Jags student-athletes honored at Pete Tolbert Night of Champions
MOBILE, Ala. – The University of South Alabama Department of Athletics recognized numerous accomplishments during the 2017-18 academic year on Wednesday night at the ninth annual Pete Tolbert Night of Champions, with the ceremony held at the University Student Center Ballroom.
The Jaguar Female and Male Student-Athletes of the Year were Laura Labuschaigne (Durbanville, Western Cape, South Africa) and Jeremy Reaves (Pensacola, Fla.). Siti Shaari (Subangjaya, Malaysia) received the Auralia Crowell Freshman Scholar-Athlete Award, with Kristian Foster (Pelham, Ala.) and Genesis Perrymond (Lilburn, Ga.) selected as the university’s NCAA Woman of the Year Nominees. Savannah Jones (Ocean Springs, Miss.) and Tre Alford (Tuscasloosa, Ala.) were presented the Female and Male Perseverance Awards, respectively, while the Female and Male Jaguar Athletic Fund Awards went to Meagan Hall (Pensacola, Fla.) and Jason Mendel (Norcross, Ga.). Cody Crisp (Oxford, Ala.) was chosen the Matt Smith Award winner, while longtime staff member Hal Williams was recognized in a video presentation prior to his retirement this summer.
In the fall, Labuschaigne became the first Sun Belt Conference individual women’s cross country champion from South since 1997 at the league meet, earning first-team all-conference honors for the performance. The junior was the Jaguars’ top finisher at all five competitions she participated in — claiming victory in three of those races — while placing among the top 60 runners at the NCAA South Regional. An accounting major with a 3.95 cumulative grade-point average, Labuschaigne is slated to graduate next month.
The Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Reaves was also named first-team all-SBC after pacing the Jaguars with 104 total tackles, seven stops behind the line of scrimmage and three interceptions; he was tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (3) and fumble recoveries (2) as well. The senior safety was among the top 10 in the conference in four different statistical categories, and he shared the league’s Defensive Player-of-the-Week award in October after helping South to a Homecoming victory over ULM. He received a degree in sports and recreation management in December.
Shaari earned the award given to the school’s most outstanding freshman based on excellence in academics and athletics after leading South women’s golf with a 74.04 scoring average and six top-10 finishes while shooting par or better on 12 occasions. Her efforts helped the Jags place among the top five in the final team standings at eight tournaments this year as she was named the Sun Belt Golfer of the Week twice and stands second in the league in stroke average.
Shaari recorded a 3.81 GPA her first semester at USA and is majoring in business.
NCAA Woman of the Year candidates need to be a varsity letterwinner completing their intercollegiate eligibility by the end of the spring sports season, while excelling in academics, athletics, service and leadership with a minimum cumulative 2.5 grade-point average. Foster — an exercise science major with a 3.83 cumulative GPA — is a three-time NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete selection who was also voted second-team all-Sun Belt as a junior. She is currently batting
.257 with 12 extra-base hits, 27 RBI and 17 runs scored as the Jag softball team enters the final month of the season. Perrymond helped South go 21-13 after advancing to the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational by averaging a career-high 7.2 points per game and handing out career-best 137 assists, adding 3.6 boards per contest, 41 steals and 19 blocked shots. She is set to earn her degree in biomedical sciences in May and has a cumulative GPA of 3.45.
Jones saw her first year as a member of the Jaguar women’s basketball program cut short after suffering an ACL tear in December 2016.
Following reconstructive surgery and six to seven days a week of rehabilitation work, she was cleared to return to practice only one month before the start of the campaign, then was selected the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season while ranking in the top five in the league in three-point shooting with a team-leading 70 makes from beyond the arc; Jones paced the team shooting 84.2 percent at the foul line as well.
While performing individual drills in April 2016, Alford suffered an injury to left knee that included tearing three ligaments, a dislocated patella and damage to his peroneal nerve which caused numbness and lack of ankle motion to his injured leg. He did not play the following fall for USA’s football team, and when he was allowed to return to action last summer he did so in a special ankle brace.
Alford would appear in all 12 contests in 2017, recording 20 tackles — including a sack — his final season at the collegiate level.
Hall — a senior from the women’s track and field program — and Mendel, a senior on the men’s golf team, were honored for their overall support of Jaguar Athletics. Crisp earned the award presented to a member of the athletic staff who consistently goes the extra mile, has the spirit of commitment, strong work ethic, and a deep sense of pride in their job and is named in memory of former USA Sports Information Director Matt Smith, who passed away December of 2004.
Head coaches of 11 Jaguar teams presented program awards at the ceremony also. The winners of those honors included: Jaguar Women’s Basketball NCAA Award (women’s basketball), Chyna Ellis (Cordova, Tenn.); Goldie Ungar Heart of Gold Award (men’s basketball), Rodrick Sykes (Ocean Springs, Miss.); Female Outstanding Performer Award (cross country), Labuschaigne; Male Outstanding Performer Award (cross country), Warno Potgieter (Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa); Jim Yance Heart of a Jaguar Award (football), Wade Forde (Ocala, Fla.); Beth Barry Award (women’s golf), Madison Connell (Murray, Ky.); Lindsay Rogers Award (soccer), Hannah Godfrey (Thornton-Cleveleys, England); Lubel Family Award (men’s tennis), Loic Cloes (Remicourt, Belgium); Most Outstanding Indoor Student-Athlete Award (women’s indoor track & field), Michaela Preachuk (Lakeville, Minn.); Most Outstanding Indoor Student-Athlete Award (women’s indoor track & field), Rafael Scott (Lucedale, Miss.); and, Kari Frazier Spirit Award (volleyball), Kelley Hartman (Woodstock, Ga.).