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Three Wildcats Named BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award Winners
Michael Kania is the BIG EAST Sport Excellence Award winner for golf.

June 21, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The winners of the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards were announced on Thursday afternoon and Villanova had three student-athletes recognized by the conference office for their success in competition, academic achievements and involvement in the community. Junior track & field athlete Samuel Ellison (Dresher, Pa.), senior golfer Michael Kania (Haverford, Pa.) and senior cross country runner Alex Tully (Little Rock, Ark.) were named as the recipients of the Sport Excellence Award for their respective sports.

The Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards are given to one student-athlete in each BIG EAST-sponsored sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community. Student-athletes who have attained junior academic standing and a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 or higher are eligible. The winners are chosen by the BIG EAST Faculty Athletics Representative Council. This year marks the first time that the Wildcats have had winners in three different sports in the same year. Below are bios of each of the three Villanova winners.

Samuel Ellison (Junior, Men's Track & Field, Dresher, Pa.)

Ellison earned a total of three All-America honors during the 2012-13 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons. He repeated as the BIG EAST outdoor 800 meters champion and also advanced to the finals site of the NCAA Championships for the second straight year. Ellison was a second team All-America selection outdoors in the 800 meters as well as indoors in the 500 meters, while also being a first team All-American as part of the Wildcats indoor distance medley relay squad which came in fifth at the NCAA Championships. For his career Ellison is a seven-time All-BIG EAST performer, three-time BIG EAST champion and four-time All-American. Outside of competition Ellison is a three-time member of the BIG EAST All-Academic Team and has also been named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team for his work in the classroom. Ellison is majoring in Communication.

Michael Kania (Senior, Golf, Haverford, Pa.)

Kania finished an outstanding collegiate career in 2012-13 and has received a steady stream of recognition for his success. He was named to both the All-BIG EAST Team and the Division I PING All-Region squad, earning both honors for the second straight year. Kania was also the BIG EAST Golfer of the Month in October. He transferred to Villanova following his freshman season at Kentucky and in his three years with the Wildcats amassed 16 top-20 finishes, eight top-10 finishes and two individual championships while compiling a composite 73.9 stroke average.

Earlier this year Kania was named as the 2012-13 American Eagle Outfitters Male Institutional Scholar-Athlete of the Year by the BIG EAST and last month he was named the Villanova Male Senior Student-Athlete of the Year. Kania was voted the 2012-13 Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Performer of the Year for golf. He is a two-time member of the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area team and a three-time selection to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team. Kania also served as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Villanova for the 2012-13 academic year. He graduated last month with a degree in Communication.

Alex Tully (Senior, Cross Country/Track & Field, Little Rock, Ark.)

Tully has been a contributor to the Wildcats during both the cross country and track & field seasons. He is the Sport Excellence Award recipient for cross country after helping Villanova earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships with a phenomenal performance at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional last fall. At that meet Tully stepped up to be the team's third counting runner and placed 14th overall to earn All-Mid Atlantic Region honors for the first time in his career. Tully's time of 30:49 on the 10,000 meter course at the regional meet was a career best and he went on to place sixth in the Wildcats lineup at the national championships. During the 2012 season Tully was a counting runner for Villanova at the BIG EAST Championships. He continued his success during the indoor track & field season, where he ran a leg on the Wildcats conference champion distance medley relay squad. Tully earned All-BIG EAST accolades indoors in both the distance medley relay and the 4x800 meter relay.

Following the cross country season Tully was named to the 2012 USTFCCCA All-Academic Team. This spring he was named to the Capital One Academic All-District team, which includes academic achievement as well as his success during both the cross country and track & field seasons. Tully is a four-time member of the BIG EAST All-Academic Team and is a Finance major in the Villanova School of Business.