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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

McWhorter Scholar-Athletes of the Year announced

13 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: Southeastern Conference

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (May 3, 2022) - Mississippi State football team member Austin Williams and Lisa Gunnarsson of the LSU women's track & field team have been named the 2021-22 Southeastern Conference H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athletes of the Year, Commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Tuesday.

The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities and each will receive a $20,000 post-graduate scholarship.

"We congratulate Austin and Lisa as they are outstanding representatives of student-athletes from across the SEC. These young people are committed to the total student-athlete experience, and it is reflected in the elite level of their academic and athletics accomplishments.," Sankey said. "The H. Boyd McWhorter Award is the highest honor earned by a student-athlete in the SEC and I congratulate both of them along with their families and universities on their outstanding achievements."

The McWhorter Award adds to a long list of academic and athletic achievements for Williams, a native of Ocean Springs, Miss. Williams, who holds an undergraduate degree in business administration/finance, as well as a master's in business administration, maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout his time at Mississippi State. A two-time CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American, Williams was named a semifinalist in 2021 for both the Wuerffel Trophy and Jason Witten Man of the Year. Williams also represented the Bulldogs on the 2021 SEC Community Service team.

Williams was selected to the MSU Football Leadership Council by his teammates in both 2020 and 2021, as well as team captain for Mississippi State during the 2021 football season.

A starter in 12 games in 2021, Williams owns the lowest drop rate for a wide receiver in the SEC since 2019 at 0.9 percent. He has played in 50 games during his career, amassing 116 receptions for 1245 yards and 12 touchdowns. He produced season highs for career in catches (52), yards (617) and TD (4) in 2021.

Gunnarsson has enjoyed immense success both in the field of competition and in the classroom. A native of Paris, France, she was named the 2021 SEC Outdoor Scholar Athlete of the Year, as well as the USTFCCCA Indoor & Outdoor Scholar Athlete of the Year. She also earned CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American honors in both 2020 and 2021.

A mechanical engineering major with a 4.16 GPA, she is a six-time honoree on the LSU President's Honor Roll and three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

In the field of play, Gunnarsson is a two-time NCAA Champion in the indoor pole vault (2021) and outdoor pole vault (2021). Her lifetime best clearance of 15' 3" (4.65 meters) at the 2022 Texas Relays is equal to the fourth best mark in collegiate history in the pole vault outdoors.

She is a former SEC Indoor Champion in the pole vault (2020), a six-time All-American and four-time All-SEC performer.

The 13 other male finalists: Tyler Sesvold, Alabama (Swimming & Diving); Jacob Nesbit, Arkansas (Baseball); Nick Brahms, Auburn (Football); Samuel Riffice, Florida (Tennis); Ben Anderson, Georgia (Baseball); Brock Lindow, Kentucky (Soccer); Avery Atkins, LSU (Football); Simon Junk, Ole Miss (Tennis); Jack Dubois, Missouri (Swimming); Daniel Rodrigues, South Carolina (Tennis); Logan Steenstra, Tennessee (Baseball); Peter Simmons, Texas A&M (Swimming); Harrison Smith, Vanderbilt (Football).


The 13 other female finalists: Polly Mack, Alabama (Golf); Margaret O'Hara, Arkansas (Gymnastics); Keria McCarrell, Auburn (Cross Country/Track & Field); Halley Taylor, Florida (Gymnastics); Samantha Drop, Georgia (Track & Field); Abby Steiner, Kentucky (Track & Field); Haleigh Stackpole, Ole Miss (Soccer); Mia Davidson-Smith, Mississippi State (Softball); Brooke Wilmes, Missouri (Softball); Courtney Weber, South Carolina (Volleyball); Hannah Jefcoat, Tennessee (Cross Country/Track & Field); Macie Kolb, Texas A&M (Soccer); Raegan Kelley, Vanderbilt (Soccer).

Past recipients:

1986 - John Young, Tennessee (track) and Virginia Diederich, Georgia (swimming)

1987 - Jeff Noblin, Ole Miss (football) and Julie Estin, Alabama (gymnastics)

1988 - Danny Hoskins, Ole Miss (football) and Linda Leith, Georgia (swimming)

1989 - Mikael Olander, LSU (track) and Deanne Burnett, Georgia (swimming)

1990 - Burke Masters, Mississippi State (baseball) and Janice Kerr, Florida (gymnastics)

1991 - Al Parker, Georgia (tennis) and Patty Wiegand, Tennessee (track and cross country)

1992 - Jeff Laubenthal, Alabama (baseball) and Jenifer Kleyn, Auburn (volleyball)

1993 - Lang Wiseman, Tennessee (basketball) and Aimee York, Mississippi State (volleyball)

1994 - Peter Duitsman, South Carolina (soccer) and Tammy Newlon, Mississippi State (basketball)

1995 - Michael Blanchard, LSU (football) and April Ecke, Mississippi State (cross country)

1996 - Martin Nyberg, LSU (swimming) and Michelle Palmisano, Vanderbilt (basketball)

1997 - Andrew DeVooght, Georgia (swimming) and Meredith Willard, Alabama (gymnastics)

1998 - Jeremy Jackson, Mississippi State (baseball) and Shani Abshier, South Carolina (volleyball)

1999 - Jeff Zurcher, Kentucky (football) and Jessica Field, Arkansas (volleyball)

2000 - Joey Pitts, Georgia (tennis) and Lisette Lee, LSU (golf)

2001 - Scott Westerfield, Mississippi State (football) and Kim Black, Georgia (swimming)

2002 - Trey Dyson, South Carolina (baseball) and Tiffany Woolley, Arkansas (softball)

2003 - Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball) and Kristin Sterner, Alabama (gymnastics)

2004 - Caesar Garcia, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Lauren Imwalle, Alabama (soccer)

2005 - Rob Robertson, Ole Miss (football) and Lauryn McCalley, Tennessee (swimming & diving)

2006 - Rudy Niswanger, LSU (football) and Sarah Lowe, Florida (basketball)

2007 - Emeel Salem, Alabama (baseball) and Erika Schneble, Vanderbilt (track & field)

2008 - Joseph Sykora, Alabama (golf) and Kristen Hastrup, Auburn (swimming & diving)

2009 - Bram ten Berge, Ole Miss (tennis) and Christine Magnuson, Tennessee (swimming & diving)

2010 - Jordan Anderson, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Phoebe Wright, Tennessee (track & field)

2011 - Dan Mazzaferro, Auburn (swimming & diving) and Erica Meissner, Auburn (swimming & diving)

2012 - Michael Roth, South Carolina (baseball) and Wendy Trott, Georgia (swimming & diving)

2013 - Barrett Jones, Alabama (football) and Chelsea Oswald, Kentucky (track & field/cross country)

2014 - Cory Whitsett, Alabama (golf) and Shannon Vreeland, Georgia (swimming)

2015 - Nathanael Franks, Arkansas (track & field) and Maddie Locus, Georgia (swimming)

2016 - Forrest Gamble, Ole Miss (golf) and Haylie McCleney, Alabama (softball)

2017 - Anton McKee, Alabama (swimming) and Sarah Gibson, Texas A&M (swimming)

2018 - Parker Henry, Tennessee (football) and Kelly Quinn, LSU (volleyball)

2019 - Nathan Hite, Texas A&M (track & field) and Kristin Quah, Vanderbilt (bowling)

2020 - Skylar Mays, LSU (basketball) and Asia Seidt, Kentucky (swimming)

2021 - Jon Bishop, Texas A&M (track & field) and Savanna Faulconer, Florida (swimming)