Western Nebraska Community College athletes picked up several academic honors recently from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) as well as Region IX.
Twenty-two Cougar athletes were recognized by the NJCAA for achieving a 3.60 GPA or higher, while 49 Cougar athletes were honored with Region IX Academic honors by achieving a 3.25 GPA.
Two athletes, men's soccer player Andre Matzuda and volleyball player Lara Picht were named First Team All-Academic by maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
The Cougar baseball team had the most recipients on the NJCAA academic teams with seven players receiving distinction.
WNCC baseball coach Mike Jones said he was proud of his players of taking business not only on the field, but also in the classroom.
"I'm proud of our guys for making the commitment to their futures," Jones said. "It is tough to be a successful student athlete on and off the field so this is an accomplishment that deserves to be recognized.
"Having seven players make the All-Academic All-American team makes me proud. Our program is built around players with good character and Players that want to be successful on and off the field. These guys sacrifice time with friends and family so they can get school work done."
The baseball team had four players make second team, which is a grade point average between 3.80 and 3.99. The players include sophomore Alex Achtermann from Aurora, Colorado, Brandon Bachar of Russell, Kansas, Lincoln Trujillo of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Nate Giefer of Loveland, Colorado.
Baseball players making third team (3.6 to 3.79 GPA) include Claude Bova of Sydney, Australia; John Glasser of Aurora, Colorado, and Ty Benson of Scottsbluff.
Besides the seven baseball player, at least one player from each of the seven Cougar sports earned NJCAA all-academic honors.
Jones said placing 22 on the NJCAA academic team and 49 on the Region IX academic teams is a testament of what WNCC is about.
"WNCC athletics has great leadership from top to bottom," he said. "It starts with Ryan Burgner as the athletic director who emphasizes academics and wants to see all our athletes become the best they can be on and off the field. Our coaches spend a lot of time working with the student athletes on developing the work habits it takes to be successful."
Men's basketball and men's soccer each had two players on the NJCAA team. Freshman Dordje Dimitrijevic earned second team honors and Richards Pinne made third team.
Besides Matzuda, Sergio Moreno earned second team honors.
The four women's sports placed 10 players on the NJCAA academic teams.
Volleyball had the most women's players with four. Picht was the only sophomore to make the team. The other three include Danika Daum of Kimball, Kirstee Trees of Riverton, Wyoming, and Kadara Marshall of Hilo, Hawaii all on the second team.
Women's basketball and softball each had three players on the team. Freshman Melisa Kadic of West Valley Utah, Utah, earned second team honors, while sophomore Bree Paulson of Broomfield, Colorado, and Sophie Agorakis of Melbourne, Australia, garnered third team honors.
WNCC softball players earning third team honors included sophomores Celyn Whitt of Broomfield, Colorado, and Emily Selby of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and freshman Julia Suchan, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Jesse Michel of the women's soccer team, earned second team honors. Michel is a sophomore from Logan, Utah.
Region IX academic honors saw the Cougar baseball team place 11 players on the team followed by nine players from the men's soccer team and eight from the women's basketball team.
The Cougar softball team had seven make Region IX Academic all-region, while volleyball had six, and men's basketball and women's soccer with four players each.
Cougar baseball players on the All-region academic team include Alex Achtermann, Ryan Grasser, Nate Giefer, Ty Benson, Lincoln Trujillo, Isaac Taylor, Brandon Bachar, Ian Fisher, Lucas Piatchek, Brock Randels, and Tyler Shubert.
Men's soccer players that earned all-region academic include Omar Ceesay, Matheus Campos, Eseah Ingram, Andrew Matzuda, Sergio Moreno, Chit Oo, Billy Hoffman, Travis Mundel, and Gage Smith.
Men's basketball players include Dordje Dimitrijevic, Trent Harris, Richards Pinne, and Vinnie Shahid.
The eight women's basketball team making academic all-region include sophomores Bree Paulson, Sladjana Rakovic, and Zeynep Canbaz, and freshman Olivia Wiberg, Melisa Kadic, Kristin Gaston, and Deniz Dalkiran.
Softball players earning all-region academic honors included sophomores Lauren Oxford, Jasmine Wessel, Emily Selby, and Celyn Whitt, and freshmen Alyssa Guymon, Julia Suchan, and Ashley Thomas.
Volleyball players on the All-Region Academic list inlucde sophomore Maraea O'Connor and Lara Picht, and freshmen Danika Daum, Lauren Shaul, Kirstee Trees, and Kadara Marshall.
Women's soccer players include Janie McAmis, Jesse Michel, Allison Parker, and Katelyn Pyle.