East Texan and UT-Tyler track and field star Whitney Simmons nam - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texan and UT-Tyler track and field star Whitney Simmons named athlete of the year

Whitney Simmons named athlete of the year in the ASC. Whitney Simmons named athlete of the year in the ASC.

Press Release

UT Tyler senior Whitney Simmons has been selected as an American Southwest Conference Athlete of the Year recipient after winning two NCAA Track & Field National Championships and a pair of American Southwest Conference titles to cap her historic career for the Patriots. Teidrick Smith was named the ASC Male Athlete of the Year for helping to lead the Mary Hardin-Baylor football team to the NCAA Division III championship.

Simmons has a long and impressive list of career accomplishments with three NCAA national championships, seven All-American honors, three USTFCCCA West Region Field Athlete of the Year selections and winning six ASC titles. Her senior season included winning the hammer and discus at the ASC Championship in Abilene after winning six regular-season meets in the Outdoor season. She started her year by winning the Weight Throw at the NCAA DIII Indoor with a mark of 19.62 meters in Naperville, Illinois for the second national title of her career.

“I had to really work for this one. Every day. Every week,” said Simmons after winning the 2017 Weight Throw title. “My competitors made me bring my best to the ring today and I couldn’t have asked for a better competition. After it was over I just felt this flood of relief run over me. My Indoor season is done and I couldn’t have asked for a better last ride.”

She would continue dedicating herself and finished her amazing career by setting a new NCAA DIII record and winning the Hammer Throw national title with a mark of 64.03 meters in Ohio. It was her third NCAA championship after she had also won the 2016 title.

“It was the most amazing feeling, and the best moment of my life to date,” she said after winning the third NCAA title of her career. “All of my hard work. Everything from the last four years was for that final mark, and I couldn't be more overwhelmed with pride and gratefulness."

A White Oak native, Simmons was a four-time All-American in the Hammer Throw during the Outdoor season and a three-time NCAA DIII Indoor All-American in the Weight Throw during her career with the Patriots. 

“Words cannot express how proud I am for Whitney,” UT Tyler coach Chris Stonestreet said. “For four years, she carried herself with class and pride through her successes and her failures. She represented our program with the highest character and has set a standard of excellence on and off the track for future patriots.”

In ASC Championship competition, Simmons won the conference Hammer title all four years and won the discus as a junior and senior after finishing second her first two years. She is the only UT Tyler student-athlete to win more than one national title in their careers.

“Whitney is simply a high-quality individual who loves the sport; works hard; and loves her UT Tyler home,” said UT Tyler Track & Field head coach Bob Hepler. “She is the true student-athlete that every NCAA program wants to produce. An outstanding young person who is a student first, but still excels as an athlete. Amazing.”

Dr. Howard Patterson added: “Quite often coaches are blessed to have the opportunity to work with gifted and talented student athletes, but seldom are they able to see someone achieve as much as Whitney has achieved during her amazing college career. Whitney has brought distinction to her sport, The University of Texas at Tyler and her hometown of White Oak. We are all very proud of the determination, dedication, sportsmanship and focus Whitney exhibited throughout her career at UT Tyler. Her accomplishments will stand for years to come and she will serve as a role model for countless young women who strive to be the very best they can be. We wish Whitey the best of luck as she now sets her sights on gaining an Olympic Team berth.”

Simmons is the third UT Tyler athlete to earn the award following Kelsie Batten (2016) and Lauren Robenalt (2014) who won ASC Athlete of the Year for their contributions for the softball program.  UT Tyler basketball coach Kendra Hassell won the award twice (2002, 2003) when she was a player at Hardin-Simmons. The ASC Athlete of the Year award recognizes the men's and women's student-athlete whose athletic accomplishments during the current athletic year best contributed to their sport, their institution's overall athletic program and to the conference. Each ASC member institution nominates its campus athlete of the year recipients to the conference-wide ballot. The award is presented for the 18th time in the 2016-17 academic season after votes from the conference's sports information directors and former Outstanding Media Service Award recipients.

A defensive end for UMHB, Smith was named D3football.com National Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Cru to the Division III football national championship in mid-December. Following the 2016 season, Smith was voted ASC Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight season after leading the conference with 15.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss. A three-time all-conference selection, Smith is the first player in ASC history to win conference Defensive Player of the Year and Defensive Lineman of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. He finished his career as the ASC all-time and single-season record holder in sacks and tackles for loss. Smith capped his senior season voted to four all-America teams, named All-South Region, and honored as the South Region Defensive Player of the Year.

The American Southwest Conference Athlete of the Year award annually recognizes a male and a female student-athlete whose athletic accomplishments best contributed to their sport, their institution's overall athletic program and to the conference.

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