(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – The Carnegie Mellon University football team had nine members named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Football Team on Thursday after having eight receive the honor each of the previous two seasons. To be nominated for the award, a student-athlete must be a starter or significant reserve and maintain a GPA of 3.3 or better.
Carnegie Mellon is part of District 4 which is comprised of all Division III schools in the state of Pennsylvania. All nine honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be announced July 14.
Senior running back Luke Bikulege (Greer, S.C./St. Joseph's Catholic) and classmate outside linebacker Danny Zahniser (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) are being honored for the second consecutive season. Seven others, senior defensive linemen Skyler Blacker (Lake Bluff, Ill./Libertyville) and Nathan Koch (Pecatonica, Ill./Pecatonica), senior offensive lineman Sean Pogorelc (Centreville, Va./Chantilly), junior returner Ben Armbrester (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern), junior defensive back Sean Knight (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan), sophomore defensive back Aryan Hegde (Brambleton, Va./Rock Ridge) and sophomore offensive lineman Ty Spaltholz (South Milwaukee, Wis./South Milwaukee), are being recognized for the first time.
Bikulege rushed for 417 yards on 87 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per carry, and averaged 104.2 yards per game, which ranked third in the PAC. The senior led the PAC with seven rushing touchdowns while recording two in each of the Tartans first three games. In the Tartans win over Geneva, Bikulege rushed the ball a career-best 30 times for 193 yards. Pogorelc is a three-year starter and played a huge factor in the blocking upfront. Spaltholz, a second team honoree, accompanied Pogorlec in pathing the way for Bikulege and the Tartans, who were third in the PAC in rushing offense. Armbrester led the PAC with 10 punt returns with a long of 13 yards. The junior was also second on the team with 12 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Zahniser helped the Tartans defense which ranked second in the PAC in scoring defense allowing 15.8 points per game and third in total defense giving up 299.8 yards per contest. The senior linebacker was fourth on the team with 19 stops, including nine solo. He also forced a fumble and had a tackle for loss. Zahniser, along with Blacker's and Koch's presence played a part in the Tartans rush defense that ranked second in the PAC allowing 102.5 yards per game, including holding Waynesburg to five yards on the ground, the lowest allowed on the ground for the Tartans since 2007. Blacker ended the season with 17 stops, seven solo, and 1.5 tackles for a loss of four yards. Koch tabbed nine tackles, one for a loss, forced a fumble and recovered another.
Knight finished the 2021 spring season with 11 tackles, eight solo. In the win at Waynesburg, the cornerback recorded two interceptions and added a tackle for loss. It marked the second time in Knight's career that he had multiple interceptions in a game. He will enter his senior campaign with nine career picks which is tied for eighth most in program history. Hegde made 10 solo stops and tabbed 16 total tackles along with an interception.
Bikulege is a finance major in the Tepper School of Business and graduated with a 3.71 GPA and recorded a 4.0 in his final five semesters at Carnegie Mellon. Bikulege volunteers with Special Olympics and participates in the fundraiser for Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. He is a member of the Carnegie Mellon Investment Banking Academy, Scottie Ventures and Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. This past summer he held an internship as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst at Deutsche Bank in Chicago. Bikulege had two different internships during the summer of 2019, the first with South State Bank and the second with Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, both in Greenville, South Carolina. He also has been a shadowing intern for Novolex in New York City.
Zahniser carried a 3.50 GPA in chemical engineering throughout his career. He is the vice president of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. Zahniser has been an engineering intern for Test Products in Exton, Pennsylvania. He also volunteers for the 1,000+ Service Day initiative and with Special Olympics.
Blacker, a business administration major, graduated with a 3.74 GPA. He is a member of Scottie Ventures where he was an associate, analyst, and case competition/event organizer. He held a board position for Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity and volunteers for the 1,000+ Service Day initiative, Special Olympics and at the Carnegie Mellon Athletic Field Day. Last summer, Blacker worked for Aptiv as SOX Internal Audit Finance Intern and FLDP full-time analyst in Troy, Michigan.
Koch graduated with a 3.82 and majored in electrical and computer engineering. He was a member of the dean's list and was a three-time PAC honor roll honoree and a three-time UAA All-Academic honoree.
Pogorelc was an electrical and computer engineering major and graduated with a 3.64 GPA. He volunteers as a math tutor at Lincoln elementary school and is a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. The last four summers, Pogorelc interned for CACI/Bits Systems in Dulles Virginia. He has been accepted into the graduate program at Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering to pursue a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering.
Armbrester carries a 3.72 GPA as a business administration major. He is a member of the Carnegie Mellon Investment Banking Academy and was an analyst for the Undergraduate Deloitte Case Competition at Carnegie Mellon. Last summer, Armbrester was a finance intern for Service Express in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has also been an operations clerk for Charlevoix State Bank in Charlevoix, Michigan, and has an internship this summer as an investment banking analyst at Boxwood Partners located in Richmond, Virginia.
Knight, a civil engineering major, maintains a 3.67 GPA. A member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, Knight volunteers as tutor for high school kids at the Environmental Charter School. During the summer of 2020, he was a project manager intern for Structure Tone in New York City and is a civil engineering inter this summer at Kimley-Horn.
Hegde has a 3.72 GPA and is a business administration major. He is a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity, part of Deloitte's 2021 DLAMP mentorship program and a member of BLAC (Black and Latinx Athletic Coalition) at Carnegie Mellon. Hegde is a member of the University of Pittsburgh, Three Rivers Battalion Army ROTC and is a graduating Second Lieutenant. This summer he has a Business Development Internship role at World 50 Inc. and working at Merrill Lynch as a Wealth Management intern.
Spaltholz is a business administration major with a concentration in finance and a minor in economics with a 3.56 GPA. He is a member of Carnegie Mellon Wall Street Club, Scottie Ventures and Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. Spaltholz was a business administration intern for Ttap (Biomedical/Life Sciences Accelerator) during the summer of 2020 and is an intern for a Solutions 21, a leadership consulting company, this summer in Pittsburgh.