ETSU athletic department has award-winning week

Joe Avento • Mar 22, 2017 at 5:26 PM

It’s been an award-winning week for the East Tennessee State University athletic department as no fewer than nine athletes and coaches received major recognition.

First, T.J. Cromer, a senior guard on the ETSU basketball team, and coach Steve Forbes were honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches on Wednesday.

Cromer, already picked as an All-Southern Conference first-team member and the league tournament’s most valuable player, was chosen to the All-District 22 first team.

Forbes, who guided the Bucs to a share of the SoCon regular-season championship and the conference tournament title, was the District 22 coach of the year. His teams have gone 51-20 in his first two years at ETSU.

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The ETSU track and field teams completed a sweep of Southern Conference awards.

Kyra Atkins pulled off a rare double by being chosen as the league’s athlete of the week in track and field. The sophomore won the 100-meter hurdles at the 49er Classic in Charlotte with a time of 13.49 seconds. She also set a personal best in the long jump, going 19 feet, 2.5 inches to finish third.

Matt Moore won the men’s track athlete of the week award after winning the 100 at the 49er Classic with a time of 10.71.

Meanwhile, Brett Squibbs was the men’s field athlete of the week after winning the pole vault in Charlotte with a mark of 16-8.75.

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It’s been quite a run for Tiffany Laughren.

The sophomore outfielder/pitcher on the ETSU softball team was chosen as the Southern Conference’s student-athlete of the week.

The big numbers for Laughren are .424 and 3.826. The first number is her batting average while the second is her cumulative grade-point average. It all adds up to an impressive performance on and off the field.

The native of Erwin had already been honored with the league’s player of the week and player of the month awards this season.

Laughren leads the SoCon in doubles (12), ranks second in on-base percentage (.495), third in batting average and hits (36), and is tied for fourth in total bases (53).

She’s the third ETSU athlete to claim the award this year.

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The ETSU softball team dropped a doubleheader to Virginia Tech on Tuesday, falling 4-2 and 9-7.

In the second game, Danielle Knoetze fueled a furious four-run rally in the seventh inning with a two-run home run, but it wasn’t enough and ETSU fell to 12-16.

The Bucs had won their last four games.

All nine of ETSU’s starters registered a hit as the Bucs out-hit the Hokies, 11-6. Mykeah Johnson also had a home run.

Knoetze’s home run was her seventh of the season. She has 24 career homers, one shy of tying Stephanie Gaynord for third all-time. The school record is 33, set by Jackie Baird from 2011-14.

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Malloree Schurr has made the transition from the basketball court to the softball diamond for ETSU. The junior is hitting .263 with three RBIs since joining the team. She averaged 3.2 points and 4.5 rebounds a game for the basketball team.

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Don’t forget the ETSU football team’s scrimmage on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. on the team’s practice field. It’s open to the public and will be the first chance to see what the Bucs will have in store for the SoCon next season.

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No woman golfer in the SoCon is on a better roll than ETSU’s Loy Hee Ying. The sophomore form Malaysia was picked as the league’s golfer of the week for the second week in a row.

Loy, ranked 88th in the country, finished tied for 13th at the 3M Augusta Invitational last week. She opened with a round of 67 and has finished in the top 20 in her last nine tournaments, dating back to last year.

Loy led ETSU to a tie for seventh place at the Augusta tournament.

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Mateusz Gradecki continues to lead the men’s golf team with a 71.7 stroke average.

The senior from Poland hasn’t shot higher than 72 in his last eight rounds, covering three tournaments. He’s finished in the top 10 of all three, including a second-place finish at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational in Hawaii.

Gradecki also finished second at ETSU’s home tournament back in October, the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn Club, where he posted three rounds in the 60s.

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Marina Guinart is still perfect in singles play, and after leading the ETSU women’s tennis team to a 2-0 start in Southern Conference action, the sophomore from Spain was chosen as the SoCon player of the week.

Guinart, ranked No. 120 in the country by Intercollegiate Tennis Association, has won all 29 singles matches of her collegiate career. She’s 11-0 this year and has won eight of those matches in straight sets.

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Earlier in the week, Blake Smith of the ETSU baseball team was picked as the SoCon’s pitcher of the week after a 14-strikeout, two-hitter against Miami of Ohio. He was the first ETSU pitcher to win the award in two years.

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