Wolverine student-athletes setting bar high in the classroom

WOLVERINEGREENDOTCOM Holton Hunsaker was named the 2012-13 Great West Male Scholar Athlete of the Year
Holton Hunsaker was named the 2012-13 Great West Male Scholar Athlete of the Year

Sept. 24, 2013

OREM, Utah -- Now entering its 11th season of competing at the Division I level, Utah Valley University's athletic program has excelled against the competition while shining academic on an individual, team and departmental level.

UVU is also in its fifth year as a full DI member and its first as a member of the Western Athletic Conference in 2013-14. In the years prior, while dominating the Great West Conference athletically, has also hauled in the accolades academically, with a banner year in 2012-13.

"Wolverine Athletics and our student-athletes are very excited about the continued progress and celebration of our academic success," said director of athletics Vince Otoupal. "We see our academic successes as victories and we measure them like we measure our success in our athletic achievements.Our continued focus and "victories" in academics will translate into victories in our athletic endeavors. There is no doubt about it."

The women's basketball program has been near the top of its class several times and at the very top twice, ranking first in Division I in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. The Wolverines had a team GPA of 3.652 during the last school year.

"The girls had set a goal at the beginning of the year to have one of the country's top GPAs, and they worked hard to achieve it," said women's basketball head coach Cathy Nixon. "They take their academics very seriously and view it as another avenue through which to compete and excel."

The list of accolades extends throughout the department with eight of the 11 team GPA's sitting at least 3.14 or higher. The women's golf team boasted the second-best team GPA, a 3.617 combined GPA, good enough for 11th in the nation.

Men's golf was just behind those two with a 3.547 GPA and was one of only 10 programs in the country to receive the Farmers President's Special Recognition Award, joining a group of institutions that includes DePaul, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and academic national champion Brown.

"To receive that award two years in a row is a great accomplishment," said UVU men's golf coach Chris Curran. "To be in the top-10 in the country in terms of GPA shows our dedication to getting the best possible education. Our kids work extremely hard in the classroom and all the hours of studying in airports has paid off. We've strived to hold the guys to a higher standard and obviously they've risen to meet that."

Beyond the team success, including the volleyball team's academic recognition by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), Wolverine athletics has had its individual successes as well.

In 2013, two athletes - Holton Hunsaker (MBB) and Sally Hansen(T&F) - each attained unprecedented achievements for a UVU student-athlete.

Hunsaker, then a junior, was named to the Capital One Academic All-District 8 Team, the Division I-AAA Athletic Directors Association (D-IAAA ADA) Scholar-Athlete Team, Academic All-Great West and in June received the Great West Conference top individual award, the Scholar-Athlete of the Year. All of his academic recognition came on top of his athletic achievements, which included a first-team All-Conference selection.

Hansen was one of 58 NCAA student-athletes to receive a postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA and is continuing her education at Arizona State University while her husband, Greg Jensen, attends medical school in Glendale, Ariz. While at Utah Valley, the chemistry major had a perfect 4.0 GPA and is the first student-athlete valedictorian. Hansen was valedictorian for the College of Science and Health.

Women's basketball senior Sammie Jensen also received the Great West's Scholar-Athlete award on the women's side and track athlete Stephen Wickhamshireearned Capital One Academic All-District.

The success of the 2012-13 academic year came on the heels of UVU receiving its first Capital One Academic All-American when baseball player Billy Burgess received the honor from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) in the spring of 2012. Burgess was also named the Great West's Male Scholar Athlete of the Year that summer.

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