The University of Louisville athletics department relished in the successes of of its teams and student-athletes this week at the annual Louies Student-Athletes Awards Show.
The adidas High Performance Athlete of the Year, the top athletic honor of the evening, was presented to Brendan McKay (baseball) and Mallory Comerford (swimming and diving).
McKay, the 2017 consensus national player of the year and winner of the coveted Golden Spikes Award, closed his career among the most distinguished players in school history. On the mound, he went 11-3 with a 2.56 ERA and 146 strikeouts. At the plate, he hit .341, with 18 home runs and 57 RBI. Recipient of the Dick Howser Trophy, McKay became the program’s highest pick in the Major League Baseball Draft at No. 4 by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Comerford warranted national and international attention with her season. The ACC Swimmer of the Year and the most valuable swimmer of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, she tied Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky for the 200 freestyle national title. The shared time of 1:39:80 set ACC and UofL records, with Comerford becoming only the second woman to break the 1:40 barrier in the event. Comerford placed second in the 100 freestyle at the NCAA Championships, and her time is the second fastest in the event’s history, only trailing Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel. She earned All-America distinction in six events.
The L1C4 award, one of the highest honors of the evening, was delivered to football’s Reggie Bonnafon. The honor is given to a student-athlete who excels in the classroom, in the community, and in athletic competition. A captain, Bonnafon played three positions over the course of his career. The Louisville native, who primarily played running back as a senior, rushed for seven touchdowns and 459 yards.
Football’s Lamar Jackson earned the record-breaking performance award. In his three-year career, he set 42 school records and joined elite company as only the third player in FBS history to register 50 rushing and 50 passing touchdowns. He is the only player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,500 yards and pass for at least 3,500, a feat he achieved in 2016 and 2017.
Women’s basketball’s Arica Carter claimed the comeback player of the year award. The starting point guard, after missing the 2016-17 campaign due to an injury, helped Louisville to its third Final Four. She finished the year with 151 assists, fourth most in the ACC.
Men’s soccer’s Tate Schmitt was bestowed the best individual championship performance. He scored game-winning goals in each of the Cardinals’ last four NCAA Tournament victories. The best team championship performance went to women’s basketball, which defeated Oregon State to win the Lexington Region and advance to the Final Four.
Baseball earned the moment of the year after beating Kentucky in the Super Regional to advance to the College World Series for fourth time in 11 years.
The spirit award was created in 2016 to highlight the dedication and support from Louisville’s spirit squads, which make hundreds of community appearances and serve as lead ambassadors for the Louisville Cardinals. Bethany Wilker (pep band), Heather Aaron (cheer), and Ryleigh Vertes (Ladybirds) each were recognized.
Awards by class
Edwin Kibichiy (men’s track and field) and Myisha Hines-Allen (women’s basketball) were selected as the seniors of the year.
Jerin Allen (men’s track and field) and Asia Durr (women’s basketball) secured junior of the year titles.
Andrej Barna (swimming and diving) and Keegan de Lange (golf) shared male sophomore of the year honors, while Dorcas Wasike (cross country) earned female sophomore of the year status.
Nicolas Albiero (men’s swimming and diving) was chosen as the male freshman of the year, while Lauren Hartlage (women’s golf) and Emina Ekic (women’s soccer) shared female freshmen of the year accolades.