Symmonds Named NCAA Division III Male Scholar Athlete of the Year

METAIRIE, LA -- The Willamette University women's track and field team has received All-Academic status from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for the 2006 season. The Bearcats ended the 2006 year with a 3.47 cumulative team GPA. A total of 50 NCAA Division III women's track and field teams were selected for the academic award. Each squad needed a cumulative team GPA of at least 3.0 in order to earn All-Academic honors.

In addition to the team award, Willamette placed eight members of the women's track and field squad on the USTFCCCA Women's All-Academic Team for NCAA Division III as a result of their individual academic and athletic success. Overall, 177 student-athletes were chosen for the USTFCCCA Women's AlMETAIRIE, LA -- Willamette University runner Nick Symmonds (Sr., Boise, ID/Bishop Kelly HS) has been named 2006 NCAA Division III Male Scholar Athlete of the Year as selected by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Symmonds also was named to the USTFCCCA Men's All-Academic Team for NCAA Division III. The Willamette men's track and field squad, which earned a 3.07 cumulative team GPA, was recognized as one of 31 teams earning All-Academic status.

Symmonds graduated from Willamette with a 3.27 cumulative grade point average while majoring in chemistry. He was one of 79 student-athletes chosen for the USTFCCCA Men's All-Academic Team. Each All-Academic selection was honored for earning a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher, while achieving an NCAA qualifying standard in one or more events during the 2006 season.

"Nick has had a great four years as an above-average student and an exceptional athlete," said Matt McGuirk, head track and field and cross country coach at Willamette. "This award is a great honor for Nick, the Symmonds family and everyone who has had an impact on his academic and athletic career here at Willamette."

While attending Willamette, Symmonds won seven NCAA Division III individual track and field titles. He set the Division III record in the 800-meter run this spring, with a time of 1:47.34 at the Tennessee Distance Running Solution at Vanderbilt University on May 14. He won two NCAA titles for the second year in a row and the third time overall, claiming the 800-meter championship with a time of 1:49.59 in the finals and taking the 1,5000-meter crown in 3:49.24.

He provided a standout performance in the 800-meter run at the United States Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 25, as he rallied for a second place finish after moving forward from seventh place with 120 meters remaining. He finished behind Khadevis Robinson, who claimed his second consecutive national title and third championship since 1999. Robinson clocked in at 1:44.13. Symmonds was timed at 1:45.83 for a new personal best.

Nebraska Wesleyan University was chosen as the NCAA Division III Men's All-Academic Team of the Year. NWU finished ninth at the NCAA meet while earning a cumulative team GPA of 3.31. Teams received All-Academic status with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.l-Academic Team. Each All-Academic selection was recognized for achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher, while earning an NCAA qualifying standard in one or more events during the 2006 season. Willamette tied for fifth with eight qualifiers, while Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., led Division III with 13 All-Academic picks.

Willamette's individual honorees were Sophia Dentzel (Jr., Javelin, Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS), Mariah Hanson (Jr., Sprints, Paulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS), Roseann Kassebaum (Sr., Hurdles, Oregon, City, OR/Oregon City HS), Andrea May (Jr., Hurdles, Bellingham, WA/Brown University), Lindsey Patterson (Jr., Jumps/Sprints, Vancouver, WA/Columbia River HS), Alanna Pledger (Fr., Jumps, Wilsonville, OR/Wilsonville), Jordyn Smith (So., Hurdles, Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) and Sarah Zerzan (So., Distance, San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS).

Dentzel achieved a 3.61 cumulative GPA, while majoring in physics. Hanson, a psychology major, earned a 3.74 GPA, while Kassebaum, an international studies major, contributed a 3.47 GPA. May, who is majoring in biology, supplied a 3.55 GPA. Patterson, with a double major in psychology and Spanish, earned a 3.79 GPA. Smith, a social studies major, achieved a 3.37 GPA and Zerzan, a biochemistry major, added a 3.95 GPA.

The Bearcats took second place at the NCAA Division III National Championships in the 4 x 400-meter relay, as Hanson, Smith, May and Patterson established a Willamette school record with a time of 3:47.85 in the finals. Dentzel claimed sixth place in the javelin with a throw of 143'0" and Pledger finished in a three-way tie for sixth place in the high jump at 5'5 3/4". Smith placed ninth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 63.09, while Zerzan took 11th in the 5,000-meter run in 17:41.82. Hanson completed the 400-meter dash in 57.24, but did not advance to the finals.

NCAA All-American status went to the 4 x 400-meter relay team, plus Denztel in the javelin and Pledger in the high jump. Willamette placed 22nd in the team standings at the National Championships.

"As a team, our young ladies have really emphasized the 'student'part of student-athlete," said Matt McGuirk, head track and field and cross country coach at Willamette. "Their overall team GPA of 3.47 is pretty amazing in itself. When the team and individual academic awards are combined with the 10 Athletic All-American awards earned by our women in cross country and track and field, it has truly been a very special year."

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh was chosen as the NCAA Division III Women's All-Academic Team of the Year. UWO won the 2006 NCAA Division III Women's Track and Field Championship and achieved a cumulative team GPA of 3.22.

SUNY College at Oneonta senior runner Musu Jackson-Buckner, with a 3.8 cumulative GPA, was named 2006 NCAA Division III Female Scholar Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA. Jackson-Buckner won the 200-meter dash at the Division III Championships in 23.75 seconds, finished second in the 100-meter dash and anchored SUNY College at Oneonta's 4 x 100-meter relay team, which claimed third place.