Five UAlbany Athletes Honored With SUNY Scholar-Athlete Awards
ALBANY, N.Y. – Five student-athletes from the University at Albany were honored as recipients of the 2017-18 Scholar-Athlete Award by SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. The award recognizes outstanding academic excellence and athletic achievement.
The five student-athletes, Akuabata Okenwa, Kyle Gronostaj, Tara Belinsky, Kyle McClancy, and Nate Hatalsky, come from five different sports and have contributed to four America East Conference championships during the current school year.
“It is my pleasure to congratulate our Scholar-Athlete awardees for their achievement in the classroom, and on the playing field,” said Chancellor Johnson. “Whether competing at a Division I or intramural level, all of those honored today are committed to excellence in their athletic pursuits, sportsmanship, and personal development. They balance a challenging workload, while demonstrating leadership and service. Congratulations to all awardees at the University at Albany.”
To be considered for this award, student-athletes were nominated by their campus athletic director. Nominees' academic credentials and athletic accomplishments were then reviewed by a panel of athletic directors from across the SUNY system and members of the SUNY provost's office.
Okenwa, a redshirt-sophomore middle blocker on the women’s volleyball team, received First Team All-Conference honors this season. Okenwa led UAlbany in 2017 with 290 kills, recording double-digits in the statistic in 19 games on the season. Her play in 2017 earned spots on two All-Tournament teams. Okenwa has a 3.50 GPA studying Human Biology with a minor in Psychology.
Gronostaj, a senior distance runner on the men’s track & field team, earned America East Elite 18 Award for men’s cross country while earning Second Team All-Conference accolades at the America East XC Championships. By placing 20th at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, Gronostaj also earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors. Following an injury-shortened indoor season, Gronostaj earned All-Conference honors in the 5,000m and 10,000m at the America East Outdoor Championships while setting new school records in both events, including becoming the first Great Dane to break 30 minutes in the 10,000m. Gronostaj has a 3.53 GPA studying Business with a minor in Public Health.
Belinsky, a senior thrower on the women’s track & field team, earned America East Indoor Track & Field All-Academic honors during the winter. Additionally, she earned All-Conference honors in the shot put at the America East Indoor Championships. In her signature event, she broke her own school record three times during the indoor season, including becoming the first woman in program history to record a mark of 50’. Outdoors, Belinsky won the shot put at the America East Outdoor Championships and helped her team win its first-ever ECAC Outdoor title. Belinsky has a 3.86 GPA studying Communications with a minor in Sociology.
McClancy, a senior midfielder on the men’s lacrosse team, was just named to the Inside Lacrosse All-America Second Team, and previously was named First Team All-Conference by the America East In 17 starts so far this season, McClancy has scored 26 goals and recorded 16 assists for a total of 42 points, which ranks fourth on the team. McClancy has a 3.93 GPA studying Business.
Hatalsky, a redshirt-senior linebacker on the football team, earned Second Team All-Conference honors, leading the Colonial Athletic Association with 122 tackles during the 2017 season. He is the UAlbany Division I program record-holder for tackles in a single game, recording 21 this past season against Rhode Island, and recorded five games last year exceeding 10 tackles. Hatalsky has a 3.71 GPA studying Business with a minor in Psychology.
Two of the five scholar-athletes, Gronostaj and McClancy, have yet to see their seasons come to a close. Gronostaj will compete at the NCAA East Preliminary Championships starting on May 24 for a chance to qualify for NCAA Outdoor Championships while McClancy will continue along UAlbany’s run through the NCAA Tournament with a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday against Denver.