Alia Armstrong and Tyjae Spears honored as New Orleans’ top amateur athletes

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Alia Armstrong and Tyjae Spears

Allstate Sugar Bowl Recognizes LSU Track All-American and Tulane Football Star

NEW ORLEANS – Alia Armstrong, an All-American hurdler from LSU, and Tyjae Spears, the star running back for the Tulane football team, have been selected as the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Outstanding Amateur Athletes from the Greater New Orleans area for 2022-23.

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Hall of Fame class. Overall, 24 individuals and three teams will be honored for their 2022-23 achievements at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Awards Banquet on August 5. Honorees are currently being announced over a two-week period, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for the top male and female amateur athletes in the state on Friday, July 28.

Armstrong, a graduate of St. Katherine Drexel, continued her collegiate dominance in 2023. The junior star for the LSU Tigers ran the fastest all-conditions 100-meter hurdle time in collegiate history with a mark of 12.31 seconds in the semifinals of the SEC Outdoor Championships. In the finals, she turned in a non-wind-aided time of 12.40 seconds, which ranks third in NCAA history and is the SEC record. In addition to winning gold in that event, she was part of LSU’s winning 4×100-meter relay team. Following the SEC Championships, Armstrong posted the fastest legal time of the day (12.59) in the 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA East Regionals to qualify for nationals where she earned a third-place finish with a time of 12.49 seconds to earn her fourth First Team All-America distinction. She also helped the Tigers’ 4×100 relay team to a third-place finish to add more All-America recognition.

Spears helped lead Tulane’s football team to its magical 2022 season that resulted in its first AAC championship, a thrilling 46-45 victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl, and the No. 9 final ranking in the AP Poll. The Green Wave set an FBS record with a 10-game win improvement in one season. Spears led the team and placed second in the conference with 1,581 rushing yards. His rushing yards were the second-most in a single season in school history as were his 19 rushing touchdowns. Spears’ 19 rushing touchdowns led the conference and ranked third nationally. His school-record average of 6.9 yards per carry ranked second in the conference and fifth in the nation. He topped 100 yards in rushing nine times including the final eight games of the campaign. He was honored as the AAC Offensive Player of the Year and was named the Cotton Bowl’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player after running for 205 yards and four TDs.

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee has recognized the top amateur athletes from the New Orleans area since 1978. Armstrong also earned the honor last year as she becomes the sixth female to be selected multiple times. Spears is the first Tulane football player to be honored since Matt Forté in 2007.

In addition to the committee-selected award-winners, a fan vote was conducted for the first time. The fans’ choice for the New Orleans Athlete of the Year on the male side was Seth Alexander (Xavier University Track & Field) while Ellie Schneider (Country Day Volleyball/Basketball/Softball) was the female winner. Alexander made history by becoming XULA’s first NAIA national champion in track and field when he won the triple jump with a school-record distance of 15.39 meters/50 feet 6 inches – he was the only jumper at nationals to reach 50 feet. Schneider, who is committed to play volleyball at Kansas, led Country Day to the LHSAA Division V volleyball state championship and was also a star for the Cajuns’ basketball and softball teams.

The other finalists for New Orleans’ Outstanding Female Amateur Athlete honor were Carla Bernat (Tulane Golf) and Kristen O’Handley (Tulane Track & Field). Bernat, a sophomore who climbed as high as No. 6 in the GolfStat NCAA Division I women’s golf rankings, became the first Tulane golfer to earn American Athletic Conference Golfer of the Year honors. O’Handley, a star in the pentathlon, became Tulane’s first indoor track All-American since 2016 and then followed that by earning All-America recognition at the outdoor track national championships.

Additional finalists for New Orleans’ Outstanding Male Athlete were Harlem Berry (St. Martin’s Football/Basketball/Track) and D’Wanye’ Winfield (Lutcher Football). Berry, just a sophomore, ran for 2,277 yards and 37 touchdowns to lead St. Martin’s football to the best season in school history as it advanced to the LHSAA state semifinals for the first time ever. Winfield, who will play at the University of Louisiana, led his Bulldogs to the Division II Non-Select LHSAA State Championship as he rushed for 2,477 yards on 318 attempts and scored 38 touchdowns, while passing for 2,180 yards and 32 more touchdowns.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl will continue announcing its annual awards tomorrow (Wednesday) with the Jimmy Collins Awards.

Outstanding Boys’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Cullen Doody, Jesuit Cross Country

Outstanding Girls’ Prep Coach of the Year, New Orleans: Chris Prator, St. Scholastica Swimming

Outstanding Female Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Alia Armstrong, LSU Track & Field

Outstanding Male Amateur Athlete, New Orleans: Tyjae Spears, Tulane Football

Jimmy Collins Special Awards: July 19 (Wednesday)

Outstanding Boys’ Prep Team, New Orleans: July 20 (Thursday)

Outstanding Girls’ Prep Team, New Orleans: July 20 (Thursday)

Outstanding Collegiate Coach, Louisiana: July 21 (Friday)

Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 24 (Monday)

Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 25 (Tuesday)

Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 26 (Wednesday)

Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 Inductee: July 27 (Thursday)

Corbett Award – Female: July 28 (Friday)

Corbett Award – Male: July 28 (Friday)

The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee came together when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month and a variety of annual award winners. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month as well as a range of annual awards – the honors enter their 67th year in 2023.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 102 Hall of Fame players, 52 Hall of Fame coaches and 21 Heisman Trophy winners in its 89-year history. The 90th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2024. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting nearly $2.4 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit

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