news-category: Academics

Gardner-Webb Paces Big South With Four 2020 Christenberry Award Winners

collage of athletes

Allison Chandler, Jennifer Jackson, Courtney Kanetzke and Brian Stepanek Achieve Honors

BOILING SPRINGS, NC—Gardner-Webb University once again led the way, as the Big South Conference announced a record 12 student-athletes as recipients of the 2020 George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs had four recipients. No other Big South school had more than two.

The Gardner-Webb quartet included women’s golfer Allison Chandler, women’s swimmer Jennifer Jackson, women’s track and cross country runner Courtney Kanetzke and men’s soccer player Brian Stepanek.

The award is given to the male and female student-athlete within the conference who attain the highest cumulative GPA during their undergraduate collegiate careers. 2020 marks the eighth year in a row that the league has posted a record total.

Each of the 12 Big South student-athletes honored in 2020 boasted perfect 4.0 GPAs for their careers.

  • Chandler (Chester, Nova Scotia) was the 2020 Big South Women’s Golf Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In 2019-20, she was second on the Runnin’ Bulldogs and 12th overall in the Big South with a career-best 75.00 scoring average — nearly three strokes ahead of her previous best.  She helped the squad to a pair of second-place finishes in the fall.  Chandler led the team in scoring as a junior and was team medalist twice during the spring season.  A two-time WGCA All-America Scholar-Athlete selection, Chandler has been a member of the Dean’s List and Alpha Chi Honor Society while at Gardner-Webb.
  • Jackson (Rocky Mount, N.C.) excelled in the pool as a senior in 2019-20, setting personal records in each event swam at the 2020 CCSA Championships. She was a member of an All-Conference relay team, as her 200-yard medley relay finished third at the event.  Jackson was also part of fourth-place finishes in the 200-yard free relay and 400-yard medley relay at the 2020 CCSA Championships.  A finalist for CCSA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, she earned her third spot in three seasons on the CCSA Academic All-Conference Team.  Jackson received Gardner-Webb’s Dr. Dee “Doc” Hunt Academic Achievement Award in 2018, and was a member of the Gardner-Webb Dean’s List and Alpha Chi Honor Society.
  • Kanetzke (Mills River, N.C.) competed in the 3,000m run for the Runnin’ Bulldogs during the indoor season and with the cross country team this past fall. She also competed in the outdoor 5,000m run and 1,500m run during her collegiate career.  She set a personal record with a time of 12:20.98 at the 2020 VMI Indoor Classic, and had outdoor bests in the 1,500m run (5:41.78) and 5,000m run (22:21.14) during the 2019 outdoor campaign.  A Dean’s List and Alpha Chi Honor Society member at Gardner-Webb, Kanetzke was part of a GWU delegation to the National Honors Conference in New Orleans, La.  She also participated in the Southern Regional Honors Council in Memphis, Tenn., in 2019, and was a member of the 2020 Gardner-Webb University Who’s Who list.
  • Stepanek (Davidson, N.C.) played in 25 career matches, including a career-high 12 contests in 2018. He made four career starts for the Runnin’ Bulldogs and recorded one goal and one assist.  Stepanek earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors following the 2018 season — the first national academic honor for a GWU men’s soccer student-athlete since 2009.  He was also named to the 2018 United Soccer Coaches Association’s Scholar All-South Region Team, and has been a Dean’s List member at Gardner-Webb.

Gardner-Webb also led the Big South with four Christenberry Award winners in 2019.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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