LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 16th annual CATSPY Awards were held Monday, April 23 in Memorial Coliseum to recognize athletic and academic performances during the 2017-18 year in the UK Athletics department. With co-winners in some categories, 37 individuals were recognized as well as three teams. Headlining the awards this year were the national championship rifle team, volleyball, and track and field teams. Powered by air rifle national champion Henrik Larsen and junior Hanna Carr, head coach Harry Mullins and the UK rifle team won its second national title by edging No. 1 West Virginia by nine points. The Wildcats posted their highest aggregate of the season for their first championship since 2011. They can now add a CATSPY award to their superb season.
The Mr. and Miss Wildcat awards – dedicated in honor of the late Bruno Agostinelli, a UK men's tennis All-American and past Mr. Wildcat winner – are given for all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service. Baseball's Sean Hjelle (pictured), who led UK to a berth in super regionals for the first time in school history, was tabbed the 2018 recipient of the Mr. Wildcat Award. As a sophomore, Hjelle shined on and off the field, becoming the first player in Kentucky baseball history to win Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year. He was an All-American, a member of the All-SEC First Team and etched his name all over the UK single-season record books. He is the president of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, an SEC Academic Honor Roll member, and has been extremely active in community outreach and service. Senior Ashley Dusek (pictured) captured Miss Wildcat after an impressive career as one of the best volleyball players in Kentucky history. Dusek's accomplishments include winning three straight SEC Libero of the Year awards and two All-America Honorable mentions. Dusek – who appeared on the All-SEC Team three times – helped lead UK to an Elite Eight appearance as a senior, the program's first in the modern era, and an SEC championship. She did that all while making the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll and was a finalist for the Senior Class Award. Dusek rebounded from a knee injury suffered in the spring season, forcing her to miss the first six matches of the year. Once she returned, she totaled double-digit digs in the last 25 matches of the season to help lead UK to its historic season. Larsen, Hjelle and Evan White (baseball) shared Male Athlete of the Year honors. After leading UK to the national championship and winning the individual air rifle national title, Larsen was crowned NCAA Shooter of the Year, Freshman of the Year, and an NCAA First Team All-American in smallbore, air rifle and in the combined. His smallbore and aggregate averages ranked first in the nation. The aforementioned Hjelle went 11-4 in 2017, including a 7-1 mark with a 1.90 earned run average in 10 SEC starts. Opponents hit just .186 and struck out 61 times against him in league play. He was magnificent in UK's regional championship, starting and winning the Friday game before firing 3.1 shutout innings in relief to win Monday's winner-take-all final. White played an integral role in guiding UK to super regionals, leading the team in batting average (.373), doubles (24) and slugging percentage (.637). A two-time Gold Glove winner, White was tabbed an All-American, made the All-SEC team for the second time in his career and earned SEC All-Defensive honors for the third time. Volleyball's Leah Edmond and women's swimming and diving's Asia Seidt won Female Athlete of the Year. Edmond dominated on the court this season in leading UK to its first SEC crown since 1988 and the first Elite Eight appearance in the modern era in school history. Edmond, whose 539 kills ranks first in the 25-point rally scoring era for most in kills in a single season in program history, made the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America First Team. She was tabbed the AVCA All-Southeast Regional Player of the Year and an All-SEC selection. Seidt medaled in all three of her individual events at the 2018 SEC Championships, bringing home gold medals in both the 100 and 200 backstroke events and taking silver in the 200 individual medley. She became the first-ever Wildcat swimmer to win back-to-back conference titles by defending her crown in the 200 backstroke. Just the third UK swimmer – male or female – to win two conference titles in a single season, Seidt was a First team All-American in the 200 back and 200 IM. She was the NCAA silver medalist in the 200 backstroke. Women's swimming and diving captured Female Academic Team of the Year and men's golf won Male Academic Team of the Year. The Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year was Alyssa Rice (women's basketball), a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member who was tabbed the 2018 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, sports a 3.938 grade-point average while majoring in accounting with minors in communication and psychology. Dillon Pulliam (men's basketball), Chris Meuth (men's golf) and Gus Benson (men's tennis) shared the Male Scholar Athlete of the Year. Pulliam, a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member, has a 4.0 cumulative GPA and will graduate in May with degrees in computer engineering and computer science. Meuth, an economics senior, sports a 3.984 cumulative GPA and has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll four straight years. Benson is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and has a 3.96 cumulative GPA in economics.
Football's Stephen Johnson (pictured with UK AD Mitch Barnhart), who led Kentucky to back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 2009-10 while playing through multiple injuries, was the recipient of the Heart of a Wildcat award. Mullins won Coach of the Year after becoming the only active coach at Kentucky with two national championships. WKYT will air the CATSPY Awards on May 13 at 1 p.m. A replay will also available on UKathletics.com. Sean Farnham, a college basketball analyst for ESPN, and Kaylee Hartung, a former ESPN sideline reporter who now serves as a reporter for CNN, hosted this year's CATSPYs. A complete list of awards is below: Community Service Award Alyssa Rice (women's basketball) Ethan Shalaway (men's track and field) Ann Davies (women's swimming and diving) Courtney Love (football) Female Rookie of the Year Sydney McLaughlin (women's track and field) Male Rookie of the Year Henrik Larsen (rifle) Bill Keightley "Assist" Award Jeff Poole (football, men's and women's soccer) Female Performance of the Year Olivia Gruver (women's track and field) Destiny Carter (women's track and field) Kayelle Clarke (women's track and field) Precious Hitchcock (women's track and field) Sha'Keela Saunders (women's track and field) Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Alyssa Rice (women's basketball) Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Dillon Pulliam (men's basketball) Chris Meuth (men's golf) Gus Benson (men's tennis) Female Academic Team of the Year Women's swimming and diving Male Academic Team of the Year Men's golf Male Performance of the Year Tim Duckworth (men's track and field) Henrik Larsen (rifle) Benny Snell and the offensive line (football) Scratch Award Enrique Facusse (men's soccer) Bailey Vick (softball) Supporting Role Darian Mack (volleyball) Blue Heart Award Ashley Dusek (volleyball) Brett Marshall (baseball) Payton Atkins (women's soccer) Female Athlete of the Year Leah Edmond (volleyball) Asia Seidt (women's swimming and diving) Male Athlete of the Year Evan White (baseball) Sean Hjelle (baseball) Henrik Larsen (rifle) Heart of a Wildcat Stephen Johnson (football) Mr. Wildcat Sean Hjelle (baseball) Miss Wildcat Ashley Dusek (volleyball) Coach of the Year Harry Mullins (rifle) Team of the Year Rifle
Photos by Britney Howard/UK Athletics