Thursday, June 24, 2010

FOV Cavalier of the Year, #11/#12

From Old Virginia celebrates its birthday in a unique way: by recognizing one of Virginia's student-athletes as Cavalier of the Year. What are the criteria for the award? You decide: that's the beauty. I nominate the 12 athletes that I think have been most outstanding during the latest season of UVA athletics, and provide a short summary of their accomplishments. You choose the winner in a poll that goes up after all 12 have had their moment in the spotlight.

Over the next two weeks, two athletes at a time will be profiled, and you'll hear about what they've accomplished while representing Mr. Jefferson's University. The athletes are presented in a totally random order so as to hopefully not imply any endorsement one way or another. Athletes from all fields are considered; part of the point is that UVA is about excellence across the
entire department and doesn't shortchange its so-called non-revenue sports simply because they don't make headlines. Last year's winner was Danny Hultzen; today's athletes are Ken Clausen and Lauren Perdue.

Ken Clausen - Men's lacrosse - Defense

Team accomplishments:

- #1 seed in NCAA tournament
- NCAA Final Four
- ACC champions

Personal accomplishments:

- Tewaaraton Trophy finalist
- USILA first-team all-American
- Schmeisser Award recipient as nation's outstanding defensive player
- USILA Scholar All-American
- All-ACC selection
- Lowe's Senior Class Award finalist

There was no doubt about this one: Clausen was the country's top defenseman, period. There was a little question before the season about how UVA might replace a few key departures on the defensive side of things, but Clausen put those questions to rest, quickly. He led the ACC in turnovers caused and was always assigned to the opposition's best player, which he usually shut right down. It's not often a defenseman is selected as a Tewaaraton finalist; in fact, Clausen is only the second long-stick player ever selected for invitation to the awards banquet, and first since 2005.

UVA is known for churning out top-notch goal scorers: over the years, players like Matt Ward and Ben Rubeor and Danny Glading pass through, and you chalk them up for 30 goals and maybe a Tewaaraton finalist nomination. But none of them have been three-year all-Americans: Ken Clausen is the first Cavalier to claim that honor. And by starting every game in his career, he shares with Brian Carroll the UVA record for games played with 70. Chances are it'll be years, if ever, until we see another UVA defenseman of Clausen's caliber.

Lauren Perdue - Women's swimming & diving - Freestyle

Team accomplishments:

- ACC champions
- 9th place at NCAA championships

Personal accomplishments:

- ACC Freshman of the Year
- ACC Championships Most Valuable Swimmer
- Two-time ACC Performer of the Week
- 5 All-American events and 1 honorable mention
- 3 individual and 4 relay ACC championships
- 3 UVA records and 1 ACC record

A champion swim team needs a champion freestyler - a point I made when it was Scot Robison's turn in the spotlight. Lauren Perdue is a champion freestyler as well as an ACC record holder (200 yard freestyle.) Those are the kind of accolades you expect for a veteran swimmer; Lauren Perdue is a freshman. She stepped right in and anchored our relays, won multiple events at the conference meet, and finished fifth in the nation in the 50 free and 8th in the 200.

The UVA Invitational was a perfect microcosm of the way Perdue's career might be expected to go. She led off the 400 free relay with a 100-yard swim of 49.06, which set a new pool record. The old record was set by....uh, Lauren Perdue, about an hour prior in the individual 100 yard swim. That record broke the old record held by.....yes, Lauren Perdue, which she'd set the day before. Breaking her own records - I think there's a lot of that in her future.

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