Pair of defensive experts exemplify the true meaning of student-athlete
Senior Lindsey Petroni of the Eastern Washington University volleyball team and junior Jeff Minnerly from football have been honored by the EWU Athletic Department as December’s Scholar-Athletes of the Month. This award recognizes the athletic and academic success of student-athletes, based primarily on performances turned in during the month prior.
Throughout their careers, Petroni and Minnerly have been among the top defensive players on their respective teams. Petroni, a 2008 graduate of Mead High School in Spokane, Wash., has been the starting libero for Eastern for two-straight seasons. Minnerly, a 2008 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, moved to the defensive side of the ball in 2010, and has excelled in his position as free safety for the national champion Eagles.
Both student-athletes are two-time Big Sky All-Academic selections, and are up for a third-straight honor this year. Petroni has maintained a 3.57 grade point average in accounting, while Minnerly owns a 3.83 GPA in accounting and information systems.
More on Petroni
Petroni recently wrapped up a successful four-year career with the Eagle volleyball program. She was a member of the 2008 regular-season championship team, and helped Eastern to three Big Sky tournament appearances in four years.
As a defensive specialist, and the starting libero for the last two seasons, Petroni amassed 864 total digs in her tenure. She earned a 3.56 career digs per set average, which ranks fourth all-time in the EWU record book.
This season, she also became the all-time school record holder for most 30-dig matches in a career. With one as a sophomore, two as a junior and four this year as a senior, Petroni finished with seven total 30-dig outings - two more than EWU great, and previous record holder, Mandy Daniels.
Petroni averaged 4.56 digs per set in the 2011 campaign, which is the fifth-best single season average in EWU history. She had 15 matches with double-digit digs, including nine in a row to close out the season. She had 20+ pickups in five of the last seven matches of the year, including three in the month of November.
Petroni has a single-match career high of 33 digs, which she’s set on three different occasions. The first was during her sophomore season, when she tallied 33 pickups in a four-set victory over Idaho (9/30/09). That defensive effort against the Vandals was the best four-set performance of all players in the Big Sky that season.
This year, she matched her career high in two different matches. She had 33 digs in a five-set win at Montana (9/24/11), and a month later, picked up 33 against Sacramento State (11/18/11). Petroni also tallied 71 assists this season, including a career-high eight in a crucial 3-2 win at Northern Arizona that helped EWU solidify a spot in the 2011 Big Sky Championship.
More on Minnerly
Minnerly was a repeat selection on the Capital One Academic All-District VIII squad as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA). In 2011, he earned honorable mention All-Big Sky accolades for the second-straight season, and has been nominated for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team, which will be announced in January.
Minnerly started eight of 11 EWU games in 2011, and ranked second on the team with 77 tackles. He had seven tackles for loss, an interception and two passes broken up. In his 31-game Eastern career – 17 as a starter – he has 127 total tackles with four interceptions, eight passes broken up, two forced fumbles and 10 tackles for loss.
He closed his junior campaign with a career-high 13 tackles in a 42-14 victory over Idaho State on Nov. 19. He also broke-up a pass and had two tackles for loss, as the Eagles out-gained ISU 578-363 in total offense. Minnerly had a diving interception in the end zone to squelch a potential game-tying NAU scoring threat with 2:35 left to play in EWU’s 36-28 victory at Northern Arizona on Oct. 10. He finished that game with a team-high and then career-high 12 tackles.
Last season, Minnerly was awarded the “Elite 88” Award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. He received the award for having the highest cumulative grade point average among the participants in the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Eastern won that game 20-19, as Minnerly finished with two passes broken up and two tackles.
Earlier in the 2010 season, Minnerly was honored as an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection and was also chosen for the Academic All-District VIII squad. He was selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for the second time in 2010 and was selected as EWU’s Scholar-Athlete for the month of December. He had 48 tackles, three interceptions and four passes broken up for the year.
Minnerly was a 4.0 student at Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., and excelled in football and basketball. He graduated in 2008.
Eastern football players have now been honored 53 times since 1989 on the All-District VIII squad, and seven players have gone on to win nine Academic All-America honors. A year ago, Minnerly and senior linebacker J.C. Sherritt were both selected to the squad. In 2009, defensive end Jacob Kragt from Ritzville, Wash., earned first team Academic All-America honors after being selected to the All-District VIII team for the third-straight season.
The qualifying standards include having a minimum 3.3 grade point average at Eastern and being a significant contributor to the team. The District VIII university division includes all NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams from nine western states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.