Platano Receives NCAA Elite 88 Award

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

SALEM, ORE. -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has named Willamette University men's cross country runner Chris Platano (Sr., Myrtle Point, OR/Myrtle Point HS) as an Elite 88 Award winner for the fall 2009 season. The Elite 88 Award is presented at each NCAA national championship event to the competing athlete with the highest grade point average. The NCAA sponsors a total of 88 national team titles in its three divisions.

Platano, who owns a 4.0 cumulative GPA according to the award's criteria, had the highest academic average among the 280 runners in the men's race at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships on Nov. 21, 2009.

“He’s just outstanding,” Willamette Head Coach Matt McGuirk said. “He already has a job lined up for next fall. That’s how exceptional he is. He’s been a model team member on and off the course, in and out of the classroom”

This fall, Platano recorded his career-best times at both the 8-kilometer and 4-mile distances. He achieved his fastest 8K time of 25:34.47 at the Charles Bowles Invitational, hosted by Willamette on Oct. 3. His top 4-mile time of 20:39.64 was set at the Mike Hodges Invitational, hosted by Clackamas Community College on Oct. 16.

Platano also was one of the scoring runners for the Bearcats at the Northwest Conference Championships, the NCAA West Regional and the NCAA National Championships. He finished 15th at the NWC Championships n the individual standings to help Willamette win the team title. He placed 20th at the West Regional, as WU took second place overall. He also helped WU placed 20th in the team standings at the National Championships.

Last spring, he won the Northwest Conference title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:32.33. His efforts contributed to the Willamette men's team winning the NWC Championship for the sixth time in the past eight years.

In addition to his outstanding grade point average, Platano also is a Kemper Scholar. He was selected for the award as a freshman and has received an academic scholarship from the Kemper Foundation during his sophomore, junior and senior years, plus stipends for two summer internships. Students chosen as Kemper Scholars are interested in business or management careers. Platano is majoring in Economics at Willamette.

Platano was named First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII on the College Division Men's Cross Country and Track and Field Team in both 2007-08 and 2008-09 for his academic and athletic success. The Academic All-District Team for 2009-10 will not be chosen until the conclusion of the 2010 track and field season.

Chris Platano has been chosen to receive the 2009 Elite 88 Award in men's cross country.

Chris Platano has been chosen to receive the 2009 Elite 88 Award in men's cross country.