Platano Garners NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Chris Platano (Sr., Myrtle Point, OR/Myrtle Point HS), who competed in cross country and track and field for Willamette University the past four years, has been chosen to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. The scholarship provides $7,500 to help pay for graduate school tuition.

Platano graduated from Willamette this spring with a bachelor's degree in Economics. He is currently employed by Intel and plans to attend business school.

The Willamette cross country and track and field programs have a tremendous history regarding NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships, with Platano becoming the sixth 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 and Sarah Zerzan received the honor in 2007-08.

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). Student-athletes from all three divisions of competition in the NCAA are eligible for the awards.

"We are delighted to have a sixth Willamette scholar-athlete added to the list of those who have received the generous NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship," said Judy Gordon, assistant athletic director and compliance coordinator at Willamette.

"Chris Platano is certainly the epitome of the Division III athlete, combining excellence in the classroom with the rigors of being a two-sport athlete with no off-season," Gordon noted. "It is gratifying to have Chris’s hard work and resulting high achievements recognized and rewarded at the national level".

The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship adds to the list of academic awards earned by Platano.

As a freshman, he was chosen as a Kemper Scholar, a program from the James S. Kemper Foundation for college students interested in business or management careers. The program’s mission is to prepare students for leadership and service by providing annual scholarships of $3,000-$8,000 during the sophomore, junior and senior years of each recipient's undergraduate education. Platano also received stipends for two summer internships.

Last fall, he received the NCAA Elite 88 Award for the highest cumulative grade point average among the 276 competitors at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships. He recently was named Third Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America cross country/track and field for the 2009-10 academic year.

Platano was chosen First Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District each of the past three years. He owned a 3.94 cumulative grade point average through the fall semester.

As a cross country runner for the Bearcats, Platano helped Willamette win three Northwest Conference team titles (2006, 2007, 2009). He placed 15th individually in the NWC in cross country last fall and took 20th place at the NCAA West Regional. He was a scoring runner for the Bearcats as they finished 20th in the team standings at the NCAA Championships one week later.

In track and field, Platano helped WU claim an NWC team title in 2009 and won an individual NWC title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase the same year. He placed seventh in the NWC in the steeplechase three times. He was sixth in the NWC in the 5,000-meter run in 2009 and finished eighth in 2010.

Chris Platano has been selected for an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500 toward graduate school tuition.

Chris Platano has been selected for an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship worth $7,500 toward graduate school tuition.