Gracia, Acosta named Student Athletes of the Year; McAtee and Godsey chosen Tiger Boosters of the Year
With Cowley College athletics enjoying tremendous success and ranking second in the nation in the current NATYCAA (National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators) Cup standings, a crowd of more than 400 people attended the college’s 2011 Athletic Awards Banquet held April 26 in the Arkansas City Agri Business Building.
Cowley College athletic director Tom V. Saia, along with Tiger Booster Club President Mark Patrick, provided a run down of the Tiger athletic programs. Those in attendance were then treated to a steak dinner and slide show prior to the awards ceremony.
Then came time to announce the college’s Male and Female Student Athlete’s of the Year. This year’s winners were, Josh Gracia of the Tiger track and cross country teams, and volleyball standout Roslandy Acosta.
It was then time to announce the winners of the Conrad and Janet Jimison Tiger Booster of the Year. Conrad spent 37 years working at Cowley College prior to retiring in 2005.
This year’s recipients of the award were Cowley College president Dr. Patrick J. McAtee and Board member Ron Godsey.
Dr. McAtee has served as president of Cowley College since 1987 and has been a part of six national championships during his leadership. Saia said there is no way Cowley would be able to compete at the national level without the support of its president.
Dr. McAtee, who is an avid supporter of Cowley athletics, was not expecting the honor or to hear Saia tell the crowd that he will be inducted into the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
“I don’t know what to say except my time at Cowley has been a labor of love,” said Dr. McAtee, who took the podium after a standing ovation from the crowd. “I have been blessed with the finest coaches, staff, faculty, Board members, and most of all students, who mean the most to me. I love this community and this college more than you will ever know.”
Dr. McAtee also praised the work done by Saia and the Tiger coaches.
“All of our sports have been first class because of the people who run them,” Dr. McAtee said.
Godsey, who has spent the past 16 years on the college’s Board of Trustees, can be seen at numerous Tiger sporting events.
“Cowley has meant a lot to me over the last 16 years and I am thrilled to get this award,” Godsey said.
With 19 Student Athletes of the Month recognized at the banquet, it was not easy to pick a Male and Female Student Athlete of the Year. However, you can’t go wrong by picking two of the most dominant athletes in their sport, which also shined in the classroom.
Gracia is the fastest American born runner in the history of the Cowley College cross country program. At Cowley, he was the 2010 Jayhawk Conference/Region VI cross country champion as he won the five-mile race with a course record time of 24 minutes and 35 seconds. He became Cowley’s first region champion and finished nearly 27 seconds ahead of the next closest finisher in the race. His performance helped Cowley capture its fifth straight Jayhawk East title, while also winning its third region title in the past four years.
He earned second-team All-American honors by placing seventh at the NJCAA Division I National Championships in Spartanburg, S.C. and capped his stellar cross country career by placing seventh at the NJCAA Half Marathon Classic as the Tiger men became the first NJCAA cross country program to win a conference title, region title, national champion-ship, and half marathon in the same season.
He has also shined on the track at Cowley and was a two-time Coaches Association All-American during the indoor track season and was the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division champion in the 5,000-meter run. He also hit the national qualifying standard to compete at the USA Junior outdoor Track and Field Championships.
He helped the indoor track and field team continue its dominance as they won their fifth straight conference title in February and placed seventh nationally. He was the conference champion in the 1,500-meter run and led the Tigers to their fourth straight outdoor conference title and first region title since 2007.
He was also named Cowley’s September 2010 Male Student-Athlete of the Month.
Acosta was named an all-district performer, and to the all-tournament team at nationals, as well as being named the Jayhawk East Most Valuable Player for the second straight year. She capped her incredible career by being named just the fifth two-time All-American in the history of the Lady Tiger volleyball program.
The outside hitter and setter from Vargas, Venezuela, was not only named a first-team All-American this past season, she was chosen by the American Volleyball Coaches Association as the NJCAA Division II Player of the Year.
She led the Lady Tiger volleyball team in kills, solo blocks, block assists and was second on the team in assists. She also helped Cowley win back-to-back conference and district titles, while winning an astounding 66 of 75 matches during her two years at the school.
She played a pivotal role during Cowley’s school-record 29 match win streak and helped Cowley place second nationally in 2009 and third in the nation in 2010.
She was also named the December 2010 Female Student-Athlete of the Month.