Photo by Eric DeSalvo, NAU Media Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Two Northern Arizona student-athletes were among the 20 graduating seniors that were recognized with the prestigious Gold Axe Award at a ceremony at the High Country Conference Center on the Northern Arizona University campus Wednesday. The award is a tribute to outstanding academic performance, leadership and service to the community. The athletics department has produced 18 Gold Axe recipients since 2004.
Senior cross country All-American David McNeill and senior soccer player Kristi Andreassen were both honored with the award. The tradition of the Gold Axe Award dates back to 1933, a year after the student body adopted the axe as the symbol for Lumberjack athletics. It was then that NAU adopted the tradition of awarding small gold axe pins to outstanding members of the student body.
To this day, the gold axe pin is considered the official emblem of the Associated Students of NAU and is presented to recognize students’ outstanding achievement and distinguished service to the university and the greater community.
McNeill, who has a 3.74 GPA in exercise science, is a two-time national champion and nine-time All-American. He was named the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America® of the Year in track and field and is a two-time Academic All-America. He was chosen the 2009 Cross Country Division I Scholar Athlete of the Year and 2010 Track & Field Division I Scholar Athlete of the Year. He will lead the men’s squad at the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Monday, Nov. 22, looking to add to his accolades.
Andreassen, who boasts a 4.00 GPA in exercise science, led her team to the 2010 Big Sky regular season title and a runner-up finish at the Big Sky Tournament. She was the 2010 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and became only the second player in school history to earn All-Big Sky first-team honors three times. The Tempe, Ariz., native, earned Academic All-America honors in 2009 and was one of 30 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award in 2010.