The WSU men’s cross country team is sprinting ahead—on and off the field.
They placed fourth at the NCAA West Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championships last season, finishing twenty-first in the nation.
For the Fall 2011 semester, the team also had a 3.13 cumulative grade point average, earning them the status of U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association 2011 All-Academic Cross Country Team.
“People are starting to understand that student athletes are pretty exceptional, not just on the playing field, but in the classroom as well,” said Pete Julian, WSU’s head cross country coach. “The image of the old dumb jock doesn’t exist anymore.”
Andrew Kimpel, a sophomore studying management information systems (MIS), is part of the effort to break the stereotype.
As one of nine members on last year’s squad, he helped the team achieve its academic status.
“It’s a good pat on the back,” he said. “It shows we are dedicated not only on the course, but off the course as well.”
Kimpel always strives for a 3.5 GPA, and in the spring semester he had a 3.29.
“Being a student athlete, it’s a lot more rigorous than a lot of people think,” he said. “I have to establish a routine every semester for myself between classes and when I need to train and lift weights.”
But he and his teammates are just like any other student trying to succeed in school and graduate, he said.
Julain said to give athletes extra tools to achieve their academic goals, the WSU Academic Support Services staff helps them with homework and exams in the midst of their busy schedules.
“It’s very well organized and prepared so they won’t miss a beat,” he said. “We the coaches know who their professors are, and we get weekly reports on how they are doing in class.”
And because athletes have to give their all both in classroom and on the field, it helps to have organizational skills, he said.
“It’s a lifestyle,” he said.