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Feb. 22, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina cross country earned the second-highest grade point average across the three NCAA divisions and earned All-Academic team honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Friday afternoon. This marks the fourth-straight season the team has ranked in the top 10 among cross country programs nationally in combined GPA.

The team came .004 percentage points from being just the third program in the award’s history to own the top GPA in the nation in back-to-back years, despite actually improving its GPA from 2014’s team that won the distinction. Green Bay claimed the title this season with a 3.83 GPA to South Carolina’s 3.826.

“In a lot of ways, there are parallels between us academically and athletically. You can improve as an athlete, reach a new personal best, and still not win the race,” Andrew Allden, assistant coach for distance and cross country, observed. “I’m certainly proud of our team, I thought improvement was impossible in some ways when you have 29 people and 18 are either in their first or second year as a college student. We have so many people in challenging majors, a third of our roster is in the Honors College, and we’re still improving.”

The team didn’t just take the number two spot in Division I, but across all three divisions of women’s cross country (554 teams). This is the 15th-straight season the team has earned academic honors from the USTFCCCA.

“This is a historic thing for our program, but it’s becoming a tradition. Just like our goal is to compete for a national championship every year athletically, competing every year for the academic national championship is a top priority for our program,” head coach Curtis Frye said. “I’m happy that our girls continued this tradition, number two across all divisions is incredible. More kids participate in track than any other collegiate sport, and there is such a commitment to academics in this sport, so when you’re second that’s phenomenal.

Their performance bleeds into our track and field program as well, because now you have other kids aspiring to match that success and that’s how you get a men’s track GPA that gets a 3.2 average without a cross country program,” he continued. “I think this culture and the support of the staff at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center has lined us up for unlimited success in the future.”