After a record-breaking season and helping his team win an Ohio Valley Conference championship, Eastern Illinois wide receiver Erik Lora has been named the OVC male athlete of the year. Much like most OVC awards, the decision was made by a vote of the league’s athletics directors and sports information directors.
Morehead State volleyball player Ellie Roberson was named the female athlete of the year.
Here’s the full announcement of both the male and female athletes of the year from the Ohio Valley Conference:
Eastern Illinois Erik Lora and Morehead State’s Ellie Roberson were named the Ohio Valley Conference Male & Female Athletes of the Year for 2012-13 in voting by the league’s athletics directors and sports information directors.
Lora a junior wide receiver, the OVC Offensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American selection, was selected as the OVC Male Athlete of the Year. Roberson a senior right side hitter, the OVC Volleyball Player of the Year and AVCA honorable mention All-American, was named OVC Female Athlete of the Year. The two winners will receive their awards at the League’s annual Honors Brunch on May 31 in Nashville. Eastern Illinois will also be presented with the 2012-13 OVC Commissioner’s Cup on Friday after the award was announced on Tuesday. It marks the third time in four years EIU has won the OVC Commissioner’s Cup.
Lora had arguably one of the greatest seasons of any wide receiver in the history of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The junior caught 136 passes, setting a new FCS all-time record in breaking the old mark of 123. The 136 receptions were 44 more than the previous OVC record which was set in 2003. Lora also set the Eastern Illinois and OVC record for receiving yards in a season (1,664) which was the fourth-best single-season output in FCS history. He earned National Player of the Week honors on Sept. 24 after breaking a 43-year old OVC record with 21 receptions in a game (the fourth-most in a game in FCS history). In that game Lora had 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns and also threw the winning two-point conversion in overtime as EIU topped Murray State 50-49. During the season he had four games with 13 or more catches and two games with 200 or more receiving yards. His performance helped Eastern Illinois to its sixth OVC Championship and berth in the playoffs.
Lora was one of four OVC players who were finalists for the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the top offensive player in the FCS. Lora finished fourth overall (out of 20 finalists) in the voting, the highest finish for an OVC player since EIU’s Tony Romo won the award in 2002. He also earned unanimous All-American honors as he was selected to each of the six major FCS All-American teams (Associated Press, AFCA, College Sporting News, Phil Steele, Sports Network and Walter Camp).
Lora, a native of Miami, Fla., is the third different Eastern Illinois student-athlete to be named OVC Male Athlete of the Year and first since track and field athlete Kyle O’Brien won the honor in 2002-03. Overall it marks the ninth time that the OVC Male Athlete of the Year has been a football player and first time since Tennessee State’s Charles Anthony was honored in 2004-05.
Roberson was the driving force in leading Morehead State to a perfect 16-0 league mark and its third-straight OVC regular season championship in 2012. The right side hitter led the Conference in kills for the second-consecutive season, averaging 4.39 kills per set on her way to OVC Player of the Year honors. Roberson had 500 total kills and led the OVC in hitting percentage (.341) in Conference-only matches. She posted a league-best 29 double-digit kill performances, including eight matches with 20 or more kills, and had nine matches with a .400 hitting percentage or better.
She became the first Morehead State player to earn National Player of the Week honors on Oct. 14 after posting 28 kills and a .431 attack percentage in a victory at Jacksonville State and following that by slamming 32 kills and hitting .500 in a victory at Tennessee Tech.
Following the season she was named a first-team All-Midwest Region selection and an honorable mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). She also earned Morehead State’s Miss Eagle Award as the school’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Roberson, a native of Louisville, Ky., is just the second Morehead State student-athlete to be named OVC Female Athlete of the Year; the other award winner was basketball player Priscilla Blackford in 1982-83. Overall she is the fifth different OVC volleyball athlete to win the honor and first since 2007-08.
Other male nominees for the award included Austin Peay senior pitcher Tyler Rogers, Belmont senior guard Ian Clark, Eastern Kentucky junior distance runner Wade Meddles, Jacksonville State senior quarterback Marques Ivory, Morehead State senior distance runner Zachariah Elliott, Murray State senior guard Isaiah Canaan, Southeast Missouri sophomore field athlete Kevin Farley, Tennessee State sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard, Tennessee Tech senior tennis player Syrym Abdukhalikov and UT Martin senior quarterback Derek Carr.
Other female nominees for the award included Austin Peay junior soccer forward Tatiana Ariza, Belmont junior middle blocker Allison McCoy, Eastern Illinois junior pole vaulter Jade Riebold, Eastern Kentucky sophomore tennis player Amandine Faouzi, Jacksonville State senior outfielder Krystal Ruth, Murray State sophomore field athlete Tonia Pratt, Southeast Missouri senior defender Hayley Abbott, Tennessee State sophomore track athlete Ashontae Jackson, Tennessee Tech sophomore guard Diamond Henderson and UT Martin senior defensive specialist Kasey Elswick.
The OVC first awarded a Male Athlete of the Year award in 1977 and gave out the first Female Athlete of the Year in 1981.