ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Both defending champions now ousted in #BeaconAOTY tournament, Semi-Final Round matchups set for 11 a.m. voting

Editor’s Note: Ryan Balliet, tournament assistant, contributed to this report.

Day three of the 2018-19 #BeaconAOTY (athlete of the year) tournament brought more chaos as now both defending champions have departed.

In a shocking upset on the men’s side, No. 24 Ashton Gyenizs (wrestling) knocked off defending champion No. 1 Marcus Robinson (men’s basketball). That leaves both defending champions out in the remainder of the tournament, meaning two new champions will be crowned.

With Gyenizs’s win, Wilkes wrestling is guaranteed to have a wrestler in the Championship Round, but only one can qualify as Gyenizs and No. 5 Nicholas Racanelli will meet in the Semi-Final Round.

Racanelli cruised over teammate No. 13 Thomas Stokes, securing 72 percent of the vote.

On Twitter earlier today prior to the Racanelli-Stokes match-up:

“@Wilkesu_Wrestle: This will be decided in the wrestling room later today, the way it should be. Man vs Man winner take all. We need a guest referee to remain neutral. I would guess neither votes for themselves and actually votes for the other.”

In the other Semi-Final pairing, No. 3 Courtney Murphy (men’s tennis) will face No. 7 Jeff Steeber (football). Murphy edged No. 6 John Wink (men’s lacrosse) in a tightly contested race. Steeber upset teammate No. 2 Jose Tabora, notching 55 percent of the vote.

The women’s bracket saw a total of three upsets in the Quarterfinal Round and five sports will be represented heading into the Semi-Final Round.

In the Round of 16, No. 25 Kendall Castro (women’s ice hockey) pulled off an upset against defending women’s champion No. 9 Gracen Staunton (softball) in the Round of 16.

In yesterday’s Quarterfinal Round, Castro nearly did it again, but was ousted by No. 1 Gabrielle Giordano (women’s basketball and softball). Giordano secured 55 percent of the vote in that pairing. She will move onto the Semi-Final Round to face No. 21 Allyson Joly (women’s ice hockey and women’s lacrosse), who defeated No. 13 Francesca Varela-Seri (women’s tennis) by 16 percentage points. Joly is the lowest seed remaining on the women’s side.

Joining Joly as double-digit seeds are No. 14 Maddie Kelley (women’s basketball and field hockey) and No. 19 Ashley Burkhardt (women’s lacrosse). Kelley beat out No. 6 Jessica Egan (women’s soccer) and Burkhardt took down No. 10 Samantha Cecere (women’s soccer).

Of the four remaining women, three are multi-sport athletes: Giordano, Joly and Kelley.

The Quarterfinal Round saw another 2,860 votes cast (1,448 men, 1,412 women), bringing the tournament total to 17,304. Last year’s tournament saw approximately 2,200 votes cast for the entire tournament.

The updated bracket with Semi-Final Round pairings is available here: 2018-19 #BeaconAOTY Bracket

The field was announced on Sunday in a selection show posted to “Wilkes Now” on YouTube.

The champion of both categories will be featured in a full page spread in the final edition of The Beacon on April 16.

Tournament Schedule:

  • Semi-Final Round: Today
  • Championship Round: Saturday
  • All polls conducted using the @WilkesBeacon Twitter page.
  • Polls will begin each day at 11:00 a.m. and will conclude at 11:00 p.m.

For coverage of the tournament, check out the following Twitter accounts:

Additional coverage will be provided through media partner 90.7 WCLH — Wilkes University radio on Facebook through @WCLH_radio and @WCLHsports on Twitter and Instagram.