Harvard Varsity Club Celebrates the Class of 2016 at Annual Senior Letterwinners’ Dinner

Harvard Varsity Club– May 25, 2016

Harvard Athletics and the Harvard Varsity Club celebrated the Class of 2016 Wednesday night at the annual Senior Letterwinners’ Dinner, held inside the Bright-Landry Hockey Center, to honor both the athletic and academic accomplishments of this year’s graduating student-athletes.

The Class of 2016 combined to win 42 Ivy League championships throughout its tenure in Cambridge, more than any other graduating class in Harvard Athletics history. This outstanding group of individuals also garnered 45 All-America selections, and was a part of six team and individual national championships in addition to receiving countless all-conference and academic awards.

Jimmy Vesey of the men’s hockey team and Autumne Franklin of women’s track and field received the evening’s highest honors, as the recipents of the William J. Bingham Award and the Radcliffe Prize as Harvard’s top male and female student-athletes.

The 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s national player of the year, Vesey capped his stellar career with his second-straight selection to the All-America first team, ECAC Hockey and Ivy League Player of the Year honors. A co-captain, Vesey ranked fifth in program history in career goals and 12th in points. His leadership helped bolster the Crimson back into the national spotlight as it made its second-straight NCAA tournament appearance this season to go with the Ivy League championship. Harvard also took home the ECAC regular season and tournament championships in 2015. Along with his performance on the ice, Vesey was a finalist for this year’s Senior CLASS Award and earned Academic All-Ivy League status.

One of the fastest runners in Harvard and Ivy League history, Franklin shattered record books throughout her tenure in Cambridge, collecting 14 Ivy League titles in sprints, hurdles and relay events. Along with dominating the Ancient Eight, Franklin has garnered three All-America honors in the 400 meter hurdles and currently ranks among the fastest women in the world in the event. Franklin has guided Harvard to four Ivy League indoor titles and three outdoor, and was named the Ivy League’s Most Outstanding Performer at both the indoor and outdoor Heptagonal championships this season after winning three events at each. A co-captain and Olympic Trials qualifier, Franklin also succeeds in the classroom and is a two-time Academic All-American.

Fellow track and field and cross country standout Paige Kouba was presented with the Harvard-Radcliffe Foundation for Women’s Athletics Prize as the senior woman who best exemplifies the qualities of excellent scholarship, character, leadership and athletic ability. The organismic and evolutionary biology concentrator is a seven-time All-Ivy League honoree and owns three school records. A co-captain of both the women’s cross country and track and field teams, Kouba saved her best for last this season with personal best times in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and 1,500 meter run, ranking among the fastest in the NCAA while qualifying for the Olympic Trials.

The Arthur L. Boland Award, presented to an outstanding senior varsity athlete who will be attending medical school went to Evan Zheng of the men’s swimming and diving team. A neuroscience concentrator with a secondary concentration in computer science, Zheng has sought out medical opportunities throughout his tenure at Harvard, including working in the emergency department at the University of Rochester, shadowing emergency medicine residents at various Harvard-affiliated hospitals and joining a surgery interest group to learn from surgeons’ personal experiences. A talented violinist, Zheng has also organized music therapy sessions for patients in nursing homes and hospitals, often offering these sessions in underserved communities. Zheng has been accepted to several top medical schools, including Washington University in St. Louis and Mount Sinai in New York City.

The John. P Fadden Award, presented annually to the senior who overcame physical adversity to make a significant contribution to their team, went to wrestling’s Todd Preston. After missing the fall of his freshman year, Preston worked his way into a starting role and blossomed as a sophomore, winning an EIWA championship while earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler and reached the Round of 12 at the NCAA championships. Preston continued to shine in his junior campaign, consistently ranking among the top-10 wrestlers in the country at his weight class before another injury struck at the EIWA championships, ending his season. Resilient once again, Preston returned for his senior season, taking second at the EIWA championships to make his second trip to the NCAA championships.

The Carroll F. Getchell Manager of the Year Award went to Andrew Larson of the football team. A running back on the team before injuries cut his career short before the start of his sophomore season, Larson embraced the role of student-manager, working relentlessly to continue the success of the team as it won three-straight Ivy League championships.

Field hockey’s Elizabeth Jacobson was honored as the recipient of the Francis J. Toland Community Service Award, presented to the senior athlete who has made the most outstanding contribution to Harvard and its neighboring communities. Jacobson made an immediate impact on the community when she stepped on campus, volunteering with the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter as a breakfast volunteer before seeing her role expand into a fundraising position for building a new shelter, Y2Y Harvard Square. Jacobson organized fundraisers, wrote grants and appeals and served as one of the student directors during Y2Y’s inaugural year. Additionally, Jacobson was a leader on the field, garnering both All-Ivy and All-Region honors while serving as co-captain of the team.

The Mary G. Paget Prize, presented to the senior student who has contributed the most to women’s athletics, went to women’s lightweight crew’s Naomi Lang. Not only impacting women’s athletics on campus in leading the lightweight crew to the 2014 national championship, Lang created a national movement for women’s athletics in founding Female Athletes in Boston, a Facebook blog highlighting the accomplishments of female athletes located in the Boston area. With over 1,000 “likes” in less than 24 hours, news of “Female Athletes in Boston” spread across the nation and Lang furthered the movement in creating the “Female Athletes Network”, encouraging female athletes across the nation to become women’s athletics ambassadors in their own cities.

Men’s water polo’s Austin Lee took home the John. P Reardon Award, honoring the senior who best exemplifies the qualities of excellent scholarship, character, leadership and athletic ability. After joining the team as a walk on, Lee worked tirelessly to contribute to the team and saw his efforts pay off during the 2014 CWPA Eastern Championships when injury thrust him into the starting lineup, helping him to earn recognition as the team’s Most Improved Player. A human developmental and regenerative biology concentrator, Lee has been named twice to the CWPA All-Academic Team and has played productive roles in a clinic research laboratory and volunteered with a global health organization.

The Francis H. Burr ’09 Scholarships, presented annually to two seniors who combine as nearly as possible Burr’s remarkable qualities of character, leadership, scholarship, and athletic ability, went to Andrew Mollerus of sailing and women’s heavyweight crew’s Lang. Mollerus, a three-year captain, has twice been named all-conference and earned All-America status as a junior and plans to continue his sailing career after graduation training for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Mollerus has excelled in the classroom as well, taking graduate level economics course the past two years and was a Junior 24 Phi Beta Kappa inductee. Along with his academic and athletic achievements, he has also served as co-director of the Phillip Brooks House Association’s Youth Prison Program.

Along with starting a women’s athletics movement, Lang has been a standout in athletics herself, rowing in the varsity boat all four years, helping the Radcliffe lightweight crew team to a national championship in 2014, two additional silver medal finishes at the national championship regatta and three gold medals at the Eastern Sprints.

The Harvard Varsity Club has been instrumental to the success of Harvard Athletics since it was founded in 1886. The Varsity Club preserves the traditions, fosters the ideals, and advances the interests of Harvard Athletics through a wide range of activities for our 20,000+ members. The annual Senior Letterwinners’ Dinner, established in 1967 to honor the contributions of the outgoing senior class, is one example of the many functions provided by the Varsity Club.

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