Kent State wins Jacoby Trophy for top women’s athletics program

Randale Richmond is director of athletics at Kent State University.

Megan Becker Reporter

The Kent State women’s athletic program was awarded with the Jacoby Trophy this month by the Mid-American Conference for having the top program during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

This award marks the 10th time Kent State has won the Jacoby Trophy. Out of Kent State’s 11 women’s sports in the last academic year, both golf and outdoor track and field won conference championships. Field hockey finished as a MAC runner-up. Gymnastics, lacrosse and softball placed third in conference standings while basketball, volleyball and indoor track and field finished in the top half of the MAC. 

Randale Richmond, the director of athletics at Kent State, said the Jacoby trophy is a “huge deal” for the university and shows comprehensive excellence in all sports.

“I want to thank all the coaches for their leadership of our student athletes and thank our student athletes for their unwavering high level of desire for competitive excellence,” Richmond said. “It’s not just being good competitively, but in the classroom as well.”

Women’s golf won its 22nd consecutive MAC title and placed 17th at the NCAA Championships. Chloe Salort finished tied for 44th place in the final round of stroke play while sophomore Caley McGinty and junior Emily Price both earned Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-America honors. 

The women’s track and field team won the 2021 Mid-American Conference Outdoor Track and Field Champions last month, marking the eighth win in program history.

Gabby Bailey and Grace Tennant secured the team trophy for Kent State. Bailey won two gold medals: a shot put title for her 55′-1″ throw and a discus title for her 183′-5″ throw. Tennant won the javelin throw, placed second in two other events and was given Most Valuable Performer honors. 

Leah Pasqualetti added an individual title in the pole vault. Ruby Greenwood ran 53.88 seconds in the 400 meter dash and earned second place. Her time is the fifth-fastest in Kent State history. 

Bailey, who is a junior exercise major, said Kent State’s Jacoby Trophy is well deserved. 

“I think for the next couple of years Kent State’s female program for every sport is going to be unbeatable,” Bailey said. “It’s especially cool because everything that’s happening for the female programs in Kent is happening in a COVID year.”

Bailey said Nathan Fanger, a member of the track and field coaching staff, helped her and her team excel at the sport. 

“[Nathan Fanger has] been a pain in the butt, excuse my language, but he’s really helped. He’s just never satisfied,” Bailey said. “I guess he sees the bigger picture or sees how good of a potential I have to go far in the sport. His criticisms go a long way for me.”

Richmond said the outdoor track and field team victory opened the door for Kent State to win the Jacoby Trophy. 

“Our women’s track team was picked to finish maybe fourth or fifth in the track in the MAC track championships. They ended up finishing first and that was their first conference crown since 2014,” Richmond said. “They were the last program left, so them winning pushed us over the top and is the reason we won the Jacoby trophy this year.”

Field hockey ended its season on a six game win streak and finished second in the MAC. Kent’s offense ranked third in the NCAA goals per game and points per game. Five team members received All-Mid-American Conference honors. Clara Rodriguez Seto received NFHCA All-West Region Second Team recognition for the third year in a row.

Gymnastics placed third at the MAC Championships and ranked 18th in the nation on floor exercise. Abby Fletcher was named the MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year. 

Fletcher graduated in May with a fashion merchandising degree. She said there are many obstacles to face growing up as a female athlete, but competing for a university that prioritizes women’s sports is an honor.

“Kent State has such a strong female athletics program and really puts a focus on that. That’s really important for the future of girls and sports,” Fletcher said. “It was really great to win awards like that after a year that we had and it really shows how strong and resilient our program can be.”

Lacrosse tied for third during the conference’s inaugural season. Abby Jones and Graceyn Dean earned All-MAC First Team honors.

Softball placed third in the conference standings. Five student-athletes were selected to the All-MAC Second Team. Jessica LeBeau became the fourth Kent State freshman to record at least 200 strikeouts. 

“We’re going to give everything we have to continue our progress,” Richmond said about Kent State’s upcoming 2021-22 season. “We’re going to give everything that we got forward to have the best year like we do every year.”

Megan Becker is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].