Four Sun Devils earn Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarships
Pac-10 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott has announced the 38 student-athletes from around the conference that have been honored as 2009-10 Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarship winners with four Arizona State University student-athletes among those honorees, including Liz Harkin (soccer), Ali Kielty (cross country/track & field), Mike Nixon (football) and Ryan Whiting (track & field). The Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarships are $3,000 awards that are presented to student-athletes with a minimum 3.00 GPA who have also demonstrated a commitment to continuing education, campus and community involvement and leadership. The program began in 1999 and has awarded over $1 million for postgraduate study.
All four individuals completed their athletic careers during the 2009-10 academic year with Harkin and Nixon closing their time as Sun Devils on the field during the fall while Kielty and Whiting concluded their eligibility this spring. All four made tremendous impacts in the arena of competition for the Sun Devils while maintaining high marks in the classroom and the community.
Harkin was one of the top defensive players in Sun Devil history on the field and helped the program return to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 after last appearing in the event in 2003. Outside of competition, Harkin was a three-time First Team Academic All-Pac-10 selection (2007-09) while twice being named to the NSCAA/adidas Women's Scholar All-America Third Team (2008-09). Along with Whiting, she was selected as one of ASU's two Pac-10 Tom Hansen Conference Medal of Honor recipients this year.
Kielty played a large roll in the success of three programs on campus as she has helped the women's cross country team advance to the NCAA Championships each of the past four years to bring their consecutive streak to 12 years in a row while also helping the indoor and outdoor track & field teams to national titles and Top 4 trophy finishes. As a member of the program starting in 2006-07, Kielty was a part of three NCAA titles (2007 indoor and outdoor and 2008 indoor) and helped the 2007 cross country team to a fourth-place finish at nationals as she earned All-America honors. This year, she scored in a pair of races (5,000m and 10,000m) at the Pac-10 meet to help the women to third place. Academically, Kielty was selected to Pac-10 honors four times each in cross country and track & field while also earning ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honors twice.
On the field, Nixon was a member of one of the top defensive units in Sun Devil history and led the team in tackles in each of the past two seasons. He also led the Pac-10 in interceptions in 2008 as a junior. Nixon, a 2009 team captain, also was quite accomplished in the classroom as well as he was selected for a postgraduate scholarship from the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, a finalist for the Walter Byers Scholarship and Wuerffel Trophy and as a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy during his senior year. In 2009, he also earned his third selections to both the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII team and the Academic All-Pac-10 First Team.
Whiting recently capped one of the most successful track & field careers in Sun Devil history as he won three NCAA titles, two Pac-10 titles and won numerous awards, including being named as a finalist for the Bowerman Award (top collegiate track & field honor), the Track & Field News Male Athlete of the Year, USTFCCCA Men's Co-National Field Athlete of the Year and Pac-10 Men's Co-Field Athlete of the Year. The 2010 NCAA Indoor Shot Put, 2019 NCAA Outdoor Shot Put and 2010 NCAA Discus champion, Whiting also earned many academic honors, including ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America and All-District VIII honors; Academic All-Pac-10 First Team Honors and Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year (men's track & field).
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete had to be in his/her final year of eligibility athletically and in his/her final year of undergraduate studies. Student-athletes must have performed with distinction as a member of a varsity team and behaved, both on and off the field, in a manner that has brought credit to the student-athlete, the institution and intercollegiate athletics.
More on the Pac-10 Postgraduate Scholarship Winners from ASU
Liz Harkin - Soccer
Harkin was one of the top defensive players in program history and started for the Sun Devils in 78 of 79 career games. She was twice named First Team All-Pac-10 (2008-09) and was a major reason the Sun Devils made their return to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, the program's first appearance since the 2003 season. Harkin also was a member of the 2008 U.S. U-20 National Team that captured the gold medal at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile. Academically, the Pac-10 Tom Hansen Conference Medal of Honor winner was twice named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Women's Scholar All-America Third Team (2008-09) and was three times named First Team Academic All-Pac-10.
Ali Kielty - Cross Country/Track & Field
Since joining the program in 2005-06 and first competing in 2006-07, Kielty has been a member of some of the most successful teams in ASU history. In cross country, she earned All-America honors in 2007 to lead the women to a fourth-place finish at nationals and their second trophy finish in three years. She also was a member of the teams that won NCAA titles at the 2007 and 2008 indoor championships as well as the 2007 outdoor championships while adding three Pac-10 titles (2006-08). Academically, Kielty was selected to the Academic All-Pac-10 teams in cross country and track & field four times each while earning ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII twice. The USTFCCCA also has honored her as she earned national academic recognition for cross country in 2007 and in track & field three times (2007-09).
Mike Nixon - Football
Nixon is one of the most decorated academic student-athletes in ASU history. Nixon was a highly productive linebacker who began his ASU career in 2006 after playing minor league baseball for four years. He played in all 50 games over the last four years, starting 31. Nixon totaled 253 tackles (169 solo), 25.0 tackles for loss (minus 93 yards), 5.5 sacks (minus 33 yards), 16 pass break-ups, eight interceptions, six forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career. He emerged as one of ASU's top defensive players over the last two seasons, leading the team in tackles in both 2008 and 2009. His five interceptions as a junior in 2008 tied for the most in the Pac-10 that season. Accomplished in the classroom, he was a three-time First Team Academic All-Pac-10 and First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII honoree. He was a Wuerffel Trophy Finalist and was a Lott Trophy Quarterfinalist.
Ryan Whiting - Track & Field
Whiting's list of accomplishments, both in competition and in the classroom, are quite long, much like the measurements of this throws in the shot put his senior year. Whiting was a six-time NCAA Champion, including three in his senior season, which saw him capture the NCAA indoor shot put three years in a row (2008-10), the NCAA outdoor shot put twice in a row (2009-10) and the discus for the first time in 2010. A two-time Pac-10 shot put champion and the discus winner in 2010, Whiting collected 10 All-America honors in his career, the most of any man in program history. For his success, including the second-best throw in the shot put in collegiate history (21.97m/72-01.00), he was named Track & Field News Male Athlete of the Year, a finalist for the Bowerman Award, the USTFCCCA Men's Co-National Field Athlete of the Year, the Pac-10 Men's Co-Field Athlete of the Year and the Pac-10 Tom Hansen Conference Medal of Honor winner. Academically, Whiting was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship this year, as well as ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America and All-District VIII honors; Academic All-Pac-10 First Team Honors and Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year (men's track & field) honors.