SEVENTEEN TIGERS GARNER ACADEMIC ALL-STATE HONORS
Jackson, Miss. - Players from six of Northeast Mississippi Community College's eight sanctioned athletic programs have received more accolades for their intellectual prowess and proficiency.
The Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) announced that 17 Northeast student-athletes were named to the Academic All-State teams for their respective sports.
"I'm really, really proud of what these individuals have done," Northeast athletic director David Robbins said. "Our coaches strive to make sure that these athletes come here for a reason, not only to perform in their sport but to do the work necessary in the classroom to prepare them for later on in life."
The Lady Tiger tennis squad led the effort with four selections, including two women that were recognized as MACJC Distinguished Academic All-State for having an above-3.8 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 scale.
Booneville's Allie Downs, who was one of only five women's tennis players in the entire country to hold a 4.0 GPA and claim the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence, and Belmont native Allison Wiltshire (3.96) both qualified for the Magnolia State's top scholastic honor.
Micah Page, who hails from Tishomingo and competed at No. 1 singles for the Tigers, represented the men's tennis program on the MACJC Academic All-State team with an outstanding 3.59 GPA.
"Our student-athletes worked hard all year and are super competitive both on the court as well as in the classroom," said Northeast tennis coach Ben Shappley. "We start with the understanding that our number one priority is not necessarily to win a state or national championship, but rather to get a good education. They get that and work hard to that end."
Northeast's baseball club, which hosted the MACJC State Tournament at Harold T. White Field for the initial time in its current format during the 2014 season, also boasted four award winners.
New Albany's Riley Alef (3.8), who topped the conference with 21 runners caught stealing from behind the plate, repeated as a MACJC Distinguished Academic All-State pick while Oxford's Hunt Halford (3.68) and New Albany's Drew Wray (3.46) earned their second straight spot on the MACJC Academic All-State team.
Utility player Blake Frazier of Corinth completes the list of recipients for the Tigers by obtaining a berth to the MACJC Academic All-State team with a 3.29 GPA.
"The fact that these individuals were recognized on the statewide level makes us extremely proud," said Northeast headman Kent Farris. "We appreciate the support of our tremendous faculty and administration because without their time and effort none of this would be possible."
Jody Long's softball squad, which made its 12th appearance in the MACJC State Playoffs in its 13-year history as a fast-pitch organization, provided three honorees.
Erica Clifton (Walnut), who saw time in the pitching circle for the Tigers, was designated as MACJC Distinguished Academic All-State with an impressive 3.8 GPA.
The duo of Walnut's Becky Robinson (3.75) and Lafayette, Ind., standout Sydney Martin (3.67) each secured a place on the MACJC Academic All-State team as well. Martin and Robinson both played in the outfield for the Tigers.
"I'm very proud of them because they bought into the fact that academics is part of what our program is built on," Long said. "Their dedication and effort that they put in the classroom paid off for them just like it did on the field."
Three men who helped the Northeast football program clinch its seventh MACJC North Division runner-up position in 2013 received a nod to the MACJC Academic All-State team.
Davis and Rogers both started in all nine games for the Tigers at right tackle and left guard, respectively, during the last campaign while Gee appeared in five contests and caught a touchdown pass in the season opener at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
"It's par for the course for those three because of the academic excellence that they've always brought to the table," said Northeast head coach Ricky Smither. "They're hard working guys that are great to be around. You want people like that in your program."
The Northeast golf program consistently improved on the links under the tutelage of coach Nick Coln and also posted two players on the merit list.
Jay Swinney (Booneville), who notched an average round score of 85 during the Tigers' five MACJC tour stops, carried a 3.89 GPA to gain MACJC Distinguished Academic All-State prestige.
Lew Johnson of Corinth devoted proper time to his courses as well and compiled a solid 3.5 GPA to acquire a slot on the MACJC Academic All-State team. Johnson topped Northeast on the leaderboard and tied for 18th at the Lou Hart Invitational in Meridian with a two-day score of 119.
The MACJC honors student-athletes from each of its 15 member institutions. Overall, 289 men and women were honored as Academic All-State for the 2013-14 school year.
East Central Community College topped the state with 35 individual academic awards from the MACJC. East Mississippi Community College had 31 winners to lead the North Division.