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Cross Country honored for top grades

Monday, February 25, 2013
by Mark McGee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It has been a week of awards for Lipscomb runner Dani Walker.

She was named Atlantic Sun MVP for women’s indoor track and field Saturday. Monday she was honored as a member of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Women’s Cross Country Team.

To be eligible for the honor an athlete must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 and have either earned USTFCCCA All-America status or finished in the NCAA region’s top 15 or top 10 percent during the 2012 season.

“Dani has done a great job in the classroom,” said Bill Taylor, Director of Cross Country and Track and Field. “She represents what we do and that is to try to be excellent academically, athletically, spiritually and socially.

“Obviously she is excelling athletically and takes care of it in the classroom. She went on our mission trip to Haiti. She is a team captain. She is well-rounded.”

The Lady Bisons and Bisons both earned Division I All-Academic honors for 2012 in the team category. The women posted a 3.44 GPA. The men’s team recorded a 3.42 GPA.

To qualify as a USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team, the team must have had a 3.00 GPA or better and have started at least five runners at their respective NCAA regional championships.

“It seems like other teams are getting a little better across the nation academically,” Taylor said. “It is very competitive. There are a lot of teams getting academic awards now.

“We are consistently in there. We are very proud of that. We have been in there every season I have been here. I wouldn’t want to slip out of it.”

Taylor demands a high GPA from both of his cross country teams. With 30 athletes on each squad monitoring grades can be a challenge.

“Our standards and expectations are higher than where we finished,” Taylor said. “Despite being over 3.4 on both teams we want to achieve higher GPAs.

“I would like to get as close to a 4.0 as possible. I think something like a 3.7 or 3.8 is reasonable and something we should really be striving for.”