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7 Matador student-athletes named to NJCAA Academic All-American list
Jim Howell
Jul. 22nd, 2013

Shugrue earns Pinnacle Award; Hernandez, Clayton named to NJCAA Superior Academic Achievement List

Yuma, Arizona – July 22, 2013 -- Arizona Western College is proud to announce that seven Matador student-athletes have been named to the NJCAA Academic All-American List, with three of them earning the honor of NJCAA Superior Academic Achievement, and one of those earning the Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average. The seven student-athletes come from five of the Matador Athletic Department’s seven athletic programs in the 2012-13 season. The announcements were made as part of the comprehensive list, which was posted on the NJCAA website.

Out of the names on the national list, those at the very top-who must have a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average-stand alone with the NJCAA’s Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence. That kind of dedication to the balance between academics and athletics is something that Wade Shugrue (shuh-GROO) can be incredibly proud of, since he is the first Matador student-athlete in several years to achieve this esteemed honor. The native of Lake Havasu City made the trip down Highway 95 to Yuma in the summer of 2011 hoping for a chance to not just further his studies but also become a key cog in the new era of Matador Men’s Basketball under first-year head coach Charles Harral. The latter half of that plan was shelved for a year after Shugrue suffered a preseason leg injury that hampered his efforts, and led to Harral redshirting Shugrue. That setback, however, proved how strong Shugrue’s resolve was, since his focus on his studies never wavered, getting straight ‘A’s throughout his 29 credits in 2011-12. Shugrue continued to work hard in practice on his perimeter jumper and his quickness, which paid off this past season, when Shugrue worked his way into Harral’s rotation, even starting a pair of games, and providing timely outside shooting to help the Matadors reach the Region I Finals for the 3rd straight year. The extra work on the court didn’t change his passion for the books, acing 29 more credits with another perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA. Shugrue now heads to St. Katherine’s College in Encinitas, California.

In any other year, the academic achievements of Oscar Hernandez would be at the top of this list, since he nearly finished right next to Shugrue, but stands next to him at the level of NJCAA Distringuished Academic All-American list (must have a 3.8 cumulative grade point average or higher). Kenny Dale’s Matador Men’s Soccer team became an NJCAA All-Academic Team this season for the first time in his tenure, and Hernandez was the one leading that charge-but then again, that’s what the Los Angeles, California native has done since he first stepped on the AWC campus two years ago. Hernandez had to replace ACCAC Goalkeeper of the Year Dejan Milosevic in goal for the Matadors as a freshman, and did it without flinching, bringing the ACCAC Goalkeeper of the Year Award right back to Yuma with a stellar freshman season in 2011, allowing a stingy .78 goals-against average. Even more impressive, though, was his leadership in the classroom, taking a whopping 42 hours during his two freshman semesters, including achieving a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA during the spring. With the majority of the credits necessary to graduate already out of the way, Hernandez stood tall in the net again as a sophomore-leading the Matadors back to the Region I Finals and earning All-ACCAC honors in the process. The tenacity in the classroom was just as strong, earning a perfect 4.0 in both semesters with 25 more credits earned. Hernandez finished with a 3.95 cumulative GPA for his two-year academic career as an NJCAA Distinguished All-American, and now leaves AWC to continue his education at Wayland Baptist University in Texas.

Right behind Hernandez on the list was Shugrue’s basketball teammate, Tanner Clayton. The epitome of versatility, Clayton was equally adept in volleyball and basketball, and used the former to earn a scholarship to the University of Southern California out of high school. His love for roundball, though, led him to Arizona Western as a sophomore, where he quickly slid into the ‘power forward with the outside shooting touch’ role for Harral’s Matadors. He led the Matadors in four different statistical categories, including placing in the nation’s top 20 in rebounding, and helped the Mats to within a few points of their 2nd straight Region I title. More impressive than any of Clayton’s athletic exploits, though, was his academic prowess, including taking 35 credits during his two semesters at AWC, earning a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA for his 18 credits in the fall, and finishing with a cumulative 3.925 GPA for his career. The San Diego native now continues his journey east to Stephen F. Austin University in Texas.

Making his presence known… quietly. That can well describe Matador Baseball player Jordan Atkinson (Damschen) on both the athletic and academic fronts as he heads the list of those Matadors making the NJCAA Academic All-American list (must have a 3.6 cumulative grade point average or higher) . The native of Boise, Idaho, helped christen the head coaching career of AWC Head Baseball Coach Drew Keehn when he transferred to AWC right before the start of the 2012 spring semester, and split time at first base during his freshman season, helping the Matadors achieve their first playoff berth in six years in 2012. This past season, Atkinson became the team’s primary first baseman, and was among the team leaders in batting average and runs batted in. Throughout his three semesters as a Matador, Atkinson was the team benchmark for homering in the classroom, acing all 17 credits of the ’12 spring semester, then racking up 24 more credits during his two semesters as a sophomore to wind up exactly at a 3.7 cumulative GPA.

Right behind Atkinson on the list are a pair of student-athletes who were on the diamond across the way from Atkinson at the AWC Softball Field. Madison Tracy stayed home to play college softball, moving from Kofa High School in Yuma to play for Nikki Bethurum’s Lady Matadors for two years. Along the way, the Yuma native became one of the Lady Matadors’ top pinch-runners, and was one of a dozen different Matadors to hit at least one home run in 2013-a near-record pace for a Matador Softball team. No matter where she was on the diamond, though, Tracy was at the ‘front of the class’ from the time she first opened a book at AWC. Tracy never took less than 17 credits in any of her four college semesters, making the AWC Dean’s List in three of them, and finishing with a 3.675 cumulative GPA over her 77 credits.

Breanna Delgadillo was many times next to Tracy in the Lady Matadors’ infield, and was right beside her academically as well. Like Tracy, the native of San Gabriel, California spent two years in the Matador infield, playing several different positions along the way, and hitting .316 as a sophomore. And like Tracy, she made the Dean’s List in three of her four semesters, knocking out 80 credits with a 3.63 cumulative GPA. Now, their paths will take them in opposite directions for their four-year schooling, with Tracy heading to Kansas and Tabor College, while Delgadillo returns to the Golden State to attend the University of La Verne.

Finishing with an identical GPA as Delgadillo is a Yuma-area product who became one of the favorites of AWC Women’s Head Basketball Coach Patrick Cunningham for her dedication to hard work in everything she did: Kiah Brown. Brown came to AWC from Cibola High School in Yuma as a mid-semester signee, and spent 1 ˝ years in the Lady Matador fold quietly holding her own as a power forward off the bench. Brown’s work ethic on the court-whether in practice or in games-was infectious, and won her respect from her teammates and coaches. Her greatest respect was earned in the classroom, though, where Brown spent all three semesters dotting the AWC Dean’s List, and finished it off with a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA in her final semester this past spring (over 16 credits). The Yuma native finished with 45 credits and that stellar 3.63 cumulative GPA. Brown will stay in Yuma to continue working towards her four-year degree at Northern Arizona University-Yuma.


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