KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The MIAA announced the 2021 Spring Female and Male Student-Athletes of the Year, presented by Summit Pointe Financial Group. The female winner is Ashlan Burton of Central Missouri and the male winner is Ryan Stanley of Fort Hays State. The awards are the Association’s highest honor for student-athletes during the spring sports season.
Burton, an NCAA All-American in the shot put, was a star in the sport of track and field. Likewise, Stanley boasted the NCAA national title in the outdoor pole vault this past spring. The duo received the most votes from a 13-member panel of conference administrators. They were selected as a finalist, announced June 23rd by the league office. For more information on the list of finalists, click here.
Burton claims the 12th annual award for Central Missouri, earning the first Athlete of the Year for UCM since Morgan Fleming in 2019-20 (Women’s Basketball). Stanley becomes the first male in Tigers history to be honored with this award, joining female FHSU alum Kate Lehman in 2014-15 (Women’s Basketball) and Whitney Randall from the 2020-21 winter season (Women’s Basketball). For the all-time list of winners, click here.
Ashlan Burton – Central Missouri, Outdoor Track & Field
Burton, a junior from Urbandale, Iowa, picked up her fourth career NCAA Division II All-America award this past spring coming in fourth place in the national shot put (50-6.75). She also competed at nationals in the discus where she finished 14th (145-3) and earned a Second Team All-America nod. Burton was also an MIAA Champion in the shot put in both the indoor and outdoor seasons and scored for the Jennies by placing fourth in the discus. During the season, Burton competed in eight shot put competitions, winning five of them. She was one of only seven NCAA Division II throwers, and the only one in the MIAA to hit NCAA qualifying marks in the shot put, discus and hammer throw.
The 2021 All-America outdoor award was the fourth for Burton in her career. She now has two indoor and two outdoor shot put All-America honors.
Burton has already graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is currently working on a Master’s degree in Kinesiology and has a 4.0. In her time at UCM, Burton has made the MIAA Academic Honor Roll eight times between indoor and outdoor seasons, earned five MIAA Scholar-Athlete Awards and three MIAA Academic Excellence Awards. She’s also been a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection.
Burton is heavily involved with her church as a young-adult ministry director and volunteer youth group leader at Deerbrook Covenant. She is also the President of the UCM Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Around campus, Burton is a member of the UCM Literacy Team and Psychology Club. She’s also a member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Ryan Stanley – Fort Hays State, Outdoor Track & Field
Stanley, a junior from Bennington, Kan., was the 2021 NCAA Division II National Champion in the outdoor pole vault. He cleared a new school record of 17 feet, 2.75 inches to tie for first place. He then cleared the height again to win a jump off for the national title against Trivett Jones of Angelo State (Texas). In the process, Stanley produced his fourth-ever NCAA All-America performance at FHSU and his second this year after finishing fourth nationally during the indoor season. He is also a four-time USTFCCCA All-Region performer going back to 2019. Stanley set new FHSU records in the pole vault in both outdoor and indoor seasons (16 feet, 11.5 inches) in 2021. He is only the second individual in school history to clear 17 feet.
Stanley has been near perfect in the classroom in three years at FHSU, compiling a 3.97 GPA as a Management major. He is a three-time recipient of the USTFCCCA All-Academic Award and a three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. Holding a perfect 4.0 GPA over his first two years at FHSU, he twice received the MIAA Academic Excellence Award. He also earned MIAA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2021 for securing All-MIAA honors and holding at least a 3.5 GPA. Stanley is also a three-time recipient of the FHSU Athletics Academic Excellence Award and a six-time member of the Dean’s Honor Roll at FHSU.
Stanley has also been very active on campus and in the community. He was the male recipient of the Cerv’s FHSU Student-Athlete Distinguished Leadership Award in 2021. Stanley joined three other FHSU students to design “MeHe,” a mobile phone app centered on maintaining positive mental health. The group won the 2020 Kansas Startup competition at FHSU with their presentation. He has also served as a senator for the Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship for three years. During the 2021-22 academic year, Stanley will serve as the FHSU Student Body Vice President after being voted into office in 2020-21. On top of that, Stanley has been an active leadership team member of Christian Challenge at FHSU over three years, participating in multiple community service projects. He served the community and FHSU Alumni through work as a VIP Ambassador under the direction of FHSU President Dr. Tisa Mason for two years. This summer, he is on staff with Project Apprentice, a discipleship program in Lawrence, Kan., focused on discipline, service, and community