By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University men's and women's cross country teams have received national recognition for their academic success form the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as both squads have earned All-Academic honors for the 2015 season.
In addition to the team awards, six members of the Willamette women's cross country team who competed at the NCAA Championships have claimed All-Academic recognition from the USTFCCCA.
A total of 207 women's cross country teams and 151 men's cross country teams in NCAA Division III were selected for the All-Academic team award. Each squad had to earn at least a 3.1 cumulative team grade point average to earn All-Academic status.
The Bearcat women's team attained a 3.56 cumulative team GPA. Athletes running on the Willamette men's team registered a 3.10 cumulative team GPA.
Scholar Team of the Year honors went to the Williams College (Mass.) women's team and to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men's team. Each year, the award goes to the teams earning All-Academic status that place highest at the NCAA Championships.
The women's team from Williams won the NCAA title and recorded a 3.58 GPA. UW-Eau Claire's men took first place at the NCAA Championships and attained a 3.32 GPA.
Both of Willamette's teams competed at the NCAA Championships. The WU women's team placed 10th overall, while the men's team achieved 28th place. At the NCAA West Regional, Willamette's women took first place and the men's squad finished third. The Bearcats won the Northwest Conference men's championship for the fourth year in a row. Willamette placed second in the NWC in women's cross country.
Head Coach Matt McGuirk was chosen Northwest Conference Men's Country Coach of the Year for the fourth consecutive season. He was named West Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year for the second season in a row and for the sixth time since 2004.
A total of 352 student-athletes from Division III were chosen for the Women's All-Academic Team. Each All-Academic competitor was honored for achieving a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or higher, while finishing in the top 25% at an NCAA Regional cross country meet.
Receiving All-Academic status from the Willamette women's team were Ami Boucher (Jr., Concord, CA/Northgate HS), Hannah Bressler (Sr., Oak Harbor, WA/Oak Harbor HS), Juliet Farnan (Sr., Lafayette, CA/Campolindo HS), Olivia Mancl (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS), Taylor Ostrander (Sr., Kenai, AK/Kenai Central HS), and Hannah Swanson (So., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS).
Mancl and Ostrander previously earned All-Academic recognition from the USTFCCCA in 2013 and 2014.
At the NCAA Championships in Winneconne, Wisconsin, Mancl achieved second place overall with a time of 21:25.40. Ostrander placed 26th in 21:42.30. Mancl and Ostrander received All-America honors by finishing in the top 35. Mancl took second place at the West Regional and won the NWC individual women's title. Ostrander earned third place at the West Regional and was second at the NWC Championships.
Boucher, Bressler and Ostander are majoring in Exercise Science. Mancl and Swanson are Biology majors. Farnan is majoring in Psychology.
The USTFCCCA also announced the Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award winners, which went to the women's athlete and the men's athlete and who placed highest at the 2015 NCAA Championships and also qualified for All-Academic status.
Abrah Masterson, a sophomore at Cornell College (Iowa) with a 3.605 cumulative GPA, was named the Women's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Masterson, who is double majoring in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and French, won the NCAA women's individual national cross country title.
Josh Thorson, a sophomore from UW-Eau Claire who owns a 3.87 cumulative GPA, was named the Men's Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Thorson, a Graphic Design major, placed second at the NCAA Championships.