a team-best 12-4 singles record and a 5-2 mark in conference play while playing all 16 matches on the top court. She was also 12-7 overall in doubles teaming up with freshman Madalina Man all season.
Ellis finished off his career with the Buccaneers as one of the most decorated male athletes in CSU history. The Apopka, Fla. native rewrote the Bucs' defensive record book during his time with the Bucs and was a seven-time All-American over his final two seasons with the Bucs.
Ellis was recognized as the co-Defensive Player of the Year for the Big South Conference, becoming the fourth repeat winner of the league's top defensive honor. He led the Big South in tackles for loss for the third consecutive season with 16.0 and tied for the most forced fumbles with three. A two-time Defensive Player of the Week selection, he finished second in the league with a career-high 9.0 sacks and was part of a unit that set the Big South single-season team sack record with 34.
The senior defensive end finished in the top 10 in the conference with two interceptions, posted 52 overall tackles (30 solo), and recorded three multi-sack games and six multi-tackle for loss efforts in 2017. In five Big South games, the Buck Buchanan Award finalist was tops with 12.0 tackles for loss - including a Big South single-game record 5.5 tackles for loss vs. Gardner-Webb in Week 10 - in addition to a league-best 5.5 sacks plus 34 total tackles.
Ellis became the second player in Big South Conference history to post three 7.0 sack seasons after finishing the contest with second in the league with 9.0 sacks for the season. The Apopka, Fla. native joins Liberty's Chima Uzowihe as the only players in conference history to post three 7.0 sack seasons. His nine sacks on the year mark the third-highest total in Big South history, while his 24.0 career sacks trail only Uzowihe (25.0, 2012-15). His 16.0 tackles for loss gave him 51.5 in his career, placing him second in the Big South all-time record book behind only Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnston (53.5, 2004-07).
Matt Inman has taken on a leadership role on campus helping organize an athlete Bible Study, among other initiatives that have been taken on over the 2017-18 athletic year. The freshman distance runner competed in both cross country and track and field for the Bucs in his first year of collegiate competition.
The Lexington, Ky. native has been among CSU's best distance runners in the spring with six top 10 finishes among his seven races in 2018. He won the 3000m race at the CSU Spring Break Invitational with a time of 8:53.17 to lead the Bucs to a podium sweep of the event. He added a second-place finish at the Winthrop Invitational and a third-place result at the Charlotte Invitational in the 5000m races. He enters the final weeks of the season with the 10th-best time in the Big South Conference in the 5000m race on the year.
Lydia Frierson has also been a strong leader in multiple roles across the athletic department and campus. She has lined up on the women's soccer team for four years and started running distance for the women's track and field team in the spring of 2018. The Laurel, Md. native has also starred in several musicals across campus and been an advocate for the athlete Bible Study that has started up this year.
Also notable during her time at CSU was a Spring Break missions trip her and three teammates went on this past March. Frierson, Kelly Hinkle, Jazmin Gonzalez, and Peyton Motley joined Athletes in Action for a trip to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico on March 3-10 with students from N.C. State, Wake Forest, and Ball State to provide help in the hurricane relief efforts, as well as campus outreach and ministry.
Frierson lined up in 70 games over her career with the Bucs with 43 starts. She finished her soccer career with eight goals and seven assists as well as game-winning goals in CSU wins over Winthrop (2-0, 2015) and Presbyterian (3-1, 2017). She has also competed eight times for the women's track and field team with top 10 finishes in four different meets. She currently has the best time on the season for the Bucs in the 5000m race after posting a 17:50.65 time at the Georgia Tech Invitational, good enough for the 10th-best time in the Big South this season.
2018 Charleston Southern University Athletic Award Winners
Hunter Cup – Sophie Cloessner (Women's Tennis)
Senior Male Athlete of the Year – Anthony Ellis (Football)
Senior Female Athlete of the Year – Sophie Cloessner (Women's Tennis)
Michael Frost Christian Leadership Award – Matt Inman (Men's Cross Country/Track & Field)
R.L. Wynn Christian Leadership Award – Lydia Frierson (Women's Soccer/Track & Field)
Chuck Welty Captain's Resolve Award – Tierra Steede (Women's Basketball)
Strength and Conditioning Male Athlete of the Year – Joseph Maxberry IV (Football)
Strength and Conditioning Female Athlete of the Year – Emelie Flink and Hayley McNeill (Women's Golf)
Strength and Conditioning Team of the Year – Women's Tennis
Highest Academic GPA Women's Team – Volleyball
Highest Academic GPA Men's Team – Baseball
Highest Academic GPA Female Athlete – Laina Holmgren (Softball)
Highest Academic GPA Male Athlete – Micah Deveaux – Men's Track & Field
Men's Basketball – Christian Keeling (MVP), Phlandrous Fleming, Jr. (Sportsmanship)
Women's Basketball – Weknyne Dumorne (MVP), Anna Webster (Sportsmanship)
Cheerleading – Kennedy Burks (MVP), Abby Bell (Sportsmanship)
Men's Cross Country – Fearghal Curtin (MVP), Jeryck Wilson (Most Improved)
Women's Cross Country – Georgina Russell (MVP), Taylor Barnes (Most Improved)
Football – Anthony Ellis (MVP), Jackson Williamson (Sportsmanship)
Men's Golf – Art Griffin (MVP), Dylan Patscot (Sportsmanship)
Women's Golf – Hayley McNeill (MVP), Milleina Ohara (Sportsmanship)
Soccer – Emilie Gilbert (MVP), Lydia Frierson (Sportsmanship)
Softball – Jade Gandara (MVP), Hannah Cannon (Sportsmanship)
Tennis – Sophie Cloessner (MVP), Grace Waldron (Sportsmanship)
Volleyball – Macey LaPorte (Work Ethic), Addison Kaderli (Character)