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Baldenegro and Coggins Honored as Top Golden Eagle Scholar Athletes

From left to right: Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Lisa Campos, Northern Arizona University President Dr. Rita Cheng, Patrick Baldenegro, Rene Coggins, Golden Eagle Awards Founder Ginny Clements
From left to right: Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Lisa Campos, Northern Arizona University President Dr. Rita Cheng, Patrick Baldenegro, Rene Coggins, Golden Eagle Awards Founder Ginny Clements

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona football senior Patrick Baldenegro and women's basketball senior Rene Coggins were honored as the Golden Eagle Scholar Athletes of the Year on Tuesday during the 39th annual Golden Eagle Awards luncheon. A total of 190 student-athletes across all 15 of NAU's athletic programs were honored at the High Country Conference Center.

The Golden Eagle Awards have been presented annually since the spring of 1979 to NAU student-athletes who have maintained high levels of scholastic achievement (at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average) while performing with distinction. More than 3,000 Golden Eagle Awards have been presented all-time and the annual luncheon has become an integral part of tradition for the Northern Arizona University Athletics Department.

Baldenegro was honored as the top male Scholar Athlete with a 3.80 cumulative grade point average in biomedical science. A four-year tight end on the NAU football team, Baldenegro will graduate this May as a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree. Recently, he was named the National Football Foundation Valley of the Sun College Scholar-Athlete and is a three-time Big Sky Fall All-Academic Team member. Baledenegro has earned both AD Honor Roll and Dean's List recognition.

On the field, the Chandler, Ariz. native caught 29 passes over his career for 301 yards and three touchdowns. His best season came as a sophomore when he recorded 16 receptions for 176 yards, both of which were career-bests. He made two career starts over his 34 career games played and was named the football team's Newcomer of the Year following his true freshman season.

"It's a big honor not only for me, but for the football program and my family," Baldenegro said. "I'm really proud of my accomplishments and I know they are too. I hope to continue to make a name for myself, not only now but throughout the history of NAU."

Meanwhile, Coggins was named the top female Scholar Athlete with a perfect 4.00 cumulative grade point average as a triple major in accountancy, finance and hotel & restaurant management. Coggins will graduate in the spring of 2018. Her academic accolades include becoming the first women's basketball player in school history to be voted a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American. She will receive her fourth Big Sky All-Academic award later this semester and has been named to the Dean's List each semester of her collegiate career while studying in the NAU Honors College. The Mesa, Ariz. product was also a nominee for the prestigious national Senior CLASS Award.

Coggins wrapped up her playing career this spring 12th all-time in program history with 1,053 points scored. She was a four-year team captain and started 100 of 113 career games played. She finished with 3,909 minutes played, which is second-most in program history, and also ranks in the top 10 all-time in three-pointers, free throw percentage and assists.

"It's pretty amazing and it reinforces all the hard work I put in the classroom," Coggins said. "Being a part of NAU and to get this award means a lot to me and to be the top female (recipient) among a lot of incredible athletes is really amazing."

The football team paced the department with 40 honorees while the women's track & field and cross country program followed with 29. The soccer team had 28 student-athletes recognized and the men's track & field and cross country program received 24 awards.

Several teams posted nearly perfect showings including women's tennis (7-of-8), golf (7-of-8), women's basketball (12-of-15), swimming & diving (18-of-23) and volleyball (11-of-16).

For a full list of the 2016-17 Golden Eagle Scholar Athlete award recipients, click here.