The Drake women's team was honored, garnering a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 during the past year. The GPA is the fourth-highest mark in the nation for a women's track and field team, behind Duke (3.58), Wofford (3.53), and Weber State (3.52).
The hurdling tandem of Ari Curtis (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Marissa Smith (Ajax, Ontario) received accolades for outstanding accomplishments on the track and in the classroom this year by the USTFCCCA.
The USTFCCCA recognized 431 men and women with the award this year. The honor goes to athletes who excel both in the classroom and on the track.
Curtis graduated in from Drake in May as one of the most successful hurdlers in recent Bulldogs' history. She topped her career with a strong 2012 outdoor season in which she ran personal bests and had strong showings in big races, ending her career as the school record holder in the 400-meter hurdles.
Curtis claimed third in her signature event, the 400-meter hurdles, at this year's MVC Outdoor Championships in a time of 58.38. She also dominated the Messersmith Invitational in a season-best time in the 400 meters of 55.50, winning by two seconds. Curtis qualified for the NCAA West Regional and just missed out on the finals at her home track in Des Moines.
It was Curtis' third selection to the All-Academic team (2011, 2010). In 2010, she ran a then school-record time of 57.89 at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Drake Stadium. She also competed in the USATF National Championship in the summer of 2010.
Smith, a rising senior, earned All-Academic honors for the first time to follow an impressive year in the hurdles for the Bulldogs. She won two MVC titles, the 60-meter hurdles indoors (8.44), and the 100-meter hurdles outdoors (13.57). Smith's outdoor title was a record-setting performance. It was the first MVC hurdles championship for a Drake woman in 24 years, as well as a personal and school best. She finished ninth in the event at the Drake Relays.
Smith ended her Drake season with a school and personal-best mark at the NCAA West Regional in a time of 13.39. Her impressive performances earned her the opportunity to represent her native Canada at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Track and Field Championships. She again ran a personal best of 13.34 in the 100-meter hurdles to finish in fifth.
Deborah Maier of California was selected as the Indoor Track Scholar Athlete of the Year. The distance runner was the NCAA indoor runner-up in the 3000 and 5000 meters. She carries a cumulative GPA of 3.82. Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth, the NCAA outdoor 5000 meter champion, was selected as the Outdoor Track Scholar Athlete of the Year. She carries a cumulative 3.65 GPA.
Brigetta Barrett of Arizona, the NCAA champion in the high jump in both the indoor and out. The two-time winner of the award holds a cumulative GPA of 3.51. Barrett is joined by Brittany Borman, the Outdoor Field Scholar Athlete of the Year. The Oklahoma star won the javelin and carries a 3.75 cumulative GPA.