For 26 years now, the Golden Torch Gala has been one of few events nationwide which solely recognizes the success of student-athletes off the playing fields. The student-athletes recognized bring distinction and honor to Florida State University by continuing to reinforce FSU’s position as a superior academic and athletic institution. These are FSU’s most visible ambassadors and their hard work promotes the best interest of Florida State University.
Their academic achievements are also a tribute to the many individuals and groups on campus who support the mission of the athletics department throughout the year.
The women’s golf team won the Golden Torch for the 2015-16 Academic Year with a cumulative GPA of 3.591. The Seminoles’ academic success comes as a total team effort as 10 members of the team were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll, four Seminoles were named to the All-ACC Academic Women’s Golf Team and three Seminoles – including tonight’s Golden Torch winner for women’s Golf (Morgane Metraux) were named to the All-American Scholar Athlete Team as presented by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association of America.
The men’s swimming and diving team won the Golden Torch for the first time since 2006. Their 3.074 GPA headlines with 17 athletes recognized on the ACC Honor Roll. Cole Hensley and Kalonji Cole were named to the Honor Roll for the fourth time, while Dylan Grisell and Jason McCormick made the list for the third time. Connor Kalisz was recognized on the All-ACC Academic Swimming and Diving Team, joining Cole, Kalonji, Dylan and Jason.
Individual Golden Torch Winners
Chase Haney posted a 5-0 record with a 2.78 ERA in 31 appearances for the Seminole Baseball team last year. The sophomore from Winter Garden, FL had 37 strikeouts and allowed just 19 walks while coming out of the bullpen in 2016. In the classroom, Chase maintained a 3.6 GPA over his freshman year and is working towards a degree in Management.
Senior guard Brittany Brown is one of the most outspoken and charismatic players on the FSU Women’s Basketball team. The native of Fort Walton Beach is a two-time All-ACC Academic Team member, majoring in sport management. Brown earned All-ACC Defensive Team honors last year as a junior, leading the conference with 98 steals which ranks as the second-best season ever in terms of steals. Brown has started 101 games already over her career while averaging 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Michael Ojo returns for his fifth season as a Seminole after missing all of last season with an injury. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs in April and is currently taking classes towards a Master’s Degree in International Affairs. Michael will reach the 100 career games plateau early during the 2016-17 season and he is on pace to become one of the Top 25 all-time shot blockers in school history.
Boris Bojanovsky is also one of FSU’s all-time great shot blockers who finished with 195 career blocked shots – the third highest total in school history. He also finished his career tied for second in school history with 136 career games played. Boris earned his bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Florida State in April. He is one of only three Seminole players to hold three of the Seminoles’ all-time top 20 single season totals for blocked shots.
Katherine Plessy finished her career with a 43-16 record in Beach Volleyball. Plessy was instrumental in helping the program reach its first national championship as the top-seeded Seminoles earned a berth in the NCAA Collegiate Beach Volleyball National Championship. She received her degree in psychology this spring, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 3.927 GPA. She is a four-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll and earned a 3.854 GPA during the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semester. She was also president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council in 2015-16.
Women’s Cross Country
In her first season with the cross country program last fall, Forever Young competed in two meets, highlighted by her lifetime-best 5000-meter performance at the Mountain Dew Invitational. As a sophomore retail management and finance major, she crafted a 3.917 GPA while maintaining an ambitious training schedule.
Men’s Cross Country
In his final season with the Seminoles, Otniel Teixeira competed in three meets, including the ACC Championships. A middle distance standout on the track, he helped the Noles return to the NCAA Championships for a 12th time. An All-ACC Academic performer, he earned a 3.750 GPA while closing in on completion of his degree in interdisciplinary social science and sociology, while serving as a program leader.
Mavin Saunders is a three-year member of the football team who has started three games at tight end in his career so far. Now a redshirt sophomore, Saunders is growing into an outstanding dual-threat tight end as a receiver and blocker with seven receptions over the last two seasons. The Bimini, Bahamas, native is majoring in criminology and carries above a 3.4 grade point average. He is a two-year member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll and an outstanding Seminole representative in the community.
Darvin Taylor is in his second year with Seminoles. Taylor redshirted as a freshman in 2015, but was a valuable member of the scout team as a defensive tackle. Taylor’s parents both served in the U.S. Armed Services and he led the team out of the tunnel with the American Flag on Military Appreciation Day. He collected the Noles’ academic award at the end-of-season team banquet in 2015 and grabbed ACC Academic Honor Roll honors. Taylor is working his way back from a shoulder injury this season, but he continues to impress off the field, carrying 3.4 GPA in Communication Studies.
Morgane Metraux finished in a tie for 17th place in the individual standings and helped lead Switzerland to a second place finish in the team standings at the 2016 World Amateur Team Championships in Riviera Maya, Mexico earlier this month. She also finished in a tie for 20th place at the 2016 NCAA Championship Finals which allowed her to tie the school record for best finish, best tournament score (289) and best tournament score vs. par (+1) in an NCAA Championship in school history. Morgan holds a 3.89 Grade Point Average in Business Management.
Senior Josh Lee has been a big part of Florida State’s success since he arrived on campus in 2013. A marketing and management double major, he helped the Seminoles earn a No. 1 ranking for the majority of his sophomore season in 2014-15, and was the top performer in the NCAA postseason this spring. He posted his career low average at 72.73 per round as a junior last season. Josh has already earned a number of academic accolades, including being named a 2016 All-America scholar, a three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll recipient and a two-time member of the All-ACC Academic Team.
Kirsten Crowley is the captain of this year’s soccer team, which is currently ranked #2 in the country. She helped the Seminoles set NCAA postseason records with 10 consecutive shutouts and nearly 932 minutes without allowing a goal. Crowley has tallied five goals and 10 assists so far in her career, has received ACC Player of the Week honors four times and has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll each season. She is on the Watch List for the 2016 Mac Hermann Trophy, given to the top player in collegiate soccer.
Holly Fritz appeared in 15 games and played over 470 minutes as a freshman in 2015. She earned a spot in the starting lineup at New Mexico and at UNC Greensboro, while playing in six ACC matches on the year. Fritz was a member of the best freshman class in the country as FSU’s first-year players led the nation with 89 points on 29 goals and 31 assists. She has appeared in seven games so far this season and has helped the Noles extend their home unbeaten streak to 30 matches. She was also a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll last year.
Tessa Daniels appeared in 11 games as a freshman, nine as a pitcher and two at first base for the Seminole softball team. She was perfect offensively on the season, hitting a two-RBI double and drawing a walk in her two plate appearances in 2016. As a pitcher, she recorded 10.0 innings of relief with a 3.50 ERA. She earned a spot on the ACC Academic Honor Roll last year and has participated in numerous community service events with FSU’s Softball team.
M. Swimming and Diving
Diver Dylan Grisell became FSU’s first true All-American on platform after a seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships last year. The Toronto, Ont. Native was selected to his third All-ACC Academic Team and earned a CoSIDA Academic All-America third-team honor last year as well. Grisell placed eighth at last year’s ACC Championships on 3-meter and platform. He is majoring in biology.
The Panama City, Fla native Jonathan Ratliff was named to the ACC Honor Roll last year. He swam his season best times at the Last Chance Bulldog Invite in the 500 free before swimming his best times in the 100 and 200 fly at the Georgia Fall Invitational. He contributed points in the 500 free in the win over Minnesota. Jonathan is majoring in Biomedical Engineering.
W. Swimming and Diving
Caroline Page earned a place on the ACC Honor Roll following last season. The Pace, Fla. native recorded her best performance at the Last Chance Bulldog Invite in the 100 back (56.55) and 200 back (2:02.80) in 2015-16, and earned second swims at the Georgia Fall Invite in the 100 and 200 back.
Daniela Shippers earned a perfect 4.0 GPA over the past year in Hospitality. She overcame injuries in the fall and early in the spring season to post a 15-12 overall record, while earning two wins in the ACC Tournament. A two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete, Shippers was a driving force behind the Seminoles as they were named a 2016 ITA All-Academic Team.
Benjamin Lock earned a 3.92 GPA over the past year, and graduated in April with a degree in Finance. Lock finished his career as one of the best players in school history after a 25-14 singles campaign and 16-11 doubles mark on the year. He was named an ITA All-American, the ITA Most Improved Player in the Nation, and was the ITA Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership winner from the Southeast region. Lock was also given first team All-ACC honors in addition to being named to the All-ACC Academic team.
Women’s Track & Field
One of Florida State’s all-time greats in the pole vault, Hannah Acton dealt with injuries her senior season which limited her ability to perform in her specialty event. She was however, able to compete in three meets in the high jump. In the classroom, she finished up a perfect career in the classroom with a 4.00 GPA, graduating with highest honors in exercise physiology.
Men’s Track & Field
Stefan Brits turned in the finest long jumping performances of his career in his final season with the Seminoles. He followed a third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor National Championships by setting the ACC record with the nation’s No. 1 jump outdoors, which also secured his spot on South Africa’s Olympic team in Rio. In the classroom – where he was a student, teaching assistant and a researcher – he posted a perfect 4.00 GPA. Not surprisingly, he was named the National Track & Field Academic All-American of the Year.
Melanie Keil, who transferred from Nebraska, played in 116 sets her junior season at Florida State last year posting 86 total blocks. She garnered all-tournament honors at the Aloft Seminole Invite and was a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll. Through her first 10 matches of this season she is leading the 15th-ranked Seminoles with 68 blocks and blocks per set 1.66. She earned All-Tournament honors earlier this season at the Home2 Suites by Hilton Tallahassee Seminole Classic. Receiving her first Golden Torch award after posting a 3.855 GPA last year, Melanie is majoring in dietetics.