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Big West Announces 2017 Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year


2017 Big West Scholar-Athletes of the Year


The 2017 Big West Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year from the nine conference institutions will be honored at a special banquet on Thursday, March 8 at the Wyndham hotel in Garden Grove, Calif.  Each institution selected its own honorees.

Here is the list of each school's top Male and Female Scholar-Athlete. The complete Commissioner's Honor Roll list for each institution was also announced, and can be viewed by clicking on the above PDF link.


Alex Merder, Cal Poly (Carlsbad, Calif.) A sophomore distance runner for the Mustangs, Alex is a member of both the cross country and the track and field teams.  This past fall, he helped Cal Poly cross country team defend their Big West Conference Championship.  Alex finished 15th and advanced to the NCAA West Regional.  He also finished in 6th place in the 1500m at the 2017 Big West Conference Track and Field Championships.  Alex has earned Commissioner’s Honor Roll with Highest Honors as well as Dean’s List.  A Biological Sciences major with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biology, Alex has a near perfect 3.997 GPA.  He ultimately hopes to work as a biological researcher in genetics or cellular biology. 

Nicolo D’Amato, Cal State Fullerton (Palermo, Sicily) Nico completed a very successful career with the Titans men’s soccer program this past fall.  During his time, Cal State Fullerton captured three Big West Conference Championships including the 2017 title.  During his senior campaign, the center-midfielder appeared in nearly every contest and started in 16.  It was his shot that led to the Titans' game winning goal in the 2017 Big West Championship game.  Nico is a two-time Big West Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year.  In 2017, he provided the male scholar-athlete response on behalf of all of the conference honorees.  A kinesiology major, Nico plans to pursue a professional soccer career in Europe.  When his playing days are done, he hopes to return to school and to one day became a Physician’s Assistant.

Felix Mory, CSUN (Lille, France) The senior team captain of the Matadors men’s golf team, Felix was the 2017 Big West Conference individual champion.  He is a member of the French National Team and was also selected to play in the Palmer Cup as a member of Team Europe.  He has a world amateur ranking of 335 and will compete in the British Amateur Open later this year.  Prior to transferring to CSUN, Felix competed for Santa Barbara City College where he earned first team All Southern California honors after finishing second at the Southern California Championship.  An academic All American, Felix is majoring in Urban Studies, specializing in Regional Planning.  His goal is to be selected to play for the French National Team in the World Amateur Team Championship to be held in Ireland later this year.  Ultimately, he plans to pursue a professional golf career and to become a real estate entrepreneur in his home country. 

Josh Advocate, Long Beach State (Mohave Valley, Ariz.) A 2017 graduate of Long Beach State, Josh helped lead the Dirtbags to the 2017 Big West Conference championship and to the NCAA Super Regionals.  A relief pitcher, Josh led the team in ERA and closed out the season second in saves.  He was named first team All Big West Conference.  In June 2017, Josh was drafted by the Texas Rangers.  He spent time pitching with the Rangers Arizona Rookie League team as well with the Spokane Indians.  Prior to his time at Long Beach State, he helped lead Cochise College to the NJCAA World Series.  Josh majored in Exercise Science at Long Beach State.

Tommy Lam, UC Davis (Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
A senior, Tommy is part of the #1 doubles team for the Aggies men’s tennis team.  In 2017, he earned second team all conference, previously having earned honorable mention All Big West Conference honors.  He has been named an ITA Scholar Athlete and had earned Academic All Conference honors as well.  Tommy was ranked as high as 17th in Hong Kong and was a member of the country’s Junior Davis Cup team.  He twice captured the Hong Kong National Junior Championship.  He hopes to represent Hong Kong at the Davis Cup after his collegiate career concludes.  An Economics major with a nearly perfect GPA, Tommy aspires to become an actuary and to achieve the Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.  He also hopes to one day open his own restaurant. 

Sebastian Heim, UC Irvine (Speyer, Germany) A senior, Sebastian is a second time Big West Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year honoree.  He has earned first team all-conference honors in each of his three seasons with the Anteaters men’s tennis team.  He was named both the Big West Conference Player of the Year and Freshman if the Year in 2015.  He has been named the conference’s Athlete of the Week seven times, a UC Irvine record.  He has been ranked as high as No. 55 during his collegiate career and has had to battle back from injuries and illness that impacted his ability to compete.  Sebastian has earned Dean’s List honors six times and has been named an ITA Scholar-Athlete.  He is double majoring in Economics and in International Studies.  After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in Investment Banking. 

Alex Larsson, UC Riverside (Sodertalje, Sweeden) A senior forward, Alex is one of the leaders of the Highlanders men’s basketball team.  He is the all time UCR leader in games started and is in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rebounds.  He earned conference player of the week honors earlier this season and has twice been named to the Big West Conference All Academic Team.  In high school, his team captured the Swedish National Championship and he was named the MVP of the tournament.  He has earned Dean’s List honors four times and is a Sociology major.  After graduation this Spring, he hopes to play basketball professionally in Europe and to pursue a career that will allow him to serve as a mentor to children, either through coaching or teaching.  He also has a passion for business and enjoys playing the stock market.

George Baier, UC Santa Barbara (Portola Valley, Calif.) A distance runner for the Gauchos, George has had success in both cross country and in track and field.  He finished 11th this past Fall at the Big West Conference Cross Country Championships and scored in three events at the 2016 Big West Track and Field Championships: the 1500m, the 3000m Steeplechase and the 5000m.  He qualified for the NCAA West Regional with a PR in the 1500m.  This Spring he hopes to break the four minute mile mark.  A mechanical engineering major, George has had internships that have allowed him to work with endoscopic camera design, high efficiency motor testing and design, and prototype design.  For his senior Capstone project, he partnered with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to design, prototype and build a power spreading machine for additive manufacturing research.  Ultimately, he plans to work designing medical devices. 

Felix Albert, Hawaii (Karlstadt, Germany) Felix is the leader of the Warriors men’s tennis team.  He has played in the #1 doubles position for Hawaii all four years of his career and in the #1 and #2 singles position.  He earned second team All Big West Conference honors in 2016 and first team honors in 2017.  He was named to the CoSIDA All-District team in 2017 and has earned Big West Conference Athlete of the Week honors numerous times.  He is a two-time selection as Hawaii’s Scholar Athlete of the Year and has earned Academic All American honors.  He has earned Commissioner’s Honor Roll with highest honors all four years of his academic career.  Felix is a Finance major with an emphasis in International Business.  After graduation this Spring, he plans to continue living in paradise working in finance and attending graduate school.  He hopes to develop and open a thriving international business. 


Chelsea Convissar, Cal Poly (Sunnyvale, Calif.)
A senior, Chelsea is a three year starter at shortstop for the Mustangs softball team.  She earned All Big West Conference Freshman Team honors in 2015, and in 2017 she was named Second Team All Big West.  She led the Mustangs in 2017 in doubles, runs and sacrifices.  She is currently third all time in program history in sacrifices.  A Kinesiology major with an emphasis in Exercise Science, Chelsea has earned Dean’s List honors nine times.  After graduation, she hopes to attend school to one day become a Physician’s Assistant. 

Shianne Brannan, Cal State Fullerton (Chino, Calif.)
A senior shortstop, Shianne has helped lead the Titans softball team to back-to-back Big West Conference championships.  She was named honorable mention All Conference in 2017 and has been named a NFCA Academic All American.   A health science major with a minor in Pre-health Professions, Shianne has a nearly perfect GPA.  She is a member of the tEYEtans Pre-Optometry club.  She volunteers with Illumination Foundation, Kids Vision and the Lyons club to provide health services to the homeless.  She plans to attend graduate school to become an optometrist, ultimately hoping to open her own family practice or to specialize in sports vision training. 

Monique Griffiths, CSUN (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) A 2017 graduate of CSUN, Monique is the all time Big West Conference Championship meet record holder in the hammer throw.  She won the event at both the 2015 and 2017 Conference championships, while also placing first in the discus in 2015.  She placed in the top 20 in both the hammer and the discus at the NCAA Championships, earning All American honors.  She owns the CSUN all-time record in the hammer and was a 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier.  She also represented the USA at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Under 23 Championships.  Monique served as the CSUN Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President from 2015-2017.  She graduated with highest honors with a degree in Public Health and a minor in Psychology.  She plans to pursue a graduate degree and to work as a professional psychologist. 

Riley Schultz-Cooks, Long Beach State (Coarsegold, Calif.) A 2017 graduate of Long Beach State, Riley finished her career as a two-time All American in the heptathlon.  She captured the Big West Conference championship in the event in both 2016 and 2017.  She was named the Big West Conference Field Athlete of the Year in 2016 and 2017, the first athlete to win the award in consecutive seasons in two decades.  In three seasons with the Beach, she is near the top of the record books in nine different categories.  Riley earned her degree in Film and Electronic Arts, Theory and Practice of Cinema, earning both Dean’s List and President’s List honors.  She is currently training to compete for Team USA. 

Greta Kohlmoos, UC Davis (Palo Alto, Calif.) A senior center for the Aggies women’s water polo team, Greta has twice earned First Team All Big West Conference honors  and was named Honorable Mention All American in 2017.  Her 66 goals in 2017 ranked her second in the Big West Conference.   As Greta entered her senior season, she needed only 8 goals to enter into the Aggies Career Goals Scored Top Ten list.  Her 2017 single season mark is sixth all time in school history.  Greta has earned Dean’s List honors and has been named to the ACWPC All Academic team three times.  A Cinema and Digital Media major, Greta wants to pursue a career directing feature films. 

Avery French, UC Irvine (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) A graduate student at UC Irvine, Avery graduated from UNLV with a degree in accounting in three years.  She has already earned a Masters in Accounting, graduating Summa Cum Laude last June.  She is now pursuing a second Masters in Demographic and Social Analysis.  In her first season with the Anteaters women’s golf team, she earned second team All Big West Conference honors after four top ten finishes.  She has had two top ten finishes already this season.  Avery is a member of the Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society and earned the 2017 Academic Excellence Award in recognition of achieving the highest GPA in her masters program.  She has interned with Ernst & Young Public Accounting Firm, where she ultimately hopes to become a partner one day. 

Jakeishya Le, UC Riverside (Santa Ana, Calif.) A junior, Jakeishya already owns the Highlanders women’s golf single season scoring average record.  She was the 2016 Big West Conference Freshman of the Year and she has earned first team All Big West Conference honors in both 2016 and 2017.  She is the Highlander's team captain and as a sophomore, she became only the second UCR women’s golfer selected to NCAA Regionals as an individual.  She has earned Dean’s List and Chancellor’s List honors and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.  Jakeishya has extensively volunteered her time with a number of youth programs, most notably with the Southern California Golf Association.  Her passion for helping kids realize their dreams has her ultimate goal to be a golf coach or mentor.  She also plans to play golf professionally on the LPGA tour. 

Natalie Da Silveira, UC Santa Barbara (Sao Paulo, Brazil) A senior, Natalie is a member of the Gauchos women’s tennis team.  She earned second team All Big West Conference honors in singles in 2017 and was also named an ITA Scholar-Athlete.  She has twice been awarded with the John and Jodi Arnhold Award for the highest GPA and has earned Dean’s List and UCSB AD Honor Roll honors.  A Global Studies major, Natalie was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Singapore, Switzerland, Brazil and Miami.  She speaks Portuguese and Spanish.  After graduation, she hopes to attend law school. 

Brittany Hitchcock, Hawaii (Huntington Beach, Calif.) A senior pitcher for the Rainbow Wahine, Brittany was a 2017 First Team All Big West Conference selection.  She also earned second team All Conference honors in 2015 and 2016 and has twice been named to the NFCA All West Region team.  In 2015 and 2016, she was a member of the Puerto Rico National Team and participated in numerous World Cup and World Championship Tournaments.  In the 2016 European Tournament, she earned All Tourney honors.  Brittany graduated in three years with her undergraduate degree in Family Resources.  She is currently completing her Masters in Educational Psychology.  After graduation this May, she hopes to play professional softball in Europe or Japan.  She eventually plans to work with children as a school psychologist.