Pixler Earns NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

INDIANAPOLIS - University of Colorado graduate student Jessica Pixler has been selected as the female recipient of the NCAA Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship, as announced by the NCAA on Friday.

The Byers program recognizes one male and one female student-athlete who have a record of outstanding academic achievement and have shown the potential for success in graduate study. It is named in honor of the former NCAA executive director who was instrumental in emphasizing academic excellence among student-athletes. Ohio Wesleyan swimmer David Gatz was awarded with the men's scholarship; both will receive renewable awards of $24,000.

 "I am still somewhat shocked that I have received this honor," Pixler said. "The other candidates that I met during the interview process were equally if not more deserving of this award. I am thankful to God, my family, professors and coaches for their continued impact on my life--it is truly because of them that I have been blessed with this scholarship."

Pixler is in her first year of postgraduate work at CU and is competing in outdoor track this spring. She has one year of outdoor eligibility remaining because she missed her sophomore outdoor season at Seattle Pacific University with a back injury. Pixler raced to a personal record in the 5,000-meter run on March 25 at the Stanford Invitational, which at that time was the early-season world-leading time at 15 minutes, 25.68 seconds. The time now ranks sixth in the world, fifth in the U.S., and is still the top time run by an NCAA athlete this season.

The former SPU standout won a combined 12 NCAA Division II championships in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, and also earned numerous academic honors in four years at SPU.

Pixler graduated from SPU last June with a 3.93 grade-point average as an English major. She currently is studying at CU on an NCAA post-graduate scholarship. She was a three-time winner of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Scholar Athlete of the Year award for both cross country and indoor track, and won that organization's honor for outdoor track in 2010.

She was a three-time USTFCCCA Academic All-American, a three-time CoSIDA (college sports information directors association) Academic All-American and the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year for women's track and cross country for all NCAA and NAIA divisions in 2010.

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) recognized Pixler as its Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2010. And, in addition to being named the Seattle Pacific Athlete of the Year an unprecedented four straight times, Pixler was honored with a Falcon Award for Excellence in 2010. Those awards are presented to SPU seniors for their success in athletics, academics and community service.

The formal presentation for the scholarship will occur at the Faculty Athletics Representatives Annual Meeting and Symposium's Honor Dinner in San Diego on Nov. 10, 2011.

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