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UK Honors Top Student-Athletes at 2022 CATSPY Awards


Top student-athletes celebrate at UK's 2022 CATSPY Awards Wednesday night. (UK Athletics Photo by Eddie Justice)

LEXINGTON, Ky. –The 20th annual CATSPY Awards were held Wednesday at the Central Bank Center to recognize athletic and academic performances during the 2021-22 year in the UK Athletics Department. With multiple winners in some categories, 61 individuals were recognized as well as nine teams.

Headlining the awards were the Teams of the Year – women’s basketball, football, rifle, men’s soccer, women’s track and field, and volleyball.

Dramatic finishes were a recurring theme for the top Cat squads. Women’s basketball overcame a rash of injuries to win 10 games in a row late in the season, capped by a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the Southeastern Conference Tournament which gave UK the championship over South Carolina, a team that went on to win the national championship. The football team won 10 games, including a thrilling come-from-behind win over Iowa in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl. Rifle also had a climactic ending while winning a second-consecutive national championship, its fourth natty since 2011. Men’s soccer followed the script with an overtime goal in the title tilt to win the Conference USA Tournament championship. Women’s indoor track and field equaled its best finish in school history by landing on the third-place podium at the NCAA Championships. Volleyball again dominated the league en route to its fifth-consecutive SEC championship.

The Male Athlete of the Year was Oscar Tshiebwe, the unanimous National Player of the Year in men’s basketball. The Female Athletes of the Year were Rhyne Howard of basketball and Abby Steiner from track and field. Howard earned first-team All-America honors for the third-straight year and was the overall No. 1 selection of the WNBA Draft. Steiner shattered several NCAA, SEC and school records and ran the second-fastest indoor 200 meters in world history.

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 presented to Wildcats who have represented all-around excellence in athletics, academics, character and service during their Kentucky careers. Named Mr. Wildcat for 2021-22 were Tshiebwe, Luke Fortner, Will Levis and Josh Paschal of football and Will Shaner from rifle. Miss Wildcat went to Steiner, swimmer Riley Gaines, Kayla Kowalik of softball, Masai Russell from track and field, and Alli Stumler of volleyball.

Baseball and gymnastics were the Academic Teams of the Year. Five Wildcats – Renee Abernathy of softball, Sarah Michels of track and field/cross country, Casey Ott of women’s golf, Kelly Rodriguez of women’s swimming and diving, and Ben Wendell of men’s soccer – earned Scholar-Athletes of the Year while maintaining career grade-point averages of 4.0.

Awards reflecting dedication and perseverance are the Blue Heart Award and Heart of a Wildcat. Mason Hazelwood of baseball, Miranda Jimenez from women’s soccer and football’s JJ Weaver won the Blue Heart Award for overcoming injuries to return to action and make significant contributions to their teams. Heart of a Wildcat went to the new STUNT team, initially comprised entirely of walk-ons, which advanced to the national tournament in its first year of existence.

A total of 31 Wildcats were recognized with the Elite Performance award that highlighted outstanding plays, moments and performances of the past year. A list of those honorees is below.

Christi Thomas of the UK Sports Network was the host of this year’s event.

A complete list of awards is below:

Community Service Award

Emmy Blane, Softball

Tori Orcutt, Women’s Swimming and Diving

Scholar-Athletes of the Year

Renee Abernathy, Softball

Sarah Michels, Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country

Casey Ott, Women’s Golf

Kelly Rodriguez, Women’s Swimming and Diving

Ben Wendell, Men’s Soccer

Academic Teams of the Year

Baseball

Gymnastics

Bill Keightley Assist Award

CJ Leighton, Softball

Jack McGuinness, Swimming and Diving

Bryce Penick, Volleyball

Kendall Roller, Baseball

Heart of a Wildcat

STUNT

Scratch Award

Eleanor Beavin, Volleyball

Hailey Davis, Gymnastics

Colin Goodfellow, Football

Supporting Role

Jaci Babbs, Softball

Richard Clark, Rifle

Brian Faust, Men’s Track and Field

Rikke Svejgård Nielsen, Women’s Golf

Cameron Scheitzach, Volleyball

Female Rookie of the Year

Allison Buesseler, Rifle

Emma Grome, Volleyball

Male Rookie of the Year

Luke Brown, Track and Field

Martin Soereide, Soccer

Blue Heart Award

Mason Hazelwood, Baseball

Miranda Jimenez, Women’s Soccer

JJ Weaver, Football

Female Athlete of the Year

Rhyne Howard, Basketball

Abby Steiner, Track and Field

Male Athlete of the Year

Oscar Tshiebwe, Basketball

Lifetime Achievement

Barb Deniston, Center for Academic and Tutorial Services

Elite Performance Award

Allison Buesseler, rifle – in a tight match, clinched the NCAA Championship on the final relay; also GARC air rifle champion

Jensen Castle, women’s golf – lowest score in school history; won United States Amateur championship

Keaton Daniel, men’s track and field – SEC champion in the outdoor pole vault*

Gillian Davey, women’s swimming and diving – SEC champion in the 200 breaststroke

Liam Draxl, men’s tennis – ITA National Player of the Year, NCAA singles semifinalist*

Dre’una Edwards, women’s basketball – 27 points and the game-winning 3-pointer vs. South Carolina to win the SEC Tournament

Chase Estep, baseball – SEC Player of the Week while leading UK to series win over No. 8 TCU

Riley Gaines, women’s swimming and diving – SEC champion in the 200 butterfly and 200 freestyle, including SEC record in the 200 fly

Jan Hoffelner, men’s soccer – shutout against West Virginia

Alexis Holmes, women’s track and field – SEC champion, indoor 400 meters

Rhyne Howard, women’s basketball – Rhyne Howard Day performance in win over Auburn

Kayla Kowalik, softball – school-record season batting average of .495, won Johnny Bench Award for nation’s best catcher*

Lance Lang, men’s track and field – SEC Champion, indoor 200 meters

Charles Lenford Jr., men’s track and field – SEC champion, discus throw*

Will Levis, football – performance in win at Louisville

Jordyn Rhodes, women’s soccer – scored all three goals in win over Marshall

Wan’Dale Robinson, football – game-winning drive in Citrus Bowl win over Iowa

Stephanie Schoonover, softball – no-hitter vs. Louisville

Will Shaner, rifle – NCAA smallbore champion and Olympic gold medalist

DeAndre Square, football – game-clinching interception in Citrus Bowl win over Iowa

Abby Steiner, women’s track and field – second-fastest indoor 200 meters in world history; set American record and two-time NCAA champion in that event

Oscar Tshiebwe, men’s basketball – Rupp Arena record 28 rebounds in win over Western Kentucky

Mary Tucker, rifle – top aggregate score at NCAA Championships; Olympic silver medalist

Trevin Wallace, football – blocked field goal returned for a touchdown in win over Florida

TyTy Washington, men’s basketball – school-record 17 assists in win over Georgia

Cameron Wheeler, men’s soccer – goal vs. Louisville

Mason Wilby, men’s swimming – first-team All-America in the 200 butterfly

Raena Worley, gymnastics – 39.750 all-around score vs. Michigan State

4x400-meter relay, men’s track and field (Kenroy Williams, Lance Lang, Dwight St. Hillaire, Kennedy Lightner) – SEC outdoor champion*

* achieved in May 2021, which occurred after the 2021 CATSPYs

Teams of the Year

Women’s Basketball – SEC Tournament Champion

Football – Vrbo Citrus Bowl Champion

Rifle – NCAA Champion, second consecutive season; Great American Rifle Conference champion

Men’s Soccer – Conference USA Tournament Champion

Women’s Track and Field – Third Place, NCAA Indoor Championships

Volleyball – SEC Champion, fifth consecutive season

Mr. Wildcat

Luke Fortner

Will Levis

Josh Paschal

Will Shaner

Oscar Tshiebwe

Miss Wildcat

Riley Gaines

Kayla Kowalik

Masai Russell

Abby Steiner

Alli Stumler

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