Six MW Student-Athletes Named to 2014 Capital One® Academic All-America Track & Field/Cross Country Teams
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Six Mountain West student-athletes have been named to the 2014 Capital One® Academic All-America Track and Field/Cross Country Teams as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. New Mexico senior Luke Caldwell was chosen the winner of the 2014 Capital One® Academic All-America of the Year award for the Division I Men’s Track and Field/Cross Country program.
Joining Caldwell on the men’s First Team were teammates Gabe Aragon and Patrick Zacharias, while Kyle McKenna of Utah State and Josh Nielsen of Air Force were named to the Second Team. Air Force’s Rebecca Esselstein was the only MW student-athlete named to the women’s team, moving up to Second Team from her Third Team selection last season.
Caldwell is the second Mountain West student-athlete in league history to earn the Academic All-America of the Year honor, joining former BYU distance runner Miles Batty (2011).
A physics major with a 3.92 grade point average (GPA), Caldwell won the 5,000 and 10,000 Meters at the 2014 Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Championships as New Mexico's men completed the program's first "triple crown" by taking the cross country, indoor and outdoor team titles.
The native of Betchworth, England, is a three-time MW Student-Athlete of the Year, twice in indoor track & field in 2013 and 2014, and once in outdoor in 2013. He is a nine-time MW individual champion and five-time U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-American. Caldwell is the Lobo and Conference record-holder in the indoor 5,000 Meters and school record-holder in the outdoor 5,000 Meters.
Aragon, a graduate student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, earned his second-straight Academic All-America selection, after earning second-team honors last season. He registered a 4.0 GPA through his first year pursuing a master's degree in business administration. Aragon is a two-time MW champion across 800 Meters, winning the indoor title in 2012 and outdoor crown in 2014. He earned additional All-Mountain West honors, in 2011 in the Distance Medley Relay and in 2013 in the 4x400 meter relay.
Zacharias is majoring in biology and carries a 4.03 GPA. The native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a two-time Mountain West Academic All-Conference honoree (2012-13) and was named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete in 2013. A five-time All-Mountain West performer, Zacharias was selected to the All-MW Outdoor Team in 2013 (5,000 Meters) and 2014 (5,000 and 10,000 Meters) and to the All-MW Indoor team in 2014 (3,000 and 5,000 Meters). In cross country, he was named to the USTFCCCA All-Mountain Region Team (2012 & 2013) and was a First-Team All-MW selection (2012 & 2013).
McKenna, a music major with a 3.98 GPA, has earned First Team All-Conference honors nine times during his career with the Aggies. During his lone season in the Mountain West, the native of Farmington, Utah, placed 10th in the 5,000 Meters and 13th in the 3,000 Meters at the 2014 MW Indoor Championships and wrapped up his collegiate career with a 13th-place finish in the 10,000 Meters at the 2014 MW Outdoor Championships.
Nielsen, a senior from Forest Lake, Minnesota, recently graduated with a double major in computer science and pre-medicine with a 3.88 GPA. He earned All-Conference honors as the leadoff leg of the AFA 4x400 Meter Relay team that finished third at the 2014 MW Indoor Championships. Nielsen led the Falcons in the 400 Meters during the outdoor season, while ranking second on the team during the indoor season.
Esselstein, one of nine repeat women’s honorees from last season, holds a 3.98 GPA in astronautical engineering. An All-MW selection for the second consecutive season as a member of the Falcons’ Distance Medley Relay team, the junior from Dayton, Ohio, ran on the squad that placed third at the 2014 MW championships and accounted for the fourth-fastest time in Academy history. Individually, she clocked the ninth-fastest 800 Meters time in Air Force history, in addition to competing in several cross country meets in 2013.
The Capital One® Academic All-America program recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. To be nominated, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore academically and be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA. Nominated student-athletes are then voted on by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America from across the nation.