LEXINGTON, Va. – After leading their respective sports both in the field of play and with excellent academic marks, VMI recognized its top 2018-19 cadet-athletes with several end of year honors. Head swimming and diving coach Andrew Bretscher was also recognized for his teams’ accomplishments this past season.
Distinguished Coaching Award – Andrew Bretscher
Head swimming and diving coach Andrew Bretscher led the Keydet swimming and diving team to an outstanding season in 2018-19, both in and out of the pool. The team set 25 program records (15 men, 10 women) this season, representing more than half of the all-time records kept. Two top freshman recruits, Stephen Hopta and Sophie Svoboda, combined to set or be a part of 17 new top marks. The publication swimswam.com ranked the VMI men as the second-most improved team in Division 1 in 2018-19, while the women were No. 3 on the list. Both squads were named Scholar All-America teams by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association. Coach Bretscher’s teams were active in community service projects and in January worked with the Lexington Fire Department on snow removal to assist the disabled and elderly. Coach Bretscher represents the desired qualities of the VMI mission in academics, athletics and military.
Intercollegiate Award Number 1 – Reece Udinski '21
To the outstanding athlete among football, basketball, baseball, men’s cross country/track & field teams
Sophomore quarterback Reece Udinski rewrote the VMI season passing record book by throwing for 3,082 yards and became the first VMI QB in school history to surpass the 3,000-yard threshold. Udinski also set season marks for completions (302) attempts (523), total plays (570) and tied the season mark for most TD passes in a season (20). He also established VMI single game records for passing yards when he threw for 491 yards in VMI’s 52-50 loss at Western Carolina September 22. Udinski finished the year with three 400+ yard passing games and surpassed 300 or more yards passing in five games.
Intercollegiate Award Number 2 – Neal Richards '20
To the outstanding athlete among lacrosse, rifle, men’s soccer, swimming/diving and wrestling teams
Neal earned the Southern Conference Wrestler of the Week honor a league-record five times. Richards was a two-time SoCon Wrestler of the Month and the conference’s regular season Wrestler of the Year and tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, earning a trip to the NCAA Division I Championships. He was named the All-Academy Championship’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, leading VMI to a fifth-place finish, and entered NCAA post-season competition on a 21-match win streak. Neal finished the season 28-6 (6-0 in conference duals), with 10 pins, six technical falls and six major decisions and earned VaSID second team All-State honors.
Intercollegiate Award Number 3 – Sarah Dolitsky '19
To the outstanding athlete among women’s cross country/track & field, soccer, swimming & diving and water polo teams
Sarah Dolitsky finished her career with the second most goals scored in program history as she totaled 194 career goals and 241 points. She had her best season at VMI as a senior, scoring 75 goals to go with 23 assists for 98 combined points. Dolitsky earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Feb. 27 and was named to the MAAC All-Academic team for a second straight season as a junior. She set the school record with eight goals against Macalester this February, the most in a single game, and had 13 hat tricks in 2019. Sarah was also a team captain for the second consecutive season.
Frank Summers Team Leadership Award – Kyle Walsh '19
To the First Classman chosen as the outstanding team leader
Senior Kyle Walsh was named First Team All-Southern Conference as a defender for a second straight season as he finished an illustrious VMI career ranked No. 2 all-time in the record book in career groundballs with 253. Walsh finished the season ranked No. 2 in the NCAA in caused turnovers per game as he forced 3.23 per outing. He ranked first on the team in both groundballs (62) and caused turnovers (42) and started all 13 games as a team captain. Kyle scored three goals and had three assists on the year, helping the team to its best start to a season since 1995 as VMI opened the year with a 3-1 record.
The Almond Award (Outstanding Contributions) – John O’Donnell '19
To the graduating cadet who has throughout his/her career, demonstrated outstanding contributions to intercollegiate athletics while distinguishing himself/herself through academic achievement and soldierly bearing and aptitude.
4.00 GPA in Economics and Business. John finished his VMI career ranked No. 7 all-time in career assists in Southern Conference games with 16 and was named one of 30 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award for the sport of lacrosse. O’Donnell received the John W. and Jane M. Roberts Medal given for outstanding performance by an EC/BU graduating major and also earned VMI’s Jackson-Hope Medal for highest attainment in scholarship as well as the Cmdr. Harry Millard Mason Academic Proficiency Award. O’Donnell was also given VMI’s Society of the Cincinnati Medal for efficiency of service and excellence of character in addition to the Richard J. Marshall and Sumter L. Lowry Awards. He ranked second on the team in assists this season (11), third in points (22) and fifth in goals (11) as he started all 13 games as a team captain. He earned a career-high four goals at Wagner on Mar. 5, helping VMI to a 15-10 victory that day and had two goals the week before vs. NJIT on Feb. 23.
The Henry Johnson Award (Manager) – Quinn Conrad '19
To the outstanding team manager
Quinn Conrad earned the Henry Johnson Manager of the Year Award for the second straight year. She has been a committed member of the basketball team for the past three seasons and graduated from VMI as a double major in international relations and foreign languages. Conrad also commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. She will attend the University of Virginia law school while serving in the Virginia Army National Guard. Head basketball coach Dan Earl described Quinn as smart, dedicated, hardworking and eager to help in any way possible.