Zerzan Selected for Prestigious NCAA Today's Top VIII Award

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Sarah Zerzan (San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS), a senior runner on the Willamette University cross country and track and field teams, is one of the just eight senior student-athletes from the NCAA's overall membership to be selected to receive the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award for 2007. Zerzan and seven other athletes were selected for the prestigious award for their athletic and academic achievements, plus character and leadership. The awards will be presented to the Class of 2008 at the NCAA Honors Celebration in Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 13, as part of the annual NCAA Convention.

With just eight athletes honored from throughout the NCAA, Zerzan is part of an exceptional group of individuals selected for the Today's Top VIII Award. Previous winners include Cat Osterman (Softball, University of Texas, 2007), Eli Manning (Football, University of Mississippi, 2004), Drew Brees (Football, Purdue University, 2001), Peyton Manning (Football, University of Tennessee, 1998), Rebecca Lobo (Women's Basketball, University of Connecticut, 1996), David Robinson (Men's Basketball, U.S. Naval Academy, 1988), Cheryl Miller (Women's Basketball, University of Southern California, 1987), Tracy Caulkins (Women's Swimming, University of Florida, 1985), Steve Young (Football, Brigham Young University, 1984), Charles Kiraly (Men's Volleyball, University of California-Los Angeles, 1983), John Elway (Football, Stanford University, 1983) and Lynette Woodard (Women's Basketball, University of Kansas, 1982), plus many other outstanding student-athletes.

Zerzan won back-to-back NCAA Division III individual national championships in cross country in 2006 and 2007. She became only the third athlete to repeat as the women's champion in the 27-year history of the NCAA Division III National Championships.

In the fall of 2007, she was undefeated against all collegiate opponents. She claimed this year's national title on Nov. 17 at the NCAA National Championships, hosted by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She won the 6-kilometer race in 20:54 for a 23-second margin of victory. She won her first national title by 20 seconds at Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio, on Nov. 18, 2006.

Zerzan also helped Willamette place ninth in the team standings at the 2007 NCAA National Championships, while earning All-America honors for the third consecutive season. As a team, WU was 14th in the nation in 2005 and 20th in 2006.

Her list of individual titles includes winning three NCAA West Regional crowns (2005, 2006, 2007) and two Northwest Conference championships (2006, 2007). This year, she was the only women's runner at the NWC, West Regional and National meets to finish 6 kilometers in under 21 minutes, which she accomplished at all three meets. She helped Willamette continue its championship winning streaks at the NWC Meet (sixth title in a row) and at the West Regional Meet (fifth title in a row).

In track and field, she took second place in the women's 5,000-meter run at the 2007 NCAA Division III National Championships. She was 11th in the 5,000-meter run at the 2006 National Championships. This past spring, she won the Northwest Conference title in the 1,500-meter run, helping Willamette claim the team title.

Overall, she has set four Willamette track and field records during her career (1,500 meters at 4:38.36; 3,000 meters at 9:39.01; 5,000 meters at 16:28.54, and 10,000 meters at 35:20.17). She also holds WU cross country records for the 5-kilometer race (16:49.4) and the 6-kilometer race (20:32.7).

Zerzan was named NCAA Division III National Female Athlete of the Year in cross country in 2006 and 2007 and has been the NCAA Division III West Region Athlete of the Year in cross country twice (2006, 2007) and track and field once (2007).

She recently was selected as the nominee from cross country for the 2007-08 NCAA Division III Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Award. Zerzan also was the nominee from cross country for the Woman Athlete of the Year Award in 2006-07. Just 11 student-athletes are chosen as nominees each academic year.

She also earned First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors in the combined category of cross country/track and field for the 2006-07 academic year. She has achieved a 3.93 cumulative grade point average while majoring in Chemistry (Biochemistry track). She plans to attend medical school next year.

In the summer of 2006, Zerzan took her studies abroad to Costa Rica, where she participated in a program with Duke University and the Organization for Tropical Studies. She helped conduct ethnobiology field research through interviews with Costa Rican indigenous people.

Zerzan is actively involved on the Willamette campus as a member of the steering committee for WU’s chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign. Since her freshman year, Zerzan has volunteered at Waldo Middle School in the Russian-English bilingual mentorship program. She also has volunteered as a Spanish-English mentor at Richmond Elementary School. She also is member of the Chemistry Club.

Sarah Zerzan has been selected to receive the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award.

Sarah Zerzan has been selected to receive the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award.