NORMAN – Oklahoma junior Paige Welch was recognized as the 2017 Big 12 Soccer Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year Friday. The conference recognizes one student-athlete in each of its sports with the honor following a vote from head coaches.
Welch, a biomedical engineering major from Austin, Texas, boasts a 4.0 GPA and shared the honor with Baylor's Precious Akanyirige. She appeared in 18 matches as a junior, tallying an assist. For her career, Welch has started 59 games including all 23 games her sophomore season. She has three goals in her career as a Sooner, all game winners. Welch has garnered Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors the last two seasons and Academic All-Big 12 Rookie accolades in 2015-16.
Welch becomes the seventh Sooner student-athlete and second soccer player to receive the Scholar-Athlete of the Year award from the Big 12. Other Sooners to receive the honor are Rachel Ressler (soccer, 2015-16), Marissa Beene (rowing, 2015-16),Ty Darlington (football, 2014-15), Sallie McLauren (volleyball, 2013-14), Gabe Ikard (football, 2013-14) and Kevin Williams (outdoor track and field, 2012-13).
The Big 12 Conference established its Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award in 2012-13. A recipient is named in each conference-sponsored sports. Every Big 12 institution nominates one individual per sport with the winners selected by a vote of the league head coaches for that sport, who are not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes. Scholar-Athlete of the Year nominees must be a junior or senior (athletic and academic standing), have a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher, participate in at least 60 percent of the team’s scheduled contests and have a minimum of one year in residence at the institution.
The award caps a successful season in the classroom for OU soccer as 11 Sooners were named to the Academic All-Big 12 team, including nine first-team selections.