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Record 81 Student-Athletes Receive Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards

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Tomas Hanzlik
July 20, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Penn State student-athletes have smashed another academic record, with 81 Nittany Lions earning Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2015-16 academic year.

The school record total is an increase of 12 from last year's total of 69 (+14.8%) and easily eclipsed the previous mark of 73 honorees in 2013-14. Penn State's four highest Distinguished Scholar totals have come in the past four years.

The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award is presented to student-athletes who have recorded a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher during the previous academic year and are letterwinners. (Complete list of Penn State honorees below).

The 81 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars continues what has been a record-setting year for Penn State student-athletes, including: 516 students with a 3.0 grade-point average during the 2015 fall semester, 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees and a record-tying 109 graduates in May.

The Nittany Lions' 81 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars in 2015-16 were second-highest in the conference.

Penn State's highest Big Ten Distinguished Scholar totals:
2015-16: 81
2013-14: 73
2014-15: 69
2012-13: 68

Nine of the 81 Nittany Lion student-athletes posted perfect 4.0 grade point averages this past year: Tomas Hanzlik, men's tennis; Lauren Kenney, women's track and field; Haley Kerstetter, field hockey; Geno Morelli, wrestling; Emily Ogle, women's soccer; Noah Roberson, men's gymnastics; Abby Smucker, women's lacrosse; Sarah Jane Underwood, women's track and field and Devon Van Cura, wrestling.

Also among Penn State's Distinguished Scholars were five members of the NCAA Champion wrestling team, including first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American and 2016 national champion, Nico Megaludis. Four members of the Nittany Lions' NCAA Women's Soccer Championship squad were Distinguished Scholars, including 2016 co-captain Megan Schafer, as were CoSIDA Academic All-Americans Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) and Tyler Yazujian (football).

Twenty-seven of Penn State's 31 programs had at least one Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. The women's hockey team topped the Nittany Lions' list with 10 recipients. The women's swimming and diving squad had nine honorees, women's track and field had eight, women's lacrosse had six and the softball and wrestling teams had five recipients apiece.

The Nittany Lions have had 507 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars since the program was established by the Big Ten Faculty Representatives in 2008-09 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program.

Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution. The Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.

The record 81 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars adds to another banner academic and athletic year for Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics. Nittany Lion student-athletes, who have captured 24 Big Ten Championships and seven NCAA titles since September 2012, consistently have been among the most successful in the nation in earning their degrees and academic success. Among some of the recent academic accomplishments are:

  • A school record 299 student-athletes garnered Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 2015-16, eclipsing the previous high of 296 from 2012-13. In addition to the overall record, Nittany Lion student-athletes broke school marks for winter (79) and spring/at-large (140) honorees. Penn State leads all Big Ten institutions with 5,576 Academic all-conference honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports.
  • During the 2015 fall semester, a school record 516 of the approximately 800 Penn State student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 GPA (63 percent). A spring semester record 482 Nittany Lion student-athletes earned at least a 3.0 GPA during the most recent semester.
  • Four Penn State student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2015-16: Nico Megaludis (wrestling), Zain Retherford (wrestling), Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) and Tyler Yazujian (football). Penn State's 193 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time rank No. 4 among Division I institutions.
  • A school record-tying 109 Penn State student-athletes graduated this past spring. Including the 2015 fall semester, 140 Nittany Lions had earned their diplomas this year as of May, with approximately 15 more on schedule to graduate in August.
  • In April, the NCAA reported that four Penn State teams have perfect four-year Academic Progress Rate scores of 1,000 and that 13 Nittany Lion squads earned perfect APR scores in 2014-15, up from 10 the previous year.
  • Last October, the NCAA's annual study of institutions across the nation revealed Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to the 83 percent average for all Division I institutions.
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Penn State's 2015-16 Distinguished Scholar Award recipients (4.0 GPA students in bold):

Name Year Major Sport
Alex Malinsky Sr. Accounting Baseball
William Cather So. Business Administration Men's Cross Country/T&F
Conrad Lippert Sr. Finance Men's Cross Country/T&F
Cara Ulizio Jr. Supply Chain and Information Systems Women's Cross Country/T&F
Karl Oskar Tang Jr. Industrial Engineering Men's Fencing
Brianne Cavaliere Sr. Animal Sciences Women's Fencing
Clarisse Luminet Gr. Educational Theory and Policy Women's Fencing
Carly Celko Jr. Rehabilitation and Human Services Field Hockey
Haley Kerstetter Sr. Advertising/Public Relations Field Hockey
Jordan Dudas Sr. Kinesiology Football
Ben Kline Gr. International Affairs Football
Tyler Yazujian Sr. Security and Risk Analysis Football
Halley Morel Sr. Communication Arts and Sciences Women's Golf
Noah Roberson So. Engineering Men's Gymnastics
Nicole Medvitz Jr. Management Women's Gymnastics
Briannah Tsang So. Biobehavioral Health Women's Gymnastics
David Thompson Jr. Finance Men's Hockey
Michael Williamson Jr. Kinesiology Men's Hockey
Jeanette Bateman Sr. Accounting Women's Hockey
Laura Bowman Jr. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Women's Hockey
Hannah Ehresmann So. Business Administration Women's Hockey
Paige Jahnke Sr. Communication Arts and Sciences Women's Hockey
Emily Laurenzi Sr. Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Women's Hockey
Remi Martin So. Biobehavioral Health Women's Hockey
Jordin Pardoski Sr. Human Development and Family Studies Women's Hockey
Amy Petersen Jr. Risk Management Women's Hockey
Kelly Seward Jr. Geography Women's Hockey
Sarah Wilkie Sr. Health Policy and Administration Women's Hockey
Hunter Pearl So. Division of Undergraduate Studies Men's Lacrosse
T.J. Sanders Sr. Supply Chain and Information Systems Men's Lacrosse
Taylor Bleistein Jr. Criminology Women's Lacrosse
McKenna Coyle So. Business Administration Women's Lacrosse
Madison Day So. Biobehavioral Health Women's Lacrosse
Katie O'Donnell So. Communications Women's Lacrosse
Abby Smucker Jr. Biobehavioral Health Women's Lacrosse
Shelby Wells Jr. Kinesiology Women's Lacrosse
Sam Bollinger Jr. Chemistry Men's Soccer
Kyle MacDonald Sr. Architectural Engineering Men's Soccer
Brittany Basinger Jr. Kinesiology Women's Soccer
Teddy Chase Sr. Animal Sciences Women's Soccer
Emily Ogle So. Health and Human Development Women's Soccer
Megan Schafer So. Communication Sciences and Disorders Women's Soccer
Reina Furuya Sr. Energy Business and Finance Softball
Shannon Good Sr. Chemical Engineering Softball
Lexi Knief Sr. Journalism Softball
Erin Pond Sr. Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Softball
Christy Von Pusch Sr. Supply Chain and Information Systems Softball
Matthew Grillo Sr. Journalism Men's Swimming/Diving
Alyson Ackman Sr. Kinesiology Women's Swimming/Diving>
Tommie Dillione So. Division of Undergraduate Studies Women's Swimming/Diving
Mackenzie Hornibrook Jr. Supply Chain and Information Systems Women's Swimming/Diving
McKayla Mawn So. Science Women's Swimming/Diving
Tara Rogers So. Health and Human Development Women's Swimming/Diving
Katie Saloky Jr. Biobehavioral Health Women's Swimming/Diving
Haley Sinatro Sr. Biology Women's Swimming/Diving
Katelyn Sowinski Jr. Biobehavioral Health Women's Swimming/Diving
Chelsea VanderWeele Sr. Marketing Women's Swimming/Diving
Tomas Hanzlik Sr. Accounting Men's Tennis
Aws Laaribi Jr. Economics Men's Tennis
Christian Lutschaunig Jr. Accounting Men's Tennis
Hannah Kratky So. Communications Women's Tennis
Kelly Mengel So. Communications Women's Tennis
Samantha Tutelman Jr. Finance Women's Tennis
Katherine Whiteaway Sr. Kinesiology Women's Tennis
Tessa Barrett So. Division of Undergraduate Studies Women's Track & Field
Tal Ben-Artzi Jr. Psychology Women's Track & Field
Rachael DeCecco So. Engineering Women's Track & Field
Lauren Kenney Sr. Kinesiology Women's Track & Field
Megan McCloskey So. Communications Women's Track & Field
Megan Osborne Jr. Rehabilitation and Human Services Women's Track & Field
Tichina Rhodes Jr. Rehabilitation and Human Services Women's Track & Field
Sarah Jane Underwood Sr. Supply Chain and Information Systems Women's Track & Field
Lara Caraway Sr. Kinesiology Women's Volleyball
Taylor Krause Jr. Childhood and Early Adolescent Education Women's Volleyball
Carley Muller Jr. Advertising/Public Relations Women's Volleyball
Haleigh Washington So. Philosophy Women's Volleyball
Nico Megaludis Sr. Finance Wrestling
Geno Morelli Sr. Energy Business and Finance Wrestling
Kade Moss Jr. Risk Management Wrestling
Jason Nolf So. Health and Human Development Wrestling
Devon Van Cura So. Science Wrestling


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