June 14, 2017
Southland News Release
FRISCO, Texas – Seven individual track and field student-athletes were selected among the ranks of 35 males and 41 females that comprised the 2017 Southland Conference All-Academic teams. Incarnate Word had the most names on the list with 13 selections. Then, SFA and Lamar were tied with seven selections each. Both UIW and SFA led the conference with five male nominees apiece.
Leading the men’s All-Academic Team is three-time nominee, senior Daven Murphree. Senior Lucas Akins was selected for his indoor season performance for the second year in a row, as well as the two-time selectee junior Kerry Gleason. Seniors Hunter Key and Derek Orlando made the academic lists for their final year of competition. Key and Gleason were automatic selections with their gold medal finish at the Southland Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Murphree, a native of Winnsboro, Texas, broke 17 feet in the men’s pole vault twice in this year’s outdoor season to help his fellow Lumberjacks finish second in the Southland Conference Championships. The senior finished fourth in the men’s pole vault at both the indoor and outdoor championship meets. He has placed within the top ten in every competition he has participated in this year, and then went on to qualify for the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Round. In the classroom, Murphree garnered a 3.69 GPA for his final year at SFA. He has excelled on the field and in the classroom, showing a high passion for education, earning him the 2017 Murray Shaw Award for having the highest GPA on the men’s track and field team.
Akins has had a stellar senior year at SFA. He finished his last semester of competition during the 2017 indoor season by becoming a monster in the throwing ring. Akins won the shot put event at the Air Force Indoor Team Challenge with a 57-10.5 throw, which placed him first in the Southland Conference charts going into the SLC Championship. Of the ten times he competed in 2017, he finished within the top 5 eight times. Akins graduated with a 3.33 GPA with a degree in Kinesiology.
Gleason added a second All-Academic nomination to his belt after helping his team clench the gold medal in the men’s 4x400 in the SLC Indoor Championships. The hurdles specialist also received medals for both the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles at the Outdoor Championship. Gleason also advanced to the NCAA Division I West Preliminary Round in the 400m hurdles event, where he burned a 51.97 second time to place 23rd in the region. Gleason is an active SAAC member, honored with the Jene Carter Award this year for his outstanding participation and leadership. He capped the year with a 3.00 GPA.
Key ended his senior season with a 3.425 GPA in Kinesiology after another tremendous year on the track. The native of Garrison won his first individual champion title in the decathlon this year with a 7017 total points. He posted personal bests in three events during that championship run. Key finished the year ranked 35th in the region and 60th in the nation with his personal best of 7031-points at the Texas Relays. When he is not competing, the senior is helping to coach and mentor the other multi-event athletes to help in their success. Key is a true athlete that puts his body on the line for SFA, which earned him the 2017 R.H. Shelton Award for his leadership on and off the track.
Orlando carried a 3.269 GPA through his senior year, graduating as a university scholar with a degree in business management. The native of Katy, Texas hit three new personal bests throughout the year in shot put, hammer, and weight throw. Orlando finished third in the hammer throw at the SLC Outdoor Championship, making his first Southland podium appearance of his career. He finished within the top seven in every competition he participated in 2017.
Two women were selected this year for the Southland All-Academic team: two-time honoree senior Shelby Pesek and senior Rana Ryan. Both ladies ran tremendous seasons, winning crucial points in both cross country and the outdoor season to clench the Southland Conference Team Championship in both sports.
Pesek, a product of Corpus Christi, Texas, earned the women’s Murray Shaw Award for having the highest GPA on the team with a 3.714 in graduate school. The mass communications major finished second in the 3,00m steeplechase at this year’s SLC Championships with a time of 10:30.29, breaking the school record for the second time. The senior initially bested the school’s record in 2016, and then went on to post a new personal best at her final meet to put her name in the books a second time. Pesek also had the opportunity this year to be SFA’s first participant at the prestigious Bob Larson Distance Carnival at UCLA, where among many elite athletes, she finished third in the steeplechase.
Ryan is also a record holder here at SFA. She holds the six best times for the women’s 1,500m, and now she can add All-Academic to her resume. Ryan boasts a 3.05 GPA in SFA’s outstanding Nursing program. The Roanoke native finished 11th in the SLC Cross Country Championship to win points for her team, clocking a 22:05.3 6K. The senior qualified for NCAA Division I South Central Regionals for the second year in a row. During the Indoor track season, Ryan finished 2nd in the mile run, and then took third in the 1,500m during Outdoors.
The Southland All-Academic teams are voted on by the head coaches, sports information directors, and academic advisors from each Southland University. Student-athletes must possess a 3.0 cumulative GPA, have completed one full academic year at the nomination institution and participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s competition to qualify for the all-academic squad.