Best of the Buffalo Bulls
Junior running back Branden Oliver is named best male athlete. Nick Fischetti /// The Spectrum
The men's tennis team takes home the award for best sports team at UB this year. Courtesy of UB Athletics
Damien David is one of the finalists for newcomer of the year. Courtesy of UB Athletics
Virginia transfer Will Regan, the winner of newcomer of the year, is eligible to play this year. Courtesy of Rich Murray
Tanvi Shah wins the award for women's athlete of the year. Reimon Bhuyan /// The Spectrum
Male athlete candidates:
1. Branden Oliver, junior, football: The Miami, Fla. native is without a doubt one of the most recognized athletes on all of campus. Named first-team All-MAC last season, Oliver rushed for a school record 1,395 yards (ranked 14th in the nation) and 13 touchdowns.
2. Javon McCrea, junior, basketball: After winning MAC Freshman of the Year, McCrea earned national recognition by becoming a finalist for the U.S. U19 National Team. In his sophomore year, McCrea was overshadowed by MAC Player of the Year Mitchell Watt. Watt graduated, and this year's Bulls team is ready for McCrea to take over.
3. Damien David, sophomore, tennis: As a freshman, David was the No. 1 singles player on a Bulls team that won the regular season MAC Championship. The ceiling is unlimited for David, who still has three more years to add more accolades to his already prolific resume.
4. Khalil Mack, junior, football: In his sophomore year, Mack led the Bulls in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. He was All-MAC first team and was an honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated. As a junior, Mack is currently leading the nation in tackles for loss average (2.7 per game) and a future career in the NFL is likely.
5. Matt Hogan, senior, swimming: Hogan has been first team All-MAC in his last two seasons. Last year alone, he was a part of three relay teams that set MAC records as well as setting the MAC record for the 100 and 200 freestyle. To top it off, he made it to the Olympic trials and swam in three separate races.
Winner: Branden Oliver. Oliver is well on his way to becoming the best player in the history of UB's football program. Before being plagued by injury in the third week of the season against Kent State, Oliver was second in the nation in rushing yards. Bo is the heart and soul of the Bulls' offense. UB has failed to win a game since his injury.
Female athlete candidates:
1. Alexis Curtiss, sophomore, softball: Curtiss, a catcher, was the highlight of a team that struggled through a majority of the season last year. As a freshman, she led the team in batting average, hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, and she played in 42 of 45 games.
2. Liz Scott, sophomore, volleyball: Midway through her sophomore year, Scott is picking up where she left off as a freshman. She currently leads the team with 76 more points than the Bulls' second leader and leads in kills by 66. Scott has been an offensive powerhouse for the volleyball team so far this season.
3. Tanvi Shah, junior, tennis: After transferring from NC State, Shah spent her first season with the Bulls at first singles. She was a first-team All-MAC selection after going 16-9 (leading the Bulls) and finished the season ranked 11th in the Northeast Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
4. Brittany Kuras, senior, swimming: Kuras spent her freshman year competing at Rutgers and faired well in Big East play. In her junior year as a Bull, Kuras was a conference champion in two team relay events and won three individual events. Her electricity in the water earned her first team All-MAC and she qualified for four events at the Olympic trials.
Winner: Tanvi Shah. Shah performed marvelously against the top competition of the MAC as a sophomore last year, going 12-5 in matches at first singles. She ranked 11th in the Northeastern Region and has two more years to climb the ranks and gain even more national recognition.
Best team candidates:
1. Men's basketball (20-11, 12-4 MAC): The men's basketball team sparked a rally of school spirit last winter. The eight-game win streak the Bulls endured during conference play led them to a 12-4 finish in the MAC - their best finish since joining the conference. The Bulls had two of the best players in the whole conference on their front line (Mitchell Watt, MAC Player of the Year, and Javon McCrea).
Their run ended in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament against Ohio, but there is still a lot of promise left for this year's team.
2. Men's tennis (10-10, 4-1 MAC): Men's tennis was the only team on campus to win a MAC championship last year, though it was only a regular season championship. The Bulls finished the season winning eight of 10 games and dominated conference play, losing only to Ball State in the final match of the season. Despite its success in the regular season, the team suffered a 4-0 defeat to Western Michigan in the MAC Championship.
Winner: Men's tennis. The team's MAC title cements its spot atop UB. It has suffered some departures from last year's team, but the heart of the squad is still in place for the 2012-13 season. Damien David is returning for his sophomore year at first singles and Vusa Hove, at second singles, is in his final year at UB.
Best newcomer candidates:
1. Will Regan, sophomore, men's basketball: Regan is a 6 foot 8 forward who transferred from Virginia to come back to his hometown of Buffalo, where he helped Nichols High School win a state title. Regan was a two-time Buffalo News Player of the Year, which puts him in the company of Christian Laettner, Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris.
2. Megan Lipski, freshman, volleyball: Lipski has gotten off to a strong start in her first season at UB. Currently third on the team in kills and points, she has been a great complement to Scott and junior Dana Musil on the outside for the Bulls. Lipski was a Gatorade National Player of the Year nominee in her senior year of high school.
3. Tony Lock, freshman, wrestling: Lock has yet to hit the mats for Buffalo this season, but his astounding high school career has his name circulating through UB athletics this year. Wrestling in the 182-pound bracket, Lock didn't allow a single point to his four opponents at the state tournament, winning the title. He finished his senior year undefeated, going 51-0 and 99-2 including his junior year.
4. Devin Campbell, freshman, football: Campbell entered the season not even cracking the top two spots on the depth chart at running back. But injuries to Oliver and sophomore James Potts have earned him some playing time. In the first start of his career last week at Ohio, Campbell ran the ball 30 times for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Winner: Will Regan. Coming out of high school, Regan was highly recruited - some websites had him ranked as high as No. 17 in the country at center. Regan was forced to sit out last season after transferring due to NCAA eligibility rules, but his presence in the middle will be much needed this year after Watt's exit.
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