Beacon Sports team announces third annual “Athlete of the Year” tournament, set to begin Monday


Madison Hummer

No. 8 Maddie Kelley (women’s basketball/field hockey) and No. 19 Karlye Huffman (women’s volleyball) will face-off in the final Twitter poll to determine the Women’s Athlete of the Year for 2020. Voting will take place on Twitter on the @WilkesBeacon account. Voting begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday and runs until 8 p.m. on Thursday.

The Beacon has officially announced its third annual Athlete of the Year tournament for the 2019-2020 school year. The tournament is set to begin on Monday, April 13 via Twitter polls on the @WilkesBeacon account.

The tournament is comprised of 48 student-athletes, with 24 on the men’s side and 24 on the women’s side. Fifteen automatic qualifiers and nine at-large bids were named on each side. 

The top eight seeds will receive a first-round bye, leaving seeds nine through 24 to face-off in the Opening Round on both sides of the bracket. 

The Championship Round will take place from Wednesday, April 22 through Thursday, April 23. Each Athlete of the Year will be announced on Friday, April 24. 

Anyone, meaning an individual does not have to be affiliated with Wilkes University directly, can complete a tournament bracket and submit it to The Beacon. Brackets are due by 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 13 to Ben Mandell ([email protected]) for consideration. 

(Listed above is a basic breakdown of this year’s tournament, specifics have been offered below.)


Tournament history:

The tournament originated in 2018 when then sports editor Luke Modrovsky and the sports staff compiled all of the Athlete of the Week winners from the academic year. The male and female Athletes of the Week were seeded in a March Madness style bracket, where athletes advanced through a series of Twitter polls. 

In the inaugural tournament, The Beacon seeded 34 automatic bids – those being 17 student-athletes on the men’s side and 17 student-athletes on the women’s side whom had received recognition throughout the academic year as Athlete of the Week selections.

Since then, the tournament has grown, including at-large bids in its second year. Being aware that not all standout athletes had earned weekly recognition, The Beacon selection committee added at-large bids to enhance the tournament.

The Athlete of the Year tournament saw 60 student-athletes in its second-year bracket – 30 on the men’s side and 30 on the women’s. Each respective bracket was comprised of 18 automatic qualifiers and 12 at-large bids. 


2019-2020 tournament breakdown: 

As there were changes from The Beacon’s inaugural Athlete of the Year tournament to its second annual tournament, its third year will also see some adjustments. 

With Wilkes University being forced to cancel the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spring student-athletes will not be included in the bracket. The Beacon selection committee determined that it would not be fair to assume a spring athlete’s success for a season s/he was unable to participate in. 

Additionally, this respects the fall and winter sport athletes who did play complete seasons, and either earned automatic bids from being named an Athlete of the Week or at-large bids for their full-season performances. 

Spring athletes will not be included in the bracket this year with one exception: Ashley Burkhardt, a member of the women’s lacrosse team who earned an automatic bid.

Burkhardt received an Athlete of the Week selection during The Beacon’s final publication on Tuesday, Feb. 25 (an online edition published before Wilkes University’s spring recess and prior to The Beacon’s transition strictly online after moving to remote learning due to COVID-19).

Men’s ice hockey player Tyson Araujo accompanied Burkhardt on the men’s side for the Athlete of the Week on Feb. 25. 

As for the tournament’s specifics, the bracket has been cut down from last year’s 60 student-athletes to 48 student-athletes in total. Due to the lack of spring athletes, 24 student-athletes have been seeded for both the men and the women. 

On each respective side, 15 athletes were automatic qualifiers from being Athlete of the Week selections. Nine at-large bids, solely from fall and winter sports, were named on each side as well. 

With this format, the top eight seeds on both sides of the bracket will be awarded a first-round bye.

Spring teams and their athletes who could have potentially made it into the tournament (if their respective seasons were not cancelled) will be honored prior to the Opening Round of this year’s tournament.



Voting will be conducted solely through The Beacon’s Twitter account (@WilkesBeacon). 

Polls this year will double in time, lasting a full 24 hours instead of the previous 12-hour time frame. Voting will begin at 8 p.m. and conclude at 7:59 p.m. the following night. 

Additionally, polls for the men’s and women’s brackets will be on different days, giving the featured student-athletes a greater spotlight. Twenty-four hour voting polls will alternate with all of the men’s polls for the current round being posted on one day and all of the women’s polls for the same round being posted the next day.

Both championship polls will be posted and crowned on the same day. 


Submit a tournament bracket:

Just as the NCAA allows March Madness brackets to be completed and submitted with the hopes of completing the “perfect” tournament bracket, i.e. picking every winner for each round of competition correctly, The Beacon will be adding this new twist to this year’s competition. 

All individuals who follow the competition – students, faculty, staff, parents, siblings, old high school teammates/sports teams, etc. – may fill out a bracket and submit it to The Beacon

Anyone who fills out a perfect bracket will be featured by The Beacon on the website and all social media platforms. Other potential prizes may be announced later. 

All bracket submissions are due by 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 13. The bracket will be released later this week.

Submissions will be accepted via email to Ben Mandell ([email protected]). A PDF version of the bracket will be available for individuals to print and write their submissions on. A picture of one’s completed bracket can be emailed to Ben. 


Tournament schedule:

Men’s Side of the Bracket:

  • Opening Round – April 13, 8 p.m. to April 14, 7:59 p.m.
  • Round of 16 – April 15, 8 p.m. to April 16, 7:59 p.m.
  • Quarterfinal Round –  April 17, 8 p.m. to April 18, 7:59 p.m.
  • Semifinal Round – April 19, 8 p.m. to April 20, 7:59 p.m.
  • Championship Round – April 22, 8 p.m. to April 23, 7:59 p.m.

Women’s Side of the Bracket:

  • Opening Round – April 14, 8 p.m. to April 15, 7:59 p.m.
  • Round of 16 – April 16, 8 p.m. to April 17, 7:59 p.m.
  • Quarterfinal Round – April 18, 8 p.m. to April 19, 7:59 p.m.
  • Semifinal Round – April 20, 8 p.m. to April 21, 7:59 p.m.
  • Championship Round – April 22, 8 p.m. to April 23, 7:59 p.m.

NOTE: The Championship Round will be conducted during the same time frame (April 22 – April 23) for both sides of the  tournament bracket. 


Selection Committee

  • Kirsten Peters, Co-Sports Editor
  • Ben Mandell, Co-Sports Editor
  • Kevin Singhel, Asst. Sports Editor
  • Parker Dorsey, News Editor
  • Ariel Reed, Staff Writer
  • Dylan Mehl, Staff Writer
  • Mike Osayi, Staff Writer


The staff made their athlete selections consistent with the following criteria:

  1. Primary criteria: Contributed significantly to the team during their respective (i.e. starter or other significant roles – 6th man, libero, etc…) and/or to the success of the team. Statistics and award/other honors related to each athlete may be used.
  2. Secondary criteria: Exhibited some/all of the following positive qualities on and off the court/field/ice: Leadership, teamwork, communication, commitment and loyalty, work ethic, ambassadorship – good representative of the sport and of the school, respect for coach, teammates, opponents and officials, fair play/honor, sportsmanship and balancing of athletic and academic life.
  3. Tiebreaking criteria: In the case where two or more athletes fulfill the criteria above equally, a tie may be broken by looking at total contribution in that year to the school athletic program (i.e. excelled at more than one varsity athletic program, or contributed in other ways, such as coaching, refereeing, etc.)


Bracketing rules:

  1. Each bracket will consist of 24 athletes: 15 of which are previous Athlete of the Week award winners, as well as nine at-large selections. Both male and female brackets will have 24 athletes.
  2. The top eight seeds will receive first-round byes.
  3. Due to the unfortunate cancellation of the spring athletic season for all respective teams, spring athletes are not being included in the bracket, except for Athlete of the Week selection Ashley Burkhardt from the women’s lacrosse team. Due to the circumstance, she will be awarded the lowest possible seed at 24 on the women’s side.
  4. When possible, the committee should avoid placing two or more student-athletes from the same team with the potential to meet in the Round of 16.
  5. Multi-sport athletes may only receive one entry. The selection committee will decide the number of sports an athlete may represent on a case-by-case basis. In determining seeding for multi-sport athletes, all sports can be taken into account. Multi-sport athletes can be selected based on their performance for only one sport, which will be listed first on the tournament bracket next to their name.


Twitter Poll tournament rules:

  • All polls will be conducted using the @WilkesBeacon Twitter Platform.
  • Polls will begin each day at 8 p.m. and will conclude at 7:59 p.m. the following day.
  • In the case of a tie, the higher-seeded athlete will advance to the next round. 
  • Any use of automated Twitter accounts is prohibited and is against Twitter’s Terms of Service.
  • The Beacon staff reserves the right to rule on any incident not listed here. The staff’s decision is final.


For coverage of the 2019-2020 Athlete of the Year tournament, follow the listed Twitter accounts:

  • Kirsten Peters – @kirstenpetersss 
  • Ben Mandell – @BenMandell55
  • Kevin Singhel – @KevinSinghel
  • Parker Dorsey – @The_Dorsinator
  • Dylan Mehl – @DylanMehl
  • Ariel Reed – @arielreed30
  • Mike Osayi – @BigMikeOsayi