Tusculum's McMillen and Queens' Raftis Named SAC Men's and Women's Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year

Tusculum's McMillen and Queens' Raftis Named SAC Men's and Women's Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year

ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – Tusculum University's Nicole McMillen was voted the 2019 South Atlantic Conference Women's Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Queens University of Charlotte's Anthony Raftis was named the 2019 South Atlantic Conference Men's Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 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. 

McMillen, a Pioneer graduate student, has a 4.0 GPA while pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree. A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American in track & field/cross country and women's soccer, she was named the 2019 SAC Scholar-Athlete in women's track & field and was named the 2019 SAC International Woman of the Year. She is a four-time member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, the Tusculum's President's List and Tusculum's Dean's List, while also being a member of the Alpha Chi Honors List.

"Nicole continues to be a great representative of Tusculum University," said Tusculum head cross country coach Cory Pratt. "She's been remarkable as an athlete, but more importantly she's an accomplished student. She's obtained her bachelors and is working on an MBA while competing at the highest level." 

On the course, McMillen had an outstanding cross country season. She won four of five events this season, including winning the 2019 SAC Women's Cross Country Championship by more than 25 seconds. She also won the Zaxby's Open, the Greater Louisville Classic and the Bobcat Invitational, and she placed second at the Wingfoot Cross Country Classic. She was named the 2019 SAC Women's Cross Country Runner of the Year and she became the first Tusculum runner to win the SAC Championship since 2003. For her efforts, McMillen was named SAC AstroTurf Women's Cross Country Runner of the Week three times in 2019. 

A native of Pickering, Ontario, McMillen is an active member of the Tusculum community serving on the Pioneer Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and taking part in the Tusculum University Nettie Day of Service and Make-A-Wish 5k Run/Walk. She has also has volunteered her time as a youth soccer camp counselor.

Raftis, a senior sports management and math major from Kent, Washington, has a perfect 3.87 GPA. He is a member of the Royal Society, is a SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll selection and is a United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Team.

"Student-athletes like Anthony are hard to come by," said Queens head cross country coach Tom Scott.  "The amount of work he has put in to both his athletics and academics is remarkable. He has been running 95-100 miles a week for almost three years straight. He is a two-time NCAA All-American, and to cap it all off is a straight-A student. We are very proud of all of his accomplishments."

On the cross country course, Raftis led the Royal men's team to their third consecutive SAC Men's Cross Country Championship in 2019, finishing fourth overall and earning first team All-SAC honors. He also led his team to the 2019 NCAA Southeast Region title, finishing third overall at the regional meet. He earned SAC AstroTurf Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week honors twice during the 2019 season and was named InterCon Queens Male Student-Athlete of the Month in September 2019.

An active member of the Queens community, Raftis is the President of Rotaract Club, a community service organization, where he has logged over 100 community hours in 2019. He is also chair of the Queens Campus Union Board.

Women's Cross Country Scholar-Athlete Finalists

Kamryn Osterbind, Anderson
Rachel Strayer, Carson-Newman
Hannah Mercer, Catawba
Kylie Dahlberg, Lenoir-Rhyne
Natane Derutter, Queens
Lauryn Tumey, Wingate

Men's Cross Country Scholar-Athlete Finalists

Hayden Tuten, Anderson
Tom Joyce, Catawba
Josh Adkins, Lenoir-Rhyne
Taylor Tupps, Tusculum
Micah Kipcumba, Wingate


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