Zerzan Receives NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

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, has been selected to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. The scholarship provides $7,500 to help pay for graduate school tuition. Zerzan plans to attend medical school after graduating from Willamette later this spring.

The Willamette cross country and track and field programs have a tremendous history regarding NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, with Zerzan becoming the fifth Bearcat to be selected for the award since 2004-05. Three WU athletes, Scott Overby, Shannon McGrane and Alicia Andrews were chosen as postgraduate scholars in 2004-05. Natalie Muren earned the award in 2005-06.

"We are proud that Sarah has been selected to receive this prestigious award," said Mark Majeski, Willamette director of athletics. "It is an appropriate reward for Sarah's excellence as a scholar-athlete. She is such an outstanding example of the the quality students who represent Willamette in athletic competition each year."

Each academic year, a total of 174 student-athletes are granted NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. The overall number includes 29 male athletes and 29 female athletes from each segment of the athletic calendar (fall, winter, spring).

The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship extends a long list of awards and accomplishments for Zerzan during her Willamette career. In January, she was chosen as one of just eight student-athletes to receive the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award, which honors athletic and academic achievements, plus character and leadership.

Zerzan won back-to-back NCAA Division III cross country individual national championships 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 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 cross country titles includes three NCAA West Regional crowns (2005, 2006, 2007) and two Northwest Conference championships (2006, 2007). In 2007, she was the only women's runner at the NWC, West Regional and National meets to finish six 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 in a row) and at the West Regional Meet (fifth 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. She won the Northwest Conference title in the 1,500-meter run in 2007, while helping Willamette claim its sixth consecutive team title.

She has set Willamette track and field records during her career in the 1,500-meter run (4:38.36), 3,000-meter run (9:39.01), 5,000-meter run (16:28.54) and 10,000-meter run (35:20.17). She 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 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 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).

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.

Willamette distance runner Sarah Zerzan has added the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship to her list of awards.

Willamette distance runner Sarah Zerzan has added the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship to her list of awards.