Members of the Lehigh women's cross country team run at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Nov. 12. The team implements strategies which allow its athletes to succeed in the classroom while balancing their athletic commitment. (Courtesy of Don Paul/Lehigh Sports)

Women’s cross country named to All-Academic Team


The Women’s Cross country team was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team for the third consecutive year.

The team averaged a 3.33 GPA in the fall semester. They were one of four Patriot League teams to receive this honor and one out of 168 NCAA Division I schools to be named to the list.

In order to qualify, a team must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Despite the time commitment Division I athletics demands, Lehigh Women’s Cross Country managed to maintain high academic achievements.

Members of the Lehigh women’s cross country team run at the Goodman Campus Course for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional on Nov. 12. The team made the USTFCCCA All-Academic team for the third straight year. (Courtesy of Justin Lafleur/Lehigh Sports)

Junior Annalise Davis, an integrated business and engineering (IBE) student with a concentration in industrial and systems engineering, said completing schoolwork takes up a large portion of her days. 

Davis said she focuses on prioritizing and compartmentalizing to maintain a healthy balance between her athletics and schoolwork.

“On our team, we always talk about how when you drive over the mountain to practice it is like a reset,” Davis said. “No matter what happened during the school day or how busy and stressed you are, you leave that behind on the other side of the mountain.”

Women’s Cross Country coach Debbie Utesch recognizes the stress her athletes may be under to study and turn in assignments during busy academic weeks.

Utesch said on a busy school week, she gives her players two days to take a personal running day rather than going to a team practice, which also helps to save the entire team travel time. 

Graduate student Giavanna Tabbachino is getting her MS in management science and engineering within the Industrial and Systems Engineering department. She said that over time she has learned how to best develop study habits.

“I’ve been on this team for five years now, and I feel like I learn more and more about myself every year in terms of study habits and time management,” Tabbachino said. “It also helps that I’m constantly surrounded by hard working, intelligent teammates that challenge me to be the best version of myself academically and athletically.”

Another foundation the team has put in place to aid academic success is built-in study hours.

Davis said that every freshman must put in at least four hours of studying time in the library each week, which helps them keep a consistent routine.

Senior Jamie Zamrin is majoring in international relations and Latin American and Latinx studies and has a minor in Spanish. 

Zamrin said Lehigh athletics provided her with resources when she first joined the team to help her adjust to the college transition.

“When we come in as first-years, we are automatically given an ‘academic big’ on the team, who tends to be someone in your major or in something closely related,” Zamrin said. “My big was a huge help because whenever I was worried about how to study or what classes to take, she was always willing to answer questions and give advice.”

Zamrin said the whole team is very close and looks to help each other succeed academically in any way they can. 

Zamrin said prioritizing school, sports and a social life can be overwhelming, but it is important to recognize that it’s impossible to perfectly balance them all.

“On a daily basis, I find myself leaning more heavily on one aspect than another in terms of what I am focusing on or what I am dedicating my time to, but as long as the needs of each are being met throughout the week, I think that I am practicing a pretty good balance,” she said.

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