2016 College Athletes of the Year

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Jackson State Community College
Lane College
Union University
JACKSON STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Candace Maness
JSCC’s female athlete of the year, Candace Maness, plays softball for the Lady Generals. During her freshman season in 2015, Maness started every game and was nominated 2nd Team All-Conference. She had a .304 batting average in 37 games. She led the team in runs scored (23) and stolen bases (5), and was ranked second on the team with seven doubles. So far in the 2016 season, Maness has started every game and serves her fellow teammates as captain. Maness is majoring in political science and criminal justice and holds a 3.5 GPA. She intends to continue her academic career in paralegal studies upon receiving her associate’s degree. Maness attends Rock Hill Baptist Church.


Chase Diggs
JSCC’s male athlete of the year, Chase Diggs, plays shortstop for the Generals baseball team. As a freshman, Diggs had a .323 batting average. So far during his sophomore year, Diggs is the starting shortstop and has had a .348 batting average, four homeruns, and 16 RBIs in 16 games. Diggs is majoring in history with a 3.64 GPA, and plans to coach and teach at the high school level. He has received significant attention from four-year colleges and universities and hopes to continue his baseball career at that level. Diggs enjoys serving locally through his church, West Jackson Baptist Church.


LANE COLLEGE

Jasmine McNeal
Lane’s female athlete of the year, Jasmine McNeal, has been a critical part of the Lady Dragons softball team. In 2015, McNeal was honored as Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Player of the Year. She was recognized by the NCAA for being ranked number one in the nation for batting average (.523), slugging percentage (1.058), and on-base percentage (.618). McNeal was selected for the All-Conference and All-South Region teams. She led the Lady Dragons with 43 runs scored, 45 hits, 38 RBIs, 11 home runs, and 91 total bases. After graduation, McNeal plans to enroll in graduate school and try-out for the Professional Fastpitch Softball League in May.


Gabriel Mass
Lane’s male athlete of the year, Gabriel Mass, led the Dragons football team as a defensive lineman. In 2015, Mass was the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Defensive Player of the Week for two weeks. He was selected for the All-Conference and All-South Region teams. Mass led the Dragons defensive unit with 53.5 total tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss of yardage. He also led the team in quarterback sacks with seven. In his three years at Lane College, Mass has a total of 156 tackles with 44.5 coming in a loss of yardage and a total of 19 sacks. Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Mass plans to enroll in graduate school and explore possible opportunities to play professional football.


UNION UNIVERSITY

BethAnne Davis
Union’s female athlete of the year, BethAnne Davis, was a four-year runner for the cross country team. She helped lead the team to the Gulf South Conference (GSC) title in 2014 and NCAA Division II South Region third place finishes in 2014 and 2015. She helped lead her team to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championship Meet. In 2014, Davis earned the NCAA Elite 89 Award for the highest GPA at the national tournament. Only 89 athletes earn this award in the entire nation – one student-athlete from each of the 89 championships in NCAA DI, DII and DIII levels. Davis has been named All-GSC twice, All-South Region once, GSC All-Academic once, and was named to the GSC Honor Roll four times. She also received the D2ADA Academic Achievement Award three times. Davis is secretary of the Student-Athlete Advisor Council (SAAC) and helped lead the Union SAAC to a top-25 finish in the NCAA DII in fundraising for Make-A-Wish. In doing so, Union was awarded a Make-A-Wish reveal on campus during the 2015-16 season. After graduating from Union with a nursing degree and 3.75 GPA, Davis plans to get married this summer and move home to Anchorage, Alaska, and work at a hospital.


Clayton Martin
Union’s male athlete of the year, Clayton Martin, started as defender for the men’s soccer team all four seasons. He finished with seven career goals, seven career assists, and had 105 shots and two game winning goals. He has been named to the Gulf South Conference (GSC) Honor Roll four times and was named All-Region once. Martin is chaplain of the Student-Athlete Advisor Council (SAAC) and helped lead the Union SAAC to a top-25 finish in the NCAA DII in fundraising for Make-A-Wish. In doing so, Union was awarded a Make-A-Wish reveal on campus during the 2015-16 season. Martin holds a 3.45 GPA in sports management with a marketing emphasis. He spent the summer interning with the athletic department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham gaining experience in fundraising and program development. After graduating from Union, Martin plans to get married this summer and continue his passion for the game as a coach.


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