April 18, 2012
PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh Athletics department handed out its highest honors Wednesday evening at its annual 2012 Senior Awards Banquet held at the Petersen Events Center. With Pitt's senior student-athletes and their parents present, the Athletic Department announced the recipients of the prestigious David Sandberg Champion, Blue-Gold and Panther Awards.
The David Sandberg Champion Award was founded in 2003 in memory of the former Pitt wrestler and assistant coach. The award is given to a senior that best represents the qualities David personified at the University - a dedication to academic and athletic excellence, with an unyielding spirit and passionate commitment to the improvement of the University of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. This year's David Sandberg Champion Award winners were baseball player Matt Iannazzo and Nasir Robinson of the men's basketball team.
A four-year starting pitcher, Iannazzo is the program's all-time wins leader with a career record of 25-10. He is also a two-time All-Big East Second Team selection as both a junior and sophomore. Iannazzo entered his senior year as a preseason All-Big East First Team honoree. The Norwalk, Conn. native is a communications major and also a Big East Academic All-Star.
Over his four-year career, Robinson saw action in 133 career games with 94 starts and concluded his career with 74 consecutive starts. A three-year starter, Robinson set a single-season school record by starting all 39 games at power forward this year. Last year, he ranked second in the Big East Conference in field goal percentage and this year, averaged a career-high 10.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Over his four-year career, Robinson has scored 962 points and pulled down 630 rebounds. He will graduate this month with a degree in social sciences.
Next, the recipients of the Blue-Gold Awards were announced. The Blue-Gold Award is presented to the graduating male and female student-athletes who have demonstrated the best combination of academic scholarship, athletic achievement, leadership qualities, activities and citizenship.
The female Blue-Gold awardee was gymnast Alicia Talucci. Tallucci has been the Panthers' most dependable competitor over the past four years. She has qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships three times, is an eight-time first team All-EAGL team member and has made the all-tournament team seven times. As a freshman, Talucci was named the EAGL Rookie of the Year.
An invaluable performer on Pitt's defensive line the past four seasons, Myles Caragein was named the male Blue-Gold recipient. The tough nose tackle had nearly 120 tackles during his career and was elected a team captain as a senior. He finished his career as a four-time Big East All-Academic Football Team honoree.
The recipients of the Panther Award were the next honorees mentioned. This award was presented to the graduating senior athlete who has promoted Pitt athletics through his/her outstanding athletic achievements.
On the women's side, Cambrya Jones earned this distinction. A Big East Champion, Jones broke the school record in the 200-meter dash en route to the gold medal at the 2012 Big East Indoor Championships. She advanced to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the same event, garnering All-America honors. Jones recently eclipsed the program record in the outdoor 200-meter dash. She was a member of last season's 400-meter relay team that won the Big East Outdoor Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championship.
A two-time All-Big East and All-Region selection, Ashton Gibbs earned the male Panther Award selection. Gibbs became the 38th player in school history to score over 1,000 career points and concluded his career in eighth place on Pitt's all-time career scoring list with 1,748 points. His 297 career 3-point field goals made set a school record. Following a breakout sophomore season, Gibbs earned the 2009-10 Big East Most Improved Player award. Gibbs is also a two-time USA Basketball player.
Earlier in the evening, Pitt honored four Seniors of Distinction, who have made outstanding contributions in the athletic arena. This year's awardees were: Kiesha Leggs (volleyball), Pierre-Antoine Meunier (men's swimming), Tyler Nauman (wrestling) and Jake Van Roekel (men's swimming).
Seniors honored with either the Blue-Gold or Panther Award are added to the Varsity Walk on Pitt's campus between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel. There, embedded in the stones, are the names of former Pitt student-athletes who have promoted the University through their athletic or academic achievements.