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Drake Selected As GNAC Female Scholar-Athlete of The Year
Bethany Drake leaves Western Washington as a two-time national champion and a three-time All-American. She had a 4.00 GPA in her master's program. Photo by Joe Reinsch.
Bethany Drake leaves Western Washington as a two-time national champion and a three-time All-American. She had a 4.00 GPA in her master's program. Photo by Joe Reinsch.
Bethany Drake
Bethany Drake

Monday, June 19, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – Performing at a national championship caliber requires a great deal of organization, commitment and perseverence. It is hard enough to balance that load as an undergraduate student, let alone doing it while working one’s way through a graduate program.

Western Washington’s Bethany Drake accomplished the latter: competing at a national champion level while successfully completing a master’s degree program. The combination of academic and athletic excellence has earned Drake selection as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s 2016-17 Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“I am blown away to be receiving this honor,” Drake said. “Being an athlete has made me a better student, and being a student has made me a better athlete. The discipline and dedication that I've learned from pursuing my athletic goals has definitely carried over in my life. I am so grateful that being an athlete allowed me the opportunity to complete both of my degrees, I don't take it for granted. I couldn't have done this without the support of amazing people who invested in me, who allowed me to invest fully in my dreams and journey.”

Drake finished her Western Washington athletic career as a national champion for the second time, winning the women’s javelin at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Her winning mark of 170 feet was over 12 feet better than the national runner-up and came on her second to last collegiate throw.

The performance capped a season that any senior would dream of. Drake was crowned the GNAC outdoor champion in the javelin for the first time in her career, winning with a meet-record mark of 171 feet, 11.25 inches against a field that included seven athletes that advanced to the national meet. She finished the season with the second best mark in Division II.

The Sandy, Oregon, native was selected by conference coaches as the GNAC Female Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year and was named to the CoSIDA Division II Academic All-District 8 Track & Field/Cross Country Team, also for the second consecutive year. (the Academic All-America team, of which Drake is a nominee, will be announced on June 22).

All of that was accomplished while working her way through an academically-challenging Master in Teaching program. Drake graduated last June with a bachelor’s degree in art, carrying a 3.87 cumulative grade point average. She walked again this June through a newly renovated Carver Gymnasium with a perfect 4.00 GPA in her graduate program.

In addition to her academic and athletic successes, Drake has served on Western Washington’s student-athlete advisory committee and has represented the WWU athletic program in the GNAC’s S-AAC. She has been a member of Western Washington’s Athletes In Action chapter and is already a published artist who has had her work displayed in Bellingham art galleries.

“Bethany is the whole package when you call her a student-athlete,” said Western Washington head track and field coach Pee Wee Halsell. “She has excelled in competition as a three-time All-American and a two-time national champion. In the classroom, she has done the same receive her undergraduate degree and then continue on for a Master’s degree in teaching. She is a gifted artist and will make a wonderful teacher and coach. Bethany puts her all into whatever she is doing and I think her being named the GNAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year is more than well deserving.”

A three-time All-American, Drake closes her collegiate career having won national championships in the javelin in both 2014 and 2017 and was the national runner-up in 2016. She set the GNAC record in the event, a mark of 177 feet, 9 inches, at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships. That mark also ranks as the seventh best all-time in NCAA Division II history.

While the college career has come to an end for Drake, the track and field career has not. She owns the 19th best mark in the nation this season in the women’s javelin and will be in the field for the USA Track & Field National Championships, June 23-25 in Sacramento, California. She will be on the same start list as fellow Western Washington alumna Katie Reichert, who has the sixth-best mark in the nation in 2017. Both athletes competed in last year’s USA Track and Field Olympic Trials is Eugene.

After nationals, Drake will focus on the start of her teaching career. She has been hired as a teacher at Bellevue Christian High School, where she will pass her passion for academics, athletics and art on to future generations. It is safe to say, whether coaching, competing or both, that the the javelin will continue to be a big part of Drake’s life.

Nominated by and voted upon by athletic directors at GNAC institutions, other nominees for the GNAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year included Alaska Anchorage’s Jamie Ashcroft (track and field), Northwest Nazarene’s Brooke Bonsen (softball), Saint Martin’s Taylor Gersch (soccer), Montana State Billings’ Tiana Hanson (basketball), Central Washington’s Kiah Jones (volleyball), Concordia’s Meghan Luebbert (softball), Western Oregon’s Ali Nelke (basketball) and Alaska’s Jordan Wilson (basketball).

GNAC FEMALE SCHOLAR-ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
2016-17:
Bethany Drake, Western Washington (Track and Field)
2015-16:
Shayla Page, Seattle Pacific (Soccer)
2014-15: Suzanna Ohlsen, Seattle Pacific (Basketball)
2013-14: Lacey McGladrey, Saint Martin’s (Softball)
2012-13: Helen Crofts, Simon Fraser (Track and Field)
2011-12: Kelsey Jenkins, Seattle Pacific (Soccer)
2010-11: Dara Zack, Saint Martin’s (Basketball)
2009-10: Jessica Pixler, Seattle Pacific (Cross Country/Track and Field)
2008-09: Ashley Puga, Northwest Nazarene (Cross Country/Track and Field)
2007-08: Amanda Peters, Northwest Nazarene (Soccer/Track and Field)
2006-07: Ana Gutierrez, Seattle (Soccer)
2005-06: Mullen, Central Washington (Track and Field)
2004-05: Martina Kartikova, Saint Martin’s (Basketball)
2003-04: Liz Bishop, Western Washington (Volleyball)
2002-03: Nichole Sauvageau, Seattle (Soccer)
2001-02: Nichole Sauvageau, Seattle (Soccer)

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