JOLIET – Another banner academic season for the University of St. Francis athletic program culminated with a school-record 20 of a possible 22 teams earning National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Scholar Team status for 2018-19. The 20 teams gaining the distinction tied for fourth most among the nearly 250 institutions competing at the NAIA level.
“This is an incredible accomplishment for our programs,” USF Director of Athletics Dave Laketa said. “It speaks so highly of the emphasis that both our coaches and student-athletes place on academics here at St. Francis. Our student-athletes work tremendously hard, both in the classroom and at their playing venues, and their efforts show through honors like the NAIA Scholar Team program.”
To be eligible for the award, a team must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) as defined by the institution at the completion of the academic year. The team grade-point average includes all eligible varsity student-athletes. A total of 1,883 teams across the nation competing at the NAIA level gained the recognition.
USF’s top overall program was women’s golf with a 3.52 GPA over the past two semesters, while basketball boasted the highest GPA on the men’s side at 3.27. Other teams recognized included baseball (3.10), women’s basketball (3.40), men’s bowling (3.03), women’s bowling (3.42), competitive cheer (3.04), competitive dance (3.410), men’s cross country (3.21), women’s cross country (3.21) and men’s golf (3.14).
Also earning scholar status were women’s indoor track and field (3.25), men’s outdoor track and field (3.07), women’s outdoor track and field (3.31), men’s soccer (3.18), women’s soccer (3.35), softball (3.27), men’s tennis (3.21), women’s tennis (3.35) and women’s volleyball (3.46). Including this past spring semester, USF student-athletes boasted a combined 3.16 cumulative GPA.
The team honors come on top of numerous individual academic accolades earned by the more than 430 USF student-athletes throughout the year. Among the individual honors were two Google Cloud Academic All-Americans, 50 NAIA Scholar-Athletes, 73 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic selections and 19 Mid-States Football Association All-Academic picks.
Flyers named to top 25 honor roll: The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association officially announced the 2018-19 WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll. Lewis’ women’s basketball team was one of 25 Division II teams honored as it finished the 2018-19 academic year with a 3.55 GPA.
The WBCA Academic Top 25 recognizes NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA and two-year GPAs inclusive of all student-athletes on their rosters for the entire season. The 2018-19 season is the 24th in which the WBCA has compiled the honor rolls.
“We are so proud of this group for their work not only on the court, but more importantly in the classroom,” said Samantha Quigley, Lewis head women’s basketball coach. “Adversity occurs academically, as well, and working through that shows the resiliency of this group. To be ranked in the top 25 athletically and academically is certainly not easy and they put in the work to make that happen.”
The Flyers closed the 2018-19 season with a record of 27-5, and made the program’s seventh straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, its 14th overall.
Kelliher signs to play in Belgium: Former Lewis University women’s basketball standout and 2019 graduate Jessica Kelliher has signed to play the 2019-20 season with the DP World Ladies Antwerp of Belgium. The Giants play in the Top Division, the most competitive pro league for women in Belgium.
Kelliher finished her storied career at Lewis as a two-time First Team All-American and is the leading scorer in Lewis and GLVC history with 2,764 points. Her 2,764 points scored are the fifth most in the history of Division II basketball while her 1,093 field goals made ranks second.
This past season, Kelliher averaged 24.3 points and 9.9 rebounds and led the country in field goal percentage at 65.9%. She was named the Division II Conference Commissioner Association (D2CCA) Ron Lenz National Player of the Year, the Google Cloud Academic All-America Team Member of the Year and the GLVC’s Player of the Year. Kelliher also is a two-time First Team Academic All-America selection.
WOMEN’S TRACK and FIELD
Pulliam 11th at USATF Nationals: Lewis University’s Cierra Pulliam, a Romeoville graduate, jumped 12.85 meters (42-2) to place 11th in the triple jump Thursday at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Pulliam was one of 18 individuals chosen to compete in the event.
She won eight All-America awards at Lewis and took second in the triple jump at this year’s NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and third in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Six Flyers earn academic honors: The Lewis University women’s track and field team had six student-athletes earn U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic honors, while the team netted USTFCCCA All-Academic Team accolades.
Joelle Ataessien, Kianna Clark, Allison Heinzer, Jada Hoffman, Carrie Johnson and Lane Ksadlec (Lockport) earned All-Academic honors from the USTFCCCA. A total of 448 women earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors during the 2018-19 track and field indoor and outdoor seasons.
To qualify for USTFCCCA All-Academic honors, student-athletes must have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and have reached a provisional or automatic qualifying standard for the NCAA Championships in either the indoor or outdoor seasons. As a team, the Flyers finished the year with a cumulative GPA of 3.30 and were one of 130 women’s teams to be honored for their academic performance by the USTFCCCA.
MEN’S TRACK & FIELD
Two Flyers at USA Outdoor Nationals: Former Lewis University track and field standouts Sergio Miranda and Isaac Jean-Paul competed at the USA Track and Field Outdoor National meet this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. Jean-Paul qualified for nationals in the high jump with a jump of 2.19 meters (7-2.25). He is one of 18 competitors in the competition that takes place at 4:35 p.m. Sunday. He was a five-time All-American for Lewis in the high jump from 2014 to 2016, including a national championship at the 2015 NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. Miranda posted a time of 1:51.67 in the 800 meters at the national meet. During his days at Lewis, the Romeoville graduate was a two-time All-American in the 800 meters from 2015 to 2017.
Five Saints claim NFCA honors: Five starters from University of St. Francis’ 2019 softball team, including its entire outfield, were recently recognized by the National FastPitch Coaches Association. Gaining first-team all-region status for NAIA Region VI were first baseman Kayla Garcia and outfielders Page Egan and Ashley Galason. A pair of Lincoln-Way West graduates, outfielder and shortstop Rachel Luckett and third baseman Danielle Callahan, got second-team honors.
Lewis’ Kauling named to Youth National Team: USA Volleyball announced that incoming Flyers volleyball freshman Kevin Kauling was one of 12 players who were selected for the 2019 Youth National Team that will compete in the FIVB Boys U-19 World Championships from Aug. 21 to 30 in Tunisia.
McCullum to play in Germany: Lewis University men’s basketball standout and 2019 graduate Kendale McCullum has signed to play the 2019-20 season for Uni Baskets Paderborn in the German Barmer 2 Basketball Bundesliga in the Pro A Division. McCullum finished his collegiate career averaging 16.4 points, 6.3 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals. He was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Player and Defensive Player of the Year and was a NABC All-America selection.