The Northwestern State men’s cross country team extended one streak Tuesday while simultaneously establishing a new standard.
The program earned NCAA Public Recognition for its performance in the Academic Progress Rate measurement, finishing in the top 10 percent of all NCAA Division I cross country programs. The NCAA released its public recognition Tuesday and will follow with a more detailed APR report May 19.
In addition to marking the seventh time one of Northwestern State’s programs has been so honored by the NCAA, the Demon cross country runners are the first NSU team to earn such acclaim in back-to-back seasons.
In 2018-19, both NSU cross country teams along with the Lady Demon tennis program were given NCAA Public Recognition for their academic accomplishments.
“(First-year cross country) coach (DeShalyn) Jones took off from what coach (Chris) Sauer brought in and has tried to improve upon it,” said head track and field coach Mike Heimerman. “Those guys, and our women’s team, are all very, very good academic students. They know what they want to do. They all know there is life after athletics, and they all take advantage of it. They truly do a great job in the classroom.”
The NSU cross country program becomes the second Demon program to earn a Top 10 APR mark more than once following men’s basketball, which was recognized in both 2004-05 and 2012-13. The Lady Demon soccer team in 2005-06 rounds out the list of Northwestern State programs to earn Top 10 APR acclaim from the NCAA.
Each year, the NCAA honors selected Division I sports teams with public recognition for outstanding multiyear NCAA APR results. It is intended to highlight programs that demonstrate remarkable commitment to academic progress and retention of student-athletes by achieving the top APRs within their respective sports.
The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the progress of each student-athlete on scholarship. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation and provides a measure of each Division I team’s performance compared to peers.
“While all of our sports continue to register good Academic Progress Rate marks and the academic profile of NSU Athletics stays at a high level, it is a bit more special for a program to receive NCAA Public Recognition and especially for consecutive years,” said Director of Athletics Greg Burke. “Congratulations to Coach Heimerman and the men’s cross country student-athletes for this well-earned honor.”
Photo: Members of the NSU cross country team run at the conference meet in October. Credit: NSU Sports Information