PUEBLO, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Apr. 25, 2011) - CSU-Pueblo handed out its athletic department outstanding athlete awards Monday, with five different athletes taking home a total of six prestigious awards.
The awards, given out Monday at a school-wide barbecue at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, honored two outstanding male and female athletes of the year, the top male and female student-athletes of the year for work in the classroom as well as the fields of play, and two awards from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for integrity.
Senior women's basketball player Rachel Espinoza (Sr., Pueblo, Colo.) headlined the awards, earning honors as the Female Athlete of the Year for the third straight year, as well as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Integrity Award.
Espinoza, an all-RMAC First Team selection this season, led the team in scoring for the third straight year, averaging 14.4 points per game and adding 99 assists. She finished her career with the ThunderWolves ranked second all-time in scoring with 1,482 points.
Receiving the other Fellowship of Christian Athletes Integrity Award was football student-athlete Bernard Jackson (Sr., Corona, Calif.). A one-year member of the ThunderWolves and former starting quarterback at the University of Colorado, Jackson overcame intense personal struggles to turn his life around at CSU-Pueblo, coming closer to a degree in criminology and emerging as a leader on the CSU-Pueblo football team. A father, he helped demonstrate that it is possible to overcome poor choices to become a better friend, teammate and father.
The FCA Integrity Award, in its second year, is sponsored by Pueblo pastor Tim Brotherton and Pueblo Little Caesar's owner, Dave Feamster.
Taking home the Male Athlete of the Year honor was football All-American Jesse Lewis (Jr., Loveland, Colo.).
Lewis earned All-American honors from three different organizations this season after a year in which he smashed all CSU-Pueblo single season rushing records, rumbling for 1,391 yards and finishing third in the nation with 139.1 yards per game. He also equaled a school record for most rushing touchdowns in a season with 14 and led the nation in yards per rush with 7.9 yards per carry.
The Jessie Banks Award, awarded to the top female student-athlete, was given to two-sport athlete, Leanne Carberry (Sr., Idledale, Colo.), a member of both the women's soccer and women's track teams.
Carberry was a starter on the women's soccer team for the past two seasons and was a chief contributor on the Pack track squad, specializing in sprints and relays, which regularly compete for the RMAC championship.
The Jessie Banks Award is named for the former and longtime University of Southern Colorado women's basketball coach who helped to forge the women's athletics program at the university.
The James "Spank" Blasing Award, awarded to the top male student-athlete, was given to wrestler Justin Grant (Sr., Winnemucca, Nev.). The senior wrestler competed for a spot at nationals this season, posting a 14-14 record a year after finishing one win away from being an All-American in 2009-10. He was named an Academic All-American earlier this season, one of only three Academic All-Americans at CSU-Pueblo this season.
The James "Spank" Blasing award is named for the longtime track and field coach through the various incarnations of the university, from Pueblo Junior College all the way up through the days as University of Southern Colorado.
CSU-Pueblo Athlete Awards
Male Athlete of the Year: Jesse Lewis, Football
Female Athlete of the Year: Rachel Espinoza, Women's Basketball
James "Spank" Blasing Award: Justin Grant, Wrestling
Jessie Banks Award: Leanne Carberry, Women's Soccer/Track & Field
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Integrity Award: Rachel Espinoza, Women's Basketball; Bernard Jackson, Football