What my Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year ballot would look like
The Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year award is given to the UAA student-athlete who simply plays his or her sport at a different level. Excellent, great and dumb nasty are all descriptors the MacKay winner should represent. This year’s field of nominees includes competitors from the full array of Seawolf sports.
The final nine are: Micah Chelimo (men’s cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field), Susan Tanui (women’s cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field), Marine Dusser (women’s skiing), Lukas Ebner (men’s skiing), Alysa Horn (women’s basketball), Kyle Fossman (men’s basketball), Kimya Jafroudi (volleyball), Emily Peterson (gymnastics) and Blake Tatchell (hockey).
I have no say in who winds up with the trophy, but that won’t silence me. If the world were just and my opinion was taken into account, this is the ballot I would have turned in:
Third place: Blake Tatchell
Tatchell’s season statistics are amplified when you consider he was a true freshman. The left-handed forward was the first rookie in the last ten years to lead the Seawolves in scoring. His 25 points included a team-high 16 assists and nine goals.
Honestly, the MacKay award shouldn’t go to Tatchell. Sometimes sportswriters like to throw a name on their ballot that doesn’t have a real shot, but deserves some recognition — that’s what I’m doing here.
Dave Shyiak said before the season that there were freshman on the team who would play right away and have instant impacts. Tatchell did just that: he played every game and was named the team’s Rookie of the Year and MVP.
Runner-up: Kyle Fossman
Fossman was the lead dog in a scary UAA backcourt. His deep stroke helped spread the floor and make the offense run. Behind the sharp-eyed shooting of the Alaska native, the Seawolves finished third in a stacked GNAC.
Fossman averaged 14.8 points over the course of the season, but it’s the way he got his points that made him such a threat. He not only led the team in made three-pointers, he also led them in three-point shooting percentage. His 45 percent clip from beyond the arc is a ridiculous feat.
The efficient play didn’t go unnoticed, as Fossman was a First Team All-GNAC selection. He picked up the team’s MVP award as well.
And no, my view on Fossman wasn’t swayed by the fact that he wears the same number as Jerry Stackhouse (42).
Winner: Micah Chelimo
Chelimo’s case for the MacKay award is comparable to Adrian Peterson’s case for the 2012 NFL MVP. You start talking yourself into other athletes deserving the trophy over him, and then you come back to his body of work and realize this isn’t a contest.
The senior distance runner from Kenya has won three straight NCAA Division II National titles. The champ collected his titles in both outdoor and indoor track & field, and cross country. It doesn’t matter the surface or environment, Chelimo is going to finish first.
There isn’t enough page space to break down all of Chelimo’s accomplishments. Aside from his individual records and trophies, he also played a vital role in leading the men’s cross country team to its highest finish ever at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. The pack took home a third place podium spot.
For whatever it’s worth — which should be much more — Micah Chelimo is my 2013 Bill MacKay Athlete of the Year.
The actual winner of the award was announced April 26 at the athlete-of-the-year banquet at Lucy Cuddy Hall. Not surpisingly, Micah Chelimo received the hardware. I’d like to send out a big congratulations to him.