Krais Wins NCAA's Top Academic Prize

Ryann Krais

June 9, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa – Kansas State senior Ryann Krais came away with some hardware from her final NCAA Championship this weekend. After finishing 14th in the heptathlon at the track and field championship meet, the senior received one of the most prestigious awards given by the NCAA before heading back to Kansas.

Krais received the NCAA Elite 89 Award during the meet on Saturday, recognizing her as the top student-athlete in her sport, honoring both her academic and athletic achievements.

“I’m excited about all the support and acknowledgement I have received from my family and friends for receiving this award, but I realize it may take a few years until I can look back and realize the significance of this achievement,” Krais said. “I’m glad I am able to represent K-State in this manner at the NCAA meet. It is important to me that all the people who have helped me succeed in the classroom and on the track know that I am thankful for them.”

The Elite 89 Award recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 88 championships.

Krais graduated in May with her degree in psychology and an impressive 3.95 GPA. She was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-District 7 First Team and also was an Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection this year as well. Earlier this week, the Big 12 Conference announced recipients of the 2011-12 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarships, and Krais was among those receiving the $9,000 scholarship for graduate school.

In her two years at K-State, Krais won three Big 12 titles and an NCAA crown. Last season, she accomplished the rare double of being an All-American in two of the sports most grueling events, the 400 meter hurdles and heptathlon. She took third in the hurdles and won the heptathlon. This year she won the heptathlon at the Big 12 Championship and claimed the title in the pentathlon indoors. She was a three-time All-American in her two years at UCLA as well.

“Ryann continues to amaze. She has had a wonderful collegiate athletic career and her academic achievements are equally impressive,” said K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto. “This award and her Prentice Gautt Scholarship are well deserved recognition for all her hard work.”

With Krais receiving the award it marks the second time in the last two years a Wildcat has received the Elite 89 Award. In 2010, fifth-year senior Alyssa Bellinder won the award for women’s cross country with her perfect 4.00 GPA.

K-State Athletics Director John Currie said winning the award is an accomplishment to be proud of and gave high praise to the track and field and cross country program for proving to be one of the top in the nation when it comes to academics.

“Ryann epitomizes the term student-athlete and we are extremely happy for her success during her K-State career,” Currie said. “For Ryann to join Alyssa Bellinder and make it two consecutive academic years that a Wildcat student-athlete has won an Elite 89 award is a tribute to the tremendous efforts and support of the entire Kansas State faculty while having both those young women as representatives of our track and field and cross country program speaks to the priorities established under Cliff Rovelto and all of our outstanding coaching and support staff members."

Eligible student-athletes are sophomores or above who have participated in their sport for at least two years with their school. They must be an active member of the team, traveling and a designated member of the squad size at the championship. All ties are broken by the number of credits completed.

It has been a strong year for the Wildcats academically across the board. Football player Tysyn Hartman was named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy and awarded a scholarship for postgraduate studies. He also was selected as a member of the first team of Capital One Academic All-America Team. Victor Ojeleye from the men’s basketball team received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award over more than 600 candidates. Ojeleye graduated this spring and was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selection.