Penn State Student-Athletes Honored at “The Nittany’s” for Academic and Athletic Achievements

Penn State student/athletes David Goodman and Abby Smucker presented the Ernest B. McCoy/Big Ten Medal of Honor Award at The Nittanys on April 14, 2017. Photo/Craig Houtz

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For the 30th consecutive year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) recognized teams and individuals for academic achievement as Penn State student-athletes hosted, “The Nittanys.”

More than 40 Penn State student-athletes and several teams were recognized for their academic, athletic and community engagement achievements during the past year in an awards-style format. The celebration of comprehensive excellence was held Monday night on the main floor of the Bryce Jordan Center.

Sponsored by ICA’s Student-Athlete Welfare & Development unit, the event featured the presentation of several long-standing awards from the Academic Achievement Awards Banquet that was coordinated by the Morgan Academic Center for nearly 30 years.

The Nittanys were hosted by Matt McCutcheon (wrestling; Apollo, Pa,) and Angela Widlacki (women’s soccer; Naperville, Ill.).

The women’s golf team, coached by Denise St. Pierre, and the men’s tennis squad, coached by Jeff Zinn, won the Varsity ‘S’ Awards, presented to the men’s and women’s teams with the highest team GPAs.

Lois Morgan then presented the women’s golf team with the Milton K. Morgan, Jr. Highest Team GPA Award for all 31 sports, for the second time in the past four years. The combined average GPA was 3.11 among all of Penn State’s teams during the 2016 fall semester with a school record 24 teams earning a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour addressed the student-athletes who gathered on a rare open date in the Penn State competition calendar.

“Congratulations to all of you for your excellence and perseverance,” Barbour said. “What a great opportunity for us to celebrate achievements on and off the field and our senior class. You bring us a tremendous amount of passion and joy. Thank you for making Penn State nation very proud.”

Penn State student-athletes have an NCAA Graduation Success Rate of 89 percent. The Nittany Lions rank No. 4 among all Division I schools with 195 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time and lead all conference schools with 5,730 Academic All-Big Ten selections since 1991-92.

Penn State is ranked No. 2 in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings entering the final six weeks of the 2016-17 competition schedule. The Nittany Lions have won the NCAA Wrestling Championship and eight conference titles this year, with men’s volleyball capturing its 30th EIVA Tournament crown last Saturday to earn a berth in the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship, May 2-6 in Columbus, Ohio.

Malinsky and Postiglione

Receive True Grit Awards

The Nittany Lion Club annually presents the True Grit Award to two student-athletes for overcoming adversities while continuing to succeed in the classroom and on the athletic field during their careers. Women’s gymnast Christina Postiglione (Selden, N.Y.) and baseball’s Alex Malinsky (Apex, N.C.) were recognized as the recipients for the injuries they have overcome during their careers.

The SAAB Awards (Student-Athletes Above and Beyond) were presented to the male and female student-athletes who have a positive attitude and live and breathe everything Penn State. The recipients were Sarah Piazza (Women’s Lacrosse; Bel Air, Md.) and men’s hockey’s Ricky DeRosa (Aston, Pa.).

The Phoenix Award was presented for the second time to a student-athlete that had a challenging start academically, but is excelling in the classroom. The recipient was Jessica O’Neill-Lyublinsky (women’s fencing; North Salem, N.Y.).

Celkos and Widlacki

Earn THON Awards

Two Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) Awards were presented. Carly Celkos (field hockey; Berlin, N.J.) was recognized for raising more than $6,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund in 2016-17. Angela Widlacki received SAAB’s THON Spirit Award for the second consecutive year. Celkos danced for the 46 hours in THON in February and Widlacki danced in THON 2016.

The efforts of Celkos, Widlacki and other student-athletes helped SAAB raise nearly $60,000 for THON this year, the organization’s second-highest total ever.

Penn State’s Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship recipients were recognized at the Nittanys – Casey Francis (women’s swimming and diving; East Meadow, N.Y.) and Geno Morelli (wrestling; DuBois, Pa). Morelli also earned the Big Ten’s Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship earlier this year.

The Nittany Lions’ Ernest B. McCoy Award winners

also were honored —

David Goodwin (Men’s hockey; St. Louis, Mo.) and Abby Smucker (Women’s Lacrosse; Bel Air, Md.). The McCoy Award has been presented annually since 1971 to one senior female and one senior male student-athlete who have combined successful athletic participation with academic excellence.

The CHAMPS Cup Awards for community outreach were presented for the 11th time. Claiming the small teams (20 or fewer on roster) award was the field hockey team. The large teams (20 or more on roster) award went to the Nittany Lion football team’s offensive unit for the third consecutive year.

Also presented for the second time was the Nittany All-Academic Team, given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average on each team. The recipients were:

Nittany All-Academic Team (Individual highest cumulative GPA on each team)

Baseball: Alex Malinsky

Men’s Basketball: Isaiah Washington

Women’s Basketball: Peyton Whitted

Men’s Cross Country: Jordan Makins

Women’s Cross Country: Cara Ulizio

Men’s Fencing: Alfred Galeno

Women’s Fencing: Julia Higson

Field Hockey: Carly Celkos

Football: Gordon Bentley

Men’s Golf: Cody Cox

Women’s Golf: Kate Granahan

Men’s Gymnastics: Noah Roberson

Women’s Gymnastics: Nicole Medvitz

Men’s Hockey: David Thompson

Women’s Hockey: Amy Petersen

Men’s Lacrosse: Hunter Pearl

Women’s Lacrosse: Madison Day

Men’s Soccer: Sam Bollinger

Women’s Soccer: Brittany Basinger

Softball: Jessica Haug

Men’s Swimming & Diving: Andrew Schuehler

Women’s Swimming & Diving: McKayla Mawn

Men’s Tennis: Christian Lutschaunig

Women’s Tennis: Samantha Tutelman

Men’s Track & Field: Jordan Makins

Women’s Track & Field: Kayla Zoschg

Men’s Volleyball: Matthew McLaren

Women’s Volleyball: Haleigh Washington

Wrestling: Devon Van Cura