The Niagara County Community College athletic department recently honored its top student-athletes at the annual Thunderwolves Awards Night.
Baseball standout Vincent Chiarenza won the prestigious President's Cup - given annually to a sophomore student-athlete who has been enrolled at NCCC for at least three full-time semesters and completed 45 credit-hours or more with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The scholar-athlete must also have been a vital member of the team he or she competed on for two full seasons of competition. Chiarenza recently graduated with a 3.46 GPA in NCCC's business administration program. He is a two-year member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, a valued member of Student Senate and team captain. The two-time first team All-Region first baseman finished with 16 home runs and more than 80 runs batted in during his two-year career. In 2018, Chairenza was a first team NJCAA All-American and a member of the Region III Gold Glove team. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play at NCAA Div. I Canisius College.
Women's basketball star Kenetria Redfern was named Female Athlete of the Year. The sophomore had a season to remember on the hardwood, leading the Thunderwolves to a 31-0 regular-season record and their first Region III Championship. The Region III Player of the Year led NCCC with a program-record 734 total points – good enough for 5th most in the country. She averaged a team-high 22.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. She was also an NJCAA Div. II All-American second-team selection along with Region III Tournament MVP, first team All-Region, BCANY JUCO Player of the Year and MVP of the Thunderwolves' Tip-Off & Holiday Classics.
Wrestling standout Freddy Eckles was given Male Athlete of the Year. The sophomore joined elite company on the mats, winning two Region III championships among his 67 career victories in a royal, gold and black singlet. That total is good enough for 13th on the program's all-time wins list. The 141-pounder was 37-5 this past winter en route to a seventh-place finish at the National Tournament and NJCAA All-American honors. He was also 5th at the New York State Championships, second at both the Thunderwolves and Jayhawk Opens and brought home top honors at Muskegon's McMullen Open.
Thunderwolves awards were given out to a handful of groups and individuals that contributed to NCCC's athletic success during this past school year. Those honored were: Linda Knuutila (deceased wrestling supporter), Dale Zastrow (deceased maintenance worker), Redfern (women's basketball Player of the Year), Keith Maute (wrestling Coach of the Year), Bill Beilein (men's basketball Coach of the Year & 200th win), Nate Beutel (women's basketball Coach of the Year & 150th win), Cori Dickson (women's basketball player; led NJCAA Div. II with 238 assists), Paige Emborsky (women's basketball player; 2nd in NJCAA Div. II with 122 made 3s), Shilah Parker (women's basketball player; 2nd in NJCAA Div. II with 123 steals), Emily Neidrauer (women's golfer; three-time female medalist), Dr. William J. Murabito (athletics supporter), Jason Renczkowski (athletics videographer) and NCCC club cheerleading.
NJCAA All-Americans recognized at the event included: Greg Quinn (wrestling, fourth team), Eckles (wrestling, seventh team) and Redfern (women's basketball, second team).
The women's basketball team led by Beutel was honored with the Highest GPA Award after totaling a 3.32 GPA.
The club hockey team coached by Matt Oleski was given the Outstanding Community Service Award after helping with the annual Breast Cancer Awareness and Giving Tree events.
Each individual sport also named their respective MVP and Coach's Award recipients:
|Men's Soccer||Tyler Van Buren||Austin Sauer|
|Women's Soccer||Alexis Fyock||Brooke Kiefer|
|Women's Volleyball||Maddy Finn||Sha'Vonne Rzepa|
|Club Hockey||Mat Paonessa||Ben Murphy|
|Men's Basketball||Fode Camara||Dytanya Mixson|
|Women's Basketball||Kenetria Redfern||Molly Mahony|
|Wrestling||Greg Quinn||C.J. Walz|
|Baseball||Vincent Chiarenza||Keegan Ernest|
|Softball||Alisha Scroger||April Chambers|
|Golf||Carl Graff||Rich O'Connell|