ROCK HILL, SC -- Catawba senior Christian Crifasi (Ramseur, NC/E. Randolph HS) and Tusculum senior Jenny Grant, a pair of student-athletes who excel at every walk of campus life, have been selected as the 2012 SAC Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
The Scholar-Athlete awards, which are voted on by the SAC's Faculty Athletic Representatives, recognize a combination of academic achievement, athletic excellence, service and leadership.
Crifasi is a four-year letterwinner on Catawba’s men’s cross country team, and has competed in a total of 27 races. In those events, Crifasi has posted 23 top-10 and 17 top-five finishes.
He was the 2009 SAC Freshman of the Year, a first-team All-SAC runner in 2009 and 2011, and a second-team All-Conference performer in 2010. Crifasi was also named to the 2011 All-Region First Team. He holds the Catawba 10K record and has three of the top 10 8K times in school history.
A business administration major, Crifasi carries a 3.64 GPA, is a two-time selection to the Catawba Dean’s List and a member of the SAC Commissioner’s and Catawba President’s honor rolls. He is also a member of the Phi Epsilon Honor Society and the Catawba Business Honor Society.
Crifasi has served in numerous leadership roles on campus, including as the Student Government Association Vice President, SGA Treasurer, President of the Dead Athenian Society and President of the College Republicans. He is a member of the Catawba Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Order of Blue & White Catawba Citizenship Society.
He also gives significant time to volunteer work with groups that include Habitat for Humanity, Christian Outreach and Environmental Summit Camps, Hurley YMCA, Lily Center Leadership Corps and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“Christian has been a leader for four years, and that has shown in the classroom and on the cross country course,” said Catawba head coach Bill Haggerty. “For four years he has worked very hard in accomplishing his goals.”
Crifiasi is the second male from Catawba to earn the scholar athlete award in cross country, following Jesse Howes in 2001. Ashley Noble (1996) and Amy Hansen (1995) previously won the award on the women’s side.
Grant is competing in her third season on the Tusculum women’s cross country team, and in each season has been selected as a team captain. She was also picked as the TC team MVP as a sophomore and junior.
She is in the midst of a strong senior season, having already posted a sixth-place finish at the Warren Wilson Invitational and an eighth-place finish at The Citadel Invitational.
As a sophomore, Grant was the only Pioneer woman selected to compete at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional, where she posted a 6K time of 27.45.
Last season, Grant was named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team and Capital One Academic All-America Third Team.
The Franklin, Tenn., native holds a 4.0 GPA studying psychology. She was the recipient of the Duffield Award – given to the Tusculum student-athlete with the highest GPA – each of the last two years.
Grant is a member of the Alpha Chi and Psi Chi academic sororities, the Tusculum Honor Roll, the Charles Oliver Gray Honor List, and was a recipient of the Alpha Chi Award of Excellence in 2011-12.
On campus, Grant is involved with student groups that include the President’s Society, Judicial Board, Presidential Task Force, Resident Hall Association and the Southeastern Psychological Association.
She took part in last summer’s SAC Leadership Conference, is a member of the TC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and is a frequent blogger on the SAC’s official website, theSAC.com.
Grant gives back to her local community as well, serving with the Tower Plaza retirement home, Southeastern Guide Dog, the Nettie Day of Service, and as a coach and co-founder of the “Couch to 4 Miles” program, which was designed to encourage middle-aged individuals to begin walking and running.
“Jenny has outstanding leadership abilities and unshakeable dedication,” said Tusculum assistant athletic trainer and coordinator of clinical education Tom Stueber. “She continues to lead the team through her everyday examples of hard work.”