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Wyoming’s Chaundra Sewell and Luke Ruff Named MW Scholar-Athletes of the Year

MW Scholar-Athletes
Photos courtesy of UW Photo Service

University of Wyoming senior student-athletes Chaundra Sewell (women’s basketball) and Luke Ruff (football) received the highest honors the Mountain West Conference presents to student-athletes as they were named the 2013 Mountain West Female and Male Scholar-Athletes of the Year on Tuesday in an announcement made by the conference office.

This marks only the second time in the 14-year history of the Mountain West Conference that both Female and Male Scholar-Athlete Awards went to individuals from the same university. The only other time was in 2001-02 when Utah had both the female and male winners.

Over the past two academic years, Wyoming has had three of the four MW Scholar-Athlete winners. Former Cowboy cross country and track and field team member Greg Miller was named the MW Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year winner for 2011-12.  Only Utah, in 2001-02 and 2002-03, had three of four student-athletes accomplish that feat in back-to-back years prior to Wyoming.

Established by the Mountain West Joint Council in 1999, the MW Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award is the highest honor presented to a student-athlete by the Conference. The award is bestowed annually to one male and one female who best exemplify the term “student-athlete” by achieving excellence in academics, athletics and community involvement. In addition to athletic achievement, recipients of the MW Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average, demonstrate leadership, and exhibit good character and conduct on and off the playing field. Each honoree will receive a $2,500 postgraduate scholarship.

“This is a tribute to Chaundra and Luke,” said Tom Burman, University of Wyoming Director of Athletics. “They have represented the state of Wyoming with absolute class as student-athletes and citizens during their time here at the University of Wyoming. It is also a tribute to the faculty and the academic staff at UW that they helped accomplish something that has only been done one other time in the history of the Mountain West Conference.”

Sewell achieved a 3.86 in pre-pharmacy at UW and is currently entering her second year in the pharmacy school at the University of Wyoming. She completed her first year of pharmacy school, while playing her final season with the Cowgirls this past year.

Ruff graduated from UW this past year, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a 3.66 cumulative grade-point average. He chose to continue his graduate studies at the University of Wyoming this summer, and is pursuing a master’s degree in environmental engineering with a focus on nano-particle research.

“There are so many student-athletes that are deserving of this award in this conference,” said Sewell. “To be selected from the quality of candidates is an honor. I enjoyed my time as a student-athlete at Wyoming and look forward to continuing my education here.”

“I am very grateful and humbled that Chaundra and I both received this award,” said Ruff.  “It is quite an honor to be part of a university and an athletic department that receives both these awards. It is a testament to the individuals who helped us as undergraduates — the coaches, the athletic department administrative staff, our professors and families. I want to make sure and thank all those who have believed in me. It is an award that a lot of people share in, and it is as much theirs as it is mine. It is hard to thank everyone, but I truly believe I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for the people who helped me along the way.”

The two head coaches who had the pleasure of coaching and working with Sewell and Ruff throughout their careers were head women’s basketball coach Joe Legerski and head football coach Dave Christensen.

“Chaundra’s drive to succeed, on the court and in the classroom, is second to none,” said Legerski. “A tremendous senior year began with Chaundra receiving her white coat from the pharmacy school, being selected Academic All-American and now the Mountain West Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The awards are deserving for Chaundra, who embraces the title, student-athlete.”

“We are extremely proud of Luke for his accomplishments both on and off the field,” said Christensen. “He’s been a tremendous student from the first time he set foot on campus. He has excelled both academically and athletically, and has an extremely bright future ahead of him.

“We also want to congratulate Chaundra on receiving the Female Scholar-Athlete award.  She is obviously very deserving and has been a great representative for our university.”

A native of Broomfield, Colo., Sewell was a four-time Academic All-MW and Scholar-Athlete selection during her career. This past season, she earned Capitol One Academic All-American Third Team honors as selected by CoSIDA. She moved on to the Capital One Academic All-America® Team ballot after earning Capitol One First Team Academic All-District VII honors. She also held the title of Mountain West SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) Chair.

During the 2012-13 season, Sewell started all 32 games and led the Cowgirls in several categories including scoring (14.9 ppg), rebounding (9.7 rpg) and blocked shots (1.2 bpg).  She shot a team best .527 (175-532) from the field and .776 (128-165) from the free throw line.  In league games, she averaged a team high 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds, while shooting 90-177 (.508) from the field and 64-75 (.853) from the charity stripe. She also ranked among the Top 10 in five Mountain West categories both overall and in league play. This season, she was also honored as Mountain West Player of the Week three times.

Sewell was selected to both the First Team All-Mountain West squad and the All-MW Defensive team as a senior. As a junior, she earned Second Team All-Conference and Mountain West All-Defensive honors.  Her sophomore season, Sewell was an Honorable Mention All-Conference selection. Sewell ranks among the Top 15 in ten categories in school history. She is tied for fourth in games played, sixth in free throws made, seventh in blocked shots and free throw attempts, eighth in rebounds, 11th in field goals made, 12th in field goal percentage, 13th in points, 14th in assists and 15th in field goal attempts. This season, she reached 1,000 points for career, one of 20 players in school history, and with 1,252 points ranks 13th all-time. Sewell recorded 61 double-figure scoring games, 31 double-figure rebounding games and 23 career double-doubles, which is ninth in school history.

Ruff was named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-America Division I Football First Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He was the first Wyoming Cowboy to earn the honor since Trenton Franz in 2004. A native of Castle Rock, Colo., Ruff was also named to the Capital One Academic All-District 7 First Team for the third consecutive year this past season.

To put Ruff’s rare accomplishment in perspective, he was one of only 24 football student-athletes playing at the NCAA Division I level to receive First Team Capital One Academic All-America honors this season. The Division I Academic All-America Football Team includes student-athletes from a combined 246 teams across the nation — 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams and 122 Football Championship Subdivision teams.

At the conclusion of his undergraduate studies, Ruff was chosen to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, helping him to pursue his graduate studies in engineering at Wyoming.

Among his other honors were: being named a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy, also referred to as the “Academic Heisman”; being selected as one of 30 football national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award; and being honored by the National Football Foundation as a 2013 Hampshire Honor Society member.

Ruff was chosen as one of four team captains for the 2012 season. He was a 2012 Preseason First Team All-Mountain West Conference selection by conference media members.  While his senior season was cut short due to a season-ending injury, he continued to provide leadership to his teammates at practices and during games.

His junior season, Ruff earned Second Team All-Mountain West Conference honors for his achievements on the football field.

He earned Academic All-Mountain West Conference honors and MW Scholar-Athlete honors each of his four seasons as an undergraduate.

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