Five Lady Cardinals named ITA Scholar Athletes

Verity Ockenden, Ciara Luna and Katya Lapayeva.

Five Lady Cardinals from the Lamar University tennis team were named as Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athletes, which led the team to claim the Scholar Team distinction.

The team notched a 3.42 grade point average for the season, and was one of 117 Division I programs and three Southland Conference teams to grab the honor. To make the list, a team must have at least a 3.2 GPA. Northwestern State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi were the other SLC programs on the list.

On the individual list of student-athletes who earned a 3.5 GPA or better during the year were freshman Andrea Ivanovic, junior Anna Spengler, sophomore Katya Lapayeva, freshman Lara Delli Castelli and freshman Teodora Stefanovic.

Lapayaeva, who played most of the season in the No. 1 position, has a 3.80 GPA in human resource management. Anna Spengler finished with a 3.85 GPA in general business, the same major as Ivanovic (3.78), Castelli (3.89) and Stefanovic (3.78).

Track & field

Led by Verity Ockenden, the Lamar women’s track and field team was named to the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Scholar Team. Ockenden was a representative from the women’s team on the individual list, along with Sam Stabler from the men’s team.

Stabler was a three-time Southland Conference student athlete of the year this season and Capital One Academic All-American season with a 3.73 grade point average in chemical engineering. He was both the league’s athlete and student-athlete of the year for the cross country, infield and outdoor seasons. Stabler earned Dean’s and President’s List honors.

Ockenden also advanced to the NCAA Preliminaries in the 1500m, and set a school record on a blistering run of 4:19.95. She was the league’s champion in the event. A first-team All-Southland Conference vote during the outdoor and cross country seasons, the junior-transfer is majoring in English.

The women’s team as a whole was recognized by the organization for its team 3.00 GPA, and was one of only two Southland Conference teams to make the list.


Lamar University softball coach Holly Bruder announced that four student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend LU and play softball for the Lady Cardinals this season.

LU signed one junior-college transfer and four incoming freshmen. Headed to LU are pitcher Ciara Luna, a transfer from Navarro College; freshman infielder Sabrina Montes from Spring High School, pitcher Julia Voluntad from Delsea High School in New Jersey, and infielder Kelly Meeuwsen from Liberty High School in Oregon.

“We’ve added some players we feel can start for us right away, and we’ve also added some depth,” Bruder said. “I’m excited about the talent level of our new student-athletes.”

Luna posted a 24-7 record with three saves and a 1.49 ERA with 204 strikeouts in 202 innings this past season for Navarro, leading the Bulldogs to a berth in the 2015 National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament. A first-team all-conference selection, Luna was a second-team all-region pitcher and was named to the All-Region XIV Tournament squad.

Montes was a first-team All-District 15-6A selection at shortstop after hitting .370 with 47 RBIs in 35 games for Spring, as the Lions posted a 25-10 record.

Voluntad was 22-4 with a 1.60 ERA for Delsea High School this past season, striking out 242 batters in 171 innings. Her efforts led the Crusaders to the state semifinals, where she struck out 10 in a 2-1 loss in 10 innings. Voluntad was a first-team All-South Jersey and first-team all-conference selection. She was named to the NJ Super 36 All-Star South team, and was the Vineland Daily Journal Player of the Year and the Courier-Post Pitcher of the Year.

Meeuwsen is the sister of Stephanie Meeuwsen, Lamar’s starting shortstop for the past three seasons. The younger Meeuwsen, who missed her senior season at Liberty High School due to injury, hit .490 with a .700 slugging percentage as a junior to help Liberty reach the OSAA quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive season. She is expected to compete for the starting position at second base.

The Lady Cardinals went 26-28 last season, setting a school record for wins. LU finished fifth in the Southland Conference with a 14-10 record and placed third at the Southland Conference Tournament for the best showing in program history.

“We lost two starters from last season’s team, but I’m confident that our new players along with our returners will help us to be even better this season,” Bruder said. “We will have more seniors than we’ve ever had. Their leadership will help bring the new players along.”