Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Moscow, Idaho)
XC honored for academics
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 02/15/2012
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NEW ORLEANS – University of Idaho men’s and women’s cross country proved it can perform at the highest level athletically, and this week the teams showed their skills on the academic side of things.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released its Division I All-Academic Teams and individuals this week and included both Vandal squads, as well as sophomore Hannah Kiser, among those so honored.

Kiser is a second-year Vandal from Wenatchee, Wash. (Wenatchee HS), who became Idaho’s first individual NCAA Championships qualifier since 2004. She set several Idaho course records and time records this season and her second career First-Team All-Western Athletic Conference accolade in cross country. Kiser was Idaho’s top finisher in every meet this season.

While she was earning all those accolades, she was also busy emphasizing the first half of her ‘student-athlete’ status. Kiser holds a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average as a Molecular Biology and Chemistry double major.

“With running, it helps me to manage my time, because I know I have a set time when I’m in class, when I’m practicing and when I can study, so it actually helps me with the academic side,” Kiser said.

After her athletic career is over, Kiser said she’s interested in a career as a medical researcher or potentially a doctor, but for now, she’s just gathering as much knowledge and experience as possible.

“I just added the Chemistry major this semester, because I took organic chemistry and fell in love with it,” Kiser said. “I’m applying for an INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) research fellowship this summer to work with some professors in the chemistry department here at Idaho, because I’m really interested in things like rational design and I just want to learn as much as I can.”

As a team, the Vandal women’s squad notched its second-consecutive WAC cross country crown this season and also tallied a cumulative 3.60 team GPA – also tops among conference teams for the second year in a row. That average also tied for 15th among the 205 women’s teams recognized with the honor.

“We all hold each other to such a high standard,” Kiser said of the women’s team. “We know that we’re all capable of success both in running and in school and just having that level of excellence everywhere helps bring everyone up.”

On the men’s side, the Vandals posted the top GPA by a WAC school and tied for 11th among the 147 men’s teams listed with a 3.50 cumulative GPA. Idaho’s men finished third at the WAC Championships in the fall.

“What more can you ask for as a coach?” Phipps said. “Your priority as a student-athlete has to be on academics, and this shows that academics don’t need to be sacrificed for athletic performance. They’re a perfect example of that.”

To qualify, a team must have competed a full five-member squad at its respective NCAA Regional Championship and hold a cumulative 3.00 or better team GPA. Individual honorees must have either earned USTFCCCA All-America status or finished in their respective region’s top 15 (or top 10 percent) in 2011, and also hold a minimum 3.25 cumulative GPA.
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