AUSTIN, Texas —Rising junior student-athlete Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) was named to the 2017 Academic All-America Division I Track & Field/Cross Country second team in an announcement made on Friday afternoon. Burda was chosen for the Academic All-America team by the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), and earned consideration on the national ballot after previously being selected for the academic all-district squad last month.
Burda has been consistently lauded for her academic performance and most notably was a winner of the NCAA Elite 90 award at last year’s NCAA Championships in cross country. That honor is given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average who competes at one of the 90 NCAA championship events throughout the year. Burda, a Biology major, has achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA in three of her first four collegiate semesters.
Following the fall cross country season, Burda earned a spot on the national All-Academic Team announced by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Her academic honors over the past year also include being named to the Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area teams in both cross country and track & field. Burda previously was a member of last year’s BIG EAST All-Academic Team, as well as the USTFCCCA All-Academic squads in both cross country and track & field in 2015-16.
Success in athletic competition has been just as noteworthy for Burda, who kick-started a terrific sophomore campaign when she competed at the World U20 Championships in Poland last summer. Burda was a first team All-BIG EAST performer and a Mid-Atlantic All-Region selection in cross country, then went on to record personal best times in six different distances ranging from 800 meters to 10,000 meters during the track & field seasons.
At the indoor BIG EAST Championships, Burda finished second in the 5000 meters and third in the 3000 meters to garner All-BIG EAST accolades in both events. She registered a personal best time of 16:19.40 in the 5000 meters at the conference meet, coming off of PRs in the Mile (4:50.01) and the 3000 meters (9:20.15) earlier in the season.
Burda won the 5,000 meters at the outdoor BIG EAST Championships and also ran the leadoff leg of Villanova’s champion 4x1500 meter relay at the Penn Relays. She qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary in the 10,000 meters and placed 15th in the national semifinal round of the event. She earned her spot at the preliminary meet with a time of 33:50.44 at the Stanford Invitational in her first career 10K race. That time is the eighth-fastest in school history.
In order to be eligible for the Academic All-America team, a student-athlete must have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher in addition to having significant athletic accomplishments. Villanova has had 54 student-athletes be named Academic All-Americans a total of 71 times since the 1972-73 academic year. More recently, the Wildcats have had 10 Academic All-Americans in the last seven years.