Wingate's Griesche and Patel Named SAC Men's and Women's Track and Field Scholar-Athletes of the Year

Wingate's Griesche and Patel Named SAC Men's and Women's Track and Field Scholar-Athletes of the Year

ROCK HILL, S.C. ( – Wingate's Valerie Griesche was voted the South Atlantic Conference women's track and field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, alongside teammate Nepolian Patel, who earned the men's honor, the Conference office announced today.

The South Atlantic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is presented annually to one student-athlete in each of the Conference's championship sports, and is voted on by the SAC's Faculty Athletic Representatives Committee. The winners are selected based on their achievements in academics, athletics, service and leadership.

Griesche, a senior biology major from Ingolstadt, Germany, graduated last weekend with a 4.0 grade point average. She has earned CoSIDA academic honors in both cross country and track and field during her career. This season, Griesche placed fifth in the mile and sixth in the 3000 meter at the first-ever SAC Indoor Track and Field Championship. She also finished second in the steeplechase during the SAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship.  Griesche placed all four years in the steeplechase, as well as helping her team to two SAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"Valerie has dedicated herself fully over the past four years, not only on the track, but in the classroom," said Wingate head track and field coach Travis LeFlore. "She's worked tirelessly to achieve her goals and is extremely deserving of this award."

Not just a student-athlete, Griesche is also extremely active in the community. For three semesters, she has been working with Dr. Melissa Fox on a cancer research project. Using various experimental methods, she studied the role of the metabolic regulator AMPKa2 in cancer cells and its potential as a treatment method. Currently, Griesche is working on her senior honors project, which involves wound healing assays and uses fluorescence to investigate the activity of various proteins involved in migration of breast cancer cells. 

Griesche as also served the community through events like "One Day One Dog," Xcel 2 Fitness, Special Olympics, The Boys and Girls Club, United Way Day of Caring and more.  She has also worked as an academic peer tutor at Wingate for the past four years, helping countless student excel. 

Patel is a senior Pharmacy major with a 3.76 grade point average in undergraduate studies and a 3.28 in his major courses, from Bailey, N.C..  Patel has had a very successful running career at Wingate since his freshman year.  This season, he won the 3000-meters, and placed fourth in the mile at the SAC Indoor Track and Field Championship. He also placed third in the 5000-meters and fifth in the 800-meters at the SAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship.

"Nepolian's schedule throughout this season was nothing short of grueling," said Leflore. "His focus and dedication to Wingate track and field, and his pharmacy obligations is simply amazing. I'm not sure if there are many student-athletes who can juggle rotations, classes and the workload that is handled in the pharmacy program as well as being a top athlete on the track. I'm very proud of Nepolian and this accomplishment." 

Patel is also a very involved student in the Wingate Pharmacy school.  He is a member of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), serving as the Power to End Stroke Chair and the Immunization Chair since 2015, and he is a member of Phi Delta Chi, the first U.S. pharmacy fraternity.  Patel is also a member of the Wingate chapter of the American Public Health Association.  Through all these programs Patel helps run events and participates in volunteer opportunities, including the Ebenezer Baptist Church parking lot immunization event, Operation Sandwich and giving Immunization Education at a Men's Shelter. He is also Diabetes Educator,  he worked with HIV/AIDS Wingate lyceum event and participated in National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. 

Other Women's Track and Field Nominees

Lucie Noall, Queens

Haylea Salamon, Lenoir-Rhyne

Other Men's Track and Field Nominees

Aubrey Hite, Lenoir-Rhyne

Avery Cypress, Queens


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