Fla. (SunBeltSports.org) - The Sun Belt Conference honored the academic and athletic
achievements of its schools and student-athletes on Tuesday night during
the conference's annual spring meetings in Destin, Florida.
The 2014 Vic Bubas Cup, given to the school gaining the most cumulative points in the league's 17 sponsored sports, was presented to Western Kentucky University.
The 2013 Sun Belt Conference Graduation Rate Award was also handed out Tuesday night with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette winning the annual award for academic achievent from the previous year's cohort.
The Sun Belt Conference also recognized the significant accomplishments of four student-athletes at its annual Tuesday evening Honors Banquet. The conference announced Arkansas State's Sharika Nelvis and Georgia State's R.J. Hunter as the Sun Belt Athletes of the Year. Also, Troy's Courtney Cohen and South Alabama's Rush Hendricks were announced as winners of the Postgraduate Scholar Athlete of the Awards (biographies of the four student-athletes are below).
The following student-athletes were named to the Sun Belt Conference Leadership Team: Benjamin Dillard, UALR; Endsley Evans, Arkansas State; Callie Alford, Georgia State; Kaylee Nemeth, UL Lafayette; Jon Fisher, UL Monroe ; Ross Metheny, South Alabama; Darien McLemore, UT Arlington; Jourdan Brown, Texas State; Langley Vannoy, Troy; Torrie Lange, WKU. The award is given to a letter-winning student-athlete, based on leadership, sportsmanship, community service, citizenship, academic excellence and any other qualities valued by the institution. Each institution was asked to nominate a student-athlete.
The Sun Belt Conference's annual meetings include the senior staff of the conference office along with each member school's Chief Executive Officer, Faculty Athletic Representative, Athletic Director, Senior Woman Administrator, Head Football Coach, Head Men's Basketball Coach and Head Women's Basketball Coach. The meetings conclude Wednesday morning.
Sun Belt Female Athlete of the Year
Sharika Nelvis – Arkansas State – Track and Field
Winning an individual NCAA national championship does not happen overnight. Just ask Arkansas State senior Sharika Nelvis.
The award for Sun Belt Conference Female Athlete of the Year is the celebration of a career's worth of work that produced one of the most highly-acclaimed track and field seasons in league history. The hard work put in, which included perseverance through a freshman year of no competition, has resulted in one of the most decorated careers in Sun Belt Conference track and field history. Nelvis became the 2014 NCAA Indoor National Champion in the 60-meter hurdles and was named a First Team All-America in the indoor 60-meter hurdles last season.
Her journey began when she decided to pursue something that no one in her family had ever obtained: A bachelor's degree from a four-year institution. After sitting out her entire freshman year due to academic ineligibility, Nelvis dedicated herself during the year to her studies so in the future she could put that same dedication towards becoming one of the best sprinters and hurdlers in the country. Eager to get on the track her sophomore year she earned immediate honors as a Sun Belt Champion in the indoor 55-meter dash, 55-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash. She was also named the Sun Belt Track Indoor and Outdoor Outstanding Freshman in 2011.
The NCAA Championship was just the end of a long list of recognitions this year. Nelvis was also a First Team All-American in the outdoor 100-meter hurdles and Second Team All-America in two other events (indoor 200-meter, long jump) just this past year. She was named the Sun Belt Conference Most Outstanding Track Athlete following the 2013 outdoor season and 2014 indoor season. Nelvis was the conference champion in four indoor events: The 60-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash and the long jump, all in the last year.
The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame recognized Nelvis as a finalist for its annual Star of Tomorrow Award this year. In the past year she has been honored as the Sun Belt Track Athlete of the Week four times.
Hailing from Memphis, Tenn., Nelvis has excelled on the track but also
volunteered her time at the local Head Start programs in Jonesboro. In
all things, Nelvis has kept the same positive attitude that has led her
to one of the Sun Belt Conference's highest
honors following a record-setting season.