Big South Announces 2012 Christenberry Award Winners

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - The Big South Conference today announced that Radford's Jourdan McDaniel (women's soccer), Gardner-Webb's Josh Padgett (men's track & field), Gardner-Webb's Jane Savage (softball) and High Point's Brielle Spencer (women's soccer) have been awarded the Conference's prestigious George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence.  The award is given to the male and female student-athlete who attain the highest GPA during their college careers.  All four student-athletes will graduate later this month.

McDaniel is a 4.00 student in exercise, sport & health education with a concentration in sports medicine.  Savage is a 4.00 student in English, Spencer is a 4.00 student in mathematics/physics and Padgett is a 3.99 student in mathematics.  The Conference will formally present the awards on May 31 in Hilton Head, S.C., as part of the League's Spring Meetings and Hall of Fame Dinner.  It is the ninth time in the last 10 years that more than two student-athletes have been honored. 

Big South member institutions nominate one male and one female student-athlete -- regardless if the sport is sponsored by the Big South -- for the annual Christenberry Award.  The 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.  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.  "We congratulate Jourdan, Josh, Jane and Brielle for their accomplishments in the classroom and on the field of play.  Their careers truly exemplify the highest ideals of the Big South Conference."

McDaniel (Roanoke, Va.) helped Radford win two Big South Tournament championships and one regular-season title during her career.  She appeared in 27 career games and tallied two goals and two assists for Radford, with both goals coming in her junior season.  McDaniel recorded an assist during her sophomore and senior campaigns, and saw action in Radford's NCAA Tournament match at No. 3 Duke this past fall in the final match of her career.  A co-captain, McDaniel scored her first career goal on Aug. 28, 2009 against Howard, which proved to be the game-winner.  McDaniel has been named to the Big South Presidential Honor Roll three times and has posted a perfect 4.0 every semester.  She has been accepted into Radford's doctoral program in physical therapy.

Padgett (Forest City, N.C.), finished 14th in the hammer throw at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships with a distance of 46.50 meters.  Highlights from his senior season include personal best performances in both the javelin throw and the hammer throw.  At the Winthrop Outdoor Invitational, Padgett recorded a personal-best distance of 44.14 meters in the javelin.  The senior also threw 46.51 meters in the hammer event at the Carolina's University Cup, another personal-high. He finished 8th in the hammer throw at the Winthrop Invitational, tossing 45.78 meters.  As a junior in 2010-11, Padgett set his previous personal-best mark in the javelin with a throw of 44.09 meters at the Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships.  He also posted three top six finishes in the event during the regular-season.  During the indoor season, Padgett recorded a top 20 finish in the weight throw at the Appalachian Opener.  Padgett's career also includes a 15th-place finish in the javelin at the Conference championships as a sophomore, and a fifth-place standing in the inaugural Carolina's Cup in 2009-10.  Padgett also ran in track events during the 2009-10 indoor season as he competed in both the 200- and 400-meter dash.  Padgett is a two-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member and is certain to earn that honor once more this year.

Savage (Marietta, Ga.) has played 173 games during her four-year career, including 149 starts.  She has 91 hits, 60 runs scored and 24 RBI to her credit.  Defensively, she has totaled 147 career putouts and 11 assists from her outfield position, including a career-high five assists this season.  Savage was second on the team in 2011 with 11 walks and knocked in a career-high 10 runs as a junior.  She started all 54 games as a sophomore in 2010, batting a career-high .277 with 27 runs, 39 hits and 12 walks.  Savage is also 14-of-19 in her career in stolen bases.  This season, she has started 38 of her 42 appearances.  Voted to the Big South Softball All-Academic Team as a junior, Savage is a two-time Big South Presidential Honor Roll member and is certain to earn a spot on both the Honor Roll and Softball All-Academic Team again this season.

Spencer (Lynchburg, Va.) concluded her career as a two-time Big South Women's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year honoree.  The central defender helped High Point win two Big South championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances during her four-year career.  She started 81 of 86 career matches, logged 7,158 career minutes and tallied one assist during her time with the Panthers.  Spencer was part of a defensive unit that allowed just six goals in Conference play in 2011 and posted seven shutouts (six in Big South action).  A three-time member of the Big South Presidential Honor Roll and a four-time Millis Scholar-Athlete, Spencer was one of two recipients of the Big South's Sunbelt Rentals Scholarship earlier this year.  She was also named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District Team during her senior season, and is a two-time recipient of High Point's Tobias Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given annually to HPU's top female scholar-athlete.

Gardner-Webb has an honoree for the third consecutive year, while Spencer gives High Point its first Christenberry honoree since 2006-07 and fifth overall.  McDaniel is Radford's seventh recipient of the Big South's Christenberry Award and first since 2008-09.  It is the first time that two women's soccer players have been honored in the same year.

Below are the 2011-12 Big South Conference Christenberry Award candidates, as nominated by their institutions.  Each individual received a personalized medallion for this achievement.

SchoolFemale Nominee (sport)Male Nominee (sport)
CampbellAmanda O'Neill (basketball)Joshua Holskey (baseball) 
Charleston Southern Kristin Kelleher (softball) Charlie McCready (baseball) 
Coastal Carolina Julia Baldwin (soccer) Tucker Frawley (baseball) 
Gardner-Webb Jane Savage (soccer) Josh Padgett (track & field) 
High Point Brielle Spencer (soccer) Sal Pezzino (baseball) 
LibertyLaura Nyholt (soccer) Kevin Reddington (cross country/track) 
Presbyterian CollegeLaura Meade (lacrosse) Bobby Keskey (soccer) 
Radford Jourdan McDaniel (soccer) Brett Olinger (track & field) 
UNC Asheville Emma Sell-Goodhand (soccer) J.J. Morrow (soccer) 
VMI Caroline Wortham (track & field) Dallas Disbro (swimming) 
Winthrop Rachel Webster (soccer) Matt Horn (soccer)