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Bella Burda Wins Elite 90 Award at NCAA Cross Country Championships
Nov. 19, 2016

TERRE HAUTE, Ind.— Villanova sophomore Bella Burda (Pleasant Valley, N.Y.) was announced as the winner of one of the top NCAA academic honors on Saturday afternoon at the awards ceremony following the NCAA Championships. Burda was presented with the Elite 90 Award, which recognizes the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average who competes at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.

Burda, a Biology major, has excelled in both her academic studies and in athletic competition in her two years wearing the Wildcats uniform. She has a perfect 4.0 GPA, and as a freshman last season was named to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Team in both cross country and track & field. Burda was also named to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team last season.

Villanova earned a team berth in the NCAA Championships this season for the eighth time in the last nine years. Burda was a key contributor to the team throughout the season, earning Mid-Atlantic All-Region honors as well as All-BIG EAST accolades for the second straight year. In Saturday’s national championship race, Burda registered a time of 20:58.6 over 6,000 meters and was the Wildcats third scoring runner. Villanova finished 21st in the team standings in Saturday’s race, moving up nine spots from last season.

The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s championships.

Eligible student-athletes are sophomores or above who have participated in their sport for at least two years with their school. They must be an active member of the team, traveling and a designated member of the squad size at the championship. All ties are broken by the number of credits completed.

Burda is the second Villanovan to win the Elite 90 honor. She joins former Wildcats football player Will Thompson, who was recognized during the inaugural year of the award when Villanova won the FCS national championship in 2009.

For more information on the Elite 90 award winners, log on to