AZUSA, Calif. -- Three Azusa Pacific student-athletes were named the Pacific West Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in their sport, earning awards which recognize one student-athlete from each of the conference’s eight women’s sports for their athletic and academic accomplishments. Sophomore Kelly Hardeman won the award for women's basketball, sophomore Reika Kijima won in women’s cross country, and sophomore Allison Updike won in women’s track and field.
All eight winners are now candidates for the PacWest Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, which will also be selected by the SID’s and announced later in July.
KELLY HARDEMAN: Women’s Basketball | Liberal Studies, 3.64 GPA
Hardeman built on her PacWest Freshman of the Year campaign with an impressive sophomore season. The liberal studies major was a first-team All-PacWest performer who ranked seventh in the conference in scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg), while pacing the Cougars with 62 3-pointers. After just two seasons the forward sits at No. 7 on the program’s career 3-pointer list with 128.
“The reason she’s good on the court is the same reason she’s good in the classroom. She takes everything she does seriously and takes pride in whatever she’s doing. She’s always well prepared on the court and in the classroom, and I can’t think of a more deserving player,” said head women’s basketball coach T.J. Hardeman.
REIKA KIJIMA: Women’s Cross Country | Business, 3.58 GPA
Kijima was an All-PacWest first team performer who posted top-ten individual finishes in a pair of races, including her fourth-place finish at the PacWest Championship to round out an Azusa Pacific trio which claimed three of the top four spots en route to the Cougars’ second consecutive PacWest women’s cross country title. Her time of 17:52.1 put her 12th on Azusa Pacific’s all-time performance list, and she followed up the effort at the National Christian College Athletic Association Cross Country National Championship with an 11th-place finish and NCCAA All-American honors.
“As much as we all want to experience success in competition, we really want our student-athlete to recognize that academics comes first,” said Azusa Pacific cross country head coach Preston Grey. “To have Reika represent that as an accomplished athlete as well as an accomplished student is exactly the type of approach we’re trying to build our program around.”
ALLISON UPDIKE: Women’s Track and Field | Applied Exercise Science, 3.88 GPA
Updike shattered Azusa Pacific’s all-time javelin record when she threw 163-feet, 7-inches (49.87 meters) to win the Cal-Nevada Track and Field Championships in San Diego in early April. Her throw beat the previous school-record by a margin of over 10 feet, and at the time it was the second-longest throw in NCAA Division II (it ended as Division II’s No. 3 performance of the 2014 season). Updike won all six javelin competitions she entered, including the PacWest and National Christian College Athletic Association titles. She claimed the PacWest championship by a margin of over 24 feet and won the NCCAA javelin title by a margin of over 19 feet.
“This is a really nice honor for both Allison and for our entire track and field program,” said Azusa Pacific’s director of track and field Mike Barnett. “As we continue to set our standards of tradition and what that represents, we knew Allison would contribute to Azusa Pacific’s athletic tradition. What’s exciting for me is to see how she’s also bringing recognition to the program with her academics.”