Cross country earns academic honors

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s and women’s cross country teams were one the 12 teams from the Ohio Valley Conference that earned All-Academic honors for the 2015 season. The teams were selected by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Junior Riley McInerney was one of four individuals to earn USTFCCCA honors. McInerney is a kinesiology and sports studies major and earned a 3.65 GPA.

McInerney needed to earn at least a 3.25 GPA and needed to finish in the top 25 at regionals or as an All-American at the national meet to qualify.

Jaime Perales and Amos Kosgey of Eastern Kentucky and Hannah Wittman of Belmont were the other three OVC all-academic honorees.

Team wise, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State and Murray State were selected for the men. Murray State had the highest average GPA at 3.51. Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Murray State, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee Tech were selected for the women. Morehead State had the highest average GPA at 3.52.

The men earned a team GPA of 3.25 for the fall semester and the women earned a 3.41 fall GPA.

The USTFCCCA selected 171 men’s teams and 205 women’s teams nationwide at the Division I level. Teams needed at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify.

The Panthers always set the goal to earn high GPA’s as a team and individually and push each other to earn them.

“That is always the goal,” sophomore Maria Baldwin said. “As a team we have a competition amongst our mentor groups, and amongst the women and men on who can get the highest GPA and we take that pretty seriously and it gets heated.”

The athletes at Eastern have a busy schedule, managing their athletics and also their schoolwork. To help get all of their work done, the teams are assigned study hall hours.

“We are assigned study hall hours where many people get a lot done and find it easy to be focused and more productive,” Baldwin said.

The Panthers get recognition for the work they do as athletes, but sometimes the work they do in the classroom goes unnoticed.

Baldwin said she knows that she is here to not only run cross country, but to get an education for her future. She understands the importance of being a student-athlete.

“We take pride in (getting a high GPA),” Baldwin said. “We always set academic goals along with our athletic goals at team meetings.”

The men finished the OVC Championship in second place out of 12 teams and 13th out of 26 teams in the NCAA Midwest Regional this past season. The women also took second place in the OVC Championship, but took a 21st place finish in the NCAA Midwest Regional in a 32-team field.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]