University of Pittsburgh recognizes standout student-athletes during annual awards ceremony

PITTSBURGH — The University of Pittsburgh Athletics Department recognized standout student-athletes Wednesday at the third annual Panthers’ Choice Awards: a celebration of academics, athletics and citizenship.

Two of the awardees, wrestling’s Demetrius Thomas and football’s Tre Tipton were featured in previous stories for their unique talents and good works.

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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards presentation was switched to a virtual show – with several Pitt representatives, including Dan Marino, presenting awards on Twitter.

Below is the list of winners:

  • Bridge Builder Award: Pitt football team
  • Heart of a Panther Award (the spirit of service/Community Service): Tre Tipton (football)
  • James Conner “Comeback is the Year”: Jake Wentzel (wrestling)
  • Team “Moment is the Year”: football (win over 15th-ranked UCF)
  • Newcomer of the Year: Lexis Akeo (volleyball)
  • Male Athlete of the Year: Micky Phillippi (wrestling)
  • Female Athlete of the Year: Kayla Lund (volleyball)
  • Team of the Year: (volleyball)
  • Blue-Gold Award: Demetrius Thomas (wrestling), Stephanie Williams (volleyball)
  • Panther Award: Maurice Ffrench (football), Layne Van Buskirk (volleyball)

The winners of the Panther Awards and Blue-Gold awards will be recognized on Pitt's Varsity Walk in a tradition that dates back 70 years.

The Varsity Walk is located between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Memorial Chapel.