An A+ effort: Montana tops Big Sky Conference

Jan. 24, 2014

If Montana's new athletics academic center, for which ground will be broken this summer, is the promise of academic successes to come, what does it say about UM's student-athletes that they're already setting the standard in the Big Sky Conference today?

Montana had a league-high 58 selections on the Big Sky Conference Fall All-Academic teams that were announced Friday by the league office. To be eligible, student-athletes needed to play in at least half of their teams' fall competitions and have at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA at the end of the fall semester.

"It doesn't surprise me, not with the amount of support and motivation we have for our student-athletes to achieve academic success," said Senior Associate Director of Athletics Jean Gee, who oversees the academic services arm of the department.

"It further shows our commitment to the academic performance of our student-athletes. We're recruiting the right kids to come to Montana, and they're committing as much if not more time to their academics than to their athletics and other endeavors."

It wasn't the overall number of selections that the Grizzlies' five fall sports teams produced that was as impressive as it was the high marks across the squads. The Montana football team, with 20 selections, tied for the most in that sport, a feat matched by the Griz soccer (17) and men's cross country (6) teams.

The women's cross country team tied for third with seven selections, three fewer than North Dakota's 10, but the Grizzlies only raced seven athletes in the fall, giving the team a 100 percent success rate.

The Montana volleyball team, with eight selections, ranked fourth among Big Sky schools.

"Our coaches recruit the right kids, and once they're here, our coaches do everything they can to support every aspect of their student-athletes' lives," Gee added.

"Our coaches, more than anyone, understand that their role is not just one-dimensional. They are part of the support system that's in place for the student-athletes to be successful in every aspect of their lives. It's not just about athletics, and our coaches embrace that."

Montana's 58 selections were trailed by Southern Utah's 56, Eastern Washington's 54 and Idaho State's 52. North Dakota had 49, Weber State 47 and Portland State 44.

Northern Arizona had 35, Northern Colorado 33, Montana State, which does not field a soccer team, 26 and Sacramento State 22.

Montana's 2013 Big Sky Conference Fall All-Academic selections

Men's cross country: Matt Barker (So., General studies); Micah Drew (Fr., Pre-journalism); Reid Longley (So., Health and human performance); Mark Messmer (So., Health and human performance); Ben Williamson (Jr., Biology); Adam Wollant (Fr., Business)

Women's cross country: Reagan Colyer (Fr., Pre-journalism); Keli Dennehy (Jr., Finance); Heather Fraley (Jr., Wildlife biology); Sarah Hastings (Fr., Sociology); Allie Parks (Jr., Economics); Lauryn Wate (Fr., Pre-business administration); Carly Wilczynski (Jr., Education)

Football: Derek Crittenden (So., Chemistry); Gavin Hagfors (So., Business finance); Nate Harris (So., Sociology); Aaron Held (Fr., Health and human performance); Tyrone Holmes (So., Pre-business); Max Kelly (Fr., Communication studies); Danny Kistler Jr. (Sr., Sociology); Connor Lebsock (So., Political science); Chris Lider (So., Business finance); Chase Naccarato (So., Sociology); John Nguyen (Fr., Health and human performance); Zach Peevey (Fr., Pre-business); Trevor Rehm (Jr., Management information systems); Steven Rominger (Sr., Sociology); Shay Smithwick-Hann (Jr., Business finance); Bo Tully (Sr., Marketing); Zack Wagenmann (Jr., Communication studies); Cam Warren (Sr., Accounting); Ben Weyer (Fr., Undeclared); Jamal Wilson (So., Political science)

Soccer: Tyler Adair (Jr., Marketing); Mackenzie Akins (So., Pre-communication studies); Tess Brenneman (Fr., Health and human performance); Stephanie Carl (Jr., Health and human performance); Maddey Frey (Sr., Mathematics); Mary Gintz (Fr., Business administration); Britta Hjalmarsson (Sr., Biology); Emily Kardash (So., Pre-pharmacy); Brooke Moody (Jr., Psychology); Alyssa Nystrom (Sr., Pharmacy); Aspen Peifer (Fr., Biochemistry); Chloe Rector (Fr., Communicative sciences and disorders); Ashley Robertson (Jr., Communication studies); Allie Simon (Jr., Communication studies); India Watne (Sr., Communication studies); Courtney Watson (Sr., Education); Paytyn Wheeler (Jr., Biology)

Volleyball: Sadie Ahearn (Fr., Media arts); Brooke Bray (Sr., Psychology); Kortney James (Sr., Biology); Natalie Jones (Jr., Communication studies); Raegan Lindsey (Fr., Pre-media arts); Megan Murphey (Sr., Biology); Kayla Reno (Sr., Communication studies); Michelle Robinson (Fr., Health and human performance)

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