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Bena Hanyard, Samantha Walling receive NCAA degree completion scholarships

Bena Hanyard averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to help Clayton State reached the NCAA Div. II Tournament. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Bena Hanyard averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to help Clayton State reached the NCAA Div. II Tournament. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Samantha Walling, a California native, has a 3.68 grade-point average and will graduate in December with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. (Special Photo)

MORROW — A couple of former Clayton State athletes were recently awarded NCAA Degree Completion Scholarship, the organization announced.

Former Lakers basketball player Bena Hanyard and cross-country and track runner Samantha Walling were among the 80 recipients of the NCAA scholarship. The two are among four Peach Belt Conference student-athletes who will receive financial assistance to help them finish their degrees.

Established in 2001, the Division II Degree Completion Award Program helps to provide student-athletes financial assistance for them to complete their first baccalaureate degree. Candidates are students who have exhausted their athletics eligibility and have received athletics financial aid.

The selection process for the national award emphasizes the academic performance of the student-athlete, according to the NCAA. Other factors considered are financial circumstances, athletic achievement and involvement in campus and community activities.

Of those student-athletes who have received the award since its inception, 94 percent have earned their undergraduate degree using this program.

A Marietta native, Hanyard is a Health and Fitness Management major while Walling, a California native, will graduate in December a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Other Peach Belt scholarship recipients are Andrea Dawson and Kristen Holmes, both of Armstrong Atlantic. Holmes, a Flowery Branch native, is a former volleyball standout for the Pirates. Dawson, a Senoia native, soccer player, who finished career ranked on the top in goals and assist for the program.

This past season, Hanyard helped lead the Lakers to the regular-season Peach Belt Conference championship. She averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while scoring in double figures 19 times during the season.

Benyard had a season-high 29 against Lander at the conference tournament in Columbus. She also added three double-doubles and was named to the Peach Belt Conference All-Tournament team.

Walling was named to the conference all-academic team in track and field for the second straight season. She completed her four-year career at Clayton State running a career-best this season of 2:19.68 in the 800-meters at the conference championship meet to finish seventh.

Walling carries a 3.68 grade-point and is a three-time selection to the conference’s women’s cross country All-Academic team.