(L-R): Serena Barr, Jessie Proehl, Audrey Rabe and Hunter Winstead have all won the George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence.
Four Liberty student-athletes have earned the Big South Conference's prestigious George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence. Serena Barr (field hockey), Jessie Proehl (women's cross country/track & field), Audrey Rabe (women's track & field) and Hunter Winstead (football) will each be presented with the award next month.
The Christenberry Award is given annually to the Big South Conference male and female student-athlete who attain the highest GPA during their college careers. Each recipient of the Christenberry Award this year has attained a 4.0 GPA for their entire undergraduate collegiate careers.
Barr (public health), Proehl (zoology), Rabe (global studies aviation) and Winstead (government and international business) will all graduate with bachelor's degrees on Saturday.
The other members of this year's record eight-member Christenberry Award class include Campbell women's cross country/track & field runner Kelsey Rea (biology), Charleston Southern softball player Taylor Powell (mathematics), Charleston Southern women's tennis player Nicolin Luecke (psychology) and Gardner-Webb men's swimmer Connor Bos (economics/finance).
The conference will formally present the awards on June 1 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 Georgia Regents University-Augusta) and one of the founders of the Big South Conference. A member of the Big South Hall of Fame, Christenberry served as the league's first president from 1983-86.
"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 eight individuals completed their undergraduate academic career with perfect GPAs, especially with the demands placed on them as student-athletes. We congratulate Serena, Connor, Nicolin, Taylor, Jessie, Audrey, Kelsey and Hunter for their accomplishments in the classroom and on the field of play. Their academic careers truly exemplify the highest ideals of the Big South Conference."
With this year's four honorees, Liberty has now had a Big South-record 24 student-athletes all-time receive the Christenberry Award. Barr is the first field hockey player in program history ever to win the prestigious honor.
2017 George A. Christenberry Award Winner bios Provided by the Big South Conference
Barr (Lurgan, Northern Ireland) capped off her outstanding four-year career at Liberty by earning top honors in the country, both on the field and in the classroom. She was named BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year and also became the second All-American in program history, as she was selected to the 2016 Longstreth/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I All-America second team. The senior was named the 2016 Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Scholar Athlete, the only Division I field hockey student-athlete to receive the award.
Bos (Holland, Mich.), was named 2017 Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He served as vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and has volunteered with Relay for Life and the North Carolina Special Olympics. Bos won CCSA conference championships in the 100 back (47.61 seconds) and 200 medley relay (1:27.66) in 2017, and swam to 14 different CCSA titles, including eight individual crowns, during his career. He helped GWU to a second-place finish at the 2017 CCSA Championships, and earned All-CCSA honors 17 times during his career with the Runnin' Bulldogs. Bos, who participated in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, is a candidate for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors following his selection to the District 3 team.
Luecke (Herne, Germany) is a two-time Big South Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year after earning honors for the second consecutive season in 2017 -- the conference's first repeat winner of the award since 2010-11. Luecke lined up on the top courts for both singles and doubles play for the Bucs, earning All-Conference honors in both positions this season, and concluded her career as a three-time All-Conference player in doubles and two-time honoree in singles. She helped lead CSU to three shared/outright regular-season titles in her four years with the Bucs, including the program's second-most wins with 17 in 2017. Luecke finished with a 43-27 career record in singles play as well as 58-17 mark in doubles action.
Powell (Summerville, S.C.) graduated in three years and received the Hunter Cup -- Charleston Southern's most prestigious academic award for student-athletes, at CSU's commencement ceremony on May 6. A member of the dean's list at Charleston Southern as well as the Big South Presidential Honor Roll, Powell has roamed the Bucs' outfield for two of her three seasons on the roster (she redshirted in 2016). She has played in 95 career games with 44 starts, lining up at both corner outfield positions, as well as serving as a pinch-runner for the Bucs in key situations.
Proehl (Kingston, Ohio) contributed to three Big South team titles during her time at Liberty, including the 2015 and 2017 women's outdoor track & field championships and the 2016 women's cross country crown. She placed inside the top 20 three times at the Big South Cross Country Championships, earning all-conference honors with her ninth-place finish as a freshman in 2013. Proehl twice scored points in the women's 5K at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, placing sixth in 2014 and eighth in 2015. Most recently, she came in fifth in the 10K at last week's Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Rabe (Newbury, Ohio) is graduating after just three years at Liberty. She was named Big South Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the 2017 Big South Indoor Track & Field Championships, while also earning a spot on the Big South All-Academic Team. At that same meet, Rabe earned her first All-Big South medal, thanks to a runner-up finish in the women's pole vault. Rabe then placed third in the women's pole vault at last week's Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships, contributing to the Lady Flames' team title.
Rea (Pinehurst, N.C.) graduated earlier this month with a degree in Biology/Physician's Assistant Studies. The 2017 Women's Outdoor Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year boasted a 4.0 GPA all throughout her Campbell career on her way to five Big South All-Academic Team selections and one CoSIDA Academic All-District award. Rea left her mark in the Campbell record books as she was part of the women's DMR team that broke the school record, posting a time of 11:59.41 at the Camel City Elite Invitational on Feb. 4, 2017. She ranks fourth on Campbell's all-time top-10 list in the women's indoor and outdoor 800m with personal-best marks of 2:17.94 and 2:15.89, respectively.
Winstead (Raleigh, N.C.), a 2016 STATS FCS All-America third team performer, is a two-time Big South all-conference honoree. He earned second-team honors in 2015 and was named to the first team following the 2016 season. The three-year starter has finished the last two seasons with a 100.0 percent snap rating. He finished the 2016 season with two assisted tackles, giving him six for his Liberty career. Winstead has worked side by side with punter Trey Turner, helping Turner earn All-Big South honors the last two seasons. Turner finished second in the Big South in punting this year after leading the conference the last two seasons. He ranked No. 37 in the country in punting in 2016, averaging 41.0 yards per punt.
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