Big Rapids, Mich. - A pair of Ferris State University two-time All-America student-athletes have been named the recipients of the Dean Davenport "Bulldog of the Year" Award as junior center Zach Hankins (Charlevoix) of the national champion men's basketball team and sophomore outside hitter Allyson Cappel (Tinley Park, Ill./Lincoln-Way North) of the championship women's volleyball program were tabbed as the 2017-18 award winners.
They were selected in voting conducted by the Bulldog head coaches and selected FSU Athletics Department staff members.
Both individuals were recognized as the school's top male and female student-athletes, respectively, for their accomplishments this past season. In 2017-18, both Hankins and Cappel claimed All-America accolades for the second year in a row while leading their respective teams to championship success. Hankins repeated as the male Bulldog of the Year after garnering the honor for the first time last year, becoming only the 10th student-athlete in school history to receive the honor multiple times.
"Zach Hankins and Allyson Cappel are outstanding choices as the Dean Davenport Bulldog of the Year Award recipients this year and both are extremely deserving," said FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger. "They have been outstanding representatives of their respective programs, our department and the university.
"Allyson had a decorated fall season by being chosen as an All-American and the conference player of the year while leading our renown volleyball program to both its fourth consecutive GLIAC regular-season and tournament championships," he added. "Meanwhile, Zach ranked as the top Division II basketball player in the country and led an outstanding team to a national championship while tying for the most wins in the history of D2 basketball. Both are outstanding young people and true ambassadors and representatives of Ferris State University and our Athletics programs. We congratulate them on earning the prestigious Dean Davenport Bulldog of the Year Awards."
The Dean Davenport "Bulldog of the Year" Award, which was reinstated in the 2002-03 season following a seven-year absence, is presented annually to the most outstanding Ferris State male and female student-athlete. Award criteria consists of strong athletic achievements (must be a letterwinner and achieve outstanding athletic accomplishment), strong individual character and academic achievement.
The award was renamed in honor of former Ferris State Athletics Director Dean Davenport, who served in the position from 1979-93. During his tenure at Ferris, Davenport was instrumental in the planning of the FSU Sports Complex, the growth of women's intercollegiate athletics, the emergence of Ferris' NCAA Division I men's ice hockey program and the development of the athletics scholarship program. He also led the athletics department to 14 consecutive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) President's Cup Championships. Davenport also played a key role in helping found many of the department's key major annual awards.
Hankins' selection marks the ninth time a Bulldog men's basketball player has been honored as a winner of the Dean Davenport "Bulldog of the Year" Award. Last year, he was the first player from the program to earn the distinction since former standout Justin Keenan was a back-to-back recipient in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Meanwhile, Cappel is among 15 volleyball participants to claim the honor and it represents the third consecutive year in which a volleyball student-athlete has been awarded the distinction, following in the footsteps of former Bulldog All-Americans Megan Vander Meer and Stephanie Sikorski in 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively.
The other student-athlete nominee finalists for the 2017-18 Dean Davenport Bulldog of the Year Award were Mitch Maloney (Hockey), Rachel McInerney (Women's Basketball), Zach Sieler (Football), Emily Reed (Softball) and Cody Stilwell (Track & Field).
Hankins, who previously announced plans to play his final campaign as a graduate transfer at NCAA Division I Xavier University this coming season, led the Bulldogs to a school-record 38-1 overall mark this past year en route to claiming the D2 National Championship and matching the all-time NCAA Division II record for most wins in a season.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Division II National Player of the Year this past season, Hankins spent four seasons in the Bulldog program, helping FSU to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, back-to-back Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Regular Season Championships and four consecutive GLIAC Tournament titles in his career.
This past season, Hankins was tabbed as the National Player of the Year in Division II basketball by being selected as the country's top performer by both the NABC and Division II Bulletin. Hankins, whose dominant post play was pivotal as Ferris State advanced to its first NCAA Division II Elite Eight in 30 seasons, led Division II in total blocks for the second straight season and was ranked among the national leaders in field goal percentage.
In his junior campaign, Hankins set new school single-season records with 380 rebounds and a 71.1% field goal percentage while being a consensus All-America choice and claiming both the GLIAC and Midwest Region Player of the Year awards for the second consecutive campaign. He was one of the national finalists for the Bevo Francis National Small College Player of the Year honor and also scored his 1,000th career point during the historic season.
Hankins graduates as the school's all-time leader in blocked shots (319) and holds the school record for highest field goal percentage in a career (64.2%). He also ranks among the program's all-time best with 858 rebounds and finished his Bulldog career with 1,232 points. He became the first sophomore in GLIAC history to earn the league's coveted Player of the Year honor in 2016-17 when he paced the league with a conference record 130 total blocked shots. Initially, he redshirted in his first season at FSU in 2014-15 before playing as a reserve under all-region center Jared Stolicker in 2015-16 when FSU reached the D2 Sweet Sixteen.
A two-time All-American, Hankins also claimed All-GLIAC honors each of the past two seasons and was a two-time GLIAC All-Defensive Team honoree in addition to being a two-time Bevo Francis National Player of the Year finalist. In his final season with the Bulldogs this year, Hankins helped FSU match the all-time NCAA Division II record for most wins in a year while finishing with a 38-1 mark. FSU won its final 26 games of the season and was a perfect 22-0 at home this campaign en route to the national championship.
"We're thankful for the four outstanding years we had with Zach in our program," said FSU head coach and National Coach of the Year Andy Bronkema. "He did an outstanding job giving us everything he had this past year and was a huge reason for our championship success. Zach's been a great ambassador for our program and will be a Bulldog forever. As much as he's meant to us on the floor, his outstanding leadership and personality off the court will be even harder to replace."
This past season, Cappel earned American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America honors for the second consecutive year and was also chosen as the GLIAC's Player and Attacker of the Year. She was also named to the 2017 AVCA All-Midwest Region First Team along with being a first-team pick by the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association.
In 2017, Cappel paced the Bulldogs with 395 total kills in 104 sets and added 327 digs, 33 blocks, 22 aces and 13 assists while starting 29 matches. She was invited this summer to comepte in the USA Division II Volleyball Tour to Brazil.
With Cappel pacing the squad, Ferris State made its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament bid last fall and has now advanced to at least the regional semifinals each of the last seven years. FSU's regional appearance represented the program's 22nd all-time. In 2017, FSU closed the year with a 24 -8 overall mark and also captured the program's fourth-straight GLIAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships.
Last fall also marked the 16th time in 22 seasons under head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm in which FSU had claimed at least 20 victories in a campaign. The Bulldogs also made their 20th consecutive GLIAC Tournament appearance.
"Allyson had an outstanding season last fall and has been a tremendous player for us the past two years as an All-America honoree," said Brandel-Wilhelm. "We're proud of what she has already accomplished and look forward to having her for the next two years."
The selections of the Dean Davenport "Bulldogs of the Year" wrap up the postseason awards for FSU. Earlier this week, the Bulldogs announced the selections of longtime head athletic trainer Dave Lucey as the Pete Peterson Pride Award recipient and Bulldog Football senior defensive back Tavierre Thomas as the Jimmy Swears Courage Award winner. In addition, senior captain Noah King of the national championship men's basketball squad received recognition as the Willie Bouyer Leadership Award recipient.
"We're honored to be able to present these year-end awards and extremely pleased as an athletic department to be able to honor our outstanding student-athletes and people with awards named after individuals who have played such a big part in the history and tradition of Bulldog Athletics," said Weisenburger.
Bulldog of the Year Recipients:
2017-18 - Zach Hankins (Men's Basketball) and Allyson Cappel (Volleyball)
2016-17 - Zach Hankins (Men's Basketball) and Stephanie Sikorski (Volleyball)
2015-16 - Jason Vander Laan (Football) and Megan Vander Meer (Volleyball)
2014-15 - Jason Vander Laan (Football) and Samantha Johnson (Women's Track & Field/CC)
2013-14 – CJ Motte (Men's Ice Hockey) and Anna Rudd (Women's Track & Field/CC)
2012-13 – Kyle Bonis (Men's Ice Hockey) and Anna Rudd (Women's Track & Field/CC)
2011-12 – Taylor Nelson (Men's Ice Hockey) and Tina Muir (Women's Track & Field/CC)
2010-11 – Justin Keenan (Men's Basketball) and Tina Muir (Women's Track & Field/CC)
2009-10 – Justin Keenan (Men's Basketball), Eric Lilleboe (Men's Golf), and Tina Muir (Women's Track & Field/CC)
2008-09 – Jake Visser (Football), Mikinzie Stuart (Women's Track & Field/Cross Country)
2007-08 – Jake Visser (Football), Rachel Folcik (Women's Basketball), and Becky Hoffman (Women's Golf)
2006-07 – Mike Klobucher (Football), Rachel Folcik (Women's Basketball), and Kristie Smilanich (Women's Soccer)
2005-06 – Dennis Springs (Men's Basketball), Jenny Irwin (Women's Cross Country and Women's Track & Field)
2004-05 – Carlton Epps (Men's Basketball), Karla Fairbanks (Women's Volleyball)
2003-04 – Derek Fudge (Football), Lucy DeMartin (Women's Basketball)
2002-03 – Chris Kunitz (Men's Ice Hockey), Kathryn Bobbie (Women's Golf)
1995-96 – Bill Love (Football), Theresa Luciow (Softball)
1994-95 – Bill Love (Football), Shelli Gaul (Women's Track & Field)
1993-94 – Ed Philion (Football), Kathy O'Connor (Women's Volleyball & Women's Basketball)
1992-93 – Monty Brown (Football), Jodi Raab (Women's Basketball)
1991-92 – Dan Hutcheson (Wrestling), Monica Ferguson (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field)
1990-91 – John DePourcq (Men's Ice Hockey), Karen Volkers (Women's Volleyball)
1989-90 – Paul Cochran (Men's Track & Field/Football), Karen Volkers (Women's Volleyball)
1988-89 – Jarvis Walker (Men's Basketball), Penny Bailey (Women's Track & Field/Cross Country)
1987-88 – Dave DenBraber (Football), Patty Theis (Women's Volleyball)
1986-87 – Brad Morris (Wrestling), Patty Theis (Women's Volleyball) and Karen Kramer (Women's Basketball)
1985-86 – Scott Kelly (Baseball), Patty Theis (Women's Volleyball)
1984-85 – Paul Jungck (Wrestling), Sharon Sanders (Women's Volleyball)
1983-84 – Terry Schumacher (Wrestling), Leigh Feenstra (Women's Volleyball)
1982-83 – Bruce Faccio (Football), Monta Ware (Women's Basketball) and Linda Spicer (Women's Volleyball)
1981-82 – Tim Smelser (Wrestling), Vicki Williams (Women's Basketball)
1980-81 – Rick Baillergeon (Men's Basketball), Terri Fraser (Women's Volleyball & Women's Basketball)
1979-80 – David Sall (Football), Roxanne Abramouski (Softball)
1978-79 – Tim Herman (Men's Basketball), Sharon Lipinski (Women's Basketball)