Nineteen Student-Athletes Earn Degrees

by Matt Dunaway
Nineteen Student-Athletes Earn Degrees

BATON ROUGE — Nineteen LSU student-athletes representing eight Tiger sports were among those students who are scheduled to participate in commencement ceremonies Friday on the LSU campus. Gymnastics’ Lauren Klein graduated Summa Cum Laude, while baseball’s Kevin Farnsworth graduated Cum Laude. Both earned their degrees in biological sciences.

Football headlined the list with six graduates, including starters Ciron Black, Harry Coleman, Jacob Cutrera, Brandon LaFell and Lyle Hitt. Black was recently the recipient of the 2009 SEC Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the league’s most outstanding blocker.

Coleman notched the Charles McClendon Most Valuable Player award, LaFell was chosen as the Percy E. Roberts Outstanding Offensive Player, and Hitt picked up Coates Scholar-Athlete Award at the annual team banquet earlier this week.

The quintet wrap up their careers against Penn State on New Year’s Day at the 2010 Capital One Bowl in Orlando as the Tigers look to finish the decade with their 100th victory.

Track and field added four graduates highlighted by Kayann Thompson, who picked up All-America honors a season ago as a member of the Lady Tigers’ 4×400-meter relay team. She ran the second leg of the national runner-up at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Sprinter Monique Cabral, distance runner Christina Porter and shot putter Adam Wilcox also graduated.

The defending national champion baseball program graduated three players. Derek Helenihi batted .255 with four homers and 23 RBIs and started at third base in all six games at the College World Series. He recently signed with the Chicago Cubs. Chris McGhee played in 138 games during his four-year career sparked by a .286 clip in 2009, while Farnsworth was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll pick.

A pair of tennis standouts in James Cluskey and Megan Falcon earned their degrees. Cluskey was a dominant force racking up 82 doubles victories during his tenure and was ranked as high as No. 3 with partner Ken Skupski in 2007. He also garnered spots on the 2008 SEC Academic Honor Roll and the 2009 SEC Community Service Team.

Falcon is LSU’s only three-time singles All-American and finished her career ranked among the nation’s top 20 in singles and doubles. She also held the No. 1 spot during the 2007 fall season and amassed a 99-18 career record to rank No. 8 on the program’s all-time wins list. In the classroom, Falcon was named an ITA Scholar-Athlete for two consecutive seasons.

Volleyball’s Elena Martinez was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention selection during her career. She racked up 1,414 career digs good enough for second place in program history, including a program single-season mark of 740 in 2007.

Klein, a member of back-to-back Super Six squads for the gymnastics program, was a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll and Scholastic All-American honoree for LSU. She finished second on the floor with a score of 9.925 at the SEC Championships en route to All-SEC Second-Team accolades in 2007.

Swimming and Diving’s Nele Trepp, a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll pick, along with golf’s Jarrod Barsamian, who represented LSU at the 2008 U.S. Amateur, also participated in fall ceremonies.

Below is a complete list of graduates and their area of study.

Art & Design (1)
Christina Porter, Track & Field Studio Art

Arts & Sciences (11)
Chad Baniecki, Football, General Studies
Jarrod Barsamian, Golf, General Studies
Ciron Black, Football, General Studies
James Cluskey, Tennis, General Studies
Harry Coleman, Football, General Studies
Jacob Cutrera, Football, General Studies
Megan Falcon, Tennis, Int’l Studies & History
Derek Helenihi, Baseball, General Studies
Brandon Lafell, Football, General Studies
Kayann Thompson, Track & Field, General Studies
Nele Trepp, Swimming & Diving, Communication Studies
Basic Sciences (2)
Kevin Farnsworth*, Baseball, Biological Sciences
Lauren Klein**, Gymnastics, Biological Sciences

Education (4)
Monique Cabral, Track & Field, Elementary Education
Lyle Hitt, Football, Kinesiology
Elena Martinez, Volleyball, Elementary Education
Adam Wilcox Track & Field Kinesiology
Mass Communication (1)
Chris McGhee, Baseball, Mass Communication

*cum laude
** summa cum laude