By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEW ORLEANS – A total of eight Rice University student-athletes were recognized as U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honorees, an award that honors those who excel both in meets and in the classroom, the organization announced Thursday.
In addition to the individual accolades, both the entire men and women’s teams were also honored. The Rice women, which won the Conference USA Outdoor Championship, posted a 3.48 GPA while the men recorded a 3.24 GPA to earn Team All-Academic honors.
This year’s Rice honorees included Daisy Ding, McKenzie Johnson, Belle MacFarlane, Cybil Obiozor, Elsa Racasan and Cali Roper on the women’s side as well as Evan Karakolis and Marco Ruiz for the men.
Student-athletes must have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.25 to qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track & Field Team and have met at least one of the following academic standards:
*For the indoor season, a student-athlete must have finished the regular season ranked in the national top 96 in an individual event or ranked in the national top 48 in a relay event on the official NCAA POP list provided by TFRRS.org.
*For the outdoor season, a student-athlete must have participated in any round of the NCAA Division I Championships (including preliminary round).
Ding, a native of Sydney, Australia, won the triple jump for the second straight year at the C-USA Outdoor Championships and posted a combined five victories in the triple jump between the indoor and outdoor seasons. She placed 22nd in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to collect All-American Honorable Mention honors. The junior is a double major in Material Sciences and Nano-Engineering/Economics and boasts a 3.42 GPA. She also earned C-USA All-Academic Team honors for the first time in her career in May. Ding has earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors in three consecutive years.
Johnson graduated from Rice with a 3.66 GPA with a double major in Anthropology and the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. This is the third time the San Diego, Calif. native has earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors. Johnson won the C-USA Outdoor high jump title and placed second in the same event at the C-USA Indoor Championships. This is the third time in Johnson’s career she has earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors.
MacFarlane, from Dallas, graduated with a 4.01 GPA while double majoring in Kinesiology and Psychology. This past season she was named the 2015-16 C-USA Women’s Track & Field Scholar Athlete of the Year and earned CoSIDA All-Academic District 7 honors. MacFarlane placed second in the high jump at the C-USA Outdoor Championships to garner First-Team All-Conference accolades. This is the second time in her career to earn USTFCCCA All-Academic honors.
Obiozor, a junior from Pearland, Texas, earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors for the second time in her career. She placed second in the triple jump at the C-USA Outdoor Championships to pick up All-Conference honors and placed third in the same event at the C-USA Indoor Championships. Obiozor is a Cognitive Sciences major with a 3.69 GPA.
Racasan, a native of Lugrin, France, posted a stellar 4.09 GPA as a sophomore while majoring in Kinesiology. Racasan earned C-USA Outdoor All-Conference honors in the 1500m with a second place finish and also in the mile and 3,000m. She was also named to the C-USA All-Academic Team for the first time in her career.
Roper, a junior from Conroe, Texas, earned her third career USTFCCCA All-Academic honor. She swept the 5,000m and 10,000m titles at the C-USA Outdoor Championships and in the process became the first athlete in league history to win the 10,000m three times in a career. Roper also swept the C-USA Indoor 3,000m and 5,000m titles and was selected the C-USA Female Track Performer of the Meet at both the C-USA Outdoor and Indoor Championships. A Sports Management major with a 3.76 GPA, Roper collected C-USA All-Academic Team honors for the second time in her career.
Karakolis was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team back in June. The Scarborough, Ontario native recently graduated from Rice with a 4.12 GPA while majoring in Mechanical Engineering and placed fifth in the javelin at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to garner First-Team All-American honors for the second time in his illustrious career.
Ruiz, a junior distance runner from Phoenix, Ariz., posted a 3.33 GPA while majoring in Economics & Energy Policy Studies and placed sixth in the 3000m steeplechase at the C-USA Outdoor Championships.