Bethany Buell was named the Division I Outdoor Field Scholar Athlete of the Year, eight Coyotes were named to the All-Academic Track and Field team and both men’s and women’s track and field teams placed in the top-10 for team GPA according to releases by the U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Wednesday.
Buell, a psychology major with a 3.97 GPA, won the Division I outdoor pole vault title in June and had the nation’s best vault last season at 14 feet, 7 1/2 inches. Buell is the first Summit League athlete to receive a USTFCCCA Scholar Athlete of the Year honor, and was named a Capital One Academic All-American earlier this summer.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Bethany and this award speaks volumes to her academic prowess and her athletic excellence,” USD Athletic Director David Herbster said. “Bethany winning this award sends the message that South Dakota student athletes can and will compete for both academic and athletic excellence on a national level.”
Buell was also named the women’s Summit League Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and earned All-American honors during both indoor and outdoor seasons.
“I’m thrilled that Bethany has been recognized for her academic and her athletic accomplishments,” USD’s faculty athletic representative Tina Keller said. “She has been a wonderful ambassador for USD, and her accomplishments show that South Dakota student athletes will continue to shine at the national level.”
Along with Buell, five women and two men were named to the All-Academic Track and Field Team. Pole vault teammates Emily Grove, Madison Mills and Hunter Wilkes all joined Buell with women’s All-Academic team honors, as did hurdler Alexa Duling and high jumper Megan Glisar. Hurdler Erik Hill and distance runner Jeff Mettler were named to the men’s All-Academic team.
The women’s track and field team also had the seventh-best cumulative team GPA in Division I according to the USTFCCCA, finishing with a mark of 3.53. The Coyotes, who placed 18th at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships last month, were one of two Summit League programs in the women’s top-10. The team’s GPA was better than all Big 10 teams, all ACC teams and seven Ivy League teams.
The Coyote men tied Dartmouth College for the 10th-best men’s team GPA in Division I at 3.31. The men had the best GPA in the Summit League and topped all Big Ten schools, 11 ACC schools and six Ivy League schools.
Wofford had the top women’s team GPA at 3.61 while Arizona had the best men’s GPA at 3.511.
Scholar Athlete of the Year Awards are determined from those who earned All-Academic status and placed highest in individual events at the NCAA Championships. Those who earn multiple individual championship titles rank higher in the tie-breaking process, and cumulative GPA is weighed as the final tiebreaker. Separate awards are given to track athletes and field athletes for the indoor and outdoor seasons.
To qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Track and Field Team, a student athlete must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 and have met either of the following athletic 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 (collective listing) in a relay event on the official NCAA performance 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 rounds).