EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State's Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) hosted the 20th annual Spartan Academic Excellence Gala on Monday evening at the Breslin Center. The event recognized the academic success of Spartan student-athletes during the 2016-17 academic year and celebrated the event's 20th-year anniversary.
Student-athletes with at least a sophomore academic standing and a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA were honored, as well as a number of individual award winners who excelled not only in the classroom, but in other endeavors as well. In all, 315 student-athletes were honored on Monday evening.
For the seventh straight year, the Academic Gala was grand sponsored by Dr. Bruce and Linda Cohen.
As part of the 20-year reflection of the Spartan Academic Excellence Gala, Michigan State University President Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon and former Spartan student-athlete Leah (Nilsson) Kareti spoke on the importance of the event. Kareti, who was a three-year captain on the cross country team and two-year captain on the track and field team, received the Chester Brewer Leadership Award in 2000 and was a Rhodes Scholar nominee. She is now the Principal of 3 Fold Group, a company that specializes in NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletics and small college strategic initiatives.
The President's Award, the night's most prestigious award, was presented to cross country and track athletes Alexis Wiersma and Garret Zuk. The award recognizes the male and female graduating senior with the highest cumulative GPA and who has exhausted their eligibility in the 2016-17 school year.
The 2017 Steve Smith Philanthropy Award was presented to John and Rebecca Duffey for their continued support and generosity toward the Michigan State Athletics Department.
A long-standing tradition and highlight of the Gala is the musical entertainment provided by MSU's own student-athletes, highlighting the talents that stretch beyond competition and the classroom. This year, women's soccer senior Michelle Dear performed Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" at the event.
The Scholar-Athlete Awards were presented to the individual from each team who has reached at least junior academic status, has received a minimum of one varsity letter, and while meeting these requirements, maintains the highest cumulative grade point average on their team.
SCHOLAR-ATHLETE AWARD WINNERS
BASEBALL -- Dan Chmielewski
MEN'S BASKETBALL -- Matthew Van Dyk
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL -- Tori Jankoska
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY -- Garret Zuk
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY -- Kelcy Welch
FIELD HOCKEY -- Kristin Matula
FOOTBALL -- Chase Gianacakos
MEN'S GOLF -- Michael Sharp
WOMEN'S GOLF -- Katie Sharp
WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS -- Nicola Deans
HOCKEY -- Joe Cox
ROWING -- Maya Regalado
MEN'S SOCCER -- Brian Winterfield
WOMEN'S SOCCER -- Michelle Dear
SOFTBALL -- Kristina Zalewski
MEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING -- Adam Henley
WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING -- Kara Dean
MEN'S TENNIS -- Michael Dube
WOMEN'S TENNIS -- Alexa Baylis
MEN'S TRACK & FIELD -- Noah Gary
WOMEN'S TRACK & FIELD -- Katelyn Daniels
VOLLEYBALL -- Rachel Minarick
WRESTLING -- Mitch Rogaliner