NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced earlier this week that Northern Arizona University men's cross country athletes Caleb Hoover and Brian Shrader, as well as the Lumberjack men's and women's cross country teams, were named to the 2012 Division I All-Academic Cross Country teams.
"It's obviously a great honor for Caleb and Brian to earn this award," said Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Eric Heins. "You don't just get it for being a student-athlete and having a high GPA, because you have to do well at a regional or national meet."
A total of 67 student-athletes representing 40 institutions composed the group of individuals that include Hoover and Shrader. They are the only representatives on the list of men's individuals from the Big Sky Conference, and are two of the seven Big Sky qualifiers between both the men's and women's lists.
Shrader, an All-American who finished 15th overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, was one of the 13 top-25 finishers at the meet to earn All-Academic honors. Hoover, who improved his sophomore season finish by a full minute and 102 places from 2012, took 75th overall at his second national meet.
To qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track and Field Team, the student-athlete must have compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 and have either earned USTFCCCA All-America status or finished in the NCAA region's top 15 (or top 10 percent) in 2012.
At the Mountain Region Championships, which saw the NAU men pull an upset victory over then-No. 2 Colorado and No. 7 BYU as the No. 18 team in the country, Shrader and Hoover finished fifth and 13th overall, respectively, giving them an opportunity to earn the academic honor.
Hoover, a biomedical science major from Joplin, Mo., earned a 3.94 GPA for the 2012 fall semester. Shrader, an exercise science major and Flagstaff native, earned a GPA of 3.58.
In addition to the two individuals, both the NAU men's and women's squads earned the honor of being named a USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team by posting a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better and fielding at least five runners at the Mountain Region Championships.
From within NCAA Division I's 30 conferences, a total of 200 women's teams and 145 men's teams achieved the status. The NAU men's squad, who finished fourth at the NCAA Championships, was one of just seven of the nation's top-10 teams to make the list.
Including the two Lumberjack squads, the Big Sky Conference featured six of its 11 member schools on either side as Idaho State, Montana State, Southern Utah, North Dakota, and Weber State also placed both teams on the prestigious list.