WVU Has Two Big 12 Sport Scholar Athletes of the Year

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    Juniors Abby Kaufman of the West Virginia University gymnastics team and Ryan Kelly of the men’s swimming and diving team have been named the 2019 Big 12 Scholar-Athletes of the Year in their respective sports, the conference announced on Thursday.

    A native of York, Pennsylvania, Kaufman is the second Mountaineer gymnast to earn the honor and the first since Jaida Lawrence in 2015. A two-time NACGC/W Scholastic All-American, Kaufman is an exercise physiology major with a 4.0 GPA. She is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and was named to the First Team in 2018 and 2019.

    A President’s List honoree, Kaufman also is a member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll and the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll.

    “Abby embodies everything we look for in a WVU student-athlete,” Mountaineer associate head coach Travis Doak said. “She is a great competitor, a fantastic student and, just as important, a selfless and kind person. We are so thrilled she is a part of our Mountaineer Family, and we are excited to see her recognized with this honor.”

    Kaufman paced the Mountaineers in 2019 with 544.925 points, competing in the all-around in all 14 meets. She set career highs on vault (9.85), uneven bars (9.85), floor exercise (9.875) and in the all-around (39.225). Kaufman earned 14 podium finishes, the third-best team total, and earned her first career victories on vault and in the all-around. She ranks No. 2 on the team with 1,049.475 career points.

    Kelly, a native of Whitby, Ontario, boasts a 3.87 GPA as a mathematics major. He is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection (2018, 2019) and was a member of the Academic All-Rookie Team as a freshman in 2017.

    Additionally, Kelly has been named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll, President’s List and Dean’s List during his collegiate career. He also was named a Scholar All-America Honorable Mention by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) in 2018.

    In the pool, Kelly helped the Mountaineer 800 freestyle relay team to a bronze medal at the 2019 Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championship. He also ranks in the top 10 in program history in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly.

    “We’re very proud of Ryan for being recognized for his strong work in the classroom,” WVU coach Vic Riggs said. “He and his teammates have continued a long trend of academic success in our program, which is something we’ve always put at a very high priority. It’s exciting to keep our streak of receiving this honor going.”

    Kelly joins James Koval (2018), Nathan Howells (2016), David Palley (2015) and Liam McLaughlin (2013) as recipients of the Big 12 Men’s Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In all, it’s the fifth consecutive season and sixth time in seven years WVU has had a man or woman earn the conference honor in swimming and diving.

    The Big 12 Conference established its Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in 2012-13. A recipient is named in each conference-sponsored sport. Every Big 12 institution nominates one individual per sport with the winners selected by a vote of the league head coaches for that sport, who are not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes.

    Scholar-Athlete of the Year nominees must be a junior or senior (athletic and academic standing), have a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher, participate in at least 20 percent of the team’s scheduled contests and have a minimum of one year in residence at the institution.

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