Oglethorpe University’s athletics were on the rise: Men’s Basketball was about the wrap up the 4th seed in the SCAC tourney, Baseball was off to their best start in school history and the Men’s Golf squad returned to the green as the defending DIII champs. But the biggest over-achievers on campus at the time were the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams.
Runners you say? But how?
Being an NCAA student athlete is not only about performance on the field, court, or fairways. Each semester, the SCAC (that’s Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference for those not savvy to Petrel Athletics) hands out awards for student-athletes who have excelled in both their sport and the classroom.
Among those awarded were 10 cross country participants (including Alex van Zandt who both played soccer and ran long distance). Not an extraordinary number at first glance, but consider the fact that only 21 athletes were listed on the two rosters, with ten attaining a GPA of 3.25 or greater. Men’s and Women’s Cross Country was setting the standard for Oglethorpe student-athletes at the time. Then, at nearly 50%, that was by far the highest percentage in all sports. In fact, those 10 athletes amounted almost half of all Fall Semester athletes that received the honor.
So, while you may be more apt to attend a live baseball game or tennis match, keep in mind the dual-sided nature of NCAA athletics, and while many of those athletes competed in Men’s and Women’s Track and Field competitions, they also went for the gold in the classroom as well.