Oct. 4, 2011
VILLANOVA, Pa. - During halftime of last Saturday's football game against William & Mary the men's cross country team was recognized on the field for winning the Nnenna Lynch Award for the 2010-11 academic year. The award is given out by the Athletic Department each year to the team with the highest composite grade point average.
For the academic year that ended last May the men's cross country team compiled a 3.454 team GPA, the best among 24 varsity teams. This is the first time that the team has won the Nnenna Lynch Award since its inception in 1993-94. Men's cross country was also the winner of the Dr. Dan Regan Award for the Most Improved GPA during the past year.
Villanova received numerous awards for both competition and academics during and after the 2010 cross country season. Three members of the team - Hugo Beamish (Havelock North, New Zealand), Brian Long (Louisville, Ky.) and Mathew Mildenhall (Auckland, New Zealand) - were named Scholar-Athletes by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In addition, the entire team was selected to the USTFCCCA list of All-Academic Teams.
Following the end of the academic year the Wildcats were named the Academic Excellence Award winner for the BIG EAST Conference, recognizing the team for having the highest GPA among the league's men's cross country squads.
As a team, Villanova finished the 2010 season on a strong note and advanced to the NCAA Championships meet for the third consecutive year. A second place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional guaranteed the Wildcats an automatic bid to the national championships and came on the heels of a fourth place finish at the BIG EAST Championships.
En route to reaching the national meet Villanova had all five of its scoring runners earn All-Mid Atlantic Region honors at the regional meet, including Beamish, Long and Mildenhall in addition to Matt Kane (Fairfield, Conn.) and Keith Capecci (New Hope, Pa.).
Matthew Gibney (Albury, Australia) was also a member of the Wildcats contingent at the NCAA Championships and he went on to earn Capital One Academic All-America third team honors. The academic All-America recognition combines both cross country and track & field accomplishments. Gibney is the team's first Academic All-American since 2007.
This year marks the first time that the same team was recognized for having both the highest overall GPA as well as the most improved GPA.
Nnenna Lynch is a Villanova cross country and track alumnae who is one of the most decorated student-athletes in school history. As a senior, she was named the NCAA Woman of the Year and a recipient of the Top Eight Award. She became the first of only two Rhodes Scholars in Villanova history in 1992 and during her collegiate career was an Academic All-American and BIG EAST Academic All-Star. In competition, she won an individual national championship outdoors in the 3000 meters in 1992 and is a nine-time BIG EAST champion, including six times indoors and three times outdoors. She also holds a school record for running the leadoff leg of the 6,000 meter relay in 1990. As a cross country runner, Lynch helped lead the Wildcats to national championships all four years of her career and was among the team's top seven runners at the national championships race each year. Lynch was inducted into the Villanova Varsity Club Hall of Fame earlier this year.