The University of Colorado honored several athletes Wednesday during the 20th annual CU Sports Performers of the Year (CUSPY) Awards.
Each year, many athletes, coaches and staff gather for an annual CUSPY banquet, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the awards to be presented virtually.
For just the third time, the male and female athlete of the year awards were both shared honors.
Soccer player Taylor Kornieck and alpine skier Mikaela Tommy shared the award for female athlete of the year.
Kornieck, who was selected third overall in the NWSL draft in January, capped her collegiate career last fall by becoming the first CU player to record more than 100 points in her career. She graduated as the program’s all-time leader in points (102) and tied the career record for assists (24).
As a senior last season, Kornieck had career highs in points (30) and goals (12) and was named third-team All-American. She helped the Buffs reach the NCAA Tournament for the third time in her four years.
Tommy, a senior, was named national skier of the year by the Ski Coaches Association and was MVP and skier of the year by the RMISA. Tommy recorded five wins and nine podium appearances in 10 giant slalom races finished this past season. She holds CU records for most GS wins in a season and career.
The male athlete of the year award was shared by cross country runner Joe Klecker and basketball player McKinley Wright IV.
Klecker claimed the first Pac-12 men’s cross country title in CU history, while helping the Buffs to their seventh conference team title. He then placed second overall at the NCAA Championships, the best finish by a CU runner since Dathan Ritzenhein’s victory in 2003. Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the NCAA indoor track and field championships, Klecker added All-American honors for the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. He was expected to be a top finisher in both events.
Wright earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors for the second year in a row, while also being named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team. He led CU with 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game. Wright helped CU finish 21-11 and the Buffs were projected to get a spot in the NCAA Tournament before COVID-19 canceled the postseason.
Dani Jones (women’s indoor track), Nate Landman (football) and Daniel O’Loughlin (men’s golf) were other finalists for athlete of the year honors.
Jones was honored with the female career athletic achievement award. She tied the school record with four individual NCAA titles during her career and was named CU’s female athlete of the year three times. Jones was also Pac-12 cross country athlete of the year in 2017 and 2018 and the USTFCCCA athlete of the year for cross country (2018) and indoor track (2020). In 2018-19, she was the Honda Sports Award winner for cross country.
Jones was also honored for CU’s “moment of the year,” for her victory in the 5,000-meter run during the NCAA outdoor championships last June.
The male career athletic achievement award was shared by Klecker and football player Steven Montez.
Klecker was a three-time All-American in cross country and first-team All-Pac-12 three times. He was a six-time All-American in track and field.
Montez, who recently signed with the NFL’s Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent, was a three-year starter for the Buffaloes’ football team. He set 37 school records and tied 14 others. Montez capped his career as CU’s all-time leader in passing yards (9,649), touchdown passes (63) and total offense (10,609). He started the final 36 games of his career, the longest starting streak ever by a CU quarterback.
Other CUSPY awards:
Female freshman of the year: Jaylyn Sherrod (basketball)
Male freshman of the year: Magnus Boee (Nordic skiing)
Staff member of the year: Rick George (athletic director)
Student athlete support award: Facilities and custodial crew
SAAC Distinguished service award: Quinessa Caylao-Do (women’s basketball), Megan McGrew (alpine skiing), Andrew Potyk (Nordic skiing), Paxton Smith (cross country and track) and Rachel Whipple (volleyball)
Spencer Nelson Buffalo Spirit Award: All spring sports athletes
Ceal Barry leadership awards: Paxton Smith (cross country and track); Evan Battey (men’s basketball); Jaylon Jackson and Davion Taylor (football); Aubrey Knight (women’s basketball); and Valerie Welch (track and field)
Sports performance awards: Teddy Takki (alpine skiing) and Kai Volcy (women’s basketball)