Five Bearcat Runners Earn Academic All-American Honors; Both Teams Finish in Top Ten Academically

SALEM, OR — Five Bearcat cross country athletes earned Academic All-American honors, while both the men and women’s teams finished in the Top Ten in the nation as the 2004 NCAA Division III Academic All-American individuals and teams were released today.

Willamette continues to be one of the top DIII cross country programs in the nation, both in competition and academically.

Backing up their two top ten finishes at cross-country nationals, the men and women ranked in the top ten nationally in terms of total team grade point average out of nearly four hundred Division III institutions.

The women were fifth with a team GPA of 3.68 and the men were sixth with a team GPA of 3.46.

Leading the way for the women was senior Katie Pierce (Willits, CA), who added another Academic All-American honor to her resume at Willamette while leading the women to a ninth place finish at the NCAA Division III Cross-Country Championships. Pierce earned a 4.0 GPA as an Exercise Science major with a minor in Spanish.

Also garnering Academic All-American honors were Elizabeth Hart (SO, Spokane, WA) and Sarah Zerzan (FR, San Carlos, CA). Pursuing a double major in American Studies and Spanish, Hart maintained a 3.71 GPA in the fall. Zerzan, a freshman currently pursuing the sciences, managed to attain a 4.0 average in her first semester at Willamette.

On the men's side, Travis Harris (JR, Bellingham, WA), a Chemistry major with an emphasis in Biochemistry, netted a 4.0 in the fall while helping the men to a fifth place finish at the NCAA Division III Cross-Country Championships. Also aiding the cause was Carlos Ruiz, a junior from Salem, Oregon. Ruiz is a Latin American Studies/Spanish double major, and held a 3.77 GPA in the fall semester.

In order to earn Academic All-American status, a student-athlete must acquire a semester GPA of 3.5 or better and finished in the top 25% of their regional cross-country championship.