Western Nebraska Community College athletes received national and regional academic accolades recently.
Seventeen athletes earned NJCAA Academic honors while achieving a 3.60 grade point average or higher. WNCC had 33 athletes earn Region IX All-Academic honors with a 3.25 GPA
Two WNCC athletes received the highest honor, earning First Team designation with perfect 4.0 GPAs last semester from the NJCAA. Men’s soccer player Andre Matzuda of Lima, Peru, earned his second-straight honor, while volleyball player Kirstee Trees of Riverton, Wyoming, earned her first First Team honor after being on the second team last year.
“This honestly means a lot to me,” Trees said. “It just shows not only the hard work put in on the court, but as well in the classroom. I’ve worked extremely hard in school to accomplish this.”
Trees said it wasn’t easy, but she found time to study.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy by any means,” Trees, who will be attending the University of Wyoming, said. “It meant putting a lot of study time in on the bus on our long trips and a few late nights in-between. There wasn’t a lot of down-time with class in the morning, practice in the afternoon, and homework to end the day. It makes for a very demanding schedule. But, I almost did better with my school work during volleyball season because there was a set schedule that I absolutely had to follow to be successful. Once I got into a routine it was easier to follow.”
Trees will forgo playing volleyball next year as she gets her bachelors in speech, language, and hearing sciences from Wyoming. Matzuda will continue his playing career at Shaw University in North Carolina.
While Trees and Matzuda earned First Team honors, seven student-athletes earned Second Team honors (3.80-3.99 GPA), while another eight earned Third Team accolades with a GPA between 3.60–3.79.
The Cougar baseball team, for the second straight year, had the most players on the NJCAA academic list with five representatives. WNCC head coach Mike Jones said he is proud of his team’s accomplishments in the classroom.
“I am proud to say that these guys are involved in our program,” WNCC baseball coach Mike Jones said. “It’s a great group of guys who made a commitment to being good student athletes. We have a positive culture within our athletic department and great leadership from athletic director Ryan Burgner.”
Baseball players earning Second Team honors include sophomores Nathanael Andresen of Gilbert, Arizona, and Jonathan Bermudez of Miami. Third Team honors were bestowed upon sophomore Cooper Buchhammer of Scottsbluff, and freshmen Kale Litzelman of Hotchkiss, Colorado, and Brevin Owen of Peyton, Colorado.
The softball team had the most women’s players earn national academic honors with four. Sophomores Alysaa Guyman of Stansbury, Utah, and Sabrina Luttig of Kennard earned Second Team honors, while freshmen Emma McMillan of Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Reagan Solomon of Farmington, Utah, earned Third Team honors.
Also receiving Second Team honors were freshmen women’s basketball players Eva Langton of Stratford, New Zealand and Merle Wiehl of Gottingen, Germany; and men’s basketball player sophomore Djordje Dimitrijevic of Serbia. Dimitrijevic will be playing next year at Mercer University, while Langton and Wiehl will return for their sophomore year at WNCC.
Third Team honors went to women’s basketball player Olivia Wiberg of Hyrum, Utah.
Overall, there were 6,269 student-athletes among the NJCAA’s three divisions that earned individual academic honors. There were 1,403 NJCAA participants that earned First Team honors.
While 17 WNCC student-athletes earned national academic, 33 Cougar athletes earned Region IX academic honors.
The Cougar baseball team led all Cougar teams with 12 members on the Region IX academic list followed by the women’s basketball and softball teams with six players each.
Matzuda and Trees led the Region IX list with their 4.0 GPAs.
Cougar baseball players that made the Region IX academic list include Andresen, Bermudez, Buchhammer, Litzelman and Owen, from the NJCAA academic list. Other baseball players that earned Region IX academic honors included sophomores Esai Hernandez of Gering, Tommy McRill of Parker, Colorado, Tyler Olson of Olathe, Kansas, Tyler Shubert of Windsor, Colorado, and Cole Williams of Parker, Colorado; and freshman Zach Berg of Parker, Colorado, and Nathan Kolb of Cloverdale, British Columbia.
The women’s basketball team and softball team each had six players make the list. Basketball players on the list include sophomores Sophie Agorakis of Melbourne, Australia; Melisa Kadic of West Valley City, Utah, Giovanna Silva of Brazilla, Brazil, and Olivia Wiberg of Hyrum, Utah; and freshmen Langton and Wiehl.
Softball players include Guymon, Luttig, McMillan, Solomon, along with sophomores Brooke Doumer of Parker, Colorado, and Madi Jackson of Herriman, Utah,
Other members of the All-region academic team include freshman volleyball player Logan Belford of Loveland, Colorado; sophomore women’s soccer player Morgan Smith of Scottsbluff; sophomore men’s basketball players Dimitrijevic and Milos Popovic of Serbia, and freshman Marko Rajanovic also of Serbia; and sophomore men’s soccer players Eseah Ingram of Scottsbluff and Felipe Torres of Guarulhos, Brazil.