Ednah Kurgat is Liberty's first Big South Female Student-Athlete of the Year since Megan Frazee in 2009.
Liberty sophomore women's cross country/track & field All-American Ednah Kurgat has been named the 2015-16 Big South Conference Female Student-Athlete of the Year, it was announced on Thursday. The award was voted upon by the Big South's athletics directors, senior woman administrators and sports information directors.
Kurgat becomes the first Lady Flame to earn this award since Megan Frazee (women's basketball) in 2008-09. She is the second Liberty women's cross country/track & field runner to win the award, joining 2001-02 honoree Heather Sagan. Kurgat received 73 points and 10 first-place votes, edging Winthrop track & field All-American thrower Marthaline Cooper, who garnered 65 points and five first-place nods. All-American pitcher Andrew Beckwith, who led Coastal Carolina to the 2016 NCAA baseball national championship, was named Howard Bagwell Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
A native of Eldoret, Kenya, Kurgat became the first Liberty and Big South Conference runner ever to earn NCAA Division I All-America honors in women's cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field during the same athletic year. The 2015-16 Big South Women's Runner of the Year also captured three Big South titles and set five school records on the year.
Kurgat's freshman cross country season culminated with a 12th-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship. She clocked a program-record 6K time of 20:06.7, becoming Liberty's first-ever NCAA Division I All-American in women's cross country. Kurgat qualified for the national meet by finishing as the runner-up at the NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championship, the best-ever regional finish by a Lady Flame.
Kurgat also came in second at the Big South Cross Country Championship, earning Big South Freshman of the Year honors. Earlier in the season, she had clocked a Liberty 5K-record time of 17:11.1 at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational. The biology major earned a spot on the USTFCCCA All-Academic team for women's cross country.
Kurgat's second All-America distinction came as a result of her ninth-place finish in the women's 5K at the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championship. The performance netted second team All-America honors. Kurgat punched her ticket to the national championship with a Liberty and Big South women's indoor 5K record time of 15:47.89 at the Husky Classic.
The indoor season also saw Kurgat win both the women's mile (personal-best 4:50.82) and 3K (school-record 9:32.67) titles at the Big South meet, despite competing in the slow heat of both events. It marked Kurgat's second straight Big South 3K crown.
Kurgat's athletic year wrapped up in impressive fashion, as she placed fourth in the women's 5K at the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championship. The first team All-American scored the Lady Flames' first points at the meet since 2002.
Kurgat shattered the Liberty and Big South women's outdoor 5K records with her 15:48.63 effort at the Mt. SAC Relays. Meanwhile, her lone 10K of the season resulted in a Big South championship.
In March 2000, the Big South Conference Executive Committee voted to create an annual Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year award, and named the male award in honor of former Charleston Southern Athletic Director Howard Bagwell, who was one of the founders of the Big South Conference. The annual candidates for the award consist of the Players of the Year from each sport for the season most recently completed.
Howard Bagwell Male Athlete of the Year 2015-16 - Andrew Beckwith, Coastal Carolina (baseball) 2014-15 - Quinn Backus, Coastal Carolina (football) 2013-14 - Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina (football) 2012-13 - Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook (football) 2011-12 - Ashton Bennett, Coastal Carolina (soccer) 2010-11 - Sam Chelanga, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2009-10 - Sam Chelanga, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2008-09 - Sam Chelanga, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2007-08 - Josh McDougal, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2006-07 - Josh McDougal, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2005-06 - Josh McDougal, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2004-05 - Mike Costanzo, Coastal Carolina (baseball) 2003-04 - Joseph Ngwenya, Coastal Carolina (soccer) 2002-03 - Joseph Ngwenya, Coastal Carolina (soccer) 2001-02 - Justin Owens, Coastal Carolina (baseball) 2000-01 - Jason Colson, Winthrop (baseball) 1999-00 - Keith Butler, Liberty (baseball)
Female Athlete of the Year 2015-16 - Ednah Kurgat, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2014-15 - Megan Baltzell, Longwood (softball) 2013-14 - Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop (basketball) 2012-13 - Brooke Short, Longwood (softball) 2011-12 - Gabrielle Houston, Charleston Southern (track & field) 2010-11 - Natalie Pearson, UNC Asheville (track & field) 2009-10 - Kristen Shifflett, Radford (softball) 2008-09 - Megan Frazee, Liberty (basketball) 2007-08 - Megan Frazee, Liberty (basketball) 2006-07 - Aruka Felgueroso, Coastal Carolina (golf) 2005-06 - Tiffany Evans, Radford (track & field) 2004-05 - Katie Feenstra, Liberty (basketball) 2003-04 - Katie Feenstra, Liberty (basketball) 2002-03 - Amber Campbell, Coastal Carolina (track & field) 2001-02 - Heather Sagan, Liberty (cross country/track & field) 2000-01 - Amber Campbell, Coastal Carolina (track & field) 1999-00 - Anthonia Akpama, Liberty (volleyball)
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