CU's Benner, Oregon’s Prakel Named Pac-12 Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – COLORADO senior Kaitlyn Benner and OREGON senior Sam Prakel were named the Pac-12 Women’s and Men’s Cross Country Scholar-Athletes of the Year, the league office announced on Friday prior to the racing of the Conference Championships. The award, which is presented in each of the 24 sports the Pac-12 sponsors, was established to honor collegiate student-athletes who are standouts both academically and in their sports discipline.
Benner (Superior, Colo.), a two-time NCAA Cross Country All-American, boasts a 3.93 grade-point average as a chemical and biological engineering major at CU. During her career she has helped the Buffaloes to a pair of Pac-12 Championships, earning All-Pac-12 First Team honors twice thanks to runner-up and fourth-place finishes in 2015 and 2016, respectively. She’s also helped CU to three NCAA Mountain Region titles (2014-16), earning All-Region honors each year, as well as runner-up (2015) and third-place finishes (2016) at the NCAA Championships. Off the course, Benner is a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic First Team selection and three-time USTFCCCA All-Academic Team member. She has been named to the Dean’s List all six semesters at CU and has recorded a 4.00 GPA on three occasions. It marks the second straight year CU has captured the award following Erin Clark’s honor last fall.
Prakel (Versailles, Ohio), a biochemistry major with a 3.91 grade-point average, joins 2008 recipient Galen Rupp as men of Oregon to earn the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award in cross country. A three-time NCAA All-American in track & field, Prakel is slated to compete in his fourth Pac-12 Cross Country Championships on Friday. He is a three-time Pac-12 All-Academic First Team honoree in cross country, as well as a two-time All-Academic First Team selection in track & field. He won the NCAA’s Elite 90 Award for having the highest GPA (3.97) among all competitors at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, and later that season was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team.
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 24 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, women’s lacrosse, 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 2007-08 academic year.
Both Benner and Prakel are entered to compete at the 2017 Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships on Friday, Oct. 27 at Springfield Golf Club in Springfield, Ore. For the first time in event history, the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks with the women's race beginning at 11:00 a.m. PT, followed by the men’s race at 12:00 p.m. PT. For more information on the Pac-12 Championships and for live updates, please visit pac-12.com/xcchamps.
Men – Travis Thorne, ARIZ; John Reniewicki, ASU; Trent Brendel, CAL; Adam Peterman, COLO; Jack Keelan, STAN; Daniel De La Torre, UCLA; Andrew Gardner, WASH; Michael Williams, WSU.
Women – Claire Green, ARIZ; Chelsey Albertson, ASU; Bethan Knights, CAL; Emma Abrahamson, ORE; Holly Cavalluzzo, OSU; Vanessa Fraser, STAN; Roni Yamane, UCLA; Madison Ricks, USC; Grayson Murphy, UTAH; Amy-Eloise Neale, WASH; Devon Bortfeld, WSU.