ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – Nathan Jones from Mars Hill and Wingate's Kaitlyn Brunworth have earned the 2016-17 South Atlantic Conference Presidents Award, the League announced today. The Presidents Award is the highest individual honor presented annually by the South Atlantic Conference.
The SAC Presidents Award is voted on by the league's Faculty Athletic Representatives and to be eligible, student-athletes must exemplify excellence in athletics, academics and community service. Further, to be nominated for this prestigious award, the individual must have been honored as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year during the year in one of the league's 18 sponsored sports.
"Kaitlyn and Nathan represent everything that is positive about college athletics," said South Atlantic Conference Commissioner Patrick Britz. "Both are excellent students, amazing athletes and wonderful stewards of community service. The SAC is honored to recognize them with this prestigious award and even more proud to have them represent Mars Hill, Wingate and the league."
Jones, a senior mathematics major, boasts a cumulative 3.79 GPA, with a perfect 4.0 in his major courses. Jones has earned Academic All-American honors twice in his career, has been named to the Dean's list three times as well as earning three appearances on the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll. Jones earned the Mars Hill University Man of the Year honor during his junior season.
"Nathan is a person who plans and set goals and works tirelessly to bring his plans to fruition," said Mars Hill head cross country coach Mike Owens. "As a team captain this season, he helped guide 10 freshman runners and took it upon himself to step up an fill the shoes of decorated runners that graduated from the 2015 squad."
Jones has been a formidable runner for the Lions since his freshman year and culminated his career with the Individual South Atlantic Cross Country Championship this past season. A three time All-Region selection, Jones is a four-time All-Conference honoree and took home Freshman of the Year honors during his rookie season. He currently owns both the 10K and 8K records at Mars Hill as he posted his fastest 8K time of his career this past season with a clocking of 24:07
On top of his efforts and contributions on the running course, Jones has also given his time for numerous causes on the Mars Hill campus. During his freshman year, Jones was a volunteer for the Bailey Mountain Conservation Society and was a member of the Campus Beautification Project, both of which strive to achieve goals of sustainability. A member of the Campus Activities Board, Jones donated five hours per week on the year in addition to his work as a math tutor in both the math labs and math center, where six hours a week were given to both. For the last two years he has been a member for the Ethics Bowl Debate Team and has participated in the ongoing effort with the Animal Rescue Operation. The honor is his second-consecutive Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor.
Brunworth finished her playing career with a 4.0 GPA as a biology major. She has been a member of the Wingate President's List every year she has been at Wingate and earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors as a sophomore, junior and senior. A four year member of the Wingate University Honors Program, Brunworth has been named to the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll in each of the past three seasons. The honor marks the second time in her career that she has been named the SAC Women's Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year as she took home the award as a sophomore. She was also named the League's inaugural South Atlantic Conference Women's Soccer Elite 18 honoree this past season.
"The emphasis of the Wingate women's soccer program is on the development of amateur student-athletes in every aspect," head coach Chip Wiggins says. "Success on the field is important but not paramount in our overall goals as a program. Kaitlyn's career as a student-athlete exemplifies what we are striving to achieve for our team."
Brunworth has been named to the League's All-Conference team every season she has played for the Navy and Vegas Gold, earning first team honors for three-straight years. The 2016 season saw Brunworth post three goals, all of which were game-winners. She also anchored a Wingate defense that posted 12 shutouts and allowed only 0.60 goals per game. One of her game-winners came in the semifinals of the 2016 Women's Soccer Championship to push the Bulldogs to their seventh-straight South Atlantic Conference Championship match. She closed out her career for Wingate with a total of 14 goals, nine assists and one All-America honor.
A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America honoree, Brunworth is a spanish minor and is very active in the community and has spent time at local medical clinics translating and scheduling appointments for spanish speaking patients. She also participated in the United Way "Day of Caring" and spent a week in Honduras helping build a school for kids in an impoverished neighborhood. On campus, Brunworth is a biology lab assistant and is the Wingate MEDLIFE chapter president in which she helps families overcome poverty by them gain access to medicine, education and community involvement.