by Benny Benton
HIGH POINT, N.C. – Barton College seniors Heather Cuddington and Mariana Kedzia have been named the Conference Carolinas Scholar Athlete of the Year in their respective sports, the league announced Tuesday.
Cuddington, a resident of Saratoga, N.C., was honored in cross country, while Kedzia, a resident of Camarillo, Calif., was chosen in women’s volleyball.
The award is one of the most prestigious handed out by the league in a given sport, as it represents the best combination of athletic and academic success. Nominees are limited to juniors and seniors who earned both athletic and academic all-conference recognition. Recipients are then selected by the league's student-athlete affairs committee.
Cuddington is receiving the honor for the second year in a row, becoming the first Barton student-athlete to do so in the award program’s seven-year history.
She earned All-Conference Second Team honors in 2016 after placing sixth at the league cross country meet with a personal record time of 23:33.8. The mark was more than two minutes better than her previous PR at the 6K distance. She shaved another 46 seconds off that PR two weeks later at the NCAA Southeast Regional, where she placed 30th in a field of 189 runners with a mark of 22:47.64. Academically, Cuddington holds a 3.80 GPA in elementary education and special education.
Kedzia is the first women’s volleyball player from Barton to receive the award since its inception in 2010-11. She gained All-Conference Second Team honors this year after ranking among the league’s top 10 in both kills and service aces. Kedzia helped Barton win the league’s North Division title and its first Conference Carolinas tournament title ever. She collected 16 kills while hitting .500 in the tourney championship match against Erskine. A junior transfer, Kedzia holds an overall collegiate GPA of 3.82 in health promotion that includes a 3.98 GPA during her time at Barton.