WLU, Wheeling U. athletes tabbed MEC award finalists

BRIDGEPORT – The Mountain East Conference (MEC) has announced the finalists for the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year Awards, including those at Wheeling University and West Liberty University.

Recent graduates Haley Kramer (Norwalk, Ohio/Monroeville) and Andres Da Silva (Caracas, Venezuela/Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola) have been selected the finalists from Wheeling University.

Meanwhile, West Liberty’s finalists are two-time NCAA Division II Academic All-Americans Caitlin deVries and Brandon Morrison.

Each institution in the MEC selected one female and one male as finalists for the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding academic and athletic performance for the previous academic year. Each finalist will receive a plaque. The criteria to be nominated are: (1) a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average; (2) participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s contests in a MEC-sponsored sport; (3) minimum of one year in residence at the institution.

Kramer, who was also a finalist for the award in 2018, was a consensus Second-Team All-American and became one of the first three-time AVCA All-Americans in program history along with teammate Stephanie Sylvester. She was the NCAA Division II statistical champion with a MEC and school-record .440 hitting percentage this past season. ranked second on the team and 81st in the nation with 1.03 blocks per set and also finished second on the team with 3.19 kills per set. She ranks second all-time in MEC history with a .331 hitting percentage, third all-time with 425 total blocks and eighth all-time with 1,356 kills.

Off the court, Kramer was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 selection, appeared on the MEC Academic All-Conference list in 2018 and 2019, and made the MEC Commissioners Honor Roll in 2017.

Da Silva was a stalwart on the Cardinals defense during his tenure in Wheeling. In 2018, he helped Wheeling post nine clean sheets and played 90 minutes or more in 12 of 15 matches. The Cardinals on defense allowed only 1.05 goals per game which ranked third in the MEC and the team reached the league’s championship match.

In 2019, he served as team captain and started 15 games this season and played in all 90 minutes of those starts on defense.

In the classroom, Da Silva became just the sixth student-athlete in Wheeling University history to be named a CoSIDA Academic All-American – considered to be the most prestigious academic award in collegiate athletics – when he earned third-team honors this past season. He was a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District 2 selection and made the MEC Academic All-Conference list (3.7-4.0) all four years at the University.

Da Silva was also a member of the Wheeling University team that won the West Virginia Athletic Trainers’ Association Quiz Bowl and competed in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Trainers’ Association Quiz Bowl this past week. deVries, a four-year starter and three-year team captain for Coach Barry Christmas’s women’s soccer team, anchored the Lady Hilltoppers’ stingy defensive back line throughout her career.

A two-time All-Mountain East Conference selection and a member of the 2016 MEC All-Freshman Team, deVries led the WLU women to seven shutouts this fall as the Lady Hilltoppers held their opponents to two goals or fewer in every match.

A native of Evans City, Pa., deVries never received a grade other than “A” during her four years at West Liberty and carried the College of Science banner at commencement earlier this month as the student with the highest GPA in the college. The first back-to-back NCAA D2 Academic All-American in WLU women’s soccer history, deVries was an MEC Scholar-Athlete finalist in 2017-18 and also won West Liberty’s 2018 Bartell Award. Graduating with a 4.00 GPA in Biology (Environmental Stewardship) with a minor in Geography, she served summer internships at the Pittsburgh Zoo and on Martha’s Vineyard and assisted on a research project with the University of Nebraska.

Morrison, a 5-10, 200-pound defensive back from Huntington, W.Va., was a four-year regular who played in 40 of 44 games during his Hilltopper career despite missing the entire 2017 campaign due to injury. Starting at multiple positions in the WLU secondary, he was a two-year captain and ranked among the team’s leading tacklers each of his last two seasons. Highlights of his senior season included coming up with a fumble recovery and interception in the last 4 minutes of regulation to set up the tying and winning scores in a comeback win at W.Va. Wesleyan. He also picked up the first safety of his career in the win against Concord.

Morrison was every bit as impressive in the classroom. The first back-to-back NCAA D2 Academic All-American in West Liberty football history and a member of the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society, Morrison was also a fixture on the MEC All-Academic Team and a two-time NCAA D2 Academic All-District first-teamer. He was an honors graduate with a 3.86 GPA in Criminal Justice and Corrections and completed his master’s degree in Criminology in December with a perfect 4.00 GPA in his graduate level courses.

The MEC Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year will be determined by a vote of MEC administrators and league office personnel. Results of the league-wide balloting will be announced later this month.


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