HUNTSVILLE -- Sam Houston State's Nicole Aponte has been named Southland Conference Track and Field Student-Athlete of the Year, the league office announced Wednesday.

Aponte joins Southeastern Louisiana's Alex Young among the two individuals to receive the accolade. She was one of seven Bearkats named to the Southland's cross country and track and field all-academic teams.

The Sealy product was joined by Tristyn Allen and Olivia Olguin on the women's side while Kalvin Singletary, Tyler Adams, Evan Arambula and Chris Speaks took home all-academic honors for the men.

At the outdoor championships, Aponte took a gold medal in the 1,500-meter run and silver in the 800 meters. The graduate student out of Kingwood, Texas holds a perfect 4.00 GPA with a major in victim services management.​

Assistant coach Jesse Parker on Nicole Aponte...
"She's incredibly driven and an incredibly hard worker. You see that same quality in all the athletics but one of the things that sets her apart from everyone else is her ability to deal with setbacks and not let that hinder her in the future. Unfortunately, she's had quite a few injuries over the year that kept her out of seasons and competing. It can be very discouraging but she was able to use that to progress and become better. He drive has really come out. Most people don't have that."

Assistant coach Jesse Parker on Aponte's personality...
"From a personality standpoint, she's always in a good mood and always positive. She's a great person to be around. Having worked with her for six years, you develop a relationship. She has a special place in my heart because I know it hasn't always been easy. Her ability to deal with setbacks better than anyone and stay focused. She applies that same thing in the classroom ... finishing her masters degree in criminal justice. She is never afraid to take on work or apply herself. She's either running or studying."

Assistant coach Jesse Parker on Aponte's impact on the team...
"In any sport, even an individual sport like track, you can't do it alone. You have to have people who push you through and motivate you on those long, hot days. With her, Olivia and Ana, those three are almost attached at the hip. In order for all three to run well, they push each other. Neither would run as well individually without the others. Nicole is kind of the mom of the group. Especially when Ana was younger, really helping her out and setting an example. She has been the leader by example. When people see her pushing through injuries or a hard workout, it sets the example."

Assistant coach Jesse Parker on her performance...
"Her first year was spent injured but her redshirt freshman season of cross country we finished second. It was really the turn of the program in general. She was a part of that. She finished 15th or 16th that year. She's the second-fastest miler we've ever had. She anchored our women's DMR which set a school record. She has never been afraid to go do things that a lot of people think are possible. In the past six years, what we've been able to build, she's been a part of it the entire way. She epitomizes what we want in the student athletes in our program. My biggest compliment to Nicole is that she's an amazing person to be around. Athletic ability comes and goes but you can't replace the personality, leadership and the attitude she brings every day. That's hard to replace."