BATON ROUGE – The Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes honored six LSU student-athletes for their academic achievements and community service for April.
Each month, five student-athletes are recognized for their academic improvement, dedication and proven ability. In addition, one student-athlete is chosen through LSU's Student-Athlete Affairs program for their volunteerism and commitment to the community.
April’s student-athletes of the month are Chris Chinea [Baseball], Ashley Czechner [Softball], Travin Dural [Football], Taryn MacKenzie [Swimming & Diving] and Ashley Welborn [Track & Field]. Simone Heyward [Softball] was selected as the Shaquille O'Neal Life Skills Program Student-Athlete of the Month.
Chinea and Dural are majoring in sport administration, while Czechner is a biology major. MacKenzie is majoring in kinesiology, and Welborn is a civil engineering major. Heyward has already graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in sociology in August and is scheduled to graduate with her Master’s in psychology this spring.
Heyward, a senior outfielder from Sacramento, Calif., has earned a multitude of awards throughout her LSU career. She was named a to the 2012 NCAA College Station All-Regional Team and was a member of the 2011 All-SEC Freshman Team. Heyward scored runs during both of LSU’s wins over No. 2 Tennessee last weekend. Her success on the field is paralleled with her success in the classroom. Heyward is LSU’s nominee for the 2014 SEC Boyd McWhorter postgraduate scholarship and was the 2013 recipient of the Eye of the Tiger award for overcoming adversity at the academic gala. She created a support group, You Are Not Alone (YANA), after experiencing the loss of her mother to cancer where LSU student-athletes help middle and high school students cope with the loss of a loved one. Heyward recently visited McKinley High School.
A sophomore catcher from Miami, Fla., Chinea has seen action in 24 games which includes 16 starts this season. He recorded a home run during the 6-0 shutout against Grambling State which was not only his first home run of the season but first homer of his career. He also scored a run during LSU’s 4-0 shutout against Georgia on March 21.
Czechner, a senior pitcher from Pawley’s Island, S.C., is no stranger to accolades. She won 12 of her 13 decisions in the circle last season and was the sixth player to be named Louisiana Newcomer of the Year. Her career-high 15 strikeouts also earned her a spot on the 2013 NCAA Baton Rouge All-Regional Team. This season, Czechner has a collected trio of wins over ranked opponents which include No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Tennessee and No. 3 Washington. The senior hurler also maintained a GPA that earned her SEC Academic Honor Roll honors.
A sophomore wide receiver from Breaux Bridge, La., Dural played in 12 games with no starts during his redshirt freshman season in 2013. He caught seven passes for 145 yards and recorded two touchdowns, including a 49-yard game-winning touchdown over Arkansas. In the recent spring game, he tallied five receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns and picked up the Alvin Roy Fourth Quarter Award.
MacKenzie, a sophomore breaststroke swimmer from Johannesburg, South Africa, recently represented LSU in the 200 and 400-yard relays along with the 800 freestyle relay at the NCAA Championships. She also garnered 2013 SEC First-Year Honor Rolls status.
A freshman distance runner from Knoxville, Tenn., Welborn was a four-time state championship qualifier in cross country prior to joining the Tigers. She competed in all six meets with the LSU cross country program in 2013 and ran a personal best 5K at the Crimson Classic. As a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, she welcomed Special Olympics athletes to campus during the fall to tour campus.
For putting forth extra effort in the classroom and community in addition to their rigorous academic and competition schedules, these six student-athletes will have their pictures displayed on the wall in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes.