July 18, 2018
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Led by 13 students who earned perfect 4.0 grade-point averages this past year, 90 Penn State student-athletes have garnered Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2017-18 academic year. The 90 honorees are Penn State’s second-highest total over the 10 years of the program.
The 13 Nittany Lion students earning a 4.0 GPA this past year is an increase of four from the nine who did so in 2016-17.
A total of 23 of Penn State’s 29 teams had at least one Big Ten Distinguished Scholar (men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field are combined).
Penn State’s three highest Distinguished Scholar totals have come in the past three years, increasing 24 percent since the 2012-13 academic year (68 to 90). Nittany Lion students have broken the school mark for honorees in four of the past six years.
The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award is presented to student-athletes who have recorded a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the previous academic year.
The 90 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars continues what has been a record-setting year for Penn State student-athletes, including re-writing school marks with a 3.15 combined grade-point average in the 2018 spring semester (record-tying 66 percent with 3.0 GPA or higher) and 360 Academic All-Big Ten honorees (3.0 GPA or higher).
Penn State Highest Big Ten Distinguished Scholar totals (+24% Since 2012-13):
2016-17: 97 (school record)
2012-13: 68 (first year with men’s and women’s hockey)
The 13 Nittany Lion students who posted perfect 4.0 grade point averages this past year were: Michael Burns, men’s gymnastics; Blake Gillikin, football; Julia Higson, women’s fencing; Mason Hosek, women’s gymnastics; McKayla Mawn, women’s swimming and diving; Katherine McMillan, women’s hockey; Emily Ogle, women’s soccer; Kristen Politz, women’s gymnastics; Kaleigh Riehl, women’s soccer; Noah Roberson, men’s gymnastics; Siena Salvaggio, women’s swimming and diving; Gavin Turner, men’s fencing and Zain Retherford, wrestling.
Sisters Kasey and Maddie Morano from the field hockey squad are among Penn State’s Distinguished Scholars.
Russ Mushinsky, Director of the Morgan Academic Center, reported that the women’s track and field team led all Penn State squads with 12 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, which includes three members of the cross country team. The field hockey and women’s lacrosse squads were next with eight honorees, followed by the women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving and wrestling teams with six recipients apiece. The women’s fencing, men’s gymnastics and women’s hockey squads each had five Distinguished Scholars.
The wrestling team won the 2018 NCAA Championship, its seventh in eight years, and the Big Ten dual meet title and the women’s soccer team won the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.
The 90 honorees boosts Penn State to a total of 694 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars since the program was established by the Big Ten Faculty Representatives in 2008-09 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program.
Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be in at least their second academic year at their institution. The Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.
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