KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Park University put six student-athletes - three men and three women - on the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete teams for track and field. Erin Esry, Persis Grubbs and Laini Brown represented the women's roster, while Ryan Zitter, Ruisdael Ascenvil and William Henry are the Pirates' men's honorees. In all, 316 men were honored with the award, and 467 women's track and field student-athletes from across the NAIA were honored.
The NAIA's highest academic honor, the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete team is comprised of student-athletes who maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and have achieved junior academic status.
A junior from Kansas City, Zitter had his best meet of the year at Central Methodist, where he was second in both the 3,000-meter steeplechase and part of Park's 4X800-meter relay team that also finished second. It's Zitter's second Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete designation of the year, after also earning the award for Park's cross country team in the fall.
Henry also earned the award in the fall with the cross country team, and on the track, in the spring, he was part of a 4X400-meter relay team that won at Central Methodist and finished second at the AMC Championships. He also picked up a pair of wins in the indoor season, winning the 1,000-meter run at the Cavalier Open, at Johnson County, and a win in the mile run at the 2017 Highland Challenge in Highland, Kansas.
Ascenvil was Park's third men's honoree, competing in three indoor meets and the AMC championships in the spring, for the Pirates.
Esry represented the women's program on both the cross country and track lists for the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award in 2016-17, competing primarily in the 5,000-meter run, where she was third at the AMC Indoor Championships and fourth in the conference outdoors.
Grubbs was also a two-time winner, helping Park's distance medley relay team finish second at the AMC Indoor Championships and running on a fourth-place 4X400-meter relay team at William Jewell.
Brown, also a two-time Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete this season, earned her awards for the track and women's soccer teams, helping the Pirates to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round in the fall before turning her attention to the track and the pole-vault pit, where she began the season with a second-place finish in the event in the Cavalier Night Relays, hosted by Johnson County Community College in early February.
To learn more about the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, click here.