Economics major Olivia Pennell wins Elite 89 award for NCAA rifle

Award given to student-athlete with the highest GPA at each NCAA championship

3/19/2013 - By: Rhonda Bennett
Olivia Pennell Economics major Olivia Pennell is the first Wolf Pack student-athlete to win the prestigious Elite 89 Award.

Wolf Pack rifle student-athlete Olivia Pennell is the recipient of the Elite 89 award for the 2013 NCAA Division I Rifle Championship.

Pennell, a junior from Sacramento, Calif., holds a 3.97 cumulative grade-point average (GPA) and is majoring in economics. She is the first Wolf Pack student-athlete to win the prestigious Elite 89 award. She was presented with the award at the banquet prior to the 2013 NCAA Rifle Championship in Columbus, Ohio.

The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, 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 grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships.

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.

"Olivia is one of the finest scholar-athletes that I have ever known," Nevada head rifle coach Fred Harvey said. "She has achieved greatly in both academics and athletically for Nevada."

Pennell qualified for the NCAA Championship as an individual and finished 38th in the small bore, just six points out of All-America status. She will graduate in May with her degree in economics and plans to enroll at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst to pursue two degrees: a master's in business administration and a master's in sports management. She plans a career in business operations for either a professional sports franchise or a college athletics program.

"It is a great honor to win this award," she said. "It was a surprise, but at NCAAs last year, I knew I had just missed having the highest GPA. It was a little bittersweet because this was my last shooting competition. It was great to win this award and make it to NCAAs, but a little sad since it was my last competition."

For more information on the Elite 89 award winners, go to www.NCAA.com/elite89.


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