NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Four student athletes representing four institutions and three different sports have been named the 20012-13 Atlantic 10 Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
Colleen Williams (Dayton Women’s Soccer), and Gabrielle Pakhtigian (La Salle Women’s Soccer) were each selected for the women’s award. Phillip Graeter (George Washington Men’s Swimming) and Max Wennakoski (VCU Men’s Tennis) were chosen for the men’s award.
Voted on by the league’s Directors of Athletics, the award is given to the best overall male and female student-athlete, based on their athletic success and academic prowess. There was a tie in the voting for both the men’s award and the women’s award, resulting in four honorees. It marked the first tie in the voting since 1995-96 and the first-ever tie for the women’s award.
“We have outstanding student-athletes throughout the Atlantic 10 who are dedicated to their sport and their studies. I congratulate these four student-athletes on their academic and athletic achievements -- this is a well-deserved honor,” stated Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade.
A senior sport management major from Titusville, N.J., Williams was the 2012 Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and she played in all 20 UD games. She earned Second Team All-America honors from the NSCAA, the third straight year she’s earned All-America honors. She was first in the NCAA in assists per game (.7) and third in points per game (2.4) this year while earning a spot on the First Team NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region. Williams was also named First Team All-Atlantic 10 and was on the 2012 Hermann Trophy Watch List. One of Dayton’s most successful and talented players, she ended her Flyer career with 68 wins, three A -10 Championships and holds UD records for career goals (58), career assists (50) and points (166) and for single-season assists (15 in 2011). She is just the 20th player in NCAA women's soccer history to have at least 50 goals and 50 assists. She was drafted 26th overall by the Washington Spirit in the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. Williams also earned spots on the 2012 Second Team Capital One Division I Women’s Soccer Academic All-America, the 2012 First Team NSCAA Scholar All-America Team and she was a 2012 Senior CLASS Top 10 Finalist. A two-time First Team Capital One Academic All-District Women’s Soccer Team member, she also was a two-time First Team Academic All-Atlantic 10, a three-time First Team Academic All-Ohio and a member of the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
The La Salle Female Scholar Athlete of the Year and one of two Atlantic 10 NCAA Woman of the Year nominees, Pakhtigian was a defensive stalwart for La Salle as its starting goalkeeper. A senior from North Wales, Pa., she earned First Team All-Conference honors in leading the Explorers to their first-ever A-10 title and second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. She led the league with nine shutouts and ranked fifth in goals against average (0.94). She ranks second all-time at La Salle in wins (32), second in shutouts (16.5) and third all-time at La Salle in goals against average. Pakhtigian also served as La Salle Women’s soccer’s SAAC representative and she served on the Student Affairs Committee. A nursing major, she was selected to the Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American and All-District Teams, and twice earning a spot on the A-10 All-Academic Team. She was also a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and a four-year member of the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
Graeter, a senior systems engineering major from Schwerin, Germany, was named team MVP all three years at GW and tallied 11 A-10 Championship medals over his career. He owns two school records in the 400-yard individual medley (3:52.12) and 800-yard freestyle relay (6:36.75). A team co-captain, he won the 400-yard individual medley in an NCAA ‘B’ cut time of 3:53.72 at A-10 Championships. He also finished third in 200-IM in 1:49.63 and swam lead off leg of the third-place finishing 800-yard freestyle relay that set a new school record of 6:36.75, both at A-10 Championships, which helped Colonials to fourth-place finish. Graeter was named GW’s Male Athlete of the Year at the “Georgey Awards” and was named J. Dallas Shirley Most Outstanding Senior Male Student-Athlete. He is a two-time Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District At Large First Team selection and was the first-ever GW men's swimmer to earn All-America status when he was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division I Men's At-Large Third Team. Graeter also earned a spot on both the GW Athletics Academic Dean’s List and A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll all six of his semesters.
Wennakoski, a native of Helsinki, Finland and the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year helped VCU earn the 2013 A-10 Championship and secure a berth to the NCAA Tournament. He ranks fifth all-time at VCU in career singles wins (88) and his 32 wins this year ranked fifth all-time in VCU’s single-season wins list. A senior International Studies major, he was an Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-American and a four-time ITA Academic Award Recipient. A two-year member of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), he served as a Peer Mentor/Advisor for incoming freshman in 2012 and 2013. Wennakoski also made the Dean’s List in each semester during his for four years.
Wennakoski becomes the first Scholar-Athletes of the Year for VCU, which just completed its first year in the Atlantic 10. He also is the second-ever men’s tennis player to be honored. All three of the other honorees represent the third student-athlete for their respective institutions to earn the award. Pakhtigian is the first La Salle female while Williams is the second Dayton female student-athlete. Graeter is the second male honoree from GW and the first-ever men’s swimmer. Pakhtigian and Williams bring the total number of women’s soccer honorees to five.
About the A-10
The Atlantic 10 Conference was formed in 1976. Sponsoring 21 championship sports, the mission and goal of the Atlantic 10 is to preserve, protect, and enhance the academic and athletic pursuits of the membership. The conference is committed to integrity, educational excellence and providing quality equitable championship experiences for more than 6,000 student-athletes, coaches, and support staff.