Story courtesy: Western Athletic Conference Media Relations
NM State junior baseball player Nick Gonzales and senior volleyball player Megan Hart are the 2019-20 Western Athletic Conference Joe Kearney Award winners. Named in honor of former WAC commissioner Joe Kearney, the awards are given annually to the top male and female student-athletes in the WAC.
Gonzales became the first WAC baseball player in nearly a decade to be picked in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, going to the Pittsburgh Pirates with the seventh overall pick. Named Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National Player of the Year, he was also a CoSIDA Academic All-American and led the nation in home runs (12, runs (28), RBIs (36) and total basses (67) when the season was suspended due to COVID-19. As a junior, he was the NCAA batting champion with a .432 average and earned multiple All-America honors.
During Gonzales’ career, the Aggies won a WAC tournament title in 2018 and shared the WAC regular season title in 2019. In addition to his tremendous career in Las Cruces, he burst on the national stage during the summer of 2019, earning MVP honors of the prestigious Cape Cod League and was named Summer Collegiate Player of the Year by Perfect Game.
“Nick Gonzales represented New Mexico State University and our baseball program at the highest level with incredible poise,” said NM State baseball coach Mike Kirby. “While the numbers and accolades from his entire collegiate career are jaw-dropping, it’s how he conducted himself behind the scenes and off the field that truly makes him special.”
Hart finished her NM State volleyball career as one of the best to ever play for the Aggies. The 2019 WAC Player of the Year and WAC Tournament MVP, she also earned AVCA honorable mention All-America honors after helping lead the Aggies to the 2019 regular season and tournament titles. One of the top all-around players in the nation, she led the team and ranked 32nd nationally in attack percentage at .382 and also led the team in both kills (300) and blocks (110.0).
A native of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, she was a part of two regular season championship teams and two tournament championship teams, earning a pair of trips to the NCAA tournament. Her .359 career hitting percentage ranks first in program history and she also made the top-ten in block assists, ranking sixth with 345. Her leadership with the Aggies is expected to continue as she will remain a part of the team in a coaching capacity while finishing up her graduate degree.
“When you look at Megan’s numbers and the awards she earned, she was a dominant force in the conference,” NM State head volleyball coach Mike Jordan said. “She’s also a great team leader, phenomenal in the community, she interacts with young fans after games. She’s the complete package and is very deserving of this award.