Dearien, Hopfgartner Take Home Top Honors at Annual Convocation

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (May 1, 2015) -- Hosted by Bill Stevenson, Director of International Admissions and Student Services, John Brown University held its annual All-Sports Athletics Banquet on Wednesday evening (April 22) in the Simmons Great Hall, awarding year-end accolades and honoring all student-athletes for their academic and athletic achievements.

Earning the highest honors of the evening were junior volleyball outside hitter Audrey Dearien and senior basketball forward Max Hopfgartner. Dearien was honored with the Female Athlete of the Year award after leading the Golden Eagles to a 22-11 record while garnering All-Sooner Athletic first team honors in addition to All-America honorable mention accolades. She spiked 416 kills this season to lead John Brown and finished fourth in the SAC in kills per set (3.5). Hopfgartner also claimed NAIA All-America honorable mention status after averaging 17.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He was also named to the All-Sooner Athletic second team for his efforts.

Freshmen soccer players Sara Frey and Douglas Oliveira received the Female and Male Freshman of the Year award, respectively. Frey led John Brown in goals (7), assists (6) and points (20). She also notched a pair of game-winning goals en route to a second-team All-SAC award and paced the squad to a SAC tournament championship game berth. Oliveira helped Golden Eagle back line post a mere 1.19 goals-against average while starting in 17 of 18 games this season. He also picked up All-Sooner Athletic second team honors for his play.

The Newcomer of the Year award, given to a transfer student-athlete who has just completed their first year of play for JBU, was awarded to junior men’s basketball guard DJ Feitl, who started 30 of 31 games, helping JBU to a 16-15 overall record. Feitl, a one-time SAC Player of the Week, averaged 18.4 points per game to lead the team and finished No. 12 in the nation in three-point shooting (44.4 percent) and No. 16 in free-throw shooting (83.6 percent). Feitl earned All-Sooner Athletic second team honors.

Women’s cross country runner Whitney Brannan secured the Comeback Athlete of the Year honors after her final year of soccer was cut short in 2013. Suffering a season-ending knee injury just games into the season, Brannan perservered through multiple surgeries to her knee and returned for a fifth season. Although the NAIA would not grant a medical waiver for another year of soccer, she instead turned to cross country during her final semester at JBU. Brannan ran well the entire season and even managed to enter the JBU record books with the 19th-fastest time in program history when she posted a 20:03.90 time in the 5K at the Chile Pepper Festival on Oct. 4.

Volleyball senior Becca Young was named the winner of the Best Supporting Athlete of the Year for her play this season. Young would continuously provide high-quality and first ball touches that keyed both the offense and defense this season. She finished third in the SAC in digs (487) and No. 5 in digs per set (4.1).

Volleyball continued raking in awards as sophomore Shayna Daniels was named the Breakthrough Athlete of the Year after receiving AVCA All-Region honorable mention honors and All-SAC first team accolades. Daniels finished the season No. 3 in the nation in total service aces (71) and No. 4 in aces per set (.60).

The team awards began with the Game of the Year category that was awarded to men's soccer for their 1-0 victory over then-No. 5 Oklahoma Wesleyan on Sept. 11. Senior forward Ryan Duncan tallied the game’s long strike in the first minute of the second half while freshman keeper Adam Holt punched aside four saves in the second half to preserve his first-career shutout.

The Best Finish of the Year award is awarded to an individual, small group or team for a phenomenal game ending performance. While there were three outstanding nominees for the award, the honors went to women’s soccer for its 1-0 victory against top-seeded Science & Arts (Okla.) in the SAC tournament semifinals. In Chickasha, senior Casey O’Brien headed in the match’s lone goal in the 73rd minute and junior keeper Kristen Morency made five saves to earn the shutout, vaulting JBU into the team’s second-consecutive SAC tournament title game.

The Best Comeback of the Year award, given to an individual or team who were behind most of the contest, but ended up winning in the end, was handed out to men’s soccer for its 2-1 triumph over Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Oct. 18. Down 1-0 at the half, Oliveira struck for his second career goal in the 53rd minute before Gonzalez notched the game winner in the 96th minute of overtime for a dramatic 2-1 victory in Plainview, Texas.

Junior forward Griffin Brady collected Play of the Year honors for his dunk at Bill George Arena against Mid-America Christian (Okla.). The play went on to be featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Plays, coming in at No. 3 for the evening. Similarly, Best Performance of the Year honors were given to Dearien for her 28-kill output against Texas Wesleyan on Nov. 14 in the SAC tournament quarterfinals. Derien hit .491 percent in the match and tallied a double-double by recording 21 digs in the 3-2 loss.

Twenty-two student-athletes were honored for earning All-Conference accolades throughout the season while three student-athletes (Hopfgartner, Dearien and Lauren Rogers) received recognition for landing NAIA national honors. Seventeen in attendance garnered NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors while 28 earned JBU Scholar-Athlete accolades.

Finally, Hellinghausen and women’s soccer’s Chloe Fennell were named this year's Champions of Character for their outstanding service to John Brown University and the community at large.

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