MU student athletes rank second in Big 12 academically

Students' Academic Progress Rates ranked behind only the University of Colorado.

MU athletic programs were due for some good news after the conference realignment scare marred otherwise generally successful seasons. From the women's softball team reaching the College World Series for the second straight year to the gymnastics team making the NCAA championships for the first time in program history to the 13 All-American athletes, there was a lot for MU athletics to celebrate. Awards announced at the end of the academic year also highlighted the achievements of MU's student athletes -- this time, with the emphasis on "student."

Academically, the Tigers flourished in the Big 12, with 80 athletes landing on the All-Big 12 academic team. MU led the Big 12 in seven of 20 sports in Academic Progress Rate, or APR, and had an overall GPA of 2.8. The APR was good for second in conference, placing only behind the soon-to-be-departed University of Colorado. Ten sports had cumulative average GPAs of more than 3.0, and more than half of all Missouri athletes achieved a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Nationally recognized awards included the US Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) naming both the men's and women's cross country teams as All-Academic teams. Missouri's women's team has proudly carried this honor every year since the USTFCCA first started recognizing the award 44 years ago.

Individual achievements were also recognized, with plenty of awards and titles handed out to Tiger athletes. Sophomore Kaitie Vanatta of the Track and Field team was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team, while the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team recognized her teammates junior Leslie Farmer and graduate Shannon Leinert. Leinert also made the third team Academic All-American team.

Academic organizations were kind to the Tigers as well, including men's track team member and sophomore Marcus Ferguson, named to the Omicron Delta Kappa Freshman 14 for being an outstanding student athlete, and teammate Tim Cornell, now a graduate, who earned a Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarship. Senior women's golfer Madison Marcolla also earned a Big 12 Postgraduate Scholarship.

The Arthur Ashe Jr. Award, given to athletes who both excel in their sport and are great presences in their community, was handed out to five athletes. Senior RaeShara Brown from the women's basketball team, graduate Bree Thorton and senior Alysha Bonnick of the soccer team, senior Weiwen Wang from volleyball and junior Sierra Grant from the women's track team all received the prestigious award.

Baseball's Andreas Plackis, a redshirt freshmen, was one of the most decorated student athletes, garnering the Chancellor's Excellence and Leadership award and an MU Unsung Hero Award, given to contributors of the greater Columbia community. Senior Terry Dennis from MU football also won the Unsung Hero Award.

Dennis, along with sophomore Marissa Cook from women's golf, junior Jordan Hawley from men's swimming and Sierra Grant from women's track will attend the Big 12 Leadership Summit.

MU handed academic and personnel awards to some of their athletes as well. Senior Kari Adam of the women's soccer team was named to one of the university’s secret societies, the Mystical 7, an organization which selects seven top seniors based on their good deeds and leadership qualities.

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