For our third installment of this summer’s Alligator Awards, four of our writers go head-to-head and debate which UF athlete deserves to be named alligatorSports Athlete of the Year. Lacrosse player Lindsey Ronbeck, track athlete Grant Holloway and softball players Kelly Barnhill and Amanda Lorenz are the contenders.
Lindsey Ronbeck: More often than not, senior attacker Lindsey Ronbeck was the first player to arrive for practice. She was already on the field 30 minutes beforehand going through a series of individual drills.
Ronbeck’s additional training paid off. The senior recorded a team-high 89 goals and 18 assists in the 2019 campaign. Her 107 points set a program record for most in a single season.
Ronbeck’s play earned her an Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association First Team All-American honor.
The senior wreaked havoc on the American Athletic Conference, leading Florida to its ninth-straight regular season conference championship and sixth-straight conference tournament championship. She was named the AAC Attacker of the Year and received All-AAC First Team honors.
Ronbeck’s nine goals in a 25-9 victory over conference rival Cincinnati on April 27 not only marked a career-high, but was also the most scored in a single game in UF history.
Her game was not limited to offense, however. She was also a force in the draw circle where she recorded 65 draw controls, good enough for third on the team.
Ronbeck was the MVP of the Florida women’s lacrosse team, and that was evidenced by her versatility as an attacker, drawtaker and team captain. This makes her the clear-cut choice for Athlete of the Year. – Bryan Matamoros
Grant Holloway: UF’s Athlete of the Year, in my opinion, was found on the track and field team this past season. Grant Holloway is the pure definition of an athlete and is quite possibly the most decorated in the history of the University of Florida.
This season, Holloway capped off his storied career with the Gators in style. The junior from Chesapeake, Virginia, captured just about every individual award you could imagine, including four individual NCAA Championships after sweeping the 60 and 110-meter hurdles during the Indoor and Outdoor NCAA Championships this past year.
At the SEC Indoor Championships, he broke the SEC Indoor record with 28 points after winning the 60-meter sprint and the 60-meter hurdles events.
Holloway also swept the USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year awards, was named the SEC Indoor Runner of the Year and became just the fifth Gator ever to be named the SEC Male Athlete of the Year.
With the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo nearing, Holloway will turn his attention toward winning a gold medal to add to his already massive list of awards and accolades.
Not a lot of people can dominate their competition like Holloway has, and for that reason, he is undoubtedly the 2018-19 Florida Athlete of the Year. – Evan Lepak
Kelly Barnhill: If grit, determination and pure willpower are the only metrics taken into consideration for this award, Kelly Barnhill wins indisputably.
The senior ace was the ultimate workhorse for the Gators softball team this season, hurling 287 innings over 52 appearances, going 34-14. In the postseason, Barnhill was dominant, carrying a team with the SEC's worst batting average to the Women’s College World Series almost single-handedly. She was in the circle to start in Florida’s last 11 games, earning SEC Tournament MVP honors along the way for her efforts.
One of the most decorated softball players to ever play for Florida may have ended her career on a bitter note – lasting less than one inning in the WCWS against Alabama – but Barnhill has not been sulking in her lows.
In April, she was drafted first overall by the Chicago Bandits in the 2019 National Pro Fastpitch College Draft, the highest draft pick in Florida history, and was awarded All-SEC Second Team honors at season’s end.
Though a far cry from the back-to-back SEC Pitcher of the Year honors she earned in 2017-18, or the countless other elite awards collected over her four years in Gainesville, Barnhill’s ability to will her team to victory this season should earn her Athlete of the Year. – Jack Braverman
Amanda Lorenz: There are many variables that go into selecting the best overall athlete at UF. Each of the candidates on this list are deserving of the award, but in my opinion, there is one player who stands out above the rest: Amanda Lorenz is my pick for alligatorSports Player of the Year.
The first aspect of Lorenz’s game that made her so special this year was her ability to improve on her already dominant play. Lorenz entered her senior year with two .400 average seasons in her career. She finished her senior season hitting a .422 clip, .021 points higher than her career average. No other player on this list displayed that level of improvement.
The outfielder/first baseman also rarely made a mistake at bat or in the field. Lorenz finished the season without grounding into a single double play and only registered 16 strikeouts. Her fielding percentage stood at .996, almost perfect.
Lorenz’s ability to improve her game and maintain consistency throughout an entire season and career make her the alligatorSports Athlete of the Year. – Dylan O’Shea