Big South Honors Leslie Cook, Anthony Franklin and Kellen Taylor with Prestigious Christenberry Award

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Big South Conference today honored High Point’s Leslie Cook (basketball), Coastal Carolina’s Anthony Franklin (football) and Winthrop’s Kellen Taylor (baseball) with the prestigious George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence.  The award is given to one male student-athlete and one female student-athlete who attain the highest GPA during their college careers and are graduates of a member institution during the past year.  In case of ties, additional awards are provided.  Cook graduated earlier this month with a 4.00 in business (finance), Franklin graduated with a 4.00 in mathematics and Taylor graduated with a 4.00 in business administration.

The League 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.  It is the fourth time in the last five years that more than two student-athletes have been so honored.

“The Christenberry Award is the most significant honor awarded to Big South student-athletes due to its emphasis on academic excellence,” said Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander.  “The performances of Leslie, Anthony and Kellen in the classroom and on the field are exemplary and reflect the highest ideals of the Big South.”

Cook concluded her collegiate career with 1,047 career points, reaching the scoring milestone on Feb. 21, 2007.  She also made 239 career three-pointers and was a .756 percent free throw shooter.  This past season she was fourth in the Big South and 55th in the NCAA in three-pointers per game and helped the Panthers to their first-ever Big South regular-season title.  Cook earned second-team All-Conference honors in 2006-07 and was voted second-team All-State by the NCCSIA.  Cook is a two-time ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American, receiving first-team honors in 2007, is a two-time recipient of the League’s Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, and was voted the Big South Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2005-06.  She maintained a 4.0 throughout her four years of college, earned Dean's List honors every semester, was a Millis Scholar-Athlete and Big South Presidential Honor Roll member during her time at High Point, and received the Tobias Award in both 2006 and 2007 – the High Point athletic department’s highest academic award given to a female student-athlete.

Franklin was a four-year letterwinner for the three-time Big South football champion Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.  He appeared in 43 of Coastal’s 45 games since 2003, and finished his career with 12 receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown, which he scored this past season vs. Savannah State.  Franklin helped Coastal to a national ranking each of the past two seasons, as well as the Big South’s first-ever berth in the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs in 2006.  He received the CCU Faculty’s Distinguished Excellence Award earlier this month and was recently named to the National Football Foundation’s Inaugural National Honor Society.  In 2005, he was selected by the National American Statistical Association to present at the national convention, one of a select few students chosen nationally.  During his academic career, he served as Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society President for two years, has been named to the CCU’s President’s list seven times (requires 4.0 GPA), was named to the Collegiate All-American Scholar Program from the U.S. Achievement Academy, and received a College of Natural Science and Mathematics Dean’s Scholarship, among his several academic honors and achievements.

Taylor has appeared in a career-high 13 games in 2007, his second season on the Winthrop baseball squad.  He enters the Big South Baseball Championship with a 1-0 record and nine strikeouts in 14.0 innings of work for the host Eagles, which are the No. 2 seed in the tournament.  During his academic career at Winthrop, Taylor has been a Big South Presidential Honor Roll member, was the recipient of the school’s Griffin-Guettler Award, which is presented to the male and female student-athletes with the highest grade point averages, and was honored with the Senior Academic Award that is awarded to the male and female athlete with the highest grade point average among all Winthrop senior athletes.

One male and one female student-athlete from each member institution – regardless if the sport is sponsored by the Big South – are nominated for the Christenberry Award.  The 2006-07 candidates:

Birmingham-Southern 
Gino Cozzolino (soccer) 
Stephanie Boucher (tennis)

Charleston Southern 
Quentin Guichard (tennis) 
Morgan Fuqua (golf)

Coastal Carolina 
Anthony Franklin (football) 
Laura Obert (volleyball)

High Point 
Chase Wilson (golf) 
Leslie Cook (basketball)

Liberty 
Arlene Zelinskas (track & field)

Radford 
Lucas Wright (track & field) 
Annaliese Yoder (soccer)

UNC Asheville 
Rob Vernon (baseball) 
Elif Unlu (volleyball)

VMI 
Michael Lloyd (soccer) 
Raevon Pulliam (soccer)

Winthrop 
Kellen Taylor (baseball)
Sarah Wengryniuk (cross country/track)


PAST CHRISTENBERRY AWARD RECIPIENTS

1985-86 
Donald Pokorny, Coastal Carolina (soccer)

1986-87
Carol Wynee, Campbell
Herbert Jolley, Jr., Coastal Carolina

1987-88
Stephanie Maddox, Augusta College
Thomas Drake, Coastal Carolina
 
1988-89 
Lucynda Hicks, Campbell
Kevin Futrell, Charleston Southern (baseball)

1989-90 
Maria Loo, Augusta
Thomas Henderup, Coastal Carolina

1990-91 
Kay Breininger, Winthrop (cross country)
Bjorki Johannesson, Coastal Carolina (soccer)

1991-92
Juliann Campbell, Radford
Ronald Ohrel, Coastal Carolina

1992-93 
Andrea Boda, Campbell
Karl Shoemaker, Liberty (baseball)

1993-94
Samantha Gilbert, Radford (basketball)
Philip Wilson, UNC Greensboro (soccer)

1994-95
Mary K. Dantzler, Charleston Southern (volleyball)
Darren McDonough, UNC Greensboro (soccer)

1995-96
Dede Logemann, Radford (basketball)
Ralf Melis, UNC Asheville (basketball)

1996-97 
Lora Randolph, Liberty (track & field)
Tomas Malik, Coastal Carolina (tennis)

1997-98 
Holly Deem, Liberty (track & field)
Corey Reed, Radford (basketball)

1998-99
Allison Arreola, Charleston Southern (volleyball)
Cathy Williams, Liberty (cross country/track & field)
Jim Gardas, Charleston Southern (golf)

1999-00 
Maya Latinvic, High Point (tennis)
Brian Hanczaryk, Winthrop (golf)

2000-01 
Mirva Maenpaa High Point (tennis)
Peter Mellstrom High Point (tennis)

2001-02 
Kimberly Belcastro, Charleston Southern (tennis)
Mirko Mandic, Charleston Southern (basketball)

2002-03 
Brooke Garman, Liberty (tennis)
Jennifer Pritchard, Winthrop (volleyball)
Kevin Burch, High Point (baseball)
Kara Koppel, Coastal Carolina (track & field)

2003-04
Laura Terebey, Radford (golf)
Jeff Kolhagen, Charleston Southern (baseball)
Keith Garramone, Coastal Carolina (track & field)
Jeremy Graves, Liberty (track & field)
Mats Persson, Liberty (basketball)

2004-05 
Danielle McNaney, Liberty (track & field)
Ty Denby, VMI (track & field)

2005-06 
Brittany Nelson, Coastal Carolina (softball)
Natasha Lucki, UNC Asheville (tennis)
Erica Devine, Winthrop (soccer)
Adam DeGraffenreid, Charleston Southern (football)
Daniel Darnell, Liberty (soccer)

2006-07 
Leslie Cook, High Point (basketball)
Anthony Franklin, Coastal Carolina (football)
Kellen Taylor, Winthrop (baseball)