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Katie Dreher
Doug Rippy

BOULDER — Over 30 University of Colorado student-athletes, including 15 with perfect 4.00 grade point averages last year, were honored for a variety of outstanding academic accomplishments Tuesday morning at the 20th Annual Student-Athlete Recognition Banquet.

Almost 300 people attended the event, held in the Byron White Club Lounge at CU’s Folsom Field.

The Clancy A. Herbst, Jr., Student-Athlete Achievement Award was presented for the second consecutive year to two recipients, Katie Dreher (women’s track) and Doug Rippy (football), as it is given to athletes who overcome personal, academic or emotional difficulties to succeed both academically and athletically.

Dreher, a heptathlete, lost her father, the Reverend Steven Dreher, when his private plane, a Cessna 337 in which he had logged over 500 hours of flight time, crashed due to engine trouble south of Alamosa last November 10.  He was the longtime pastor at First Lutheran Church in Salida.  Rippy has had to deal with two knee surgeries, one for a torn MCL and the second for a torn ACL, the latter of which abruptly ended his junior season last October, and in-between had a childhood friend, Damiko Russell, gunned down at the age of 20 in a drive-by shooting in Columbus, Ohio, in March 2011.

Five students were presented with the Scholar-Athlete Award, as the recipients include a member of the sophomore and junior classes and male and female members from the senior class who have accumulated the highest cumulative grade point average in their respective class (and are awarded by academic year, not eligibility class).  The winners were:

Katie Stege
Sr., Skiing
3.942 GPA
Eric Davis
Sr., Skiing
3.843 GPA
Nikki Look
Jr., Cross Country & Track
4.000 GPA
Applied Mathematics
Rachel Viger
Soph., Cross Country & Track
4.000 GPA
Chemical Engineering
Andreas Haug
Soph., Skiing
4.000 GPA

Two Tom Hansen Pac-12 Conference Medal awards, based on the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership, were presented to Katie Hartman (skiing) and Andy Wacker (cross country and track). 

Academic team winners for grade point average were the women’s cross country team, and for the sixth straight year at that, for a sport with its championship in the fall semester (3.392) with the men’s skiing team claiming the honor for those who compete in the spring semester (3.338).  The men’s skiers also won a fierce competition over the football, women’s basketball and tennis squads for the most improved honor for a team, as its aggregate GPA rose 0.291 over the last two semesters.

In 2011, there were 15 student-athletes studied to perfection, as in 4.00 grade point averages for at least one semester if not the full year, and were inducted into CU’s 4.0 club; membership now stands at 238 members since 1994.  Those honored included Jamie Befort (women’s golf), Davis, Haug, Stege, Andreas Hoye, Ian Mallams, Carolina Nordh, Rune Oedegaard (skiing), Erin Bricker and Hayley Hughes (soccer), Look, Viger, Jessica Pixler and Stewart Shoemaker (cross country and track) and Elysse Richardson (volleyball),

The grade point average for the fall 2011 semester for all 321 CU student-athletes was 2.867, while the cumulative grade point was 2.876; it was the best fall GPA on record and the third highest ever recorded.  Seven of the 14 programs (indoor and outdoor track are combined) boasted grade points of 3.0 or better for the semester, with the same seven also sporting a cumulative grade point besting the 3.0 mark.  Football recorded its best semester GPA (2.661) since the information was first compiled in 1992.  Overall, 229 student-athletes owned cumulative grade points over 2.5 (71%), 154 over 3.0 (48%, which is also a record) and 65 over 3.5 (20%, just one percentage point shy of the previous best). 

Those are impressive numbers when realized that CU’s curriculum is one of the toughest in Division I athletics, as evidenced by the roll call of majors being undertaken by many of the award winners.

Chucky Jeffery, a junior on the women’s basketball team and Shannon Sharpe, a junior-to-be on the men’s basketball squad, joined Caroline Danneberg, a senior soccer player, as the winners of the Most Improved Student-Athlete Awards. 

There were four recipients of the Buffalo Leadership and Initiative Awards, given to the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior student-athletes who have exhibited outstanding initiative and demonstrates a strong commitment to service to the CU and Boulder communities.  Those winners were Shalaya Kipp (senior, cross country and track), (Nikki Look (junior, cross country and track), Hayley Hughes (sophomore, soccer) and Juda Parker (freshman, football), 

The Student Support Services Academic Award was presented to Cole Mickelson, who worked five years in the sports information office, including the last year as a graduate assistant while completing his degree in Marketing; he started an internship at USA Basketball in Colorado Springs just this week.  This award is presented to a student worker who maintains a 3.0 grade point while demonstrating strong commitment and leadership to CU athletics. 

Closing comments were made by Trey Eckloff, a senior on the men’s basketball team, as he was selected to deliver comments on behalf of all the graduating seniors.  After thanking all those who support the student-athletes during their journey through CU, he spoke about dreams and achievements and how you come to college for more than just sports, reminding all “that the education you receive will be the key to your post-athletic life.”