Keyser, W.Va. – The WVU Potomac State College Department of Athletics has named Marissa Earle (Volleyball) and Breland Walton (Men's Basketball) as the college's 2019-20 Outstanding Sophomore Athletes of the Year.
Earle and Walton were nominated by their coaches and selected by a committee of athletic department staff members.
The awards are given annually at Potomac State College to a male athlete and a female athlete who have made significant contributions to the Catamount athletic program and displayed a high level of athletic excellence and achievement. The athletes selected have demonstrated the following criteria: sportsmanship, leadership, commitment (to self, team and sport), respect (for team, coaches, opponents and officials) and satisfactory academic standing.
The awards are traditionally presented during Potomac State's annual Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner. This year's Hall of Fame gathering was cancelled in accordance with health and safety distancing measures during the pandemic.
2019-20 Female Sophomore Athlete of the Year: Marissa Earle
Earle began her sophomore season by quickly establishing herself as one of the top defensive volleyball players in NJCAA Region XX. She reached double digits in digs in the 2019 season's first eight matches, including 46 digs in the second match of the season.
On track to lead the region defensively, Earle switched positions midway through the season to facilitate injuries on the Potomac State roster. A selfless move that impacted her defensive stats dramatically, costing her the opportunity to claim top defensive honors in Region XX.
Earle's willingness to adapt and perform was no surprise to Coach Martha Ganoe, "Marissa a is great leader, accepting personal sacrifice for the benefit of the team is testament to the quality of Marissa's character."
Ultimately Earle finished the season with 285 digs, 4.83 per set which led her Potomac State team and ranked her second in Region XX. Offensively, Earle finished with 32 service aces, third among her teammates.
Currently a business administration major, Earle is an exemplary student, maintaining a 3.74 GPA.
Earle will remain at Potomac State College where she plans to join the softball team the next two seasons while pursuing a bachelor's in computer information systems.
2019-20 Male Sophomore Athlete of the year: Breland Walton
Walton, a power forward, led the men's basketball team to a 17-9 season. Early in the season, Potomac State reached as high as a No. 7 ranking in the NJCAA Division II National Poll.
Walton's 18.1 points per game led the Catamounts and his 11.6 rebounds per game ranked sixth in the nation in NJCAA Division II. His 58.8 average field goal percentage ranked in the top five in Region XX.
After his stellar sophomore campaign Walton was named to the 2019-20 NJCAA Region XX Division II First Team.
Coach Neil Epstein acknowledges Walton's impact on the Catamounts, "Breland was a large part of our success. He leads by example, works hard and strives to improve daily." Epstein continued, "Breland is an outstanding young man, a great talent. He has a bright future."
Walton, a Sports Management major, received his associate degree at this month's graduation ceremony. He has committed to continue his basketball career at NCAA Division II Georgian Court University in New Jersey while pursuing his bachelors.