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June 29, 2010

Athlete of the Year - Queen Harrison

By: Jimmy Robertson

QUEEN HARRISON - Overall Athlete of the Year

Senior, Hurdler, Women's Track and Field, Richmond, Virginia

Queen Harrison

For all her crowning glory during her first three years at Virginia Tech – from school records to ACC championships to making the U.S. Olympic team – Queen Harrison had never won a national championship.

Now, she wears three crowns.

Harrison capped an outstanding career and arguably became the greatest female athlete in the history of Virginia Tech athletics by winning three national championships in this, her senior season. She became the first female athlete at Tech to win a national championship and only the third in the school’s history. Marcel Lomincky and Spyridon Jullien, two acclaimed track and field throwers, are the others who have won national championships for Tech.

As a result of her stunning accomplishments, Harrison is Inside Hokie Sports’ 2009-10 athlete of the year.

She became the 13th different athlete to receive this recognition dating back to when the publication started naming athletes of the year. She joins a list of winners that includes Lomnicky, Angela Tincher (twice), Jullien (twice), Kevin Jones, Bryant Matthews, Lee Suggs, André Davis, Corey Moore, Katie Ollendick, Jim Druckenmiller and Cornell Brown.

Harrison won her first national championship during the indoor season. She captured the ACC title in the 60-meter hurdles and then won the national championship at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in mid-March, clocking a time of 7.95 seconds, which was just a hundredth of a second off her school record.

Her other two titles came at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held in Eugene, Oregon, on June 9-12. She won the 400-meter hurdles in convincing fashion, breaking her school record with a time of 54.55 seconds. She held the previous record of 54.60 seconds.

Then, in her last race as a collegian, she jumped out quickly and controlled the 100-meter hurdles, winning in a time of 12.67 seconds.

“I think a lot of people think it’s easy for me because they only see me at the meets,” Harrison said. “They don’t realize all the time that goes into it, from the weight room to working out at the track. Then to do two events at a meet, it takes a lot out of you.

“But I’m so happy I accomplished my goals and I’m so happy that our team finished the way it did.”

Behind Harrison, the Tech women’s track team finished fifth at the meet, its’ best finish in school history.

Harrison departs with the three national titles, but also four East Regional crowns and five ACC individual championships. She also holds school records in the 400-meter dash (both indoor and outdoor), the 100-meter hurdles, the 400-meter hurdles and the 60-meter hurdles.


Yavgeniy Olhovsky

Senior, Pole Vault, Petah-Tivka, Israel

Yavgeniy Olhovsky

The men’s track and field squad had plenty of stars this past season, placing a program-best 10th as a team at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in early June thanks to All-America performances by four individuals.

One of those individuals was Olhovsky, who put the finishing touches on an outstanding career by claiming his sixth All-America nod in as many tries. The senior competed in six national meets for the Hokies during his time in Blacksburg – three indoor and three outdoor – and never finished lower than eighth in the country. His most recent performance was an eighth-place showing in Eugene, Oregon, on June 10, as he cleared 17 feet, 4.5 inches in his final collegiate meet.

That vault came on the heels of Olhovsky’s third ACC pole vault title in April, when he cleared a season-best 18 feet, 0.5 inches to claim gold. He had previously won the conference crown at both the indoor and outdoor championships in 2009.

The Petah-Tivka, Israel native was also one of Tech’s most valuable performers during the indoor season, tying for fourth place at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on March 12 with a leap of 17 feet, 6.5 inches. He also collected All-ACC honors at the indoor conference meet by placing third behind teammates Hunter Hall and Jared Jodon.


#34 Ryan Williams

Tailback, Redshirt freshman, Manassas, Virginia

Ryan Williams

Everyone expected Ryan Williams to be pretty good.

But this good?

Filling in for an injured Darren Evans, who tore his ACL just weeks before the season opener, Williams enjoyed the best season ever by a Tech tailback, rushing for a school-record 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns in leading the Hokies to a 10-win season. His rushing yards and touchdowns were ACC records for a freshman, and his rushing total was the eighth highest in NCAA history by a freshman.

Williams tied a Tech record with 10 games of 100 yards or more, starting with a 164-yard performance against Marshall. He rushed for 150 yards against Miami and 159 against BC. He closed the regular season with a 183-yard, four-touchdown performance against rival Virginia and then added 117 yards and two scores against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Williams’ 22 total touchdowns and 21 rushing touchdowns are single-season marks at Tech for a freshman and both rank fourth all time for any Tech player in a season. He finished tied for fourth nationally in scoring.

Williams was named the ACC’s rookie of the year and a first-team All-ACC selection. He also was named a third-team All-American by Sporting News, becoming just the third Tech running back in history to be named an All-American.


#23 Malcolm Delaney

Point guard, Junior, Baltimore, Maryland

Malcolm Delaney

Delaney put up impressive numbers this past season and received recognition for them, earning fourth-team All-America honors by Sporting News and honorable mention All-America honors by The Associated Press. He was a unanimous selection to the All-ACC first team as well.

Delaney led the ACC in scoring at 20.2 points per game and finished fourth in the ACC in assists at 4.5 per game. He did a lot of damage at the free-throw line this season, hitting an ACC-leading 230 free throws in an ACC-leading 273 attempts. His 84.2 percent shooting from the line ranked third in the ACC. He ranked fourth in the ACC in minutes played at 35.8 per game.

He led or tied for the team lead in scoring on 23 occasions. He scored more than 20 points on 19 occasions and more than 30 four times. His best performance probably came at Georgia Tech, where he scored 32 points, hitting 7-of-15 from the floor and 14-of-17 from the free-throw line. He also dished out nine assists in that game, leading the Hokies to an 88-82 victory.

Following the season, Delaney declared for the NBA Draft, but did not hire an agent. He decided to return to school, giving the Hokies their top 10 scorers back off last season’s squad.


#15 Utahya Drye

Forward, Senior, Durham, North Carolina

Utahya Drye

While the Tech women’s basketball team endured another rough season in 2009-10, it was hard to point any fingers of blame at Drye, who was the Hokies’ most consistent producer from start to finish.

Though Drye scored just four more points (340 for an average of 11.3 per game) than fellow senior Lindsay Biggs to finish in the team lead, she hit on 12 percent more of her shots than Biggs (47.3 to 35.3). Only freshman Porschia Hadley, who shot 178 fewer times than Drye, had a higher field-goal percentage. Drye also finished second on the team in free-throw shooting, converting at a clip of 71.1 percent.

Drye ended up leading the squad with 6.6 rebounds per game, while finishing second on the team in both assists and steals. Her efforts earned her an honorable mention nod on the All-ACC team, making her just the fourth Hokie to receive all-conference accolades since Virginia Tech entered the ACC in the 2004-05 season.

Drye’s solid senior season closed the book on an impressive career, one in which she finished 10th on Tech’s all-time scoring list (1,166 points) and ninth on the all-time rebounding list (645 rebounds). She is only the 11th player in school history to have scored 1,000 points while grabbing over 600 rebounds, and she became only the second player in the program’s 34-year history to have 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 200 assists, joining Kerri Gardin (2002-06).


#26 Steve Domecus

Catcher, r-Senior, Novato, California

Steve Domecus

There was no shortage of key performers in the Hokie baseball team’s resurgent 2010 season and picking just one to single out hardly seemed fair. One obvious choice was Austin Wates, who led the team with a .382 batting average and was voted to the All-ACC first team.

In the end, however, Domecus’ contributions were just too influential to ignore. For starters, he broke or tied two school records that had stood since the 1980s. Domecus equaled the single-season hits mark of 92, which was set by both Tim Buheller and Shaun Sullivan in 1985. Of those 92 base knocks, 27 were doubles, which surpassed the old record of 25 recorded by Casey Waller in 1989.

In addition to hits and doubles, Domecus also led the team with 62 runs scored, 160 total bases and a .635 slugging percentage. He tied for the team lead with 13 home runs and 14 hit-by-pitches, and ranked second in batting average (.365), runs batted in (60) and stolen bases (12).

But Domecus’ impact was felt in more than just the statistics. When Tech needed a boost behind the plate and on the base paths midway through the season, head coach Pete Hughes turned to Domecus’ energy. Previously in a platoon at catcher and hitting in the middle of the order, Domecus was made the everyday backstop and inserted into the leadoff spot, a rarity in baseball. He and the Hokies responded by rattling off back-to-back series wins over No. 4 Florida State and No. 9 Miami, finding themselves nationally ranked for the first time since 1992.

Domecus’ efforts earned him All-ACC second-team honors, as well as a spot on the ACC all-tournament team. He was also named a third-team All-American by Ping!Baseball and was later chosen in the ninth round of the MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.


#18 Misty Hall

Shortstop, Senior, Dayton, Virginia

Misty Hall

The Virginia Tech softball team had an up-and-down season and finished with a sub-.500 record, but the Hokies pulled off some upsets over the course of the season and Misty Hall played a rather large role in that.

Hall, who got off to a slow start, finished the season with a .273 batting average and tied for the team lead in homers with 11 and led the team with 34 RBI. Her slugging percentage (.627) and on-base percentage (.424) also led the team. She set a school record by being hit by pitches 14 times.

Hall, a second-team All-ACC selection, was the standout in Tech’s finest moment of the season when the Hokies swept a doubleheader from then-No. 19 Florida State on April 17. She went 5-for-8 on the day, with three homers and six RBI. In the first game, she hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning – her second homer of the game – to tie the game, and then Tech won 8-7 on an RBI single by Ashton Ward two batters later.

Hall then won the second game for the Hokies 5-4 with a walk-off homer, ripping the first pitch she saw over the left-field fence. She finished with three hits in the game.


#10 Charlie Campbell

Midfielder, Redshirt junior, Mundelein, Illinois

Charlie Campbell

The Tech men’s soccer team went through a rebuilding season and finished 5-12-1, losing four matches by a single goal. But Charlie Campbell gave the Hokies consistent play and will be counted on heavily during his senior season.

As a junior this past season, Campbell – who missed the 2008 season with an injury – started and played in all 19 games. He finished tied for second on the team with three goals and he tied for the team lead with 10 points. He also tied for the team lead with two game-winning goals.

He scored the game-winning goal in Tech’s 2-1 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Middleton Sports and Fitness Invitational played in Madison, Wisconsin. He also helped the Hokies to a 0-0 tie against Wisconsin, and he earned the tournament’s offensive MVP honor. He scored Tech’s lone goal in a 4-1 loss to then-No. 16 Duke and had an assist in the Hokies’ goal in a 3-1 loss to then-No. 11 Virginia.

Campbell’s accomplishments also extended off the field. He was named to the ACC’s All-Academic team this season for the third time in his career.


#26 Marika Gray

Forward, Junior, Alexandria, Virginia

Marika Gray

The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team arguably enjoyed the best year of any of Tech’s women’s sports. The squad finished with a 16-8 record and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships before losing to No. 2 Portland on the Pilots’ home field.

Marika Gray had a lot to do with the Hokies’ success this season, leading the team in goals and points. She scored 10 goals, and combined with her two assists, ended up with 22 points. She finished the season in fifth place on Tech’s single-season lists for goals and points.

Perhaps even more impressively, Gray led the squad with five game-winning goals, including a goal against then-No. 1 North Carolina that enabled the Hokies to pull off a stunning upset of the defending national champions. She scored two goals against Dayton in the second round of the NCAA Championships, leading the Hokies to a 3-1 victory and handing the Flyers their first loss. She also scored two goals in Tech’s 4-3 victory over then-No. 5 Wake Forest in the regular season, and she scored two goals in the Hokies’ 4-3 overtime win over VCU.

Gray earned second-team All-ACC honors for her work this past season. She is a two-time member of the all-conference team.


Mikey Moyers

Freshman, Stanardsville, Virginia

Mikey Moyers

Despite fielding a young team – the Hokies did not have a senior on the roster – the Tech golf squad made the NCAA regionals for the fourth consecutive season and finished in the top 10 of seven of its 10 events this season, including two top-five finishes. A lot of their success had to do with the play of a freshman named Mikey Moyers.

Moyers was the only Hokie to finish in the top five in more than one event this past season. He finished second out of 83 golfers at the Pinehurst (N.C.) Intercollegiate by Gatorade, with a 2-under-par total on one of Pinehurst’s most difficult courses. He finished fifth out of 81 golfers at the Intercollegiate at the Ridges, with a 2-under-par on The Ridges Golf and Country Club in Johnson City, Tennessee. He finished in the top 20 on four occasions – best on the team.

Moyers led Tech with a stroke average of 72.9. He played in 29 rounds and shot par or better in 12 of those, which ranked second best on the team. He shot an average of 73.1 in the final round, also second best on the team.


#22 Allie Emala

Attacker, Junior, Baltimore, Maryland

Allie Emala

The young Tech women’s lacrosse team stumbled to a 6-11 record in 2010, but the Hokies’ future appears bright with a core group of players returning for next season, led by Allie Emala.

Emala started all 17 games for the Hokies at her attack position and led the team in most offensive categories. She finished second on the team with 32 goals and led the team in both assists (15) and points (47). She also led the team in draw controls (91) and finished second on the team in shots on goal (48). Her seven goals in conference play led the team along with her nine points.

Emala’s best game came against William & Mary when she scored six goals and had an assist in the Hokies’ 23-16 loss to the No. 18-ranked Tribe. She added four goals in Tech’s victory over Presbyterian and had three goals and three assists in the Hokies’ win over Davidson. She had two goals against Virginia and two goals against Maryland – two of the top five teams in the nation.


Yoann Re

Senior, Verdun, Quebec, Canada

Yoann Re

The Virginia Tech men’s tennis team enjoyed another fine season, earning a spot at the NCAA Championships, and Yoann Re led the way in his final campaign as a Hokie.

Re was the only Tech player to receive an at-large spot in the singles competition of the NCAA Championships, doing so for the second straight year. He went into the singles competition ranked No. 55 nationally. Playing at the tough No. 1 spot and facing each team’s best player, Re went 9-12 in dual matches, including a 5-6 mark in the ACC. Despite the less than .500 record in dual matches, he picked up victories over current No. 12 Eric Quigley (Kentucky), No. 27 Bruno Rosa (Rice), No. 31 Jean-Yves Aubone (Florida State), No. 67 Christopher Nott (Arkansas) and No. 69 Calin Paar (Nebraska).

One of his better wins came in late February when he knocked off Rosa of Rice 6-0, 6-1 when Rosa was ranked 16th nationally. That victory led the way for the Hokies, who downed No. 23 Rice 7-0, and as a result, Re was named the ACC player of the week.

For his efforts this season, he earned a spot on the All-ACC team for the third time.


Yasmin Hamza

Junior, Cairo, Egypt

Yasmin Hamza

The Virginia Tech women’s tennis team struggled this season, finishing with a 9-13 mark, including a 2-9 record in the ACC. The Hokies’ best player turned out to be Yasmin Hamza, who received the team’s MVP award at the All-Sports Banquet.

Hamza finished the season with a 12-11 mark in dual matches while playing mostly at the No. 3 and No. 1 spots, thus seeing the opposing team’s best players. Actually, at the No. 3 spot, she took care of most of her competition, finishing with an impressive 9-2 mark at No. 3.

She played a big part in the Hokies’ two ACC victories. In Tech’s 5-2 win over BC, she defeated Katharine Atwell 7-5, 6-1 at the No. 2 spot. Against Maryland, she rolled to a 6-4, 6-2 win over Julie Huschke at No. 3, leading the Hokies to a 5-2 win.

Hamza also held her own against Georgia Tech’s Irina Falconi – the top-ranked player in the country – in a mid-April match. Hamza lost by a score of 6-3, 6-4, as the Hokies fell 7-0.


Chris Diaz

141-pounder, Junior, Camden, Delaware

Chris Diaz

After one match at the NCAA Championships, Chris Diaz appeared to be headed for season-ending disappointment. But he responded in the consolation round – and ended up as an All-American.

Diaz stormed through the consolation rounds to finish in eighth place in the 141-pound category. In the first round, he got shut out 5-0 by Connor Beebe of Central Michigan. Then Diaz won four straight matches, including a 7-3 upset of No. 2 seed Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State before falling to No. 3 seed Michael Thorn of Minnesota in the seventh-place match. The top eight finishers in each weight class earn All-America status.

Diaz’s best week came in early February when he posted a last-second win over 17th-ranked Seth Ciasulli of Lehigh. He registered a takedown at the buzzer to record a 4-3 win and was named the ACC wrestler of the week as a result.

Diaz finished the season with a 33-7 record, including a 20-1 mark in dual competition and a 3-0 mark in ACC matches. He finished second at the ACC Championships at 141 pounds, winning his first two matches before losing 6-4 to top seed Alex Krom of Maryland.


#15 Felicia Willoughby

Middle Blocker, Junior, Pleasanton, California

Felicia Willoughby

Setter Erin Leaser was the steady distributor of the ball, Justine Record evolved into a go-to offensive player and Cara Baarendse had a breakout freshman campaign, but at the end of the 2009 season, it was the reliable Willoughby who was once again showered with recognition.

After establishing a new career high with 332 kills (one shy of Record for the team lead) and finishing third in the ACC with 1.17 blocks per set, the 6-foot middle blocker was voted to the All-ACC first team for the second consecutive season. After garnering second-team honors as a freshman in 2007, Willoughby is the only Hokie to have earned All-ACC recognition for three years in a row.

She followed that up by collecting All-East Region honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) for the second straight year, also a Tech first. She was one of six players on the All-East Region squad to earn the award multiple times and one of only two non-seniors to do so.

Finally, the California native was tabbed an honorable mention All-American by the AVCA for the second time in her career, making her the first Hokie to receive that acknowledgement twice.

Willoughby will enter her senior season with 428 total blocks in her career, which ranks fourth on Tech’s all-time list. She has an excellent chance of finishing her career as the all-time leader, as Jennifer Schmidt (1992-95) holds the top spot with 494 career blocks.


Devin Cornwall

Senior, Culpeper, Virginia

Devin Cornwall

The men’s cross country team didn’t have one dominant runner this past season, relying instead on running in a pack to score its points. But the one Hokie who consistently produced quality finishes at the biggest races was Cornwall.

The senior placed among the top 18 finishers at each of the meets in which he competed, including the final meet of his career – the NCAA Southeast Regional in Louisville, Kentucky.

By placing 18th at the 231-runner meet, Cornwall was not only the top Tech finisher, but he also earned the first all-region honor of his successful career. Turning in a 10,000-meter time of 30:49.81, Cornwall helped the Hokies to an eighth-place team finish in the event.

Two weeks before the regional race, Cornwall finished 13th at the ACC Championships to capture all-conference recognition for the second consecutive year. By completing the 8,000-meter course in 23:42.5, the Culpeper, Virginia, native helped the Hokies to a fifth-place team finish.

Cornwall also placed 15th out of 243 runners at the Chile Pepper Invite in Fayetteville, Arkansas, earlier in the season.

Cornwall paired his athletic talents with his work ethic in the classroom to earn All-ACC Academic Team honors for the third time in his career. He was also one of just 58 student-athletes to be named to the All-Academic Team by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.


Jessica Trapeni

Junior, Fairfax, Virginia

Jessica Trapeni

It wasn’t hard to designate a top performer for the women’s cross country team, as Trapeni was the first Hokie to cross the finish line at five different meets this past season.

She began the season by teaming up with Lindsay King to win the season-opening Virginia Tech Relays, as the two combined to run the 10,000-meter course in 37:22.5 to defeat 26 other pairs. One month later against a small field of just 17 runners, the junior took first place at the Dual in the Elk meet in Banner Elk, North Carolina.

In mid-October, Trapeni topped the Hokie contingent at the Blue Ridge Open in Boone, North Carolina, taking 14th out of 133 runners and helping Tech to a second-place team finish.

The Fairfax, Virginia, native then paced the Hokies in the two biggest meets of the year – the ACC Championships on Oct. 30 and the NCAA Southeast Regional on Nov. 14. Trapeni claimed 49th place out of 109 runners at the conference meet, completing the 6,000-meter course in 22:02. Then at the regional, in a field of athletes more than twice as large (237), she took 55th place in a time of 22:16.26 to help Tech to a 15th-place team finish.


Erika Hajnal

Freestyle/Individual Medley, Sophomore, Budapest, Hungary

Erika Hajnal

The torch has been passed. If there was any question who would be the next great Hokie swimmer following the departures of Jessica Botzum in 2008 and Sara Smith in 2009, Hajnal wasted little time stepping up to the challenge.

After collecting honorable mention All-America honors in 2009, Hajnal took the next step and became an official All-American in 2010, claiming eighth place in the 400 individual medley at the NCAA Championships in March. She became Tech’s first swimming All-American, male or female, since Botzum in 2008. She finished the race in 4:12.83, just hours after breaking the school record in the preliminary competition with a time of 4:09.33.

Hajnal also teamed up with Katarina Filova, Kelly deMarrais and Lauren Ritter to place 10th in the 800 freestyle relay, which was good for another honorable mention All-America nod.

The sophomore also dominated at the ACC Championships in late February, taking home a handful of medals that included a pair of individual golds. She claimed first in both the 500 and 1,650 freestyle events, setting a school record in the 500 by touching the wall in 4:40.03. Ironically, she only took bronze in her All-America event of the 400 IM, finishing third in 4:10.78. She also picked up a silver medal after helping Filova, deMarrais and Ritter to second place in the 800 freestyle relay.


Mikey McDonald

Diver, Senior, Annandale, Virginia

Mikey McDonald

McDonald capped the most decorated diving career in Hokie history by competing in the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive season in 2009-10. He was one of only three Tech men to advance to the national meet this past year, joining backstroke specialist Charlie Higgins and fellow diver Logan Shinholser.

Though McDonald didn’t meet his goal of becoming an All-American – he finished 18th in the one-meter, 24th in the platform and 26th in the three-meter – that didn’t take away from a successful campaign that saw him win the one-meter at the Zone A Diving Championships, while taking second in the three-meter.

At the ACC Championships in late February, the senior took fifth in the one-meter event and sixth in the platform.

At year’s end, he led the divers with seven top performances in the one-meter and six titles in the three-meter. McDonald also set a new War Memorial pool record in the one-meter with a season-best score of 394.28 against Penn State on Oct. 31.