RICHARDSON, Texas -- Hardin-Simmons' women's soccer player has been selected as the 2013 American Southwest Conference Female Athlete of the Year in a vote of the conference sports information directors and Outstanding Media Service Award winners. Mary Hardin-Baylor linebacker Javicz Jones took home the top men's honor.
The ASC Athlete of the Year award, in its 14th year, recognizes the male and female student-athlete whose athletic accomplishments during the current athletic year best contributed to their sport, their institution's overall athletic program and to the conference. Each ASC member institution nominates its campus athlete of the year recipients to the conference-wide ballot.
"It's is an amazing honor to receive this award from the American Southwest Conference and have a chance to represent Hardin-Simmons and our soccer program in a positive way," Kuykendall said. "The players, coaches, families and staff form a tight-knit community that is responsible for the success and passion our team has. It's a blessing to have been able to share the last four years with such amazing teammates."
Kuykendall, a forward and athletic training major, finished a record-setting four-year career by being named national offensive player of the year by D3soccer.com and earned first-team all-American status by two publications. She led Hardin-Simmons to its 10th straight conference title and the sectional round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. Kuykendall totaled 12 goals and 23 assists. She helped the Cowgirls to an 18-1-2 mark and a top-5 national ranking.
Kuykendall finished her career with a national championship and recorded 47 goals and 84 assists. The assist total is an all-time Division III record and ranks second in NCAA history. She became the first three-time all-American in the Cowgirls' program history and was the ASC Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. Kuykendall was a four-time first-team all-conference selection and went 82-5-3 as a collegiate player.
"Katie Kuykendall is a model student-athlete," Hardin-Simmons women's soccer head coach Marcus Wood said. "Academically, she was an all-American and plans to go to medical school. Athletically she is big, strong, fast, agile and her right foot is magic. She was also a very good teammate."
Kuykendall becomes the second soccer player to earn the ASC's prestigious award, joining her older sister Amy Kuykendall (2010-11), who also played at Hardin-Simmons. The sisters - who won a national title together in 2010 - become the first siblings to ever win the conference's top athlete award.
"I think Amy and I both owe most of the success to our family," Kuykendall said. "It's their love, support and guidance that help motivate us to achieve all our goals in life. Both of my sisters (also Karie) have been amazing role models in my life and I always want to strive to make them proud."
Katie and Amy Kuykendall are part of HSU's record five female student-athlete winners, following track and field athlete Ashley Huston (2008-09) and basketball player Kendra Anderson (2001-02, 2002-03).
Jones (Katy, Texas / Morton Ranch HS), a linebacker and sports management major, capped his four-year collegiate career by being named D3football.com Defensive Player of the Year. He was named first team all-American by four publications and earned his second straight ASC Defensive Player of the Year award. Jones recorded 135 tackles - 12 for loss - eight interceptions and five sacks. Jones also scored four defensive touchdowns, logged a safety, broke up six passes, forced three fumbles and recovered two, and blocked two kicks.
Jones broke the ASC career and single-season tackle records during his career and became the first player in league history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. He led the Cru to four conference titles during his career and helped them advance to the NCAA Division III national semifinals this season. UMHB went 13-1 was ranked No. 2 in the country in the final D3football.com Top 25 poll.
"This award means everything to me," Jones said. "There are all kinds of great athletes in the American Southwest Conference and for me to be able to receive this award, I am surely ecstatic. The career I had was great and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every bit of it. I could not have done it without first, God, and second, my family, and everyone that was involved with our team."
On the women's side, Texas-Tyler senior softball player Joey Cronin was second in balloting, followed by Louisiana College senior basketball player Natosha Gottlieb. Cronin, a right-fielder, batted a league-high .443 with 10 home runs, 24 doubles, four triples and 44 RBIs. She also became the league's all-time hits leader. Gottlieb, a forward, averaged 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.5 assists despite playing just 24.1 minutes per game. Both fueled division titles and were conference players of the year as well as all-Americans.
In the men's voting, Texas-Dallas junior basketball player Kyle Schleigh finished second and Texas Lutheran senior baseball player Sean Kistler was third. Schleigh, a forward, averaged a league-high 21.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He earned a league-high seven ASC player of the week awards. Kistler, a right-handed relief pitcher, went 1-0 with 13 saves and did not allow a run - earned or unearned - over 30 innings of work. Both led their teams to division championships and were named all-Americans.
Senior defensive tackle Undra Hendrix was the Hardin-Simmons nominee for Male Athlete of the Year. Hendrix had a dominating season for the Cowboys. He was named a first-team all-American by BSN and second team by D3football.com. He was named the MVP of the Dream Bowl, when he recorded 3.5 sacks in the Division III all-star game. He was named the ASC Defensive lineman of the year after setting an HSU record for sacks from a defensive tackle with 11. He led the ASC in sacks and tackles for loss (19) and was named first-team all-ASC and all-ASC South Region.
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