Photo Courtesy: ATU Athletics
(L-R) Jessica Weatherford (Basketball), Jeanice Falls Student-Athlete of the Year; Brittany Ryan (Volleyball), Jeanice Falls Student-Athlete of the Year; Jared Williamson (Basketball), John Tucker Student-Athlete of the Year; Graham Rucker (Golf), John Tucker Student-Athlete of the Year
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (ATU) - The Arkansas Tech University Department of Athletics recognized four student-athletes as Student-Athlete of the Year at the recent "T" Club banquet, as women's basketball player Jessica Weatherford, volleyball player Brittany Ryan, men's golfer Graham Rucker, and men's basketball player Jared Williamson were honored.
Weatherford and Ryan were honored as the Jeanice Falls Female Student-Athlete of the Year, while Williamson and Rucker were named the John Tucker Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
Weatherford, a four-year letterwinner for the Golden Suns basketball program and native of Bonnerdale, Ark., earned a first-team all-conference honor this season after finishing the season fourth in the GAC with a 16.1 points per game average. She ranked seventh in the league in rebounding (7.4), fourth in field goal percentage (.509), 13th in assists (2.3), eighth in free throw percentage (.809), and ninth in blocked shots (1.1). She hit double figures in 25 of 28 games, has posted six double-doubles this season, has topped the 20-point mark three times and the 30-point mark twice; scoring 32 points against Southern Nazarene and 33 against Southwestern Oklahoma. The senior helped lead the Golden Suns to four consecutive conference titles, playing a starring role in the Golden Suns' come-from-behind victory over Southwestern Oklahoma in the GAC title game this year. She finished her career with 1,624 career points, second all-time at Tech. Off-campus, Weatherford led the Golden Suns' "Adopt Mile 74" cleanup project, and has volunteered with special needs students at various schools. She is slated for a May 2013 graduation.
Ryan, a native of Mena, Ark., was a four-year letterwinner for the Golden Suns volleyball program. The senior led the team and was second in the GAC with 133 blocks (1.08 per set), and led the GAC with a .338 hitting percentage. She was third on the team in kills with 308, averaging 2.5 per set, and during the season posted a high of 10 blocks against Lindenwood. The senior led the Golden Suns to the GAC title game as a senior, and was part of the Golden Suns 2011 Great American Conference championship squad. Over her Arkansas Tech career, the Golden Suns posted a 46-8 mark in league matches, and have won two regular-season conference titles. Off campus, Ryan has served as a member of the SAAC, the Coaching & Wellness Science Club, and has helped raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Night, Project: Feed Arkansas, Wounded Warrior Night, Special Olympics, Toys for Tots, Main Street Mission, as well as Literacy Night. A three-time selection to the Dean's List, a two-time Academic Honor Roll selection and a 2012 Academic All-Conference selection, Ryan has decided to pursue a nursing degree and is scheduled to graduate in December 2015.
Williamson, a three-year letterwinner for the Wonder Boys basketball team, is a native of Russellville, Ark. He was a second team all-GAC selection, averaging 12.8 points and 1.4 steals per game. The senior led the Wonder Boys to the GAC championship game this season and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Over his three years in a Wonder Boys uniform, Tech posted a record of 69-24, including a 39-11 mark in league play. The Wonder Boys made the NCAA tournament in all three of his seasons, won three regular-season conference titles, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2012. The 2013 GAC tournament Most Valuable Player, Williamson has served as a member of the SAAC, and has volunteered at basketball camps through Arkansas Tech and First Baptist Church. Williamson recently received his bachelor's degree and is pursuing a Master of Education degree in Health and Physical Education, with an anticipated graduation date of May 2014.
Rucker, a native of Hot Springs, Ark., was a second team all-GAC selection after averaging 76.39 strokes per round. The senior turned in two top-five finishes, including a fourth-place finish at the GAC championships. The senior led the Wonder Boys to a runner-up finish as a junior and a Great American Conference championship as a senior. A two-time all-conference selection, Rucker has represented the men's golf team as a member of the SAAC since 2008. Over his career he has placed in the top five eight times, including claiming individual medalist honors at the 2010 Natural State Golf Classic. Off campus, Rucker is active with UPWARD basketball, serving as an administrator, coach, and referee. He is slated for a May 2013 graduation.