UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a banner fall sports season for the Penn State University Athletic Conference on a national level. PSUAC student-athletes took home more than 100 individual awards and Penn State Fayette won the USCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship during Fall Championship Week in Virginia Beach, Va.
The PSUAC garnered 62 USCAA National All-Academic awards, an honor given to upperclass student-athletes who have maintained a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher. The USCAA recognized 12 men's soccer players, 19 from women's soccer, 22 volleyball athletes, and nine cross country runners for their academic acchievements at the USCAA Fall Championships Banquet on Thursday, Nov. 7th in the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The event celebrates accomplishments of student-athletes around the association as more than 1,100 people participate.
In addition to USCAA academic awards, the PSUAC was well-represented on USCAA All-American teams as well. Forty-five student-athletes earned All-American honors, including three cross country runners who had to race their way to a medal. Penn State Fayette's Nyoah Marteny finished eighth while Penn State Brandywine's Brian Abel finished 13th at the USCAA Men's Cross Country National Championship meet to get 2nd Team All-American honors. Marteny also led his team to a third-place finish in the event. Catharine Mooney of Brandywine also earned 2nd Team All-American honors, finishing 14th in the women's event.
Volleyball led all sports with 18 All-Americans, led by five on the first team. Penn State Fayette's Siteri Tale, Penn State Beaver's Heaven Bowman and Penn State Greater Allegheny's Alix Ellis were each recognized at the banquet for 1st Team honors as their teams participated in the USCAA Volleyball National Championship tournament. They were joined by Penn State DuBois' Allison Easton and Penn State Mont Alto's Kylee Gooding on the first team. The PSUAC also had six 2nd Team and seven Honorable Mention All-Americans.
Men's soccer had two 1st Team All-Americans in Brandywine's Axel Ayllon-Ortiz and Beaver's Danylo Yakymov. Four PSUAC student-athletes were 2nd Team while seven received Honorable Mention All-American status. On the women's side, Brandywine's Brianna Banks and Penn State Hazleton's Emma Wyllie earned 1st Team recogniztion, while four PSUAC players were 2nd Team and five were Honorable Mention.
More impressive was the amount of specialty hardware our student-athletes and coaches took home. Beaver's Jim Van Kirk was named the men's soccer Coach of the Year while Fayette's Samantha Swetz took home the same honor in volleyball. Banks capped her career with Division II Women's Soccer Player of the Year accolades, and four PSUAC student-athletes were recogized as Student-Athletes of the Year in their respective sports.
Penn State New Kensington led the way with two such honorees, including the Division II Volleyball Student-Athlete of the Year Kaylea Flick. Her men's soccer counterpart was Ben Midlik, while Penn State Schuylkill'ss Melissa Ramirez and Fayette's Michael Elliott were the women's and men's cross country honorees for their outstanding contributions on the field, in the classroom and in their communities.
In conference play, Brandywine holds a slim lead over Penn State Lehigh Valley, 29.5-27.5, in the Chancellor's Cup standings after the fall sports season. Beaver and Hazleton are close behind with 25 points each. Brandywine won the men's and women's conference soccer championships, while Lehigh Valley won the golf championship.
The PSUAC is a proud member conference of the USCAA and has grown into a national power, with six national championships, including five in the past two years.