War Hawks place 15 on ASC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Teams

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RICHARDSON, Texas – The American Southwest Conference announced its 2020-21 Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Team and Distinguished Scholar-Athletes of the Year on Monday, honoring one scholar-athlete per institution in a conference-sponsored sport.  

McMurry University nominated 15 scholar-athletes this season: 

  • Derek Hostas – Junior, Baseball 
  • Michael Imariagbe – Freshman, Men’s Basketball 
  • Claire Headings – Freshman, Women’s Basketball 
  • Ethan Turner – Freshman, Men’s Cross Country 
  • Niigan Sunray – Sophomore, Women’s Cross Country 
  • Aeneaus Gray – Freshman, Football 
  • Lane Roye – Senior, Men’s Golf 
  • Alejandro Sanchez – Freshman, Men’s Soccer 
  • Tagan Hansen – Junior, Women’s Soccer 
  • Savannah Flinn – Senior, Softball 
  • Connor Hogan – Junior, Men’s Tennis 
  • Claire Hillyer – Senior, Women’s Tennis 
  • Jacob Williams – Senior, Men’s Track & Field 
  • Kelby Tidwell – Junior, Women’s Track & Field 
  • Adile Leal – Sophomore, Volleyball 

The Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Teams recognize student-athletes who achieve a high level of academic achievement – a 3.20 grade-point average or better – while competing as a starter or important reserve on their team. 

From that list – limited to one nominee per school in each ASC championship sport – the sports information directors from the 12 ASC member institutions and two affiliate members select a Distinguished Scholar-Athlete in each sport.

Derek Hostas led the baseball program with 44.0 innings pitched and 35 strikeouts in nine starts on the mound this season. He was an all-conference honorable mention this season. In the classroom, he owns a 3.82 GPA and is pursuing a degree in physics with civil/mechanical engineering. 

Michael Imariagbe was named the 2020-21 ASC West Co-Freshman of the Year in men’s hoops after a strong rookie campaign, averaging 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per contests in 14 starts. He was also named to the ASC West all-defensive team, all-freshman team and was an all-conference honorable mention. He posted a 3.51 GPA in his first academic year and is majoring in human health science with a concentration in public health and wellness. 

Claire Headings played in all 18 games with nine starts for the women’s basketball team, typically serving as the first player off the bench for the War Hawks. She averaged 20.4 minutes a game, fourth most on the team, and provided tenacious defense around the perimeter. In the classroom, Headings is majoring in early childhood education and finished with a 3.67 GPA. 

Ethan Turner was a second team all-conference honoree in men’s cross country after placing 14th at the ASC Championships this season. He competed in three of four meets and has a pair of fifth place finishes to open his career. Among freshmen, Turner was one of two to earn all-conference honors this season. In the classroom, Turner finished with a 3.71 GPA. 

Niigan Sunray was named the ASC Newcomer of the Year for women’s cross country after placing 17th at the ASC Championship meet. As a sophomore transfer, Sunray had two eighth place finishes and completed a personal record of 25:18.6 at the Bill Libby Invitational in Abilene. Sunray owns a 3.71 career GPA. 

Aeneaus Gray was one of McMurry’s defensive leaders on the gridiron this season, ranking fourth on the team with 33 tackles over five games at linebacker. Gray also had 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup. He had a career high 12 tackles, including six solo, against Texas Lutheran. In the classroom, Gray owns a 3.83 GPA for the year and had a 3.93 GPA in the spring term. 

Lane Roye had a tremendous senior season for McMurry, winning the ASC Men’s Golfer of the Year award, earning NCAA All-American Third Team honors and qualifying for the NCAA Championships in West Virginia. Roye won two individual medals and was named ASC Golfer of the Week three times this season. Roye also did well in the classroom with a 3.29 career GPA, including a perfect 4.0 his final semester. He graduated in May with a degree in business administration and management and a minor in psychology. 

Alejandro Sanchez played in all eight matches with five starts for the men’s soccer team. He was one of the top 12 players in minutes played with 390 at defender. Sanchez finished with a 3.83 GPA in his first academic year. 

Following an injury-riddled 2019 season, Tagan Hansen returned stronger than ever this year and earned third team all-conference honors for the women’s soccer team. She played in all eight games with seven starts, totaling 598 minutes to rank fifth on the team. She scored one goal on the year, helping McMurry in a 3-0 win over Concordia-Texas. In the classroom, Hansen is majoring in exercise science and human performance and owns a 3.79 career GPA. Last semester, Hansen had a perfect 4.0 GPA with six classes. 

Savannah Flinn had a stellar senior season, as she was the only player to play in all 32 games for McMurry. Following a slow start, Flinn finished the season with a .330 batting average and led the team in hits (35), doubles (8), home runs (6), RBI (22), total bases (61), at-bats (106), slugging percentage (.575) and on-base percentage (.383). She was a second team all-conference selection this season. Flinn graduates with a 3.44 career GPA and a degree in exercise science and human performance and community wellness. 

Connor Hogan made his return to the tennis court after a year away from the spot and impacted the War Hawks tremendously, helping the men’s team to a semifinal appearance this spring. He went 6-8 overall and 4-1 in ASC games, playing the majority of his games at the No. 4 singles slot. He earned a spot on the all-conference team for Flight 4 singles and was first team all-division for the first time in his career. The junior is majoring in exercise science and owns a 3.70 GPA, including a 3.80 GPA this spring term, and is majoring in exercise science and human performance – personal and community wellness. 

Claire Hillyer won the ASC Women’s Tennis West Division Most Valuable Player award this season, finishing with a perfect 4-0 record in conference games at the No. 1 singles position. She earned first team all-conference and became a three-time all-division selection. Most recently, Hillyer was named a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection. Hillyer graduated in May with a 3.97 GPA for her career and a perfect 4.0 GPA in her final semester. She was also selected for the ASC Medal of Honor this season. 

Jacob Williams is a two-time ASC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete. The senior helped McMurry to an ASC Championship by winning the 4×400 relay and later went on to compete at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Greensboro North, Carolina. He competed in 13 meets and set four personal bests over the course of the season. Williams graduated in May with a degree in physics and civil/mechanical engineering. 

Kelby Tidwell is also a two-time ASC Distinguished Scholar Athlete and has won the award in both years she has qualified. Tidwell was the high-point athlete at the 2021 ASC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, totaling 35 points to earn Most Valuable Performer. She won a conference championship in the women’s pole vault and had four podium finishes at the meet. The multi-talented Tidwell set personal records in the 100, 200, 400, 400 hurdles, pole vault, javelin, long jump and triple jump in her final six meets of the season. In the classroom, Tidwell owns a 3.97 GPA and had a perfect 4.0 in the spring. She is majoring in mathematics and minoring in education. 

Adile Leal won the ASC West Division Libero of the Year and earned second team all-conference this season. She ranked among the conference leaders in digs with 326 and finished with three ASC Defensive Player of the Week awards. Leal is a two-time postseason all-conference winner and a first-time ASC Distinguished Scholar Athlete. She is majoring in nursing and owns a 3.92 GPA. 

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