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Matson and O’Connor Win Patterson Medals

This year’s winners mark the 100th class of Patterson Medals.

Northwestern v North Carolina

The Patterson Medal, which recognizes the University of North Carolina’s exceptional student-athletes, has been awarded this year to Erin Matson, a three-time field hockey National Player of the Year, and Austin O’Connor, a two-time wrestling national champion.

Established in 1924 by Dr. Joseph Patterson as a tribute to his brother, John Durand Patterson, the medal is primarily awarded based on an athlete’s career achievements. It is considered UNC’s highest athletic honor.

To be eligible, recipients must have participated in at least three seasons for North Carolina Tar Heels and completed their collegiate eligibility. Not only are athletic accomplishments taken into account, but also sportsmanship and leadership qualities when selecting the recipients of this prestigious award.

Matson is recognized as one of the most accomplished student-athletes in Carolina history. She earned a trifecta of National Player of the Year titles in 2019, 2020, and 2022, and was the only player to claim ACC Player-of-the-Year honors a remarkable five times.

Throughout her illustrious career, Matson earned first-team All-America and All-ACC distinctions in all five seasons. She became the first-ever Carolina field hockey player to achieve National Player-of-the-Year recognition for three consecutive seasons.

Matson led UNC to national championships in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022, and finished her career as the ACC’s all-time leader in points and goals, finishing third overall in NCAA history.

In 2021, O’Connor secured his first NCAA title in the 149-pound weight class, then winning the national championship in 2023 in the 157-pound division. This historic achievement made O’Connor the first Tar Heel wrestler since T.J. Jaworsky (winner of three consecutive titles from 1993 to 1995) to claim multiple national championships, solidifying his place in Carolina wrestling history.

O’Connor earned the ACC Wrestler of the Year award in both 2021 and 2023, joining an elite group as the second Tar Heel and seventh overall recipient to achieve this distinction multiple times. He was named a finalist for the prestigious National Wrestler of the Year award in 2023.

Adding to his accolades, O’Connor was Carolina’s tenth three-time conference champion. Over his remarkable career, he earned 131 victories, with an impressive record of 31-3 against ACC competition.

100 Years of Patterson Medal Winners

1924— Monk McDonald (men’s basketball, football, baseball)

1925— M.D. Bonner (football)

1926— Jack Cobb (men’s basketball)

1927— Ad Warren (football, boxing, wrestling)

1928— Galen Elliott (men’s track and field)

1929— Henry Satterfield (men’s basketball)

1930— Ray Farris Sr. (football, boxing, baseball)

1931— Henry House (football, baseball)

1932— Staton McIver (football)

1933— Stuart Chandler (football)

1934— Virgil Weathers (men’s basketball)

1935— Harry Williamson (men’s track and field)

1936— Harry Montgomery (football)

1937— R.D. Buck (football)

1938— Andy Bershak (football, men’s basketball)

1939— George Nethercutt (baseball)

1940— George Stirnweiss (football, baseball)

1941— Paul Severin (football, men’s basketball)

1942— Bobby Gersten (men’s basketball, baseball)

1943— Carlyle Thomas Mangum (men’s track and field)

1944— Denny Hammond (men’s swimming)

1945— E.B. Schulz (men’s track and field)

1946— Jim Jordan (men’s basketball)

1947— Walt Pupa (football)

1948— Jim Camp (football)

1949— Vic Seixas (men’s tennis)

1950— Charlie Justice (football)

1951— Jimmy Thomas (men’s swimming)

1952— Cecil Milton (men’s swimming, men’s tennis)

1953— Chalmers Port (baseball, football)

1954— Miles Gregory (football, wrestling)

1955— Albert Long Jr. (baseball, football, men’s basketball, men’s track and field)

1956— Jerry Vayda (men’s basketball)

1957— Lennie Rosenbluth (men’s basketball)

1958— Buddy Payne (football)

1959— Dave Scurlock (men’s track and field)

1960— Jack Cummings (football)

1961— Rip Hawkins (football)

1962— Ray Farris Jr. (football)

1963— Joe Craver (football)

1964— Bill Haywood (baseball, men’s soccer)

1965— Harrison Merrill (men’s swimming)

1966— John Shaw (baseball)

1967— Danny Talbott (football, baseball)

1968— Larry Miller (men’s basketball)

1969— Bill Bunting (men’s basketball)

1970— Charlie Scott (men’s basketball)

1971— Don McCauley (football)

1972— Dennis Wuycik (men’s basketball)

1973— George Karl (men’s basketball)

1974— Tony Waldrop (men’s track and field)

1975— Charles Waddell (football, men’s track and field, men’s basketball)

1976— Mitch Kupchak (men’s basketball)

1977— Walter Davis (men’s basketball)

1978— Phil Ford (men’s basketball)

1979— Greg Norris (baseball)

1980— Bonny Brown (women’s swimming)

1981— Lawrence Taylor (football), Al Wood (men’s basketball)

1982— C.D. Mock (wrestling)

1983— David Drechsler (football)

1984— Sue Walsh (women’s swimming)

1985— Ethan Horton (football)

1986— Brad Daugherty (men’s basketball)

1987— Kenny Smith (men’s basketball)

1988— Rob Koll (wrestling)

1989— Jeff Lebo (men’s basketball)

1990— Shannon Higgins (women’s soccer)

1991— Sharon Couch (women’s track and field)

1992— Dwight Hollier (football)

1993— Kristine Lilly (women’s soccer)

1994— Mia Hamm (women’s soccer)

1995— Tisha Venturini (women’s soccer)

1996— Marcus Jones (football)

1997— Debbie Keller (women’s soccer)

1998— Antawn Jamison (men’s basketball), Cindy Werley (field hockey)

1999— Ebenezer Ekuban (football), Cindy Parlow (women’s soccer)

2000— Lorrie Fair (women’s soccer), Tripp Phillips (men’s tennis)

2001— Meredith Florance (women’s soccer), Brendan Haywood (men’s basketball)

2002— Katie Hathaway (women’s swimming), Danny Jackson (men’s soccer)

2003— Matt Crawford (men’s soccer), Laura Greene (volleyball)

2004— Shalane Flanagan (women’s track and field and cross country), Nicholas Monroe (men’s tennis), Catherine Reddick (women’s soccer)

2005— Jed Prossner (men’s lacrosse), Alice Schmidt (women’s track and field and cross country)

2006— Laura Gerraughty (women’s track and field), Andrew Miller (baseball)

2007— Ivory Latta (women’s basketball), Heather O’Reilly (women’s soccer), Robert Woodard (baseball)

2008— Rachel Dawson (field hockey), Chad Flack (baseball)

2009— Dustin Ackley (baseball), Yael Averbuch (women’s soccer), Tyler Hansbrough (men’s basketball)

2010— Whitney Engen (women’s soccer), Casey Nogueira (women’s soccer), Chip Peterson (men’s swimming)

2011— Corey Donohoe (women’s lacrosse), Mateo Sossah (men’s track and field), T.J. Yates (football)

2012— Katelyn Falgowksi (field hockey), Tyler Zeller (men’s basketball)

2013— Kara Cannizzaro (women’s lacrosse), Jonathan Cooper (football)

2014­— Crystal Dunn (women’s soccer), Eric Ebron (football)

2015— Caroline Price (women’s tennis), Joey Sankey (men’s lacrosse)

2016— Kristen Brown (softball), Marcus Paige (men’s basketball), Emily Wold (field hockey)

2017— Hayley Carter (women’s tennis), Justin Jackson (men’s basketball), Ryan Switzer (football)

2018— Joel Berry II (men’s basketball), Marie McCool (women’s lacrosse), Kenny Selmon (men’s track and field)

2019– Ashley Hoffman (field hockey), Luke Maye (men’s basketball)

2020– William Blumberg (men’s tennis), Marissa Creatore (field hockey)

2021 — Michael Carter (football), Sara Daavettila (women’s tennis), Katie Hoeg (women’s lacrosse)

2022 — Chris Gray (men’s lacrosse), Sam Howell (football), Jamie Ortega (women’s lacrosse)

2023 — Erin Matson (field hockey), Austin O’Connor (wrestling)

Recipients by Sport: Football 38, Men’s Basketball 32, Baseball 16, Women’s Soccer 14, Men’s Track and Field 10, Field Hockey 7, Women’s Lacrosse 5, Men’s Swimming and Diving 5, Men’s Tennis 5, Wrestling 5, Women’s Track and Field 4, Men’s Lacrosse 3, Men’s Soccer 3, Women’s Swimming and Diving 3, Women’s Tennis 3, Boxing 2, Women’s Basketball 1, Softball 1, Volleyball 1