Picking Eastern’s top athletes of the year

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, sports did return to many college campuses in the fall and spring, including here at Eastern.

Here are six of the top athletes of the year for Eastern in alphabetical order, as chosen by staff at The Daily Eastern News.

 

Laurel Bailey- Volleyball

Bailey was the only senior on the Eastern volleyball team this season, and she excelled on the court in that leadership position.

An outside hitter, Bailey established herself as one of the OVC’s top offensive players in a conference-only season this spring.

Bailey ranked fourth in the conference with 4.15 points per set and fifth with 3.66 kills per set, while also becoming the 29th player in program history to record at least 1,000 career digs.

 

Megan Burton- Softball

The Eastern softball team’s season is still in progress, but redshirt-junior shortstop Megan Burton has already posted one of the most impressive season’s in program history.

She set the single-season home run record for Eastern with her 13th home run on April 17, when there were still 16 games left on the schedule.

Burton has extended her record to 16, which leads the OVC and ranks ninth in all of Division I this season.

 

Jason Johnson- Football

The Eastern football team’s spring season was shorter most, having had their season finale canceled.

Despite this, sophomore linebacker Jason Johnson still managed to lead the OVC in tackles with 66.

After coming on strong at the end of his freshman season, Johnson picked up where he left off, averaging 11 tackles per game and 12.8 tackles over the last four games.

Johnson had 15 tackles against Tennessee Tech on March 21 and was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week.

He was named First Team All-OVC after the season, the first for an Eastern defender since 2016.

 

Adam Swanson- Track

Sophomore Adam Swanson has been dominant in middle-distance races this season for the Panthers.

He has been named OVC Male Track Athlete of the Week twice and leads the OVC in the 800 meter run this season with a time of 1:47.66, which is best in the conference by nearly two seconds.

It was also the third-fastest time in the NCAA and fifth-best in school history.

He also ranks second in the OVC in the 1,500 meter run and placed first in both events at the Texas Relays earlier this month.

 

Trey Sweeney- Baseball

Eastern shortstop Trey Sweeney has really come into his own at the plate this season.

The redshirt-sophomore is slashing .415/.539/.756 with 11 home runs and 51 RBI in 38 games, establishing himself as the top offensive threat in the OVC.

Sweeney has had the attention of pro scouts throughout the season and was recently featured in a piece on FanGraphs that said there are talks of him being drafted as early as the third round should he decide to go pro.

Only three Eastern baseball players have even been drafted in the first three rounds.

 

Abby Wahl- Basketball

Junior forward Abby Wahl became one of the top all-around players in the OVC last season, leading the Panthers to the OVC tournament and being named First Team All-OVC.

She averaged 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, both ranking fifth in the conference.

Last season also continued an upward trajectory for Wahl, who has greatly improved each season at Eastern. She averaged 6.3 points as a freshman and 11.8 as a sophomore before taking the team lead this season.

 

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]