18 St. John's Student-Athletes Honored as Recipients of Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award

May 16, 2018

QUEENS, N.Y. - Following a season that saw St. John’s succeed both on and off the playing surfaces, 18 Red Storm student-athletes have each earned the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Award for their accomplishments during the 2017-18 season.

Diverse: Issues In Higher Education sponsors the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards to honor undergraduate students who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, Jr.'s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, U.S. colleges and universities are invited to participate in this annual awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability and academic performance, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars demonstrate a commitment to community service and student leadership.

In addition to achieving athletic success, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must maintain a cumulative grade average of at least 3.2, be at least a sophomore academically, and be active on their campuses or in their communities.

The St. John’s track and field team led the way with six award winners from the program. Winona Peace, Myaysa Evans, Kafi Ottley, Amarys Berry, Anointing Onuoha, and Chenoa Sebastian were all honored with the award after helping to lead the Johnnies to a 2018 Metropolitan Outdoor title, a third-place finish at the 2017 BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championships, and a fourth-place mark at the 2018 BIG EAST Outdoor Track and Field Championships just this past weekend. The program was also awarded the St. John’s Community Service Award at the Athletic Department’s annual awards banquet in April.

Benny Lafortune, Francisco Rojas, and Jordan Shankle represented the men’s soccer team following a one of the most successful seasons in recent memory. The trio helped lead the Johnnies to a 5-2-2 mark in conference play, the best effort against BIG EAST opponents since 2009 and a berth in the league semifinals.

A pair of student-athletes from the women’s soccer program also earned recognition as Mecara Bruce and Maria Gonzalez Bullon were honored. Both competitors aided the Red Storm to four All-BIG EAST postseason selections and a pair of CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.

Imani Littleton and Tamesha Alexander bolstered a deep core of talent and represented the women’s basketball program by being named to the award. Littleton anchored a frontcourt that saw the Johnnies lead the BIG EAST in scoring defense and blocks per game. The senior finished her storied career seventh on the all-time blocks list in program history while Alexander provided quality depth and leadership off the bench. The duo helped the Red Storm advance to the WNIT Quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

Representing the men’s basketball team, Justin Cole was named as a scholar recipient after appearing in six games for the Johnnies during the 2017-18 season. The sophomore played a season-high 10 minutes in the regular season finale against Providence.

Lydia Kim helped the Red Storm women’s golf team to a fifth-place finish at the BIG EAST Women’s Golf Championship, a Sacred Heart Invitational title and Benbow Invitational championship. The junior finished with a top score of 155 at the Brown Bear Invitational where she tied for 28th.

McKenzie Murray emerged as the top hurler in the circle for the St. John’s softball team during the 2018 season, leading the Red Storm to a berth in the conference semifinals. The senior finished the season with 11 wins over 22 starts, including a whopping 7-1 record against league foes.

Providing a spark off the bench, Nia Diaz helped the St. John’s volleyball program to a solid 2017 campaign that saw the team capture big wins over Sacramento State, Texas State, Xavier, Georgetown, DePaul, and Villanova. The redshirt junior appeared in nine matches for the Johnnies, recording nine kills and a service ace.

One of the most dominant pitchers in the country, Sean Mooney was named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award winner during the middle of a stellar 2018 season. The sophomore has accumulated a 9-2 record for the BIG EAST leading Johnnies with a 2.49 ERA over 13 starts. Mooney has helped the Red Storm to a 30-plus win season for the 13th time over the last 15 seasons under Head Coach Ed Blankmeyer.

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