Matt Pennington, Brittany Yang and Megan Robinson will all receive the George A. Christenberry Award.
For the first time in Liberty athletics department history, three Liberty student-athletes have earned the prestigious George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence. Matt Pennington (baseball), Megan Robinson (softball) and Brittany Yang (women's tennis) will all be awarded the honor in May.
The Christenberry Award is given annually to the male and female student-athlete who attain the highest GPA during their college careers.
Pennington, a member of the baseball team, will finish his collegiate career with a 4.0 GPA while majoring in theology and apologetics. Robinson, competing for the softball program, holds a 4.0 as a youth ministries major. Yang, who helped the women's tennis team to a 19-win season, maintains a 4.0 GPA while majoring in graphic design.
The other members of this year's Christenberry Award class include Gardner-Webb women's swimmer Charity Byrum (4.0 in exercise science), Gardner-Webb volleyball player Heather Feldman (4.0 in music), Radford men's soccer player Stephen Hudgens (4.00 in accounting & finance) and Gardner-Webb men's golfer Matthew Yelverton (4.00 in biology) are this year's recipients.
The conference will formally present the awards on May 28 at The Marriott Resort in Hilton Head, S.C., as part of the League's Spring Meetings and Hall of Fame Dinner.
The conference honor is named for George A. Christenberry, the former president of Augusta College (now Augusta State University) and one of the founders of the Big South Conference. This year, the award was presented to seven student-athletes, tying the record set in 2014.
"The Christenberry Award is the highest academic honor awarded to Big South student-athletes," said Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander. "It is incredible to think that a record-tying seven individuals completed their undergraduate academic career with perfect GPAs, especially with the demands placed on them as student-athletes. We congratulate Charity, Heather, Stephen, Matt, Megan, Brittany and Matthew for their accomplishments in the classroom and on the field of play. Their careers truly exemplify the highest ideals of the Big South Conference."
With this year's three honorees, Liberty has now had a Big South-record 18 student-athletes all-time receive the Christenberry Award.
2015 George A. Christenberry Award Winner bios Provided by the Big South Conference Byrum (Winston-Salem, N.C.) concluded her career as a seven-time All-CCSA performer and helped the Runnin' Bulldogs to a fourth-place finish in the CCSA Championship as a freshman and senior. Named to the CCSA's All-Academic Team four times during her four years at Gardner-Webb, Byrum earned Honorable Mention Scholastic All-American honors by the College Swim Coaches Association of America as a freshman. She achieved an NCAA "B" cut time of 1:02.09 in the 100-yard breaststroke at the 2015 CCSA Championship, and was part of the 200 (1:32.24) and 400 free relays (3:24.76) as well as the 200 medley relay (1:40.96) that all set school records during the 2014-15 season. In addition, Byrum made her first national final in the 2015 AT&T Winter Nationals in the 100 breaststroke, swimming a lifetime best of 1:02.15.
Feldman (Eden, N.Y.) is a two-time Capital One/CoSIDA All-District honoree and appeared on the Volleyball All-Academic Team and Big South Conference Presidential Honor Roll three consecutive years. She became just the 10th player in Big South history with 4,000 career assists (4,545) and 1,000 career digs (1,112) during her senior season, and concluded her career 11th all-time in League annals in assists. Feldman played in 473 sets and 127 matches over her four years, and ranks on Gardner-Webb's career lists second in assists, sixth in digs and first in hitting percentage. A member of the 2011 Big South All-Freshman Team, Feldman also earned NCCSIA University Division All-State honors her first season. She tallied a career-high 63 assists against USC Upstate on Sept. 27, 2011, and posted a personal-high 24 digs against Niagara on Sept. 6, 2014. Feldman finished her career with 54 double-doubles and 13 50-assist matches.
Hudgens (Alpharetta, Ga.), a First-Team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America® this past season and the lone member with a perfect cumulative GPA, helped Radford win the 2014 regular-season Championship -- the Highlanders' first such title since 1998. Hudgens led Radford with six goals and tied for the team lead with 13 points this past season en route to Second-Team All-Conference honors. The Men's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Hudgens was second in the Big South with three game-winning goals this season and was named Big South Attacking Player of the Week on Oct. 13. A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District Team selection, he appeared in 66 career games for Radford with 47 starts, and scored seven goals and four assists for 18 points in 3,407 minutes on the pitch. Hudgens helped the Highlanders post records of 40-26-13 overall (.589) and 24-10-4 in the Big South (.684) during his four years, and was honored as Radford's 2014-15 Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Pennington (Live Oak, Fla.) is a two-year member of the Flames baseball squad. This season, the left-handed pitcher has appeared in six games (one start) and is 1-1 with a 2.16 earned run average. He has struck out 14 batters in 16.2 innings pitched, with 13 hits, four runs and six walks allowed. His lone start of year came on Wednesday against East Carolina and he threw seven scoreless innings with five strikeouts against the Pirates. In his first season at Liberty in 2014, Pennington appeared in eight games (one start) and posted a 0.75 ERA in 12 innings of work. He fanned 11 batters while walking just three hitters, permitted just eight hits and was part of two combined shutouts on the hill. A member of the 2014 Big South Presidential Honor Roll, Pennington has held opposing batters to a .204 batting average during his two years in Lynchburg, in addition to an 7.87 strikeout-per 9 innings ratio.
Robinson (Richlands, Va.) was named to the 2014 Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America® Division I Softball Third-Team and is a two-time Big South Softball All-Academic Team honoree. She concluded the 2015 regular-season with a .317 batting average, career-high 52 hits, 27 runs scored, five doubles, one home run, 19 RBIs and eight stolen bases. Robinson leads the Lady Flames with nine sacrifice hits, and has helped Liberty to a 17-win improvement over 2014 -- including +8 in Big South victories. For her career, the 2014 First-Team All-Conference second baseman has appeared in 177 games (161 starts) with 443 at-bats, 69 runs scored, 124 hits, 17 doubles, 10 home runs, 51 runs batted in and 16 steals. A two-time NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete mention and three-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member, Robinson led Liberty with 10 doubles and a .526 slugging percentage in 2014, and hit her first career home run as a sophomore in 2013.
Yang (Newnan, Ga.) was voted the 2015 Big South Women's Tennis Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A three-time member of the Big South Women's Tennis All-Academic Team and Big South Presidential Honor Roll, Yang and teammate Maria Khval were the Flight Champions at No. 1 doubles this year, as well as All-Conference Doubles selections. Yang posted a 12-8 overall record this season, going 5-3 primarily at No. 4 singles, while recording an 18-5 mark in doubles. As a junior, she advanced to the round of 16 in the ITA Regionals doubles bracket and went 7-1 in Big South matches in singles play. For her career, Yang was 45-34 in singles action and 52-32 in doubles, including 26-9 in doubles competition against League opponents. She earned All-Conference honors as a junior in doubles and was the 2014 Flight Champion at No. 2 doubles as well.
Yelverton (Weddington, N.C.) was voted the 2015 Big South Men's Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He concluded his senior season with a career-best 73.65 stroke average, which currently ranks 15th in the Big South this season. A three-time Big South Men's Golf All-Academic Team honoree and Big South Presidential Honor Roll member, Yelverton carded his best 54-hole score in the Big South Championship earlier this month with an even-par 216 (70-74-72) to finish 14th in the field. A 2014 GCAA/Cleveland Golf All-American Scholar, Yelverton competed in all 122 of Gardner-Webb's rounds during his four years in Boiling Springs and ended his career with a 74.32 scoring average with seven top Top 10 finishes -- including co-Medalist honors at the Raines Development Intercollegiate during his sophomore season. Yelverton carded a career-low 67 during his win and had 11 career rounds in the 60s. He finished with a 74.50 stroke average in his four Big South Championship appearances with one Top 10 standing.
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