JONESBORO, AR (ASU) - The Arkansas State Athletics Department honored its senior student-athletes and announced its major award winners for 2014-15 at the third annual "The stAte Awards" Monday night at the Convocation Center.
The event began at approximately 5:00 p.m. with a "red carpet walk" by the coaches and student-athletes at the Convo entrance, where they had photos taken and conducted interviews that appeared on the facility video boards. The event also included a buffet dinner before the program began with introductory remarks from A-State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir.
Mohajir discussed many of the academic and athletic accolades by A-State student-athletes this year, but placed a large focus on the Red Wolves' first-time accomplishments. The academic highlights included a 3.047 all-department GPA and 208 student-athletes earning a spot on the Athletic Director's Honor Roll for the 2014 fall semester, which were both school records. A-State also achieved its highest ever department-wide APR multi-year score with a 968 and had a school-record five programs achieve a perfect 1000 multi-year score.
Among the competitive highlights so far this season was the women's basketball team playing in back-to-back Sun?Belt Conference Tournament championship games for the first time in school history and advancing to the postseason WNIT. The men's indoor track and field team won its first outright Sun Belt Conference championship since 2000, the women's bowling team made its eighth consecutive appearance in the NCAA?Championships and the football team played in its fourth straight bowl game as well.
Addressing the student-athletes, Mohajir also spoke highly of the "Red Wolves Leadership Academy Program," which was designed with the sole purpose to obtain 100 percent job placement for all the athletics department's student-athletes upon graduation. That key initiative was recently obtained with the Red Wolves' latest class of graduates.
A-State head track and field coach Jim Patchell, who was named the 2015 Sun Belt Conference Indoor Coach of the Year, and SAAC President Katie Hosea both also addressed the crowd. Mohajir presented this year's AD?Service Award to Dr.?Nonie Wiggins, an Arkansas State University alumna and associate professor of nursing who has served the last 14 years as the Red Wolves' faculty athletics representative.
A highlight video celebrating the 2014-15 seasons for all 16 Red Wolves' sports was shown on the arena video boards and was followed by the presentation of several honors. ?In between some of the recognitions, video skits designed by each team were also played.
The women's soccer and women's tennis teams were recognized for winning the Sun Belt Conference Team GPA awards, while the women's golf squad earned the Athletics Director's Honor Roll recognition. The athletics department also recognized the A-State cheerleaders, Red Wolves Dancers and band members for their accomplishments and high involvement with A-State Athletics.
Individual awards announced included the Terry Gwin Award and the Scott and Kay Dawson Ambassador Award, two of the most prestigious honors an A-State student-athlete can receive.
Junior guard and Sun?Belt Conference Women's Basketball Player of the year Aundrea Gamble and sophomore track and field athlete Roelf Pienaar, an All-America selection, were named the recipients fo the Terry Gwin Award. The award is named after former football player Terry Gwin and based on leadership, citizenship, scholarship and athletic performance.
The Scott and Kay Dawson Award winners were senior women's basketball player Hanna Qedan and senior football player Kenny Rains. The criteria for the award includeds but is not limited to excellence in service, attitude, integrity, loyalty, character and leadership.
A-State student-athletes nominated for Sun?Belt Conference awards were honored at the ceremony as well. Gamble and Pienaar are nominated for the Sun Belt Conference Female and Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Qedan and senior track and field student-athlete Ethan Sandusky are nominated for the SBC?Postgraduate Scholarship Award. Jordan Adams from the women's soccer team is A-State's institutional representative for the SBC?Leadership Team.
The H.T. "Pug" Winters Degree Completion Award went to Joey Meyer (men's track and field) and Jena Kelley (women's soccer), the Ike Tomlinson Award went to Chandler Hawkins (baseball), and the Billie Gene Davidson Degree Completion Award was presented to Sterling Young (football). The Red Wolves' 2014-15 female Freshman of the Year winner was Jadee Scott-Jones (bowling), while the male Freshman of the Year was Jaylen Bacon (track and field).