Keli Dennehy, Griz track teams receive academic honor

MISSOULA — For the first time in the history of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Team Academic Award, Montana’s men’s and women’s track and field programs both have been named recipients of the honor.

The women’s program earned the award, given to programs with a cumulative team GPA of at least 3.0, for the eighth straight year. The UM men’s team received the award for the first time.

In addition to the team awards, Nycole Devers, Keli Dennehy and Jensen Lillquist received USTFCCCA All-Academic honors.

Dennehy is a Butte High graduate.

The award highlights a marked improvement for coach Brian Schweyen’s men’s program, which had a term GPA of 2.54 as recently as the 2013 fall semester. Since that nadir, Montana has posted semester GPAs of 2.81, 2.94 and 3.07.

The Grizzlies’ 3.07 for the spring semester was their first term over 3.0, and that allowed the team to up its cumulative GPA to 3.03, which for the first time made it eligible for the Team Academic Award.

“It’s the athletes themselves who have done a great job righting the ship,” said Schweyen. “We’ve always tried to recruit good students, but we had some bad luck with good students who didn’t perform like we thought they would.

“I’ve also got to point to (academic advisor) Grace Harris, who does a great job helping our student-athletes schedule their classes and making sure they’re on track. It’s a pretty good group effort from the way we recruit, to Grace and ultimately to the athletes themselves.”

The women’s program has had little trouble meeting the USTFCCCA’s standard of 3.0. The Grizzlies had a 3.33 GPA in the spring, the program’s 19th straight semester at 3.2 or better.

One hundred twenty-three men’s teams were recognized by the USTFCCCA, 224 women’s programs.

Devers was named USTFCCCA All-Academic for the third time in her career with an award that requires both academic and athletic success.

Not only do student-athletes need to have a 3.25 cumulative GPA, they also must have ranked in the top 96 in their event on the final national indoor performance list or advanced to at least regionals during the outdoor season.

Devers, who had a 4.0 GPA while pursuing a master’s degree in counselor education, competed in the javelin at regionals for the third time in her career in May.

Keli Dennehy, a fifth-year senior who competed in the steeplechase, and freshman Jensen Lillquist, the javelin, also were named All-Academic after making their first regional appearances in May.

Through the spring semester, Dennehy had a 3.63 GPA as an accounting major. Lillquist, whose major is still undeclared, had a 3.62 GPA.

— Montana Sports Information

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