Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Central Michigan celebrated the widespread academic successes of its student-athletes on Wednesday at the 25th Annual Ferrantino Foundation Academic Excellence Banquet at McGuirk Arena.
Some 300 attended the banquet, including family members, CMU administrators, coaches and faculty to honor 140 Chippewa student-athletes, each of whom earned a 3.5 or better cumulative grade point average through the 2016 fall semester.
Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services Tera Albrecht serving as the master of ceremony. She noted that the cumulative GPA of CMU's 480 student-athletes is 3.192 covering 79 majors.
Among the featured speakers were Interim Director of Athletics Marcy Weston, Faculty Athletics Representative Kevin Love, and Pat Podoll, who served at CMU for 35 years, retiring in 2007 as the Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Academic Services.
It was Podoll who began the banquet in 1993, and the Pat Podoll Award goes to the two graduating student-athletes, one male and one female, with the highest GPA. Dylan Banagis of the men's track & field team and Kaylin Hoomaian of the women's soccer team took home the award on Wednesday.
New in 2017 was the Dustin Preston Leadership Award, named in memory of former Chippewa football player Dustin Preston. The award, which honors a member of the football team who exhibits excellence both on and off the field, went to senior-to-be Joe Ostman.
Evie Lorimer, a senior on the CMU softball team, delivered a touching speech chronicling her five years as a Chippewa student-athlete to close the evening.
The finalists for the Bill Boyden Leadership and Dick Enberg Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards were also announced.
For the Boyden Award, the finalists are Carly Brengosz, field hockey; Daniel Jipping, baseball; Bryttany Kaplan, gymnastics; Ostman, football; McKenzie Wieber, women's track & field/cross country; Erick Huertas, men's track & field/cross country; Maison Kalina, softball; Josh Kozinski, men's basketball; and Newton Smerchek, wrestling.
For the Enberg Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, the finalists are Cassie Breen, women's basketball; Paige Carey, volleyball; Jipping, baseball; Luke Meyer, men's basketball; Rebekah Petty, women's track & field/cross country; Samuel Wagner, men's track & field/cross country; Brengosz, field hockey; Amber Crouse, lacrosse; Kaplan, gymnastics; Ostman, football; Smerchek, wrestling; Kristen Wolfe, golf.
The men's and women's track & field/cross country teams were honored with the Outstanding Team GPA Awards, and the women's basketball team took home the Enberg Team Leadership Award.