NJCAA taps 29 athletes for academic excellence

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The NJCAA recognized a record-number 4,587 student-athletes for their success in the classroom Tuesday with the presentation of the 2015-16 NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards including 29 from Holmes Community College.

Of the 57,472 student-athletes that participated in the NJCAA during the 2015-16 academic year, 7.98 percent earned national academic honors – over double the previous mark of 3.31 percent set last year.

Honoring academic performance throughout each individual's collegiate career, there are three classifications of the NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards based on the following cumulative GPA qualifications: Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence: 4.00 GPA; Superior Academic Achievement Award: 3.80-3.99 GPA; and Exemplary Academic Achievement Award: 3.60-3.79 GPA.

In a change from previous years, first-year student-athletes with at least 24 semester-hours or 36 quarter-hours became eligible for the awards in 2015-16. This modification to the award qualifications led to a 133 percent increase in the number of student-athletes earning national recognition for their academic achievements.

Of the student-athletes honored, a record 663 were presented the NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence after posting a 4.0 GPA. A total of 1,610 individuals earned the Superior Academic Achievement Award, while an additional 2,314 received the Exemplary Academic Achievement Award – both setting new records.

Mississippi community colleges garnered 23 Pinnacle awards – the most in the country – to go along with 18 Superior and 19 Exemplary. Region XXIII finished in second place in the nation with 408 recipients.

NJCAA Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence honors (4.0 GPA) included: Luis Hernandez and Cody Kirtley, men's soccer; Catherine Petro, women's soccer; and Micah Redd, softball.

NJCAA Award for Superior Academic Achievement honors (3.8 to 3.99 GPA) included: Savanna Bell and Kaylan Cooper, women's tennis; Kaitlyn Bryant, women's soccer; Jaylon George, men's soccer; Kayla Gilmore, Kaitlin Jones and Reagan Walker, softball; and Owen Taylor, men's tennis.

NJCAA Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement honors (3.60 to 3.79 GPA) included: Kaleia Lillis, Karley Poindexter, Whitney Walker, Rachel Bond and Blair Little, softball; Christian Smith, Michael Harrison, Tyler Hines, Drew Pankratz and Ben Hudson, baseball; D'Angelo Richardson and Gerald Glass, men's basketball; Mary Katherine Campbell and Kaylee Butts, women's soccer; Kyle Settlemir and Brandon Poore, football; and Oscar Olguin, men's soccer.