Courtney Whitson and Briggs Rutter Take Home Top Honors at the 13th Annual Raiders’ Choice Awards.

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Raiders Choice Awards
Photo by MTSU

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Basketball’s Courtney Whitson and baseball’s Briggs Rutter were the big winners at the 13th Annual Raiders’ Choice Awards on Thursday night which was broadcast on Facebook.com, the Blue Raiders’ YouTube channel and TrueBlue TV. The year-end “Academy Awards” style show at Tucker Theatre highlighted all the academic and athletic accomplishments of the Blue Raider student-athletes for the 2023-24 academic year.

Whitson and Rutter were honored with the True Blue President’s Award, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a current MTSU student-athlete who epitomizes all that is good in intercollegiate athletics. Presented annually to one male and one female student-athlete, the President’s Award recognizes outstanding academic and athletic accomplishments, university/community service and leadership.

Both excelled in the classroom, community and on the court/field. Whitson, who has won the award three years in a row, carries an impressive 3.3 GPA in her Master’s degree of professional studies and is fresh off leading MTSU to a conference championship and a win in the NCAA Tournament. An all-conference performer, Whitson is the programs all-time three-point scorer while also being a member of the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound clubs.

Rutter carries a 3.3 GPA and earlier this year became just the third player in school history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat against New Mexico State. After 39 games, Rutter was batting .331 with nine home runs, 35 RBI and 43 runs scored.

Academically, the Student-Athlete Enhancement Center awarded the highest Team GPA honors for the spring 2023 semester and the fall 2023 semester. The spring 2023 honor went to women’s golf (3.75), while the fall 2023 award went to women’s soccer (3.69).

In the individual categories, tennis standout Leo Raquin was voted Male Athlete of the Year, while women’s cross country star Purity Sanga and women’s basketball standout Savannah Wheeler shared the Female Athlete of the Year honor. Raquin owns a mark of 18-8 in singles and 17-5 in doubles and leads the team with eight ranked wins this spring. Sanga led the women to the CUSA cross country title after becoming just the second Blue Raider in school history to win the individual championship. Wheeler had a monster year in leading the Blue Raiders to a CUSA regular season and tournament championship to go with a win in the NCAA Tournament. The CUSA Player of the Year, led the league in scoring, assists, assist to turnover ratio and minutes played.

The Male and Female Newcomer of the Year awards went to Jakub Kroslak from tennis and Laure Jansen from volleyball. Kroslak currently has a 12-3 singles record and a 7-5 doubles mark in helping MTSU to a fifth straight CUSA championship, while Jansen earned all-conference honors after ranking second on the team in digs and third in kills, service aces, points and points per set.

The Breakout Performer of the Year awards went to Ta’Mia Scott (basketball) and Carmelo Cannizzaro (cross country and track). Scott started all 35 games for MTSU and earned all-conference honors after averaging 12.2 points per game and logging 39 blocked shots. Cannizzaro owns a top 30 time nationally in the 3000-meter steeplechase and was a top-five point scorer for the cross country team to help steer them to a CUSA championship.

Fans determined the winners of the Play of the Year, Performance of the Year, and the Game/Event of the Year by voting on GoBlueRaiders.com. The Play of the Year was a hole-in-one by Lauren Gilchrist at the Chattanooga Classic on the third hole at Council Fire Golf Club. The Performance of the Year award went to pitcher Gretchen Mead and her performance at last year’s Tuscaloosa Softball Regional where she tossed 18 scoreless innings in 19 innings pitched. The Game/Event of the Year was the Blue Raiders’ 71-69 win over Louisville in the opening round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

The Make-A-Difference Award went to softball player and SAAC president Claire Woods, while the Blue Raider Impact Award went to Elizabeth McPhee.

Numerous athletes were also recognized for their academic honors, All-American accolades and individual championships.

2024 RAIDERS CHOICE AWARDS WINNERS

PRESIDENTS AWARD (MALE): Briggs Rutter, baseball
PRESIDENTS AWARD (FEMALE): Courtney Whitson, basketball
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Leo Raquin, tennis
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Purity Sanga, cross country; Savannah Wheeler, basketball
MALE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Jakub Kroslak, tennis
FEMALE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Laure Jansen, volleyball
FEMALE BREAKOUT PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Ta’Mia Scott, basketball
MALE BREAKOUT PERFORMER OF THE YEAR: Carmelo Cannizzaro, track and cross country

ALL-AMERICANS: Alaba Akintola (2023 Outdoor) – Second Team/100m and 200m; Second Team USTFCCCA

TEAM GPA AWARD/SPRING 2023: Women’s Golf (3.75)
TEAM GPA AWARD/FALL 2023: Women’s Soccer (3.69)

COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Women’s Soccer

GAME/EVENT OF THE YEAR: Women’s basketball NCAA Tournament win over Louisville
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: Softball Pitcher Gretchen Mead’s right arm was the engine that powered MTSU in the 2023 NCAA Tournament Tuscaloosa Regional, where Mead threw 18 scoreless frames across 19 innings pitched, allowing just one run in a trio of victories over Central Arkansas and Alabama.
PLAY OF THE YEAR: Lauren Gilchrist recorded a hole-in-one on the 146-yard third hole at Council Fire Golf Club in the second round of the Chattanooga Classic. The ace propelled her to a score of 70 (-1), which matched her lowest round of the season.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE AWARD: Claire Woods
BLUE RAIDER IMPACT AWARD: Liz McPhee

Source: MTSU
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