Keeping in line with our first-ever AAE End of Season Awards, we thought not only to highlight the best team contributions from the past year but also give a shout out some stand out athletes from each service academy.
From looking at the stats to end of the year titles and just all out leaving their hearts on the field, our team had a thorough discussion and pulled together our nominees for best female athlete of the year. Now, it’s your turn to vote.
Below are your nominees for “Best Female Athlete of the Year.”
Jaci Smith, Air Force Track and Field
It’s impossible to have a conversation about Air Force Track and Field or Cross Country without mentioning Jaci Smith. She’s been smashing records since she arrived at the academy but this past year, the senior capped off her season by adding a total of FOUR All-American Awards to her impressive haul from her first three years. She was already an All-American in the 10,000 meter race having finished 8th at last year’s NCAA outdoor championships, but this year she added cross country All-American, indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meter All-American, and outdoor 5,000 meter All-American to her impeccable resume.
Smith holds the academy record for the 10,000, 5,000, and 3,000 meter runs and ended her career as a five-time All American, the most by any athlete in the program’s D1 history. I mean c’mon, she runs a mile in 5 minutes and 14 seconds. It’s no wonder she topped our list.
Jaci Smith nabbed her fourth career track and field All-America award tonight, after earning second-team honors in the 5000m run (16:22.42, 13th)! pic.twitter.com/cetZmoY4qo— Air Force TrackField and XC (@AF_trackfield) June 9, 2019
Jackie Brattan, Army Lacrosse
Jackie Brattan was a force to be reckoned with this year as she helped Army to its best season ever in their young D1 existence. This season alone she walked away with numerous honors and awards, including being receiving First Team All-Patriot League honors. With 63 goals, she was the leading scorer for Army and was second in the Patriot League. She ended with 65 points, becoming only the second Army player to achieve that feat in a season.
It’s only the beginning for this sophomore as Bratton also made academy history as the first cadet to record over 100 draws in a single season with 105 this year. She also finished the season number one in the NCAA in free position percentage at a .773 mark!
Kelly Larkin, Navy Lacrosse
Navy women’s lacrosse is a storied program for a reason and this season Kelly Larkin continued to solidify that. Joining two others, Jenna Collins, and Jasmine DePompeo, Larkin became the third player in academy history to be named an All-American by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA).
Racking up more honors, Larkin was named Patriot League Attacker of the Year, the first Navy player to earn the award since 2013. This year, she led the Mids with 121 points on 69 goals and a team-best of 52 assists. Her 5.76 points per game this year led all of the NCAA D1. The first player in Patriot League history to notch three 100-point seasons, Larkin ended 2019 on a high note. She currently ranks second in Navy history for her 161 assists and fifth for her 185 career goals. She holds the Patriot League and Navy records for most points in a career with 346. The craziest thing of all is that she’s only a junior, so Navy retains this all-star for another season.
Madison Hovren, Army Basketball
The senior made her mark on West Point as one of the most accomplished players the basketball team has ever seen. With 19.1 points per game and 13.1 rebounds per contest, Hovren led the Patriot League in both categories this past year, averaging well above a double-double. She had a double-double in 23 of the team’s 30 contests this season, giving her the all-time mark at Army with 56 in her career.
During the Army-Navy game in February, she reached another milestone getting the 1,000th rebound of her career, making her the third player all time for that achievement, and only the second player to ever score 1,500 points and grab 1,000 points for Army. She also set the single season rebound record for the Black Knights this year with 394! It’s no wonder Hovren was named First-Team in the Patriot League and Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) First Team All-Met.
Lauren Barber, Navy Swimming and Diving
Navy Senior Lauren Barber is arguably the best swimmer in Academy and Patriot League history. She was the first Midshipman and women’s swimmer from the Patriot League to score in the NCAA Division I championships, and earn All-American Honorable Mention honors. This was Barber’s third trip to the NCAA championships; the only time she missed out was her sophomore campaign.
She’s also earned 28 gold medals in 28 attempts throughout her career, a league record, surpassing the previous mark by eight. She also went a perfect 16-0 when facing Army; and earned All-League Honors every year in her career. Since this recognizes single season accomplishments, it’s important to point out that Barber won seven gold medals this year, went 4-0 against Army, and was recognized as All Patriot League Swimmer of the Year for the third year in a row. She has truly been an all time great for Navy, The Patriot League, and all Service Academies.
Erynn Johns, Army Soccer
Army Senior Erynn Johns carried Army soccer all season long, leading the program in every statistical category, except for goals in which she managed to take second. She scored three goals all season and each of them came during critical moments, serving as the game-winning goal on all three occasions. Most notable was her goal against Navy in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament. That goal snapped a four game losing streak to the Midshipmen and sent the Black Knights to the semi-finals for the first time in program history. Johns also received honors for the Patriot League all Tournament team.
Jennifer Coleman, Navy Basketball
Navy Freshman Jennifer Coleman made quite an impression on both the program and the conference during her rookie campaign. Coleman led the Mids in points (379 total; 13.1 PPG), rebounds (238 total; 8.2 RPG), and assists (85 total; 2.9 APG); all three by large margins.
As far as league honors go, she made both the Third Team All-Patriot League and the All-Rookie Team. The only other Service Academy athletes who made an All-Patriot League team for women’s basketball were Madison Horven from Army with first team honors, and Bianca Roach from Navy with All-Defensive Team honors – both of them are seniors. Coleman also garnered Rookie of the Week honors three times this season, to go along with multiple weekly honorable mentions throughout the season as well.
Competition is stiff this year, but with a rookie effort like this, you can expect Coleman to be a regular on this list until she graduates.
TJ Fumagalli, Air Force Tennis
Fumagalli was the MVP of an Air Force women’s tennis team that set all kinds of program records, including earning co-Mountain West Conference Champions in the regular season. Fumagalli was incredible this year, with a singles record of 31-3 and an overall record of 62-10.
She earned All-Mountain West honors in both singles and doubles for the third time in her career, and was ranked as high as 97th in the country as a singles player and 35th in the country for doubles. She will be back for more next year as the Falcons and Fumagalli look to build off their impressive 2018-2019 season!
As you can see, there’s tons of talent across the board for each academy and just like us, we know you’ve got your work cut out for you. Make sure to vote starting Wednesday June, 19 on both Twitter and our AAE site voting post and let us know who you think is the most deserving female athlete for the 2018-2019 season!