GREENSBORO, N.C. (3/2/09) -- Five elite Guilford College student-athletes will receive the 2009 Nereus C. English '26 Athletic Leadership Award Tuesday (3/3) evening. This year's English Award recipients are Jennifer Abelin, Markas Brunson, Kelly Guarnieri, Kelly Hale and Clay Henson. Since Guilford first presented the honor in 1977, 175 students have received the English Award.
Named for one of Guilford's most loyal alumni, the annual prize is the college's highest honor for athletic ability and leadership. The school's athletic staff members nominate and select the award winners, who display the highest ideals of athletic accomplishment, leadership and academic achievement.
A four-year starter for coach Matthew Grosso's lacrosse team, Abelin received Second Team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) honors in 2008 and First Team All-ODAC laurels in 2007. The senior captain led the Quakers and ranked second among league leaders in ground balls last season, averaging 3.75 pickups per game. Her 173 career ground balls and 65 caused turnovers through 50 games rank first in school history. A dean's list chemistry and biology double major, she is a three-time Academic All-ODAC selection and was named to the 2007-08 IWLCA Division III Academic Honor Roll pick. Abelin plans to pursue a doctorate degree in chemical biology after graduating in May and has already been accepted into a number of top postgraduate programs.
Brunson, a defensive lineman for coach Kevin Kiesel's football team, earned Second Team All-ODAC honors in 2008 after leading Guilford with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in 10 games. The junior ranked second in the league and 25th in the nation with 0.85 sacks per game. His 2008 sack total stands sixth in school history and marked the most by a Quaker since 1991. A three-year starter, Brunson ranked eighth on the team with 35 tackles (22 solo) and had 4.5 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss among his 23 stops in six ODAC games. He has 15 sacks among his 152 career tackles in 29 games, the fourth-highest in school history. A 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III honoree, Brunson is a dean's list psychology major and one of 10 Guilford students picked to participate in the school's Principled Problem Solving Scholars Program.
A four-year starter for coach Dennis Shores' softball team, Guarnieri is a three-time honorable mention All-ODAC pick and three-time team captain. A Second Team National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Atlantic Region selection in 2008, she finished second on the team with a career-high .400 batting average that ranked seventh among ODAC leaders and stands third in school history. Her 34 runs scored and 13 doubles both rank second in Guilford history. The outfielder had 13 multiple-hit games, including two four-hit performances. Through six games of her senior season, Guarnieri holds school records for career runs (84), total bases (197), walks (46) and doubles (33). She also owns the Quakers' season records for walks and sacrifice flies. A Guilford College student marshal and a three-time Academic All-ODAC pick, she is a dean's list mathematics major.
Hale, also a four-year starter and captain for Shores' softball team, received North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association All-State (college division), Second Team NFCA All-Atlantic Region and First Team All-ODAC honors in 2008. Her batting average of .431 with nine homers and 43 RBIs are all school records. As a junior she finished second in the ODAC in batting average and on-base percentage (.529) and third in homers and slugging percentage (.741). The first baseman had 13 multiple-hit games, led the club with at least two RBIs in 12 contests and ended the season on a 13-game hitting streak. Hale was a 2008 Second Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III honoree and named Guilford's most outstanding player. She has worked as a residence hall advisor at Guilford and represented Guilford's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at a 2008 NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Leadership Conference. A three-time Academic All-ODAC selection, she is a dean's list health sciences and psychology double major.
Henson, a guard for coach Tom Palombo's men's basketball team, is the Quakers' leading scorer with 19.2 points per game, which ranks second in the ODAC. The 2009 First Team All-ODAC honoree plays in his third NCAA Tournament in as many years this Friday night when Guilford meets Transylvania University in an opening-round game in Kentucky. Henson shares the league lead with 2.88 three-pointers per game ranks seventh in free-throw (.805) and three-point field goal (.383) percentages. He has a team-best 30 steals and is second on the squad with 2.69 assists per game, the ODAC's 11th-highest average. Henson recently scored his 1,000th point, becoming Guilford's 28th member of the 1,000-point club. He is an exercise and sports studies major and education minor.
A native of Thomasville, N.C., Nereus C. English graduated from Guilford in 1926, but maintained close contact with the college after graduation. His loyalty and genuine interest in its students led to the creation of the English Endowment Fund and the Nereus C. and Mae Martin English Scholarship Fund in 1965. With his brother, the late T.R. English, he provided funding for the English Hall dormitory in 1957. In 1962, Nereus English received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Guilford College Alumni Association.