: Jan. 6, 2012
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A fifth-year senior at West Virginia University, Ahna Lewis is the recipient of the Elite 89 award for NCAA Division I women’s cross country presented Monday afternoon in Terre Haute, Ind.
A native of Morgantown, Lewis is majoring in secondary education and English and owns a 4.0 GPA over 153 credits earned. She was presented the honor following Monday’s NCAA Championship at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Championship Course.
“We are all so proud of Ahna,” says WVU coach Sean Cleary. “Five years of school without a grade lower than an ‘A’ with the demands placed upon today’s student-athletes exemplifies the word ‘student-athlete.’ I have watched Ahna grow up and words cannot describe the enjoyment and pleasure that I have had working with Ahna. WVU and our entire community should be proud of the perseverance and diligence she has shown.”
The ELITE 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.
To qualify for the award, the student-athlete must be at least a sophomore in academic and athletics standing, and in at least his or her second year of competition (in any sport) at his or her current institution. The student-athlete is an active member on the roster and a member of the designated squad size for the championship site, and is only eligible to win the award once per academic year, even if he/she participates in more than one sport. All ties are broken by the number of credits completed.
“As a department, we could not be more proud of Ahna for winning WVU's first NCAA Elite 89 award,” says WVU Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services Paul Downey. “I was certain she would earn this award by the end of her career. Even after serving as the educational counselor for the team for the past four years, I cannot begin to take any credit for her fantastic accomplishment of a perfect GPA. Ahna earned this award by being an exemplary student-athlete since she arrived on campus and I'm sure she will continue as a model for young students during her teaching career.”
Lewis, who is concurrently student-teaching at a local Morgantown junior high school, finished fourth for the team in 116th place in 21:11 at Monday's race. In 2008, she placed 163rd at the event in 21:41, and also competed at the 2009 race.
This season, she earned all-region with a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional in 22:20 last weekend, and came in 28th place at the BIG EAST Championship in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 29.
Joey Thompson of UNC-Greensboro won the men’s cross country Elite 89 award.
For more information on the Elite 89 award, log on to NCAA.com/elite89.