Eight Wildcat Women Earn Academic All-District Honors

June 9, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Eight University of Kentucky track and field women were named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Teams as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) last weekend.

Three UK seniors, three juniors and two sophomores earned accolades this year. To qualify, an athlete must meet the minimum GPA requirement of 3.30 and be an integral member of their cross country and/or track and field teams. Freshmen are not eligible to receive a nomination.

Three Wildcat seniors who helped Kentucky return to the NCAA Cross Country Championships after a 19-year absence last fall were recognized as part of district four's all-academic second team: Andrea Halasek, Jenna Ortman and Jessica Ortman.

This is the second straight season Halasek has earned second team all-district honors from CoSIDA. The distance runner carries a 3.60 GPA in elementary education. Last fall the Georgetown, Ky., native scored in each cross country meet for the Wildcats. Halasek opted to red-shirt the 2009 track and field seasons but is the UK varsity record holder in the women's steeplechase. Last year she was Mideast Regional Finalist in the steeplechase. Throughout her career, Halasek has collected awards off of the track including recognition on the 2008 USTFCCCA All-Academic team. She is also a two-time member of SEC Good Works Team and two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member.

Classmate Jenna Ortman earned her first award from CoSIDA this year while maintaining a 3.61 GPA in communications. She scored in each meet for the Cats last fall, finishing second on the team in five of six meets. As a result, the Williamsville, N.Y., native earned 2008 All-Southeast Region honors. The middle distance runner had to sit out the 2009 outdoor track season due to injury. Last year on the track Ortman was an NCAA Regional Finalist in the 1,500m run and a member of the 2008 All-SEC Second Team Distance Medley Relay. Ortman is familiar with earning awards for her work in the classroom after being named to the 2008 USTFCCCA All-Academic Honor Roll.

UK senior Jessica Ortman also claimed her first academic all-district honor from CoSIDA this season, carrying a 3.63 GPA in communications. Ortman finished first on the cross country team at each meet this season, capping off a stellar career. She is a two-time All-Southeast Regional Cross Country honoree during her two seasons in the Blue and White. On the track, Ortman ranks in the top 10 all-time at UK in the mile run as well as both the indoor and outdoor 800m runs. The Williamsville, N.Y., native was a 2009 regional qualifier in 800m run after her performance as a 2008 NCAA Outdoor Finalist in the event. She was also a member of the 2008 All-SEC Second Team for the distance medley relay. Earlier this year, Ortman was the UK women's recipient of the 2009 McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award given annually by the SEC. Previously she earned recognition off the track as a member of the 2008 USTFCCCA All-Academic Team and the 2008 SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Five Wildcats earned all-district third team honors.

Sophomore Mary Angell earned the distinction with a GPA of 3.70 at UK. The thrower from Byron Center, Mich., was an NCAA Mideast Regional qualifier in both the discus and shot put. Last month at the SEC Outdoor Championships, Angell placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 157-6 and finished seventh in the shot put throwing a mark of 48-2. Earlier this season, she placed seventh in the shot put at the SEC Indoor Championships throwing a distance of 48-10. After completing her first season in the Blue and White, Angell currently ranks within the top eight all-time at UK in the discus as well as both the indoor and outdoor shot put.

Junior Mary Chris Durham claimed recognition from CoSIDA while compiling a 3.47 GPA in communications and history. The Owensboro, Ky., native set the UK varsity outdoor pole vault record earlier this season at the Florida Relays clearing a height of 12-1.50. The event specialist also holds the school varsity indoor pole vault record of 12-6.25 and shares the freshman indoor pole vault record 11-11.75. Off the track Durham is a three-time SEC honor roll honoree.

Classmate Claire Laverty earned the CoSIDA honor carrying a 3.63 GPA in psychology. Last fall, she competed in the final four cross country meets for Wildcats after battling preseason injuries. The Yorktown, Ind., native was a member of seventh-place SEC distance medley relay team this season. Laverty has continued to battle injuries while competing in the 3,000m and steeplechase during the outdoor season. Off the track Laverty is a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member.

CoSIDA also recognized junior Katherine Peterson this season who maintains a 3.35 GPA in integrated strategic communications. Last fall Peterson scored in each cross country meet for the Wildcats while finishing in the team's top three in six of seven meets. On the track, she entered UK's top-10 all-time performance list running 16:49.62 in the 5,000m run at the Penn Relays. Last month, the Louisville, Ky., native returned to her hometown as a 2009 Mideast Regional qualifier in the 5,000m run. Peterson also ranks among the top 10 all-time at UK in the indoor 5,000m run and the 10,000m run. Last season she was named to the 2008 SEC All-Academic team.

Sophomore thrower Jennifer Svoboda earned her academic honor by compiling a 3.41 GPA at UK. The Howells, Neb., native was a 2009 regional qualifier in the shot put. Last month she became a two-time SEC Outdoor Championship finalist in both the shot put and discus during her two seasons in the Blue and White. In 2008, Svoboda was an NCAA Mideast Regional semifinalist in both events. She currently ranks fourth all-time at UK in both indoor and outdoor shot put. Last season Svoboda was a member of the SEC Freshman Honor Roll.

Follow the Wildcats this weekend at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships beginning Wednesday.

Click UKathletics.com for the latest track and field updates from nationals this weekend.