Zerzan is Cross Country Academic Athlete of the Year for Second Season in a Row

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University's cross country teams have achieved athletic success while building a solid reputation for academic accomplishments as well. The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) recently honored both of Willamette's teams by selecting them for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team Award.

In addition to the All-Academic Team Awards, the Bearcats also placed five women and four men on the USTFCCCA Cross Country All-Academic Teams for NCAA Division III. Sarah Zerzan (Sr., San Carlos, CA/Notre Dame HS) of Willamette was chosen Division III Women's Cross Country All-Academic Athlete of the Year.

During the 2007 women's cross country season, Zerzan defeated every college runner she faced and was the individual NCAA Division III National Champion for the second year in a row. She also won her third straight NCAA West Regional title and her second consecutive Northwest Conference championship.

Zerzan was the nominee from cross country for the NCAA Division III Women's Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season and was chosen for the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award. She was the USTFCCCA Women's Cross Country Runner of the Year for the second time in as many years.

At Willamette, Zerzan has achieved a 3.93 cumulative GPA. She is majoring in Chemistry (Biochemistry track) and plans to attend medical school after graduating from Willamette this spring.

Overall, a total of 143 women's teams and 98 men's teams from NCAA Division III were selected for All-Academic recognition. Each team had to compile a team score at an NCAA regional meet and achieve a minimum 3.10 team grade point average.

Athletes were required to have a 3.5 cumulative grade point average and finish in the top 25 percent of an NCAA regional meet in order to qualify for individual All-Academic honors. The USTFCCCA honored 203 women's athletes and 150 men's athletes as All-Academic selections.

Willamette cleared all of the team requirements by a wide margin. The women's team won the West Regional title and placed ninth at the NCAA Division III National Championships, while earning a 3.56 team GPA. The Willamette men's squad also won a West Regional championship, then tied for 18th at the National Championships and achieved a 3.44 team GPA.

The WU women's team ranked second in the West Region among All-Academic squads. Only Whitworth University, with a slightly higher 3.57 team GPA ranked higher. The Bearcat men's team ranked first in the West Region, edging out Colorado College, which claimed a 3.41 team GPA.

Willamette's overall total of nine All-Academic athletes from the men's and women's teams tied the Bearcats for first place. Nebraska Wesleyan, with five men and four women earning All-Academic status, tied WU for the lead with nine athletes selected.

WU and DePauw University led the list of women's All-Academic athletes with five each. Willamette's four All-Academic athletes from the men's team tied the Bearcats with four other men's squads for the second most selections. Haverford College and Nebraska Wesleyan led the way among men's teams with five athletes apiece.

Only two teams nationwide, Amherst College and SUNY Geneseo, finished higher than Willamette's women in both the NCAA National Championships and the USTFCCCA All-Academic rankings. Among men's teams, Willamette was surpassed in both categories by just four teams, Amherst, Carnegie Mellon University, Haverford and Nebraska Wesleyan.

Zerzan was joined on the USTFCCCA Women's Cross Country All-Academic Team by Maddie Coffman (Jr., Boise, ID/Boise HS), Molly Lewis (So., Gig Harbor, WA/Gig Harbor HS), Hannah Vietmeier (So., Shoreline, WA/Shorewood HS) and Jena Winger (Jr., Bonney Lake, WA/Sumner HS). At the National Championships, Willamette was led by Zerzan's first place finish, plus an 11th place finish by Coffman.

During the West Regional, Zerzan won the race, Coffman was second and Winger was ninth. Lewis achieved 21st place and Vietmeier concluded the event in 29th place.

The Willamette men placed Lucas May (So., Portland, OR/Franklin HS), Lucas Nebert (Sr., Cincinnati, OH/Wyoming HS), Kellen Peters (Jr., Forest Grove, OR/Forest Grove HS/Pacific U.) and Taylor Roholt (So., Albuquerque, NM/Sandia Prep) on the USTFCCCA Men's Cross Country All-Academic Team. At the West Regional, May took seventh place, while Nebert was eighth, Roholt was 13th and Peters was 18th.

In the overall USTFCCCA Academic Team rankings, Willamette's women placed 11th and WU's men were 12th. A total of 390 women's teams and 379 men's teams compete in NCAA Division III.

In addition to her academic success, Sarah Zerzan has won two NCAA Division III National Championships in cross country.

In addition to her academic success, Sarah Zerzan has won two NCAA Division III National Championships in cross country.