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Leah Smith and Filip Mihaljevic UVA's Top Athletes

May 3, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --Leah Smith (women's swimming) and Filip Mihaljevic (men's track and field) were honored as Virginia's top male and female athletes for the 2016-17 academic year at the Hoos Choice Awards dinner on Wednesday (May 3) at John Paul Jones Arena.

Smith earned her second consecutive IMP Award as UVA's top female athlete, while Mihaljevic garnered the WINA Award as the top male athlete.

Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa.) captured the 500-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle and was part of the 800-yard freestyle winning relay at the 2017 ACC Championships. She added two second-place (500-yard freestyle and 1650-yard freestyle) and one fifth-place (200-yard freestyle) finish at the NCAA championships. Smith swam a personal-best in the 500-yard freestyle, touching the wall as the second person in the event's history to swim under 4:30 (4:28.90). Smith is a five-time All-America honoree, four-time All-ACC honoree and two-time Olympic medalist.


Mihaljevic (Livno, Bosnia and Herzegovina) became UVA's first national champion in a field event, winning the shot put at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He added a fifth-place finish in the discus, to earn All-America honors in both events. Mihaljevic earned 2016 ACC Outdoor Men's Field Performer of the Year honors after winning the shot put and discus. During the 2016-17 indoor season, Mihaljevic earned the ACC shot put title, leading UVA to its best ACC indoor finish as the championship runners-up. Mihaljevic competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, representing Croatia. While in Rio, he placed 21st in the shot put.

Wrestler Jack Mueller (Dallas, Texas) was named Male Rookie of the Year and swimmer Morgan Hill (Olney, Md.) was named Female Rookie of the Year.

Mueller posted a 27-5 record on his way to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships and a sixth-place finish after injury forced him to withdraw from the event. Mueller was named the ACC Freshman Wrestler of the Year and became the first Virginia freshman wrestler to earn All-America honors.

Hill earned a pair of All-America honors, placing fifth in the 800-yard freestyle relay and 13th with the 200-yard freestyle relay team at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Individually, she qualified for the national meet in the 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.  

Matt Johns (Chalfont, Pa.) of the football team earned the Wahoowa Award, which goes to the individual who best displayed selflessness, commitment, school pride, and leadership, all while contributing to the betterment of the team.  

Men's soccer earned Comeback of the Year, rallying from a 1-0 halftime road deficit at then-No. 4 North Carolina. Pablo Aguilar (Guatemala City, Guatemala) scored the equalizer, while Wesley Wade (South Orange, N.J.) buried the eventual game-winning goal for the Cavaliers.

Aguilar's game-winning goal against Vermont in the second round of the NCAA Tournament earned Play of the Year honors. Aguilar drove through traffic and scored the dramatic golden goal in the 103rd minute to lift Virginia to a 2-1, come-from-behind win over the Catamounts. 

Volleyball player Lexi Riccolo (Wheaton, Ill.) earned the Ernest H. Ern Jr. Award for outstanding contributions to student life at Virginia, while Micah Kiser (Baltimore, Md.) of football was the recipient of the Ralph Sampson Scholarship Award. Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) of women's basketball received the Virginia Athletics Department's Distinguished Student-Athlete Scholarship Award.

Assistant Sports Turf Manager Henry Shifflett earned the Bus Male Memorial Service Award for his years of service to the athletics department. Ali Zwicker (Victoria, British Columbia) of rowing received the Craig Fielder Memorial Award for overcoming adversity. Swimmer Shannon Rauth (Glenmoore, Pa.) netted the Life Skills Scholarship Award.

Anna Cho (Leesburg, Va.) was the recipient of the Bob Goodman Memorial Award for her service to Virginia athletics as a team manager for women's basketball, and Korey Blodgett (McLean, Va.) of the women's soccer program received the Tim Abbott Memorial Award as the student assistant athletics trainer most dedicated to and possessing empathy for the student-athletes.

Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (Charlotte, N.C.) of the men's tennis team earned his second consecutive ACC Scholar-Athlete Award and swimming's Kaitlyn Jones (Newark, Del.) earned her first ACC Scholar-Athlete Award. Men's soccer player Jeff Caldwell (Todd, N.C.) and swimmer Rauth each earned Susan J. Grossman Memorial awards in recognition of outstanding service to student-athletes and contributions to the Student-Athlete Mentor Program.

Micah Brickhill (Buckingham, Va.) of women's track and cross country received the Jettie Hill Memorial Award as the fourth-year female student-athlete with the highest scholastic average through her four years at Virginia, while Thomas Madden (Front Royal, Va.) of men's track and cross country garnered the Gus Tebell Memorial Award as the fourth-year male student-athlete with the highest scholastic average through his four years at Virginia.

Virginia's ACC Top VI Award recipients included Caitlin Mautz (Doylestown, Pa., women's track and field), Georgia Ratcliff (rowing), Brickhill (women's track and cross country), Kwiatkowski (men's tennis), Riccolo (volleyball) and Zwicker (rowing).

In addition, 67 student-athletes were honored as recipients of a 2017-2018 Virginia Athletics Foundation Endowed Scholarship. Recognized by the Virginia Athletics Foundation (VAF) and the UVA Athletics Department for their contributions to the University of Virginia athletics program, these student-athletes excel academically, athletically and as leaders in the community. In coordination with Virginia Athletics administration and UVA head coaches, VAF aims to recognize deserving student-athletes who meet the criteria of each of named scholarship. Six of these scholarships will be awarded for the first time during the 2017-2018 academic year.

An endowed scholarship gift is one of the most powerful gifts a donor can make and has a lasting impact on UVA Athletics. Naming opportunities for endowed scholarships start at $250,000. Endowment donors are recognized on the Endowment Wall, located on the second level of the John Paul Jones Arena. About the Virginia Athletics Foundation (VAF): Each year, donations to VAF from our generous donors allow University of Virginia student-athletes to compete at their very best in the classroom and in their sport. At the University of Virginia, all 316.6 athletics scholarships, the Athletics Academic Affairs office, a portion of sport-specific operational fees and facilities are funded through private donations to the Virginia Athletics Foundation.

Team Awards  

Baseball -- Billy Word Memorial Award -- TBA
Men's Basketball - Sidney Young Memorial Award -- Isaiah Wilkins
Women's Basketball - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Breyana Mason
Men's Cross Country - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Henry Wynne
Women's Cross Country - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Emily Mulhern
Field Hockey - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Lucy Hyams
Football - John Acree Memorial Award -- Jackson Matteo
Men's Golf - F. Dixon Brooke Memorial Award -- Jimmy Stanger
Women's Golf - William E. Eacho Memorial Award -- Sarah Kolodzik
Men's Lacrosse -- Henry Gaver Memorial Award -- Ryan Lukacovic
Women's Lacrosse -- Coaches Award for Excellence -- Maggie Jackson
Rowing - Coaches Award for Excellence -- TBA
Men's Soccer - Stanley Lerner Memorial Award -- Pablo Aguilar
Women's Soccer - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Alexis Shaffer
Softball - Coaches Award for Excellence -- TBA
Men's Swimming & Diving - Brooke Maury Memorial Award -- John Denning
Women's Swimming & Diving - Diane Montgomery Greene Memorial Award -- Kaitlyn Jones
Men's Tennis - Norton Pritchett Memorial Award -- TBA
Women's Tennis - Coaches Award for Excellence -- TBA
Men's Track & Field - Henry Cummings Memorial Award -- Filip Mihaljevic
Women's Track & Field - Z Society - The Lou Onesty Memorial Award -- Bridget Guy
Men's Indoor Track & Field -- Coaches Award for Excellence -- Jeff Jernigan
Women's Indoor Track & Field - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Micah Brickhill
Volleyball - Coaches Award for Excellence -- Haley Kole
Wrestling - David Senft Memorial Award -- George DiCamillo

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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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