Providence Christian grad Tayler Tuttle finished her college cross country career in ideal fashion this month.

The Colorado University senior placed 24th at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, earning All-American honors and helping the Buffaloes to the national championship. Colorado dominated the team competition in difficult race conditions with temperatures in the upper 20s to lower 30s and a chilly wind in Madison, Wisc.

Tuttle, one of six Buffaloes in the top 40, completed the 6K race in 20 minutes, 23 seconds, capping a breakthrough season. She also earned all-region honors with an 18th-place finish at the NCAA Mountain Region Championships and was 16th in the Pac-12 Championships. She competed in five of her team’s seven races this season.

She ran only six races total in 2017 and 2016, highlighted by 46th- and 38th-place finishes at the Pac-12 meet. She sat out the 2015 season on a redshirt after transferring from Georgia, where she had a stellar freshman season. While with the Bulldogs, she was 26th in the SEC Championships to earn league all-freshman honors and was 37th at the NCAA South Region Championships.

Tuttle was Gwinnett’s 2013 cross country runner of the year as a Providence senior after a runner-up finish at the state meet.

FOOTBALL

Whitner feted for service

Syracuse senior linebacker Kielan Whitner earned a pair of major, off-the-field honors this season, earning one of 22 spots on the prestigious Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and being named this month as one of the 20 semifinalists for the second annual Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award.

The Mountain View grad also has excelled on the field with 172 career tackles at linebacker and safety, including 96 tackles (second on the team) and two interceptions this season.

The Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year recognizes athletes who have a record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field.

Whitner is the public relations director of the Syracuse University chapter of Uplifting Athletes, which is a non-profit organization made up of a national network of chapters dedicated to inspiring the rare-disease community through the power of sport. In his role as one of the group’s leaders, Whitner helped organize the 2018 Lift for Life, which was held in July and raised more than $7,000 to benefit the rare-disease community. During his four years with the Syracuse chapter, the group has generated more than $50,000 to support those affected by rare diseases.

Whitner has completed multiple mission trips to Haiti. He is also a member of Central New York chapter of The For a Day Foundation, which provides therapeutic experiences for sick children, and serves as Syracuse’s player captain for Team IMPACT, a national non-profit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams.

During his most recent mission trip with Eternal Hope for Haiti in Dec. 2017, Whitner helped lead a group of volunteers in the construction of two orphanages and the distribution of free medical care to severely impoverished areas of the country.

Whitner is set to graduate this spring with a degree in accounting. He has been named to the SU Athletic Director’s Honor Roll every semester of college and he is a three-time ACC Honor Roll selection.

Ellis to play in East-West Shrine Game

University of Virginia running back Jordan Ellis, a Peachtree Ridge grad, has accepted an invitation to play in 94th East-West Shrine Game.

The game will be held Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., kicking off at 3 p.m. It will be broadcast live on the NFL Network.

The 5-foot-10, 225-pound running back has three 100-yard rushing games this season, totaling 920 yards and nine touchdowns. He rushed for 836 yards and six TDs as a junior.

Jones, Samuel enter record books

Lanier grad Juwuan Jones and Central Gwinnett grad Josh Samuel climbed into the Western Kentucky record books with their outstanding seasons.

Jones, a defensive end, had a solo sack last weekend to push his season total to five, breaking a tie he previously held for the most sacks by a freshman in Western Kentucky’s FBS era. Samuel, a running back, finished the year with 641 rushing yards, the second-most by a freshman in WKU’s FBS era and fourth-most all-time.

Smith helps Southern to win

Norcross grad Trey Smith had two catches for 40 yards and a touchdown in Southern University’s 38-28 win over rival Grambling in last weekend’s 45th annual Bayou Classic.

Smith, a graduate transfer from Miles College, has seven TD catches this season. Southern plays Saturday at Alcorn State in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game.

SOCCER

Stevens named all-region

Grayson alum Ella Stevens was named to the All-Atlantic Region Team this week by the United Soccer Coaches.

The Duke junior had a team-high 11 assists, ranking second in the ACC and 10th nationally. With one season left, Stevens has 28 career assists, fourth in school history.

Jeffries earns all-region honors

Duluth grad Kai Jeffries, a sophomore at Georgia College, earned second-team All-Southeast Region Team honors from the United Soccer Coaches.

Jeffries started 20 of 21 matches for the Bobcats this season.

Gwinnett Grads spotlights achievements of past Gwinnett standouts on the college level. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com.

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Sports editor for the Gwinnett Daily Post. A Gwinnett native documenting Gwinnett County sports with the GDP since 1997.