TOWSON, Md. – Three Air Force runners were named to the Capital One Academic All-America® Team for Track and Field and Cross Country, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced today (June 27). Senior Jeremy Drenckhahn received first-team distinction, while classmate Matt Bell and sophomore Rebecca Esselstein earned third-team status.
It is the first time in program history that more one Air Force track and field athlete has earned Academic All-America status in a single season.
A recipient of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, Drenckhahn became just the third Academy track and field athlete to ever earn first-team distinction on CoSIDA’s Academic All-America list. The senior, who held a 3.80 GPA in biology at the time of nomination, graduated last month with a final mark of 3.79 and will be attending medical school at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Md., this fall. A national quarterfinalist in the 10,000-meter run, Drenckhahn finished second in that race at the Mountain West Outdoor Track and Field Championships, while clocking the fifth-fastest time in Academy history (29:28.81) at the Mt. SAC Relays. In addition to his all-conference selection in the 10K, Drenckhahn also earned all-league honors in cross country, as he placed 10th at the annual conference meet in October.
Bell, a four-time all-conference selection as a senior, maintained a 3.54 GPA in environmental engineering at the time of nomination (3.51 final). The runner-up in the 3000- and 5000-meter races at the MW Indoor Championships, Bell finished third in the 10,000-meter run and seventh in the 5000-meter run at the conference’s outdoor meet, while placing ninth at the MW Cross Country Championships. In addition to ranking among Academy’s top-10 in the 5000-meter (14:06.41) and 10,000-meter (29:51.16) races, Bell was an NCAA quarterfinalist in both distances.
Esselstein, the only sophomore of 45-member women’s Academic All-America list, holds a cumulative GPA of 3.98 in astronautical engineering throughout her first two years at the Academy. In addition to running the leadoff leg of the distance medley relay team that won the conference title at the Mountain West Indoor Championships, Esselstein clocked the sixth-fastest indoor 800-meter time in Academy history (2:12.56, adjusted for altitude). She also scored for the Falcons in the 1500-meter run at the MW Outdoor Championships (career-best 4:31.28), while competing in six cross country meets, including the conference and regional championships.
To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.
The Falcons’ track and field program has now claimed eight Academic All-Americans, as the trio joined Mary Manning (1984, first-team; 1985, first-team), Chris Nelson (1991, second-team; 1992, second-team), Nick Wilson (2006, third-team), Kenny Grosselin (2008, first-team) and Brittany Morreale (2010, second-team).