Third annual CATSYS recognizes top athletes, unsung heroes
The red carpet was rolled out Monday night in McKale Center as Arizona Athletics hosted its third annual CATSYS Awards Show to honor student-athletes on campus.
The emcees of the night were recently-retired NBA star Channing Frye and Chris “Geeter” McGee, with live music being played by Kelley James. Frye attended Arizona from 2001-2005, where he earned Pac-10 All-Freshman team honors during his first year and as a senior and the Sapphire Award, an award given to the most outstanding senior male student-athlete. Frye recently announced his retirement from the NBA with the conclusion of his 15th season as a player.
Before the commencement of the CATSYS, Frye reflected on how much Tucson has changed since his time here as both a student and player.
“The city of Tucson is flourishing and it's awesome. Could you imagine having a little train that took you from this side to that side … it’s just amazing, I’m happy for these guys. It’s been amazing to see the school grow,” Frye said.
The event featured playful banter between Frye and Geeter as well as appearances from President Dr. Robert Robbins and Athletic Director Dave Heeke, among others.
Arizona men's swimmer Chatham Dobbs was the recipient for the prestigious Sapphire Award, which was the same award Frye won back in 2005 before graduating. Dobbs holds the sixth-fastest time in school history in the 50-meter freestyle and third fastest time in the 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter backstroke.
Arizona women's golfer Haley Moore was the recipient for the Ruby Award. Moore was the golfer who made the “putt heard around the world” in June 2018 to give Arizona women’s golf a national title. Moore will be graduating this year and delivered a very bittersweet acceptance speech.
The Junior Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to track and field star Carlos Villarreal who won the Pac-12 Men’s Track Athlete of the Week award this season and finished second at the NCAA West Regionals in the 10,000-meter run.
The Junior Female Athlete(s) of the Year was awarded to the six juniors of the Arizona softball team, which include Reyna Carranco, Dejah Mulipola, Malia Martinez, Jessie Harper, Alyssa Denham and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. The softball team is on a 20-game winning streak led by the impressive performances week after week by the junior class.
The Sophomore Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to track and field phenom Jordan Geist, who has broken numerous records in his two years at the university, including those in both shot put and the discus throw.
“He’s got forearms the size of his biceps,” Geeter joked during the ceremony.
Other athletes nominated for this award were Brooks Fail, Trevor Werbylo and JJ Taylor.
The Sophomore Female Athlete of the Year recipient(s) was a tie between Aari McDonald and Delaney Schnell. McDonald led the Wildcats women's basketball team to the WNIT Championship last month for the first time in 23 years, averaging nearly 24 points per game. Schnell, a diver, is a CSCAA Scholar All-American and was awarded the Pac-12 Women’s Freshman Diver of the Year last season.
Other athletes nominated for this award were Yu-Sang Hou and Jada Talley.
The Freshman Male Athlete of the Year was awarded to baseball player Austin Wells. The son of two former Arizona athletes, Wells was able to recognize both of his parents, Greg and Michelle, for the A-Club Silver Anniversary Award for the work they have done both in and out of the household as well as the impact they both still have on the UA community.
The Freshman Female Athlete of the Year was awarded to standout basketball player Cate Reese. Reese helped lead the women’s basketball team, along with McDonald, to the WNIT Championship where she was a part of the All-Tournament Team.
Swimmer Sarah Shimomura was awarded the CATS Inspiration Award, an award given to an athlete who has had to overcome a serious adversity in their life. Shimomura was diagnosed with femoral non-union after being hit by an ambulance. However, she was able to persevere through the injury. Shimomura was able to get back to practice and get better after taking time to go through physical therapy and learn how to walk again.
Volleyball's Elizabeth Shelton was the recipient for the Unsung Hero Award, typically given to an athlete who might not be at the cover of every highlight reel, but still makes an impact on his or her team.
Putting the student in student-athlete, 280 athletes earned a 3.0 GPA, while 38 athletes earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in the past academic year.
The Salutatorian for the graduating senior athletic class was women’s basketball player Lindsey Malecha, who earned a perfect 4.0 GPA as a biology major.
The Valedictorian for the graduating senior athletic class was track and field athlete Gustav Kehris, who earned a 4.0 GPA as a double physics and mathematics major. Kehris will give a speech at the Arizona Athletics commencement ceremony.
The final award was the ZonaZoo Performance of the Year, which was given to the national champions, Arizona women’s golf, led by Ruby Award recipient Haley Moore.
With the conclusion of the CATSYS, Arizona Athletics will finish up any remaining seasons for the 2018-2019 school year and start back up again in the fall with sports such as football, volleyball and cross country.
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