While many students spent this summer catching up on sleep, scrolling through Netflix, or maybe squeezing in a few more credit hours, our Spartan athletes were performing impressively in various summer competitions and achieving some honorable academic distinctions.
Three UNCG baseball players were drafted into the MLB this June; Outfielder L.J. Kalawaia was picked in the 21st round by the Los Angeles Angels, pitcher Hunter Smith was selected in the 24th round by the Boston Red Sox, and third baseman Collin Woody was chosen by the Baltimore Orioles in the 38th round. The three draft picks this summer matches the record for most Spartans picked in the same draft in school history (1994, 2007).
From the Men’s Tennis team, junior Connor Thompson won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Summer Circuit tournament at the University of Georgia in July, after winning five matches over a three day period. Thompson entered the tournament as the third seed, and defeated the first seeded player in three sets to take home the title.
In early August, two Spartans found themselves atop the standings in the Carolinas Open golf competition. Junior golfer Josh Stockwell tied for third place overall, and placed second among all amateur golfers at the event, tallying a 6-under par 210 score in 54 holes. Former UNCG Spartan Drew Younts took home first place after posting an 8-under par 208 score, before ultimately winning the competition in a tiebreaker.
A few of our athletes were able to make a name for themselves on the international stage during the summer months as well. Former UNCG track & field star Paul Chelimo qualified for the finals in the 5,000 meter race at the Rio Olympics after placing first in his semifinal heat with a time of 13 minutes, 19.54 seconds. Paul is UNCG’s first ever athlete to compete in the Olympics.
As for some of our current Spartan student-athletes, sophomore Men’s Basketball standout Francis Alonso, helped Spain win a gold medal in the FIBA U20 European Basketball Championship, and was named to the Championship’s All-Star Five team, after averaging 13.0 points, 3.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game over the course of seven games. Alonso served as Spain’s team captain, and was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Platja D’Aro U20 Tournament just three weeks prior.
Over in Kazakhstan, freshman Nadine Soliman of Women’s Basketball led the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Championships in scoring at 10.8 points per game. Soliman led Egypt to two victories in the tournament before falling to Spain and New Zealand, and was responsible for scoring over 67% of her team’s total points over the course of the three day event.
Senior softball player Emily Lopez played summer softball internationally in Puerto Rico for Valencianas de Juncos of the Fed Softball League as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter for the team. Lopez tallied 32 assists for the Spartans last season, good for third on the team.
On the academic side of things, Jordy Kuiper of the UNCG Men’s Basketball was named to National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court, an accolade reserved for men’s collegiate basketball juniors and seniors who’ve attained a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher. Kuiper, a rising senior, is a social sciences major and sports a 3.5 cumulative GPA, and looks to bounce back this basketball season after his junior campaign was cut short after just eight games due to injury.
Four women from UNCG’s golf team were named Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholars, including three current players Lexi Kershaw, Natalia Asensio, and Emily Kurey. To be considered for the All-American Scholar Team, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50 is required. Kershaw has obtained a 3.99 GPA in marketing, Kurey owns a 3.62 GPA also in marketing, Asensio has earned a 3.57 GPA in international business, and Madsen has earned a 3.51 GPA in business administration.
It’s clear that there’s no slowing down for our student athletes even in the offseason months. With that being said, we’ll be in for another great year of Spartan athletics if our success from this summer rolls over into the regular season.