Westmont’s cross-country teams finished the season nationally ranked, thanks to their prowess on the course at the NAIA National Championships. This week, Warrior cross-country athletes were honored for both their character and academic accomplishments off it.

Ten cross-country runners were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes, which tied with St. Ambrose (Iowa) for the most from any institution. To receive the honor, athletes must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 and be a junior or above in academic standing.

Seniors Robert Cherry of Laguna Niguel and Michal Searway of Riverbank, along with juniors Kirby Ifland of Versailles, Ky., and Daniel Lew of El Sorbante received the Scholar-Athlete award for the men’s squad.

From the women’s team, the Scholar-Athlete Award was given to seniors Lindsey Connolly of Carpinteria, Lindsey Cooper of Mount Hermon, Lisa Griego of Mountain View, Laura Shaver of Upland and Breanne Wiggins of Temecula. Kaitlyn Dunn of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, received the award as a junior.

As part of the NAIA Champions of Character program, Westmont men’s cross country was selected as the 2007 NAIA-Buffalo Funds Five Star Award Winner. The award is given to one team from each of the 23 NAIA championship sports and is selected by each sport’s coaches association officers.
In nominating his team for the award, head coach Russell Smelley said, “I believe that athletics is an experience in exposing and developing character. It reveals our strengths and weaknesses and from that we can be challenged to grow and develop more fully into the people that God intends us to be. Athletics can be a part of the process of growth for student-athletes to develop a greater level of resilience in their lives, including the ability to persevere when life is challenging and hard. They can learn more clearly the quality of their character and thus grow in maturity and wisdom.”

Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.