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Trio of Nittany Lions Honored by Penn State

Courtesy of GoPSU Athletics 

Ament and Riehl garner McCoy Award; Gillikin earns Oswald Award


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Senior student-athletes Grant Ament (men’s lacrosse) andKaleigh Riehl (women’s soccer) have been named the recipients of Penn State’s Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award for 2019-20 and senior Blake Gillikin (football) was awarded the 2020 John W. Oswald Award.

The McCoy Award has been presented annually since 1971 to one senior female and one senior male student-athlete who have combined successful athletic participation with academic excellence. The award is named for Ernie McCoy, the long-time dean of Penn State’s College of Physical Education, who also served as the University’s athletic director. Riehl becomes the third women’s soccer recipient of the McCoy award since 2016 (Emily Ogle – 2018-19, Britt Eckerstrom – 2016).

The John W. Oswald Award, established in 1983, annually recognizes graduating seniors who have provided outstanding leadership in at least one of several areas of activity at the university. The award consists of a medallion honoring John W. Oswald, president of the university from 1970 to 1983.

Grant Ament

Ament established himself as one of the best players in the 107-year history of the Penn State men’s lacrosse program, setting Big Ten and school records with 284 points and 191 assists. He was a four-time NCAA All-American, including first-team honors in each of his final two seasons, and was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in each of the past two seasons.

After missing an entire season with an injury, Ament returned to have his best season in 2019, leading Penn State to the most successful season in program history. He was the first player in team history to be named a Tewaaraton finalist while leading the team to its first Big Ten regular season title, first Big Ten Tournament championship and first appearance in the NCAA semifinal. Ament received the Lt. Col. J.I. (Jack) Turnbull Award for Outstanding Attackman after setting NCAA records for assists (96) and assists per game (5.65).

Ament was a Senior CLASS Award candidate this year due to his combined athletic and academic accolades. The team captain was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and earned one Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award, earning a 3.26 cumulative grade-point average.

Kaleigh Riehl

Riehl became the NCAA Division I all-time leader in minutes played by a position player during her senior year in 2019. Riehl was a two-time All-American, 2018 Big Ten Defender of the Year, a three-time All-Region performer and a four-time All-Big Ten honoree. Riehl was drafted by Sky Blue FC with the 11th overall selection in the NWSL draft following her senior season.

Riehl started in all 101 games of her Penn State career and is one of just 11 Nittany Lions to earn multiple All-America honors in university history. During Riehl’s four seasons of competition in 2015, 2017-19, Penn State won 72 games, two Big Ten regular season titles, three Big Ten Tournament titles and the 2015 NCAA National Championship.

In the classroom, Riehl finished with a 3.92 cumulative grade-point average and was named a first-team Scholar All-American in 2019 and second-team Scholar All-American in 2018 by the United Soccer Coaches. Riehl was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Selection, twice named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and CoSIDA Academic All-District in 2019.

Riehl was called to the U.S. women’s national soccer team training camp earlier this year and has spent time with the U-20 and U-23 women’s national team.

Blake Gillikin

Gillikin became 12th Penn State football player to be a two-time, first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American. Following the 2019 campaign, he earned the Nittany Lion Club Academic Achievement Award, along with teammate Dan Chisena, for having the highest senior GPA on the team and also earned the team’s Highest Academic Average (cumulative GPA), along with Will Levis. In addition to winning the team’s Public Service Award, along with Trent Gordon, he was also a Pop Warner Award finalist, an award that recognizes a college graduating senior who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom and in his community, and serves as a role model to Pop Warner’s young student athletes.

The Smyrna, Georgia native finished his career tied for second on Penn State’s career punting average charts (43.03) and landed 53 punts downed inside the opponent’s 10-yard line (seven in 2016, 18 in 2017, 12 in 2018, 15 in 2019). Gillikin is the only player in program history with seven punts of 65 or more yards and the only player with four 70-plus yard punts in a season or career. He became the second Nittany Lion to reach the 10,000-career punt yard mark, joining Jeremy Kapinos (10,476; 2003-06).

Gillikin was Penn State’s starting punter for all 53 games since 2016. In 2019 he was selected a team captain for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State Among the Nation’s Most Comprehensive and Successful Athletic Programs
Under the leadership of Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour, Penn State has one of the nation’s most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, featuring 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men’s, 15 women’s). The Nittany Lions’ 31 programs are tied for the fourth-highest number of sports sponsored by a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution.

Graduation Success Rates
The 2019 NCAA’s annual graduation rates study of in­stitutions across the nation revealed Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 91 percent to break the school’s all-time record of 90, which was previously set in the 2010, 2017 and 2018 NCAA reports. Nittany Lion students posted a 91 percent graduation rate compared to the 88 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2009-10 through the 2012-13 academic year.

Penn State student-athletes have delivered a Graduation Success Rate in the 88-91 percent range during each of the past 13 NCAA reports, improving from 88 percent in the 2015 report, to 89 percent in 2016, to 90 percent in 2017 and 2018, and a record-breaking 91 percent figure in 2019. Ten Nittany Lion programs earned 100% graduation rates and 18 programs were above the national average.

Penn State student-athletes have led the athletic department to 34 Big Ten championships and nine NCAA National Championships since October 2013. For the 20th time in the last 26 years the Nittany Lions finished in top 15 in the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup.


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