NEW ORLEANS – Sophomore Chiara Del Piccolo of Williams College was named the USTFCCCA NCAA Division III Women's Scholar Athlete of the Year for the 2011 cross country season on Friday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
This marks the second consecutive year that an Eph has claimed the USTFCCCA NCAA Division III Women's Scholar Athlete of the Year award, as Del Piccolo succeeds former teammate Jen Gossels '13 who won the award in 2010, but did not compete this fall.
Del Piccolo was also the NCAA Division III cross country individual champion for the 2011 fall season, moving up from 55th her freshman year.
In addition, Del Piccolo also won the 2011 NESCAC and New England Regional titles and was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's female cross-country runner of the year. Recently she appeared in Faces in the Crowd in Sports Illustrated, when she opened the indoor track season by running 16:57.98 in the 5K at Smith College, unopposed, to notch an automatic qualifying time for the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track Championships. Del Piccolo's 16:57.98 for a indoor 5K is the second fastest time by an Eph woman.
Scholar Athletes are determined from among those who earned All-Academic status and placed highest individually at the most recent NCAA Championships.
USTFCCCA NCAA Division III Cross Country Women's
Scholar Athlete of the Year – Chiara Del Piccolo, Williams
Del Piccolo, a sophomore from Basalt, Colo., has accumulated a cumulative GPA of 3.56 through the fall semester.
Del Piccolo took the national crown in the fall with a clocking of 20:52.1, five seconds ahead of nearest challenger Christy Cazzola of host UW-Oshkosh. Del Piccolo was part of the lead pack throughout the national-championship race, but only took command of the race in the final 1,000 meters.
The last athlete from Williams to win a national women's cross country title was Jessica Caley in 1995, who was also a sophomore at the time.
Del Piccolo's national title effort was part of a four-meet season ending win streak. Del Piccolo took first at the Little Three Championships, NESCAC Championship and NCAA New England Regional Championship this fall.
Past Winners NCAA Division III
Cross Country Women's Scholar
Athlete of the Year:
2011: Chiara Del Piccolo, Williams
2010: Jennifer Gossels, Williams
2009: Marie Borner, Bethel (Minn.)
2008: Elise Tropiano, Amherst
2007: Sarah Zerzan, Willamette
2006: Sarah Zerzan, Willamette
In addition to the Scholar Athlete of the Year, the USTFCCCA also announced those women who earned 2011 Division III All-Academic Cross Country status.
A total of 183 student-athletes represent the 96 institutions that compose the group. Washington (Mo.) was the only team in the nation to qualify seven for the award.
Williams and Middlebury were next with six honorees. The NESCAC claimed 18 of the awards as the leader among conferences, followed by the UAA (16), SCIAC (14) and the MIAC (14).
Nine of the top ten finishers from the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships earned the All-Academic honor.
To qualify for the USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team, the student-athlete must have compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or greater through the most-recent semester and placed in the top 35 at the NCAA Regional Championships.
The six Ephs earning All-Academic honors this year include: