LEXINGTON, Ky. – UK Athletics presented 36 honors at the 13th annual CATSPY Awards, held Monday in Memorial Coliseum to recognize athletic and academic performances during the 2014-15 year. With co-winners in some categories, a total of six teams and 26 individuals were recognized.
“This is always one of my favorite nights of the year,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “Seeing a group of student-athletes and coaches I care so much about and respect so deeply come together to celebrate everything we’ve achieved is an amazing thing. I want to congratulate tonight’s winners and nominees. You truly represent the best of UK Athletics and you’ve given us so much to cheer for.”
Headlining the awards this year were men’s basketball, softball and women’s track and field, named Male and Female Teams of the Year for their achievements in the previous athletics season.
The Kentucky men’s basketball team, which became the first team in NCAA history to post a 38-0 record, made its fourth Final Four in the last five seasons. Ranked No. 1 the entire season, the Wildcats were the last remaining unbeaten team in the country, won their 46th regular-season Southeastern Conference championship, and captured the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Continuing to break barriers the program has never experienced before, the UK softball team made its first appearance at the Women’s College World Series in school history. Rachel Lawson’s club also made its first-ever appearance in the SEC Tournament championship game, won a school-record 50 games and finished sixth in the 2014 national rankings.
The women’s track and field team finished in seventh place at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships, the best in program history. The Wildcats followed that up with a school-record fifth-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Mr. and Miss Wildcat Awards are given for all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service. Griffin Joiner (softball) and Bria Goss (women’s basketball) shared this year’s Miss Wildcat award, and Raymond Dykstra (men’s track and field) won the Mr. Wildcat award.
Kelsey Nunley (softball), Kendra Harrison (women’s track and field) and Christina Bechtel (women’s swimming) were all worthy of honoring for the Female Athlete of the Year.
Nunley led the UK softball team to its first-ever Women’s College World Series appearance, is the school leader in career wins and has thrown two no-hitters in her career. Harrison was the 2015 NCAA Indoor 60-meter hurdles champion, the 2014 SEC Outdoor 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles champion, and a silver medalist in the 2014 NCAA 400-meter hurdles. Bechtel, in addition to breaking five school records, placed second in the 200 butterfly and fourth in the 100 butterfly at the 2015 NCAA Championships, and was the 2015 SEC 200 butterfly champion.
The Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to baseball’s AJ Reed, who was college baseball’s top player in 2014. In leading the NCAA in home runs, slugging and OPS, while also becoming the first player to ever lead the SEC in home runs and pitching wins, Reed won the 2014 Golden Spikes award, the Dick Howser Trophy, and the Baseball American, Collegiate Baseball and ABCA National Player of the Year awards.
Longtime SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who has led the league to national championships, raised the national profile and expanded the conference footprint, among other things, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his indelible contributions to the league. John Calipari presented him the award.
The Academic Teams of the Year were the rifle, baseball, and women’s swimming and diving teams. The Scholar Athletes of the Year were Matthew Anderson (men’s golf) and Maddie Lockridge (women’s soccer).
A complete list of awards is below:
Community Service Award Max Godby (football) Grace Trimble (women’s tennis)
Wildcat Pride Women’s swimming and diving
Female Rookie of the Year Sha’Keela Saunders (women’s track and field)
Male Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns (men’s basketball)
Bill Keightley “Assist” Award Jenna Kennedy (athletic trainer)
Blue Heart Award Willie Cauley-Stein (men’s basketball)
Female Scholar Athlete of the Year Maddie Lockridge (women’s soccer)
Male Scholar Athlete of the Year Matthew Anderson (men’s golf)
Academic Teams of the Year Baseball Rifle
Women’s swimming and diving
Lifetime Achievement Mike Slive (SEC commissioner)
Scratch Award Montana Whittle (gymnastics)
Supporting Role Mike Douglas (football)
Heart of a Wildcat Bud Dupree (football) Arin Gilliland (women’s soccer) Jackie Napper (volleyball)
Female Performance(s) of the Year Christina Bechtel (women’s swimming) Kendra Harrison (women’s track and field) Kelsey Nunley (softball)
Male Performance(s) of the Year Raymond Dykstra (men’s track and field) Karl-Anthony Towns (men’s basketball)
Female Athlete(s) of the Year Christina Bechtel (women’s swimming) Kelsey Nunley (softball) Kendra Harrison (women’s track and field)
Male Athlete of the Year AJ Reed (baseball)
Coach(es) of the Year John Calipari (men’s basketball) Edrick Floreal (track and field) Rachel Lawson (softball) Female Team(s) of the Year Softball Women’s track and field
Male Team of the Year Men’s basketball
Miss Wildcat Bria Goss (women’s basketball) Griffin Joiner (softball)
Mr. Wildcat Raymond Dykstra (men’s track and field)