NEW ORLEANS -- Covenant men's cross country runners Caleb Aikens and Matthew Tueller and women's runners Michelann Settle and Lilly Smith, along with both men's and women's programs were honored recently by the USTFCCCA (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) for their academic exploits.
Aikens, Tueller, Settle, and Smith were all named to the All-Academic team, which requires that honorees have a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or greater and finish among the top 25 percent of finishers at their respective regional championships. It is the first time in program history that multiple individuals have earned honors in the same year.
For a fifth straight year under head coach Katie Stanford, both programs were honored as All-Academic Teams by the organization. Programs must have compiled a cumulative GPA or 3.10 or greater and competed in at least five different meets with at least five runners representing their school at each in order to qualify. The women had a team GPA of 3.62, while the men compiled a 3.37.
Overall, there were 388 teams honored by the USTFCCCA today. Of those teams, 221 of them were women's programs and 167 of them were men's.
Aikens and Tueller were standouts on the men's side all year, Aikens, a freshman from Crossville, Tenn., was the USA South Rookie Runner of the Year and placed 45th at the NCAA South/Southeast Region meet with a near program-record time of 25:56.7. Tueller, a junior from Auburn, Calif., earned a second straight All-USA South honor after placing seventh at the conference meet before finishing 54th with a personal best time of 26:05.7 at the regional meet.
Smith and Settle were the top two runners for much of the year for the women's team. Smith, a junior from Weaverville, N.C., set a program record in the 6k at 22:55 and collected USA South Runner of the Year and first team All-Conference. The junior almost broke her own record in the 6k at the NCAA regional meet where she placed 47th with a time of 23:06.1. Settle, a sophomore from Anderson, S.C., had a breakout year in her first season in cross country as she was a first team All-USA South honoree and placed 53rd at the region meet with a personal best time of 23:13.9.
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