Pac-12 Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year Named

SAN FRANCISCO - STANFORD’s Aisling Cuffe and COLORADO’s Morgan Pearson were named the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year, the Conference office announced on Thursday. The award, which is presented in each of the 23 sports the Pac-12 sponsors, was established to honor collegiate student-athletes that are standouts both academically and in their sports discipline.

Morgan Pearson (New Vernon, N.J.) is the first Colorado Buffalo to earn the Conference’s scholar-athlete of the year honor. He was an All-Mountain Region honoree and an All-American in 2013, running to a 17th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, helping the Buffs win the national title that year. He was a key member of the 2012 and 2013 Pac-12 winning squads before having to redshirt the 2014 campaign. This season, he was 15th overall at the competitive Pre-National Invitational earlier this month and will attempt to help the Buffs win a fifth-straight Conference title on Friday in Pullman, Wash. Pearson has excelled in the classroom, as well, boasting a 3.45 grade point average as a mathematics and economics major. He was named to the USTFCCCA’s All-Academic team in 2013.

Aisling Cuffe (Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y.) was the 2013 Pac-12 cross country individual champion but had to sit out the 2014 campaign due to injury. Named the 2013 Pac-12 Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year, she placed fourth overall at the NCAA Championships that year, also earning All-America status for the second time in her career. Cuffe is a seven-time cross country and track & field All-American and posted the third-fastest 5,000-meter collegiate time, running 15:11.13 in the spring of 2014. Cuffe, the first Cardinal women’s runner to win the scholar-athlete of the year honor since 2007, is a biology major with a 3.54 GPA. She was a honorable mention Academic All-Pac-12 honoree in 2012 and 2013, and a two-time USTFCCCA Academic All-Academic those years, as well.

In order to be eligible for the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, student-athletes must be a senior (in athletics eligibility) on track to receive a degree, have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher, participate in at least 50 percent of the scheduled contests in the sport and have a minimum one year in residence at the institution. Each Pac-12 institution may nominate one individual per sport, and the winners are selected by a committee of Pac-12 staff members at the conclusion of each sport’s regular season. The athletics accomplishments of the nominees are a consideration in voting for the award.

A Scholar-Athlete of the Year will be named in each of the Pac-12’s 23 sponsored sports: baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, beach volleyball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, football, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s gymnastics, men’s rowing, women’s rowing, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, softball, men’s swimming & diving, women’s swimming & diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s track & field, women’s track & field, women’s volleyball, and wrestling. The award was first established during the 2008-09 academic year.

Both Cuffe and Pearson will compete at the 2015 Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships this Friday, Oct. 30 at the Colfax Golf Course in Colfax, Wash. The course opens to fans at 9 a.m., with men's race beginning at 10:30 a.m., followed by the women’s race at 11:35 a.m. For more information on the Pac-12 Championships and to for live updates, please visit www.pac-12.com/cross-country/championships.

Also Nominated:
Men
- Sam Willis, ARIZ; Ryan Herson, ASU; Thomas Joyce, CAL; Matthew Melancon, ORE; Cameron Miller, STAN; Sean Davis, UCLA.

Women - Kate Penney, ARIZ; Shaina Corbin, ASU; Mariel Mendoza, CAL; Maddie Alm, COLO; Molly Grabill, ORE; Kelly Brooks, UCLA; Susannah Hurst Spencer, UTAH; Eleanor Fulton, WASH; Amanda Henderson, WSU.

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