BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) today announced Bemidji State University’s Ashley Larva (Sr., Floodwood, Minn.) and Brian Leonhardt (Sr., Blaine, Minn.) to its list of 2013 Honor Student-Athlete and scholarship award winners.
As a part of the announcement, the league also named Concordia University, St. Paul's Elizabeth Duffy as its 2013 Willis R. Kelly Scholar-Athlete Award for Academic Excellence and Alex Coulter of Winona State University as the recipient of the 2013 of the Dr. William Britton Scholar-Athlete Award for Academic Excellence.
Larva and Leonhardt were each voted Honor Student-Athletes.
Larva is a member of the BSU cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field teams. A four-time Academic All-NSIC selection, she has been a member of three BSU cross country teams that have been honored nationally by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as a Division II All-Academic Cross Country Team. Also active on the track team, Larva owns four school records. She holds the indoor mark in the 60-meter (8.96) and 200-meter (29.28) hurdle events, while she is the school record-holder in the outdoor 100-meter hurdles (14.83) and is a member of the 4x100-meter relay team that set the school record (48.75) last spring.
Larva is majoring in social work and was awarded with the NSIC Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction Award this winter.
A four-time All-NSIC tight end, Leonhardt capped his collegiate football career with 15 touchdowns to tie for eighth on Bemidji State's all-time touchdown receptions list and his 112 career receptions are 10th at BSU. Leonhardt finished his career with 1,431 career reception yards to rank second among BSU tight ends since 1971.
Despite battling injuries as a senior, Leonhardt started 10 games in 2012 and posted 25 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns. His reception and reception yards numbers were third on the team in 2012, while the three scores put him in a four-way tie for first. He averaged 34.3 yards per game, 13.7 yards per reception and had a season-long reception of 38 yards. He posted a season-high 93 yards on seven receptions at University of Mary Oct. 6. An extension of the offensive line, Leonhardt helped guide the Beavers to 170.8 rushing yards per game and 20 touchdowns. Following the season he was invited to participate in the Texas vs. The Nation Game—an all-star event featuring student-athletes with ties to the state of Texas (originally from Texas or played college football in Texas) against top seniors from around the nation typically reserved NCAA Division I-A Collegiate Seniors. Leonhardt not only participated in the game, he hauled in four receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown and was named the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player.
He was a 2009 All-NSIC Honorable Mention as a freshman, then earned All-NSIC First Team honors in 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2011 he was named Daktronics, Inc. Super Region #3 First Team, en route to All-America Second Team honors from the publication. Leonhardt was also a 2011 D2Football.com All-America Honorable Mention. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, he earned the team’s Guy Vena Most Inspirational Award. Before earning Beyond Sports Network Division II Preseason and All-America First Team honors.
The 2012 captain also led off the gridiron. He was named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Division II Football First Team. A 2011 Academic All-America selection, Leonhardt was a three-time academic all-district award winner and three-time Fall NSIC All-Academic Team member.
Leonhardt also participated on the BSU men's indoor and outdoor track and field teams. A three-time All-NSIC Academic selection, he was All-NSIC in the discus and shot put during the 2011 indoor and outdoor season and earned All-NSIC Honorable mention accolades during the 2010 indoor season for the shot put. In addition, he qualified for the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships in the shot put and discus in 2011 and owns the BSU record in the discus at 169 feet 5 inches.
Leonhardt graduated in December with a degree in business administration.
The 16 NSIC member institutions nominate one male and one female student-athlete for the Britton and Kelly Awards. The nominees must meet the following criteria: a grade point average of 3.20 or better (on a 4.0 scale); evidence of academic excellence beyond the minimum grade point average (scholarship prizes and other academic recognition), evidence of participation in the life of the institution, and evidence of participation in at least two-thirds of the varsity events of the individual’s primary sport. The award is voted on by the NSIC Faculty Athletic Representatives.
The Britton Award was created in 1985 in honor of Dr. William Britton, a longtime faculty representative at Bemidji State. The Kelly Award is named in honor of Willis R. Kelly, an associate professor of physical education at the University of Minnesota, Morris. A member of the NSIC Hall of Fame, Kelly also coordinated the Minnesota-Morris Physical Education Department from 1970-87. She became the first director of women’s intercollegiate athletics at Minnesota-Morris in 1976 and was later promoted to athletic director for the whole department.
The 30 student-athletes nominated for the awards will be honored as NSIC Male and Female Honor Student-Athletes of the Year at their respective institutions. Duffy and Coulter will be recognized and presented with a $2,500 post-graduate scholarship July 13 at the 2013 NSIC Hall of Fame Banquet in St. Cloud, Minn.
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Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).