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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Inaugural 'Evening of Excellence' Honors Zag Seniors

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 04/30/2012
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SPOKANE, Wash. - Basketball players Robert Sacre and Kayla Standish were named the Gonzaga University Male and Female Senior Athletes of the Year, respectively, at the inaugural Evening of Excellence Monday, an event to honor the Bulldog seniors as well as pay tribute to all Gonzaga student-athletes.

Other award recipients were men’s tennis player Zhia Hwa Chong and women’s soccer player Katie Spangenberg as the Male and Female Scholar Athletes of the Year; women’s basketball player Shannon Reader for the Leadership Award and women’s tennis as the P.R.I.D.E. competition champion.

In addition, 18 student-athletes were inducted into Gonzaga University’s chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma, the national college athlete honor society. Chi Alpha Sigma exists to encourage and reward high academic scholarship of college athletes at 4-year accredited colleges and universities, to recognize outstanding academic achievement by intercollegiate varsity letter winners and to encourage good citizenship, moral character, and friendship among the high academic achievers in college athletics. Founded in 1996, Chi Alpha Sigma has grown to more than 222 University chapters nationwide, comprised of members from all levels within the NCAA and the NAIA. The seniors inducted today have maintained a minimum 3.4 cumulative GPA while earning varsity letters in their respective sports. Gonzaga’s inductees are Molly Anderson (women’s basketball), Zhia Hwa Chong (men’s tennis), Laura Day (volleyball), Colin Flynn (men’s soccer), Maxx Garrett (baseball), Casey Gould (women’s soccer), Hans Hagmeier (men’s cross country), Jessica Howe (women’s golf), Andrew Hunter (baseball), Sophie Lantta (women’s tennis), Kirsten Lightfoot (women’s cross country/track), Teresa Makowski (women’s cross country/track), Tyler Mendiola (men’s rowing), Olivia Miller (women’s rowing), Chelsea Quilling (women’s rowing), Caitlyn Salo (women’s soccer), Katie Spangenberg (women’s soccer), Mitchell Weller (men’s soccer).

The following is a look at this year’s individual award winners

Robert Sacre
Men's Basketball Male Senior Athlete Of The Year

Rob Sacre, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, was a crowd favorite from the day he arrived on campus. He finished his career with 1,270 points to rank 21st on the Bulldog career charts and grabbed 679 rebounds for sixth all-time. As a junior and senior he was named to the All-West Coast conference first team, and this past season was also named the WCC Defender of the Year. His 60 blocks this past season rank fourth all-time, and he also holds the second and third spots on the single-season list. His 186 career blocks rank second. As a junior he was selected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 9 second team. He started 113 of his 136 career games.

Kayla Standish
Women's Basketball Female Senior Athlete of the Year

Kayla Standish became Gonzaga's fifth All-American, being named both WBCA and Associated Press All-America honorable mention in 2012. The native of Ellensburg, Wash., ended her tenure as a two-time All-West Coast Conference and two-time WCC All-Tournament honoree. She was named to the 2012 NCAA Tournament Kingston Regional All-Tournament Team and this past fall represented the United States at the Pan American Games. She played in every single game since arriving on campus and leaves Gonzaga tied with teammate Kelly Bowen for the Zags and West Coast Conference record for most games played at 138. She is the Gonzaga career record leader in blocks with 176 and is the only player in school history to score more than 1,500 points, grab more than 800 rebounds and block 150 shots. She ended her career scoring 1,583 points and grabbing 809 boards. She led the Zags to the NCAA Tournament each of her four years, and played in a school record 12 tournament games; reaching the schools then-first NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen in 2010 and the program's first trip to the Elite Eight in 2011. She was the 19th overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, selected by the Minnesota Lynx, becoming the third player in school history to be drafted into the WNBA.

Zhia Hwa Chong
Men's Tennis Male Scholar Athlete of the Year

Zhia Hwa Chong joined Gonzaga after attending Lewis-Clark State College for three semesters.  While there, the native of Kuching, Sarawak, earned an impressive 3.90 cumulative GPA and was a standout on the men's tennis team.  Since joining Gonzaga in the fall of 2010, he hasn't slowed down, earning President's List honors every semester in attendance while majoring in computer science and minoring in analytical finance.  Currently, he maintains a 3.79 cumulative GPA and plans on completing his graduation requirements next year.

Katie Spangenberg
Women's Soccer Female Scholar Athlete of the Year

Katie Spangenberg not only completed her last season of eligibility this past fall, but also graduated Magna Cum Laude in December. She earned an impressive 3.85 cumulative GPA, posting perfect 4.0 semesters twice, while majoring in business finance and minoring in sport management.  The native of Pullman, Wash., has already accepted a position and is on the job as an Accounting Financial Analyst with Epic in Madison, Wisc.

Shannon Reader
Women's Basketball Leadership Award

This new award has been created to recognize a student-athlete who truly exhibits what it means to be a Zag by displaying excellence within their team, the classroom, on campus and in the community. The three nominees were voted on by their peers and team representatives from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and the office of Student-Athlete Support Services.

As a natural leader on and off the playing field, Shannon Reader excels in all areas she has pursued at Gonzaga. A public relations major, the native of Lake Oswego, Ore., maintained a 3.26 cumulative GPA. She has been named to the WCC Commissioner's Honor Roll twice, as well as the 2012 WCC All-Academic Team. She has played a key role in building the recent success of the women's basketball program and their four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Reader has also displayed leadership for her peers as this year's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President and has been essential to SAAC's successful events during her time on the committee. She was selected to be a participant of the initial Student-Athlete Leadership Institute for the 2010-11 academic year and was recognized as the February, 2012, Zag of the Month. She exemplifies the Jesuit philosophy of service to others with her commitment to volunteerism.


Women's Tennis

P.R.I.D.E. is a friendly competition meant to promote mutual support and fellowship amongst the athletic teams that make up the Zag family. P.R.I.D.E. recognizes student-athletes' commitment to Gonzaga's mission of creating a "mature concern for others" through community outreach and service. Each team has the opportunity to earn P.R.I.D.E. points by attending designated home athletic contests and Life Skills programs, participating in community outreach and from their fall semester team academic achievement. In another close battle this year, Women's Tennis took first place, Women's Rowing claimed second place and Volleyball earned third place.

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