12 Busters honored for academics





Led by Jalen Espinosa, Garden City Community College had 12 athletes named Academic All-Americans by the NJCAA Tuesday.

Espinosa, a sophomore outfielder for the softball team, received the Pinnacle Award for Academic Excellence, an honor bestowed on exemplary athletes with a 4.0 grade-point average, the highest achievable mark. The honor comes on the heels of receiving the Michael J. Baughman Scholar Athlete of the Year awards at the athletic banquet in May.

The 11 other athletes received exemplary academic achievement, GPAs ranging from 3.6 to 3.79, or superior academic achievement, 3.8 to 3.99.

"At Garden City Community College, we place significant emphasis on being a well-rounded student athlete. These student athletes are a great representation of the academic qualities that we emphasize and want exemplified while they represent GCCC," athletic director and vice president for student services Ryan Ruda said in a press release from the college.

As a team, baseball had the highest representation of any GCCC sport with seven players honored: Zach Barton (3.84), Chris Bonk (3.93), Joshua Heifner (3.95) and Brandon Zipper (3.92), superior academic achievement, and Trevor Bell (3.71), Cale Dineen (3.63), and Jaxon Mohr (3.69), exemplary academic achievement.

"I'm always proud, even to get one (Academic All-American)," head baseball coach Chris Finnegan said. "But to have seven is really cool. It shows they take pride in what they do off the field, as well."

Finnegan also noted the most Academic All-Americans he's had before in his nine seasons at GCCC was four.

Also receiving superior academic achievement honors were Jaden Bolmer (3.93), women's cross country and track and field, and Jake Curran (3.85), football.

Joining Bolmer in representing women's cross country and track and field was Anahy Castro, who received exemplary academic achievement honors with a 3.66 GPA.

Rounding out the 12 Broncbusters was Emilie Laliberte, a shortstop for the softball team, with a 3.71 GPA.

"Student athletes and families choosing Garden City Community College see that academic success is a priority and quality is portrayed while representing the Broncbusters," Ruda said.

According to the NJCAA, 58,446 student-athletes compete on 3,705 teams in 28 sports. Only 3 percent are recognized with academic awards.

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