ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – Valerie Griesche from Wingate, Evan Altizer of Tusculum and Coker's Henrik Hellbe have been selected as the recipients of the 2017-18 South Atlantic Conference Presidents Award, the Conference office announced today.
The highest individual honor presented annually by the South Atlantic Conference, the Presidents Award is voted on by the league's Faculty Athletic Representatives and to be eligible, student-athletes must exemplify excellence in athletics, academics and community service. Further, to be nominated for this prestigious award, the individual must have been honored as the Scholar-Athlete of the Year during the year in one of the league's 20 sponsored sports.
"Valerie, Evan and Henrik exemplify the term student-athlete," said South Atlantic Conference Commissioner Patrick Britz. "They have embodied three of the attributes of NCAA Division II; learning, service and balance, through their athletics, academics and service to the community. The SAC is honored to recognize them with this prestigious award, and we are even more proud to have them represent Wingate, Tusculum, Coker and the league."
Griesche, a senior biology major from Ingolstadt, Germany, graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average. She has earned CoSIDA academic honors in both cross country and track and field during her career. In 2017 she was named the Women's Cross Country Elite 20 award winner, as she posted the highest GPA at the SAC Cross Country Championship.
In cross country, Griesche was a three-time All-SAC selection and All-Freshman team honoree in cross country. She was honorable mention All-SAC in 2016 in cross country with her 5K time of 19:29 and she was a second team All-SAC at the 2014 with her time of 19:31. Griesche was also a member of two SAC Championship teams, and she qualified for the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championship during her first three seasons.
On track, Griesche placed fifth in the mile and sixth in the 3000 meter at the first-ever SAC Indoor Track and Field Championship this season. 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.
Altizer, a senior English major from Weddington, N.C., ended his playing career with a 3.84 GPA. The four-time member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, Altizer also named to the Tusculum Athletic Director's Honor Roll, Tusculum President's List, as well as Dean's List. He was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team in 2017 and was also an All-District first team honoree as a junior and senior.
As a senior, he led the Pioneers with a 9.1 punt return average, which was third in the league and 42nd in the country. His season-long 45-yard return at UNC Pembroke set up a touchdown in Tusculum's 31-10 road victory. He leaves Tusculum as the program's all-time leader with 83 punt returns, while his 677 punt return yards are second in the school's record book, and his career 8.16 punt return average is seventh-best by a Pioneer.
Altizer started in all 10 games as a receiver in 2017, where he finished second on the team with 25 receptions for 444 yards. His four touchdown receptions led the Pioneers. During his 42-game career, he posted 67 receptions for 1,359 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 1,359 receiving yards rank him No. 15 in Tusculum history.
He has given time to his community, during his first two years at Tusculum he helped with Doak Elementary Lunch Buddies Program. For three years he volunteered at Tusculum View Elementary School, assisting with the Drop Everything and Read Program. With his football teammates, Altizer also volunteered with roadside cleanup projects as part of the Adopt-A-Highway Program.
Altizer volunteered during the College's Day of Service for the region, providing numerous hours working on various projects in the area. He served as a campus ambassador for the Tusculum College President's Society during his junior and senior years. He was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteered for the Greenville Boys and Girls Club, as well as spending time volunteering for the Special Olympics.
"Evan is an outstanding football player," said Tusculum Head Football Coach Jerry Odom. "He, in the truest term is what the phrase 'student-athlete' is intended. He is a tireless worker both on and off the field. He is a shining star in the community and I for one could not be prouder of Evan for this most deserved accomplishment."
Hellbe, a Marketing and Economics major with a 3.99 grade point average, is a native of Stockholm, Sweden. During his career at Coker, Hellbe was a two-time ITA Scholar Athlete, a two-time President's List selection and a four-time Dean's List honoree. He also was given the Department of Business Administration's Outstanding Student Award as a senior.
"I am so happy for Henrik to have been selected as the SAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men's tennis," said Coker head men's and women's tennis coach Tom Simpson. "To have others recognize his enthusiasm, leadership, and excellence in his academic, athletic, and school activities is very rewarding. He has left a very positive legacy at Coker College and in the South Atlantic Conference."
On the tennis court, Hellbe earned All-SAC First Team honors for his doubles play with partner Mark Watt. The duo recorded a record of 12-9 at No. 1 doubles during the 2018 season.
Extremely active off the court in the community and beyond, Hellbe is a member of the Coker College Enactus team where he received the Service Leadership Award for 100-plus hours of service during both his sophomore and junior years. During his senior year he was awarded the Service Leadership Platinum Award for 500-plus hours of service. As part of Enactus, he helped create project #DonateDala which raised $19,900 over two years in order to help support the people of Myanmar. Thanks to #DonateDala, the Coker Enactus team traveled to Myanmar to build a water system and an aquaponics system providing citizens with fresh water and sustainable food.
Hellbe also helped create mycampusmarket.org, helping social entrepreneurs digitize their business. He was nominated as the Executive Leader of the Year for Enactus United States.
Other Men's Finalists
Juan Carlos, Queens
Ryan Crompton, Lenoir-Rhyne
Ben Herring, Newberry
Nepolian Patel, Wingate
Other Women's Finalists
Alexis Dillard, Anderson
Franziska Funke, Tusculum
Lauren Hochstetler, Volleyball
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