Utah State athletics holds annual U-Star awards banquet | Sports

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State Athletics held its annual U-Star Awards banquet for the 2023-24 academic year on Tuesday night in the Taggart Student Center Ballroom.

The winners among the nominated Aggies were selected by a vote of their student-athlete peers and represent the finest accomplishments and performances over the past 12 months.

Two weeks ago, men’s basketball player Darius Brown II and soccer player Kelsey Kaufusi were named the Male and Female Athlete of the Year, respectively, at the annual Robins Awards, recognizing the best of Utah State University.

During his graduate season with the Aggies, Brown earned first-team all-Mountain West honors and was named to the MW all-defensive team as he started all 35 games and finished the season averaging 12.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 0.2 blocks per game. He helped the Aggies earn the outright regular season MW title, before earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the second round of the tournament for the first time since 2001. The Aggies finished the season at 28-7 overall.

Other nominees for Male Athlete of the Year included junior golfer Julio Arronte Sanchez, junior cross country/track & field athlete Brennan Benson, sophomore track & field athlete Logan Hammer, football junior Jalen Royals and tennis senior Bodin Zarkovic.

During her senior season at Utah State, Kaufusi started all 23 games and was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, was first-team all-MW, and was just the sixth player in program history to earn United Soccer Coaches NCAA All-Pacific Region Second Team honors. Kaufusi helped USU win its first-ever MW Tournament Championship and advance to the program’s third NCAA Tournament. She helped the Aggies field the league’s top defense, allowing just six combined goals to 13 MW opponents. During the season, Kaufusi was the only USU player to play all 2,090 minutes. She also earned academic all-district and academic all-MW honors.

Other nominees for Female Athlete of the Year included gymnastics senior Brianna Brooks, track & field senior Abbey Bryant, volleyball graduate senior Shelby Capllonch, softball junior Ariel Fifita, tennis senior Zeynep Naz Ozturk, basketball junior Cheyenne Stubbs and junior cross country runner Emma Thornley.

Below is a list of each U-Star Award nominee and subsequent winner.

Male Rookie of the Year

• Mason Falslev, Men’s Basketball (WINNER)

• Paul Fitzgerald, Football

• Ashton McArthur, Golf

Female Rookie of the Year

• Jaden Colunga, Soccer (WINNER)

• Brianne Smith, Cross Country

• Nyla Morabito, Gymnastics

• Summer Diamond, Soccer

• Breanna Raven, Track & Field

Team Service Award

• Football and Gymnastics (WINNERS)

Individual Service Award

• Josh Hartvigsen, Men’s Track & Field (WINNERS)

Male Walk-On of the Year

• Landon Bott, Track & Field (WINNER)

• Jacob Garcia, Football

Female Walk-On of the Year

• Angel Stuart, Gymnastics (WINNER)

• Kate Christian, Soccer

Male Transfer of the Year

• Great Osobor, Men’s Basketball (WINNER)

• Davon Booth, Football

Female Transfer of the Year

• Kelsey Watson, Volleyball (WINNER)

• Cheyenne Stubbs, Women’s Basketball

• Juliette Boyer, Gymnastics

Male International Athlete of the Year

• Bodin Zarkovic, Men’s Tennis (WINNER)

• Ian Martinez, Men’s Basketball

• Julio Arronte Sanchez, Golf

• Godwin Charles, Track & Field

Female International Athlete of the Year

• Beatriz Rodrigues, Volleyball (WINNER)

• Nyla Morabito, Gymnastics

• Rine Yonaha, Soccer

• Zeynep Naz Ozturk, Women’s Tennis

Comeback Athlete of the Year

• MJ Tafisi, Football (WINNER)

• Whitney Lopez, Soccer (WINNER)

• Amari Evans, Gymnastics

• Emma Reeves, Track & Field

Coach of the Year

• Rob Neilson, Volleyball (WINNER)

• Danny Sprinkle, Men’s Basketball

• Manny Martins, Soccer

Upset of the Year

• Women’s Soccer (WINNER) – Defeated No. 1 BYU, the second time in Utah State history a team has beaten a No. 1-ranked opponent.

• Men’s Basketball – Beat No. 13 Colorado State at the Spectrum.

Moment of the Year

• Darius Brown II, Men’s Basketball (WINNER) – With five seconds remaining in the game against New Mexico, Brown hit a 3-pointer at the end of the shot clock to give Utah State an 87-84 lead. The Aggies won the game to claim their first-ever outright MW regular season title.

• Whitney Lopez, Soccer – Scored the game-winning overtime goal in Utah State’s win over Boise State to advance to the Mountain West title game.

• Volleyball – Secured its third-straight MW title with a 3-1 win over Boise State in front of a sold-out Club Estes crowd.

• Men’s Basketball – At UNLV, Darius Brown II made a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds to play while Great Osobor was fouled with the ball in the air, giving the Aggies a pair of free throws for a game-winning five-point play to win 87-86.

• Golf – Shot a school-record 29-under 835 to edge runner-up North Dakota State by one stroke to win the Monterrey Collegiate Classic.

Performance of the Year

• Diera Walton, Soccer (WINNER) – Recorded six saves in USU’s shutout over No. 1 BYU to earn College Soccer News National Player of the Week honors.

• Levi Williams, Football – Accounted for 351 yards and five TDs in USU’s 44-41 overtime win over New Mexico to become bowl eligible.

• Kelsey Watson, Volleyball – Was the first Aggie to ever hit 100 percent while logging at least 10 kills as she was a perfect 10-for-10.

• Alivia Ostendorf, Gymnastics – Scored a career-high 9.925 on the floor against San José State.

• Cheyenne Stubbs, Women’s Basketball – Scored 32 points in Utah State’s road win at Nevada, tied for the 20th-most in program history.

• Brennan Benson, Track & Field – Set the Nelson Fieldhouse record in the indoor mile with a time of 4:04.56.

Team of the Year

• Men’s Basketball (WINNER)

• Soccer

• Volleyball

Male True-Blooded Aggie Award

• Jacob Garcia, Football (WINNER)

• Mark Crandall, Cross Country

• Josh Hartvigson, Track & Field

Female True-Blooded Aggie Award

• Zeynep Naz Ozturk, Women’s Tennis (WINNER)

• Abby Jensen, Cross Country

• Addy Symonds-Weichers, Soccer

Support Staff Member of the Year

• Taylor Brown (WINNER)

For more on Utah State Athletics, fans can follow the Aggies on Twitter (@usuathletics) or on Facebook by searching Utah State Athletics.

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