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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Athletic Director Wood Selig Lauds the Academic Efforts of ODU Athletes

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Field hockey player Sarah Breen and wrestler Chris Mecate received recognition as the Old Dominion University Alumni Association Athletes of the Year during the April 25 Old Dominion University athletic honors banquet.

Mecate was a two-time All-American who recently finished fifth in the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships in New York. Breen is a three-time All-American who led the team in points during her senior season.

Old Dominion athletes in every sport were recognized for their achievements, but in his remarks to the crowd of more than 600 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, Athletic Director Wood Selig emphasized the across-the-board excellence of the Monarchs off the field in 2015-16.

"It has truly been another outstanding year for ODU athletics," Selig said. "I can't thank our student-athletes and coaches enough for the way in which they have served as ambassadors for ODU, for the way they have carried themselves in the classroom and in competition."

Selig saluted the 89 student-athletes who will participate in next weekend's commencement exercises, graduating in May or August. And he noted that a large number of those Monarchs have been academic stars.

"Our nearly 500 student-athletes continue to do a remarkable job given the fact that nearly 60 percent of all ODU student-athletes earned a 3.0 or better last semester, and over one-third of ODU student-athletes were dean's list students," Selig said. He added that 21 student-athletes posted a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the last semester.

"Our coaches are doing a great job of identifying and recruiting strong students, while our academic support staff continues to assist our student-athletes in maximizing their academic efforts."

Two student-athletes were recognized during the banquet for their scholarly work. Jake Spracher of sailing and Mackenzie Payment of women's swimming were named the 2016 Jack Wilkins/James Howard Scholar Athletes of the Year.

Spracher was a four-year member of the sailing team and graduated with a 3.78 GPA in electrical engineering. He was named to the Conference USA Academic Honor Roll and received the C-USA Commissioner's Medal for having a 3.75 GPA or better. Following graduation, he accepted a job with Apple in California, where he works as a watch UI automation engineer.

Payment holds a 3.93 cumulative grade-point average and will graduate this spring with a degree in mechanical engineering. A four-year member of the women's swimming and diving squad, she earned Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll accolades as well as the C-USA Academic Medal.

While singling out the academic performers, Selig also lauded every Old Dominion student-athlete for their efforts at service and volunteerism in the community.

"Efforts such as the Oyster Bowl, the Charity Bowl, Hoops for the Cure, Education Day, Bone Marrow and Blood Drives, Special Olympics, Tickets for Troops and We Feed Norfolk all go a long way in supporting valued members of our local community while showing everyone that ODU student-athletes and coaches care about our local families and organizations," Selig said.

The athletic director concluded his remarks by lauding Debbie White, senior associate athletic director for external relations. White is retiring in June after more than 36 years at Old Dominion, and she received a standing ovation from the audience.

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