Introduced last fall by the NCAA, the Elite 88 award is given to the student-athlete with the best cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 88 championships. As such, it provides a unique honor that recognizes universities with both high-achieving athletic programs (that can reach the finals of their sport) and students who are excelling in the classroom while participating in those sports.
Three Bears were among the 88 Division I honorees this year, a total only two other schools in the nation (Stanford and North Carolina) can match. Health science studies/pre-med major Jessica Ubanyionwu received the Elite 88 award at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in March, followed a month later by psychology major Lindsay Palmer at the women’s basketball Final Four. Most recently, journalism major Diamond Richardson was so honored at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
As you may have noticed, track and field recorded two of the three award recipients for Baylor. The sport also notched two of Baylor’s school-record seven Academic All-America honors this year, a total that easily beat the university’s previous record of five set in 2000. Those seven Bears represented six different programs:
* football (Joe Pawelek),
* baseball (Chris Slater),
* softball (Nicole and Tiffany Wesley),
* men’s tennis (Dominik Mueller),
* men’s track and field/cross country (Chris Gowell) and
* women’s track and field/cross country (Erin Bedell).
Sic ’em, Baylor track and field and all our student-athletes!