Arkansas Tech's Matt Johnson and Sarah Von Lienen earn GSC awards

From Arkansas Tech University

For the third consecutive season and the 12th time in the last 15 years, Arkansas Tech University has had at least one of its student-athletes named as a Gulf South Conference "Top Ten" student-athlete for the 2010-11 school year.

This season, the GSC recognized two Tech student-athletes as "Top Ten" honorees as senior baseball player Matt Johnson and senior volleyball player Sarah Von Lienen were selected. It marks the fourth time since 1997 that Tech has had two student-athletes named as "Top Ten" honorees in the same year and the first time since former football player Paul Peletz and former volleyball player Bridget Pyles were both honored by the league in 2001.

With their selections, Johnson and Von Lienen become the 15th and 16th representatives on the prestigious list since 1997.

"What a tremendous way for us to close out our tenure as a member of the Gulf South Conference by having two of our student-athletes honored as "Top Ten" selections," Tech Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Steve Mullins said. "These two outstanding student-athletes are truly deserving of this accolade and we're extremely proud of their accomplishments."

The GSC "Top Ten" recognizes the top five male and female student-athletes as the cream of the crop in the conference, which consisted of 14 member institutions this past school year. The top male and female student-athletes in the league receive the prestigious Commissioner's Trophy.

The presentations of this year's winners will be made at the GSC's Annual Awards Banquet on Monday, June 20, at the Hilton Birmingham Hotel in Birmingham, Ala., at 6:30 p.m. In addition to honoring the "Top Ten" honorees, the conference will announce the winners of the Commissioner's Trophies, recognize its All-Sports Trophy champions (Harding for the men and West Florida for the women).

The selections for the "Top Ten" award were made by a panel of administrators from within the GSC. The panel selects who it feels are the five most outstanding males and five most outstanding females based on athletic, academic and extracurricular achievement during the 2010-11 academic year.

Johnson, a senior from Grand Saline, Texas, became Tech's first-ever First-Team Rawlings/ABCA Division II All-America selection in baseball and also became the first-ever Wonder Boy to earn GSC West Division Baseball Player of the Year accolades. This past season, Johnson, who was a 23rd round selection in the Major League Baseball Draft earlier this month by the Tampa Bay Rays, finished third in the voting for the 2011 Tino Martinez Division II Player of the Year Award after leading Division II in hits (99), runs scored (79) and scoring (1.55) and setting new single-season school marks for hits, runs scored, total bases (156) and stolen bases (37) and ended the season with a school-record 34-game hitting streak, which is the third longest streak in GSC history. The centerfielder finished the season hitting .454, including hitting .506 and slugging .840 in 19 league games. He was named a unanimous First-Team All-GSC West Division selection for the second straight year and was also a First-Team All-South Region honoree from Daktronics, NCBWA and the ABCA and earned Second-Team All-America honors from Daktronics and the NCBWA and also named to the College Baseball Lineup Division II All-Star Team and was also a Rawlings "Gold Glove" award winner from the South Region.

Along with his athletic accolades, Johnson, who carried a 3.13 cumulative grade point average in health and physical education, was a two-time member of the GSC Baseball Academic Honor Roll, a two-time Tech Academic Champion and was also on the Dean's List this past spring. In addition, he also spent one year on the school's Student Athlete Advisory Committee and was also a representative from Tech at the Arkansas-APHERD Conference.

Joining Johnson as male "Top Ten" honorees this season are North Alabama senior pitcher Trey Mitchell, Valdosta State senior tennis player Philip Pakebusch, Alabama-Huntsville junior guard Josh Magette and West Florida junior soccer player Frank Cope.

Von Lienen, a senior from Lakeland, Tenn., earns her "Top Ten" honor after being named an Honorable Mention AVCA All-American and the 2010 GSC West Division Player of the Year. In addition, Von Lienen, who was a three-time First-Team All-GSC West Division selection and the GSC West Division Freshman of the Year in 2007, was also named a First-Team Daktronics and AVCA All-South Region honoree and was also named to the GSC All-Tournament Team after helping the Golden Suns to its first tournament win since 2002. This past season, Von Lienen led the Golden Suns in kills (406), kills per set (3.76) and blocks (91) and also hit .341 in 108 sets played and was named a GSC West Division Player of the Week three times and earned 14 weekly Player of the Week honors from the league in four-year Tech career. In her career, she finished fourth on the school's all-time kill chart (1,436), second on the career hitting percentage chart (.317) and second on the school's Division II era block chart (477) and stands fifth on the school's career block chart.

Along with her athletic accomplishments, Von Lienen, who graduated with a fine arts degree and carried a 3.48 cumulative grade point average, was a two-time selection to the GSC Volleyball All-Academic Team, a four-time member of the GSC Academic Honor Roll and was named a Second-Team Capital One Academic All-District VI College Division honoree in 2010. On campus, the 6-foot-2 middle blocker served as a coordinator for the National Girls and Women's in Sports Day Clinic, which helped Tech win an NCAA Community Engagement Award and she also helped promote Tech's Literacy Night event by working with elementary school students.

Joining Von Lienen as female "Top Ten" honorees this season are Southern Arkansas senior middle hitter Maggie Glover, Arkansas-Monticello junior pitcher Kayla Jackson, West Florida senior tennis player Taylor Brewster and North Alabama junior soccer player Nikki Brown.

Von Lienen becomes the just the sixth female student-athlete to named to the GSC "Top Ten" since 1997 and the first since former Golden Sun two-time All-America basketball player Amanda Grappe was honored in 2009. Tech's first female student-athlete named to the GSC's "Top Ten" was former Golden Sun volleyball player Jamie Hatchett (Fort Smith, Ark.) in 1999. In addition, Von Lienen is the third different Golden Sun volleyball player to earn "Top Ten" honors.

In addition to the six female student-athletes named GSC "Top Ten" honorees, Tech has now had eight different male student-athletes honored since former Wonder Boy baseball player Bryant Richardson (Russellville, Ark.) began the tradition in 1997. Former Wonder Boy baseball player David Ciesla (Pottsville, Ark.) was honored in 1998, while football players Stuart Cash (Lonoke, Ark.), Paul Peletz (Bentonville, Ark.) and B.J. Bayer (Gentry, Ark.) have also been honored. Cash was a two-time selection in 1999 and 2000, while Peletz was named in 2001 and Bayer was selected in 2002. Former Wonder Boy football player Jonathan Hayes (Sheridan, Ark.) was honored as he was a two-time GSC "Top Ten" honoree in 2004 and 2005 and was selected as the league's Commissioner's Trophy winner in 2005 and the most recent Tech male student-athlete selected as a "Top Ten" recipient was former Wonder Boy guard Brandon Friedel, who was honored last season.