PELLA — Central College women’s soccer forward Katie Wang (junior, Brooklyn Park, Minn., Park Center HS) and women’s cross country/track and field runner Sarah Salas (senior, Dubuque, Hempstead HS) were included on an impressive national list of student-athletes honored for their academic and athletic accomplishments announced by the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Thursday.
The Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards Program is designed to honor undergraduate students who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, Jr.’s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, U.S. colleges and universities are invited to participate in this annual award program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability and academic performance. Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars demonstrate a commitment to community service and student leadership.
A three-time varsity letterwinner at Central, Wang is a biochemistry and Spanish double major with a 4.0 GPA. She was the team’s Most Hustle Award-winner in 2019 and earned academic all-conference plaudits in 2018 and 2019.
Salas maintained a 3.89 cumulative GPA, including a 3.91 in the fall of 2019. She lettered three times with the cross country team and served as a team captain for the 2019 season. In track and field, she lettered twice. Between the sports, she earned four academic all-conference honors.
Athletes across 41 intercollegiate sports from all divisions of NCAA and NAIA competition are amongst the honorees. Wang is among 78 women’s soccer honorees and the only Division III player on the first team. Salas was one of 79 student-athletes recognized in women’s track and one of 20 on the first team. The duo were the only American Rivers Conference student-athletes cited.
The nominations are whittled down to 10 male and 10 female semifinalists. The process then shrinks the field to four finalists before a male and a female nominee are awarded the title of Arthur Ashe Jr., Sports Scholars of the Year.
On the men’s side, football kicker Rodrigo Blankenship of the University of Georgia was the winner while Texas A&M University swimmer Raena Eldridge was the female winner.