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Eight XC/Track Performers Named Academic All-Americans
Top Row (L to R): Kemboi (UAA), Danner (NNU), Ries (UAA). Second Row: Cvancara (UAA), Dawkins (WWU), Holmberg (SPU). Third Row: Kanpp (WOU), Lilly (SPU).
Top Row (L to R): Kemboi (UAA), Danner (NNU), Ries (UAA). Second Row: Cvancara (UAA), Dawkins (WWU), Holmberg (SPU). Third Row: Kanpp (WOU), Lilly (SPU).

Monday, June 29, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas – Honoring the top performers in both the classroom and on the track and courses, an impressive eight GNAC student-athletes have been named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Division II Academic All-America Cross Country/Track and Field Team.

The honorees include all seven women’s honorees that were named in May to the Academic All-District Team. Northwest Nazarene senior Bethany Danner and Alaska Anchorage senior Marie Ries were elected to the second team. Earning third-team distinction were Alaska Anchorage junior Ruth Cvancara, Seattle Pacific senior Kate Lilly, Falcons’ junior Dania Holmberg, Western Oregon senior Grace Knapp and Western Washington sophomore Aliyah Dawkins.

The GNAC was represented on the men’s Academic All-America Team by Alaska Anchorage junior Felix Kemboi, who earned third-team honors.

With the shortened collegiate spring seasons nationwide, nominees for the program were evaluated using career statistics instead of season statistics.

Danner, who has a 4.00 GPA as a mathematics major, played a key role in the Nighthawks’ unexpected run to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She earned All-West Region honors with a 21st-place finish at the NCAA West Regional as the Nighthawks placed second to earn the program’s first-ever NCAA nationals berth.

Ries, who has a 4.00 GPA as a double major in English and journalism, was named the winner of the Elite 90 Award for the 2020 NCAA Indoor Championships (presented to the competitor with the highest GPA). A qualifier for nationals as part of the Seawolves’ DMR, Ries was also part of the Seawolves’ champion 4x100-meter relay team at the 2017 GNAC Outdoor Championships.

Cvancara, who has a 3.94 GPA as a nursing major, earned USTFCCCA Indoor All-American honors after qualifying for the NCAA Championships both in the 800 meters and as part of the Seawolves’ distance medley relay team. A career three-time All-American indoors, Cvancara was a member of UAA’s GNAC and West Region championship cross country teams in 2018 and ran for the Seawolves at both the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Cross Country Championships.

Lilly, who has a 3.76 GPA as a mathematics major, won the 3,000 meters at the 2020 GNAC Indoor Championships and earned All-American honors as she qualified for nationals in the event. She placed second at the 2019 GNAC Cross Country Championships and eighth at the NCAA West Regional. Lilly placed fifth in the 5,000 meters at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships and is a two-time nationals competitor for the Falcons in cross country.

Holmberg, who has a 3.89 GPA as a psychology major, earned All-GNAC, All-West Region and All-American honors during the 2019 cross country season. After finishing fourth at the GNAC Championships, Holmberg was the runner-up at the NCAA West Regional before capturing All-American honors with a 21st-place NCAA Championships finish. A 2020 All-American and NCAA Indoor Championships qualifier in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, Holmberg competed in both the 1,500 and 5,000 at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Knapp, who owns a 3.99 GPA as a biology major, earned All-West Region honors after placing sixth on her home course at the NCAA West Regional Cross Country Championships and went on to finish 59th at the NCAA Championships. During the indoor season, Knapp placed sixth in the 3,000 meters at the GNAC Championships.

Dawkins has a 4.00 GPA as a biochemistry major. An Indoor All-American selection after qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the high jump, Dawkins placed fifth in both the high jump and pentathlon at the GNAC Championships. The WWU school record holder in the indoor pentathlon, Dawkins earned outdoor All-GNAC honors as a freshman with a second-place finish in the high jump at the 2019 GNAC Outdoor Championships.

Kemboi, who has a 3.50 GPA as a health science major, won the 2019 GNAC Cross Country Championships after finishing as the runner-up a year earlier and was named the conference’s Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year. He went on to place eighth at the NCAA West Regional and earned All-American honors with a 37th place finish at the NCAA Championships. The 2020 GNAC indoor champion in the 5,000 meters, Kemboi earned All-American honors as part of the Seawolves’ distance medley relay team. For his career, Kemboi has seven All-West Region awards and two All-American trophies.

The eight selections bring the GNAC’s total of Academic All-Americans to 13 for the 2019-20 academic year.

To be eligible for the CoSIDA All-Academic All-America program, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA and must have completed one full calendar year at the nominating institution. Nominated student-athletes must also have participated in at least 50 percent of their teams’ competitions.

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