posted March 1, 2009

Four Cross Country Runners Named National Scholar-Athletes

Four members of the 2008 Hope cross country teams have been named national Division III scholar-athletes by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA).

To be eligible for the award a student-athlete must carry a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average and must finish in the top 25 percent of the field at their respective NCAA regional meet.

Honorees are freshman Kelly Luftkin of Houghton (Houghton HS), freshman Kate Nelson of Williamston (Williamston HS), freshman Karlyn Sikma of Grand Rapids (North Pointe Christian HS), and senior Seth Weener of Grandville (Grandville HS).

Weener finished 15th among 240 runners in the men's NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional and qualified for the national championships.  The women's Regional field totaled 233 runners.  Kate Nelson led Hope's runners by placing 36th while Karlyn Sikma and Kelly Luftkin were 50th and 64th respectively.

In addition, both cross country teams have been honored for academic excellence by the College Cross Country Coaches Association.  To qualify for the award, a team needed to maintain a minimum 3.10 team cumulative grade point average and compile a team score at an NCAA regional meet. The women's team posted a 3.30 cumulative GPA while the men's team recorded a 3.23 GPA.  The leading women's team was Bluffton, Ohio with a 3.85 GPA and topping the men was Grinnell at 3.65.

The recognition is especially significant for the women's cross country program which has been named to the Academic Honor Roll every year since the award was initiated in 1990.  The men's program has been recognized every year but one during that time.

Coached by Mark Northuis, both Hope cross country teams finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) standings this past fall.